The GSME: Back in Time

On March 14th I decided, after a fair amount of consideration, to sign up for Twitter’s Promote Mode beta. I’ve spoken about this in previous GSME articles, that it could be a great idea for someone like me in order to advertise myself without having to worry about micromanaging a bunch of stuff through often unwieldy UI selection screens. I’m just over halfway through my first month, and honestly?

I’m beginning to grasp how much will have to change in my own feed to make this exercise worthwhile.

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In basic terms, this is exactly the same deal as Co-Promote used to offer, but for a lot more money. That system offered me a ‘vague’ target audience based on what was, at times, pretty inaccurate interest tagging. Twitter allows me to pick the part of the globe I can promote in, and 5 ‘areas’ in which these tweets get promoted. After that, I have no control over what gets picked. The algorithm then selects tweets, from my timeline, and off they go into the wider world: this has resulted in some quite amusing exchanges with random members of the public.

I might get some people take interest in my feed, I might also get the odd random follow, but I’m more likely than not to get someone tweeting me directly to ask ‘WTF is this tweet being promoted by Twitter?’ That’s been the overriding thing I’ve noticed. I might have 14% more people looking at my Tweets, but when most of the actual engagements are people calling me a c-word or telling me to fuck off? This is not either relevant or helpful. It means that ANYTHING I say or do in my timeline has to be an advert, or a way to sell myself, or indeed a combination of the two, and here’s where the bigger problem lies.

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I cannot say ANYTHING that isn’t targetted specifically at my audience, and lose the vital (and rather importantly) organic nature of how my growth took place initially. Sure, if I’m cute I can stack things up, and I can cut out the ‘irrelevant’ nattering that does often take place. However, this isn’t a true reflection of my feed either. Sometimes it is the spontaneous and brilliant which defines me, and having no say at all in what gets thrown out into the world is, quite frankly, less than brilliant.

However, the interactions I’ve had with WTF Joe Public are a demonstration that yes, people do read their feeds. So, this month I am considering the potential of exploiting this randomness, with full knowledge given to you guys well in advance. I should be turning a negative into a positive and using the bizarre nature of the algorithm to start selling my own random nature. It is time to find out whether I can begin to use the platform to promote myself, in a manner that befits the truly organic nature of Social media.

It is time for some new ideas.

#GSME18 :: Forget You

I did wonder at the end of last year whether Twitter would have a relevance for me in 2018. As it transpires, there’s more than ever to discuss in the world of Social media. 

It’s rather satisfying to see that the Real World [TM] is finally catching up with a truth many hardcore Twitter users have known for years. It’s the Social media equivalent of Gold Farming in online games: you wanna look cool and clever? Just buy the followers you need. This expose also explains why I’ve seen a significant drop off in followers from accounts a) clearly only looking for reach and b) randomly following me out of the blue. Sure, it still happens, but the practice is now finally being weeded out and shut down. Of course, you won’t stop the thing completely, but there is now at least an acknowledgement the practice takes place.

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The Tweetdeck platform now likes to tell me who other people on my Friends List are following presumably in the hope I’ll consider doing the same. However, I’ve started to consciously buck the trend of courting followers. At this point I have little or no interest in actively promoting myself using any of the platform’s tools: I’ve even ignored various invites to join the Beta of their ‘all in’ promotion tool. Right now I’m happy to sit on the sidelines, slowly removing followers I’m confident either aren’t real or who are detrimental to my mental health. Sometimes they fall in both camps, but the number of robots or automated accounts is beginning to level out. I’m now looking for clearly-curated streams, with a real person behind them, and this policy is beginning to pay dividends.

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Half a million impressions in January, considering my current output, is a decent baseline to improve on going forward. It gives a guide to what I’m capable of, and now I’ve stopped caring about ‘growth’ in terms of audience, there’s more space to simply work on the content. I’m interacting far more regularly with the people who are around, which is a more satisfying situation that becoming frustrated with negativity. Accentuating positives, amazingly, does work.

You can, therefore, expect more on the Great Social Media Experiment going into 2018.

GSME #26 :: End Game

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The Great Social Media Experiment is taking a rest until December. There are a number of reasons: the most significant one remains the most important.selling-yourself

I fully understand the significance of the online sell: so much more than that was the case when all this began, and with honesty in tow. There does have to be a measure of sacrifice to the online gods if you ever want success, and right now that’s in direct conflict with the means at my disposal for creating such content. Every single picture taken and uploaded, each Tweet composed… all have the potential to transform your fortunes.

