What do you think about people who use TweetLater or TweetDeck as a way to post a link to their blog many times a day? I was taught that technique by Michael Gass, the social media guru to the ad agency world. Michael has created a huge inventory of posts (most of which read like informative articles that remain evergreen) and has one of those posts appear as his Twitter update every hour, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. I’ve also seen similar recommendations from others writing in the social media field.
There are some who are violently opposed to that method. Like Aliza Sherman, for instance, who is known as a Web pioneer and social media maven. (Fast Company magazine named her one of the Most Influential Women in Technology in the blog category, and Newsweek called her one of the Top 50 People Who Matter Most on the Internet.) I was on the phone recently with Aliza, who was very kindly giving me some feedback on a social media product we’re developing at Tribe. When she got wind of the idea of using Twitter essentially as a publishing platform, via TweetLater or TweetDeck or some other tool, she said, and I quote:
“That is horrible. That is disgusting.” Aliza believes strongly that using a tool to imply you’re on Twitter when you’re not is totally unacceptable. She had a great line, while we were talking, and we were both so struck by it that she turned around and tweeted it while we were on the phone: “Social media is conversation; not a new form of advertising.” I wholeheartedly agree with that.
Businesses using social media as just another way to distribute advertising come across as boneheaded at best, untrustworthy at worst. The conversation part of social media is that it’s a two-way street. Unlike a TV spot or magazine ad, which is a company telling people what they want them to think, social media allows consumers to talk back to companies, and to talk to each other about those companies. Today, more people get their information about a brand from other consumers than from the brand itself.
My rule of thumb is that tweets should be helpful or useful — or at least interesting — to others. Tweeting that is selling instead of engaging bugs almost everybody. I also try to veer clear of too many tweets that reek strongly of self promotion, although if I get booked for the Today Show, I’ll probably mention that. I also try to avoid tweets that fall into the “Who cares?” category, like “I’m eating a yogurt.” (I actually saw that tweet one time.) On the other hand, I do enjoy seeing tweets that give an interesting glimpse into someone’s personal life, but then again, I classify that as “at least interesting.”
A link to a blog post can be helpful and useful — and interesting. But when it’s repeated over and over on a TweetLater schedule, does it become annoying? Or an abuse of Twitter? Or does it just make it easier for more people to discover something helpful to them?
Twitter is a river that we dip in and out of, a river that flows ceaselessly. I think it’s unlikely that anyone out there could possibly see every single one of your tweets, or even very many of them. Of course, those particularly curious about you could click your history of tweets and see numerous links to your own blog. But I don’t get why that would be such a bad thing.
So here’s my question to you: What do you think? Is it inappropriate to use Twitter as a way to promote your blog? Is it okay, but only once for each post? Is that different from retweeting someone else’s article or post? Do you think it’s fine to set up links to each post as rotating, recurring posts? Or should we be tweeting only in real time, and just as a way of conversing?
Please post a comment below, because I’d like to know where other people fall in this debate. I respect and admire both Michael and Aliza, and I’d like to think they’re both right. Perhaps the answer to whether this practice is appropriate or not is really this: “It depends.” But on what?