Saturday, May 1, 2010

How Important are Targeted Followers?

Some people have many thousands of followers on their social networks, but have little success promoting their website or business. Others have a much smaller following, but do a much better job of creating excitement for their product or service.

Clearly, the quality of your followers is very important. What isn't as clear is how to get good quality followers. There are various strategies that have their advantages and disadvantages.

For example, many people use automated programs or manually perform searches to find people to follow based on keywords in their profile or posts. It is assumed that many of these will then follow you back because they are probably interested in what you have to say. This is a very useful strategy that would likely work well for any serious marketer. However, it's not a magic bullet and has some drawbacks that are worth considering.

Suppose your niche is Internet marketing. It would be relatively easy to follow a lot of Internet marketers. This would be a good idea, but by itself it's unlikely to get you the results you are looking for. One problem is that most of your followers are probably more interested in selling you something than in buying from you. They are probably also more interested in broadcasting their messages than in reading yours. It's still a good idea to follow these accounts because people who are interested in buying items related to Internet marketing might find you based on your connection with other Internet marketers. It will just take some time for this to happen.

In a strategic sense, it's helpful to look beyond individuals and also look at a person's connections. For example, if I was looking for a job, I would probably talk to a certain friend of mine. It's not because I would expect him to offer me a job. It's because he is very well connected and would likely be able to steer me in the right direction. I would probably also talk to him if I wanted to sell something, even if I knew he personally wouldn't be interested in buying it.

These kinds of people can be very valuable even if they aren't directly relevant to your specialty. It's not too hard to find people like this on social networks who are active, intelligent users and have good connections. If you follow them, it's reasonable to expect that some of their followers will end up finding and following you.

It's not uncommon for a specific niche to become overheated with a lot of people connected to each other, but not well connected to those outside that specific community. Even worse, that community may have a lot of sellers competing for only a few buyers. This can be a danger of over targeting followers. If you use a little imagination, you may be able to think of other niches that are indirectly related to yours where you can build a few valuable connections that can grow over time. In this way, potential customers can more easily find you. Some of them may not give any indication that they are interested in what you have to offer by just their posts or comments.

You will probably want to avoid only discussing your specialty. It can be helpful to also post items of a more general nature that appeal to a broader audience. This may cause some to like you enough to become customers. Even if they don't, they may form valuable intermediate links between you and others who want what you have to offer.

In review, it's valuable to use targeting techniques when searching for followers, but it's also important to not overlook the marvelous, random connectedness of social networks that can build valuable relationships in unexpected ways.