This outlook also fundamentally alters the perception of people around you. Having people scream you’re a sellout, you only care about yourself whilst totally believing that’s my plan? This year I’ve learnt a lot about where I want to be, as well as those people I’d like to have around me. No longer is there the feeling I need to be nice to those who think they’re owed something. This has stopped being about knowing the right people and, as each day passes, becomes more about understanding myself as a priority.

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When I come to look back on 2017 it will, I’m sure, be with the eyes of someone who finally grasped the truth about the Internet. If all you want to see is stress, anger and idiocy… then that is all there is to be seen. Only when you take the time to dig deep, and truly accept that you are part of the problem, does it become possible to move past so much of the negativity that currently exists. That onus is on you, and you alone. For me, organisation and purpose have become their own rewards.

When I re-start this project in December, Social media will work for me. I don’t need your skanky pretend followers or promises that if I do X then Y will instantly follow. I’m about to create my own means of controlling the ebb and flow of data and interest. Then, if I fail, I can at least say I tried to be an innovator, which matters infinitely more than being part of a flock of foolish, ignorant users. The future, at least for me, is innovating with my rules.

GSME #25: Robot Love

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If there’s one thing I hate more than Robot Twitter accounts, it is real people who pretend they’re not using follower tools when on Twitter. Once upon a time, it was really easy to spot the people who’d be using Crowdfire (or any of the numerous ‘grow your audience’ online apps) because as soon as you followed them, a DM would unceremoniously appear asking you to sub to their YouTube Channel. Not anymore. Individuals are getting smart, and they think their schemes will lure you into participation but really… it’s the same shit, just in a different package.

Last week I received what must be the smartest DM I’ve been sent for a while.

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This is really clever, because it uses a typo as ‘confirmation’ that the person sending the DM is clearly a) human and b) paying attention to me… except, of course, I wasn’t in this guy’s notifications. This was sent before I’d had a chance to post anything. The account I get sent to was for some shitty energy drink that also increases my intelligence (the irony was not lost on me) so of course I sent him a DM back to see if I’d get a reply back and (unsurprisingly) there’s not been a peep from him since this message. He’s blocked now.

DM’s are becoming a good benchmark for whether the large-follower new arrival is worth my time: how they’re written, whether the person is listening or not, or if they’ve spent any time even reading their Twitter feed. That’s why I also make a point of going to the person’s Tweets and Replies section on the official Twitter webpage to see if they interact a lot with people. The latest person to turn up was a lovely bloke who’s using music to help people with depression:

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It’s all very legit, and he spends a fair bit of time talking to the people who buy his stuff but, I’ll be honest, it is not the kind of ‘relationship’ I’m looking for, however worthy the cause. I think that the DM message was what really turned me off, because I’d never send out random stuff like this to anyone who followed cold. I’d find ways to interact with them using the platform as it is intended to be used. What these ‘robot’ apps do is build numbers, but have no soul. For me, it matters far more to do the work, and sometimes pay the price for caring too much about the people who follow me.

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How people do business is entirely up to them. I have said before that I feel that treating people like statistics will ultimately make everybody’s lives less fulfilling, and individuals using the platform like this simply reinforce that feeling. This is your weekly reminder that simply following everybody who follows you has pitfalls, and sometimes thinking before you click a button will have long term benefits to your health.

Everybody, after all, has their own particular reasons for wanting you to follow them.

GSME #20 :: Did it Again

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I have, for some time, lamented the lack of choice that Twitter presents for small businesses. It appears that someone in the company’s hierarchy not only agrees with me, but is working to allow more flexibility for promoting less ‘behemoth’ companies on Social media:

Right now, the invites are under Twitter’s control and are focused according to two very specific criteria: location and interests. Fortunately for me, the initial criteria does include something I’d jump at:

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Looking at locations right now, these are limited to a selection of US cities, where, presumably, Twitter use is highest. Therefore I could sign up, pay my $99 (or EU equivalent) and target a month’s worth of output to London, or Leeds… or indeed New York or Canberra, depending on where I’d like to aim my output. Ideally for me the interests option makes better financial sense than going for location initially, because although I know people like poetry in London, I’d be far better off considering a larger sample of potential readers than simply one city.

