Too many colleagues, organizations, and companies are keeping their circles of influencers small, believing it is better to invest limited time and resources on the most influential, the most popular, and the most celebrated. Happens in DC all the time. I’m rocking the latest dinner party, parlaying attendees with my wit and banter, when someone snazzier and trendier enters. Immediately I’ve lost my audience’s attention. The idea easily transfers to Twitter.
Others users focus exclusively on networking within their own space, effectively limiting scope and reach by preaching to the choir. If you’ve invested in running with the A-list, fine; however, that’s an old model reminiscent of old PR, of the golf club, the lodge, and the private club.
The Internet created something that not enough social media consultants and coaches support and advise: the ability to expand circles of influencers, to engage with anyone and everyone. Only recently has the Internet become ubiquitous and global in a real way. Previously, the digital divide was a barrier to not just many Americans but quite a few developing nations becoming part of the global conversation.
The value of the Internet is proportional to the number of connected users. It’s also living proof of Rule 34. No matter how obscure, vertical, or arcane your material may be– there’s an audience for it. Someone will show it love and attention. Online social networks have made all of this even easier to the point where it is becoming less of a potential and more of a promise, an eventuality. In short, there is real value associated with connecting to as many followers and collecting as many “Likes” as is humanly possible. For real effect.
There’s also a psychological benefit of large numbers. I have won contracts and business on the power of five-digit followers on Twitter, which is modest compared to most of my peers. However, for someone who only has a couple-hundred followers, 38,000 is a lot and suggests mastery. To be honest, I wonder how long it will take these “less is more” social media consultants to realize that it’s not good business to dismiss what the client wants out of hand.
A wider and more open-minded audience has more positive effects than we can realize. Quantity and quality can exist together in this town, but if you’re just going to pick one–go with quantity. For some reason, many of my social media and digital PR folks disagree. Gerris digital is almost five years old, just a few months younger than Twitter itself, and my experience is that it’s not as simple as all that. While it is possibly essential to have the attention of the top-100 A-list influencers in your space, it is also essential to attract everyone else as well — and I’ll do my best to tell you why.
The network effect is a lot like chaos theory, but instead of butterfly wings, they’re Twitterbird wings. Every cannon-bomb splash that a Twitter account makes in a tweet in a small network might as well not exist. If a tweet falls in the forest and there’s no one around, does a it make a ripple?
Well, when you reach the whales of Twitter, the celebrities and politicians who have followers in the millions, every single decibel is amplified, considered, scrutinized. It’s the playground from which TMZ and even the nightly news chooses its evening victims. These large networks attract both eyeballs and robots. The spiders from Klout and from Google and Bing as well as from the Twitter top lists are constantly spending their limited resources paying attention, retweeting, auto-tweeting, and indexing the biggest prey on the prairie. And the only people and brands who can do this effortlessly are the folks and companies who already bring worldwide fame and fortune to the party.
In a perfect world, you’d target these folks by the millions, increasing your amplitude and maintaining your authenticity because of your popular connections. Because the world is far from perfect, be open-minded about any and all Twitter connections. It’s impossible to gauge all that they bring to the table at face level. But it’s possible to assume that they came to you because they share a scope of interest. It’s possible to assume that their followers share that scope of interest.
When you initiate a theory of anyone and everyone, you really must embrace the chaos. In social media on social networks, you cannot choose your fan — at least you shouldn’t. I am sure the makers of My Little Pony never thought that they would garner a galloping herd of adult men, Bronies, who are superfans of the child’s show. Who could have guessed.
You might engage in a strict narrow cast of your net, pre-filtering your target demographic; however, you really need to let go and let God. Your product, service, book, tool, experience, and catalog may find deep appeal amongst an entirely new fanbase that you never considered or imagine before. How deep are you willing to go?
You very well may have a primary, secondary, and tertiary target market — well done. However, this is the Internet, this is the long-tail! Don’t forget Rule 34. Engage in the thousands and even the millions, if possible, and allow your quaternary, quinary, senary, septenary, octonary, nonary, and denary markets define themselves.
It works, it really does. Give it a go, give it a test, and let me know.
About Chris Abraham
A pioneer in online social networks and publishing, with a natural facility for anticipating the next big thing, Chris is an Internet analyst, web strategy consultant and advisor to the industries' leading firms. He specializes in Web 2.0 technologies, including content syndication; organize search engine optimization (SEO), online reputation management (ORM), content marketing, online collaboration, blogging, and consumer generated media.