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To say this would be perfect for my niche interest/plan to use the Internet of Words as a marketing platform is something of an understatement. Right now you can’t just arrive unannounced however: it appears you need to be signed up for Twitter Ads to begin with, and as I’m not yet at that stage, it is all a bit academic. What this does push me to do however is, when I’m back to term time and the holidays are over, ensure I’m ready to go with content and associated blog posts. This means making sure I publish my Haiku and Micropoetry each week without fail, that links on the blog are kept current, and a continuous stream of content is available.

Once I can do that consistently? I reckon this closed beta will be done, and I can start throwing my money at Twitter.

GSME #19 :: Ready to Go

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I am finally preparing myself for the inevitable: producing a Tweet for the sole purpose of promoting. I’ve been doing some research and it is going to need not simply a straight verbatim reproduction of hashtags and the right combination of words. In fact, to get this message to not only be noticed but pay for itself, there are a positive plethora of guides available to insure I get the ‘point.’

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From https://smartbirdsocial.net/get-your-tweets-noticed/

It isn’t however just the Tweet that matters. If I’m going to do this and make the maximum amount of mileage from the process, EVERYTHING needs a redesign. That will require a new Twitter header, alteration of my biography… in fact, pretty much the entire picture needs a once over to maximise the impact of dropping cash. For someone who is really not that fussed at all about their own self image, I understand only too well how much the virtual one matters. It’s a continuous, constant reassessment of multiple platforms: what looks best, what is attractive to the majority (and not you) and how to use the right combination of image ad word to make your ‘brand’ stand out.

Like it or not, I am a Brand, which means it is time to learn to sell myself.

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I love this graphic, and for many years the concept operated as a benchmark in my gaming existence: is the effort expended enough to balance my final outcome? Will I, once I decide on the budget for reach of my Tweet, pick the right ‘marketplace’ to shove it in? Well, that’s easy. I have a focus, know which accounts I’m looking to use as an indicator of what constitutes the right space to ‘sell’ in. After that, this is the biggest fumble in the dark I’ve ever made. You can just take the money and hope. It is like everything else in life: you don’t take the chance, you’ll never know.

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At least I’m finally getting the hang of the engagement game.

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It might be up and down like a fiddlers elbow, but the trend is positive. The days I don’t do polls, or I take time off to be elsewhere than Social media are now utterly apparent. Of course, there will be those reading this crying foul and accusing me of manipulation people for my own ends… ah yes, that’s exactly what I’m doing. I am so good at making random individuals bow to my will that yeah, just having these ideas should be enough to render me capable of millionaire status overnight. Except clearly I’m not rich, and people have to want to be part of your scheme. It is a fuck of a lot of extremely hard work and listening to people who know what they are doing. That’s how I’ve got here.

Hard work and good advice are really what matters at this stage, and I’m ready with both. You can watch the changes take place in the next few weeks and then, it’ll be time to start the self-promotion bandwagon on its way…

GSME #15 :: Follow You, Follow Me

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Last week, I stated publicly I was going to try and increase the number of followers I have. Amazingly, this appears to be happening.

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If I said this had happened solely via the medium of offering free stuff, it would not be far off the truth, but I watch incoming followers quite closely. It wasn’t just the incentives, and the number of ‘trash’ accounts (robots picking up on hashtags and keywords) is, it must be said, at an all time low. This therefore gives me hope that building an audience may yet be possible, and if I could retain 10 new people a week going forward, that would certainly be a starting point. I’ve found a couple of ways to engage outside the obvious imagery, but starting this week I’ll be using that as a means by which to stimulate discussion. Undoubtedly, this is the way to poke your already present audience into interaction, and to encourage them to tell friends about you.

Of course, Twitter would love you to spend money to build that audience. In fact, it is rather hoping more people do this long term rather than using the platform as a free chat client, but that’s the downside of any Social media space built organically. When gaming companies build chat frameworks around IP and Apps in the hope you’ll use them even when you’re not playing games, well… it all boils down to the same, basic theory. Once you have a ‘platform’ is it enough just to exist within it, or should there always be expansion? In this case, do I want to remain an echo chamber of my own ideals or is it time to allow the opposite viewpoints in. I’d like to promote discussion, in any form, so that means that accepting dissent has to be a long term goal, as well as promoting people generally to turn up and take part. That’s why all this work is done in public, and not via Private Groups or password only Discord, because down that way, inevitably, exclusivity lies.

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Of course, if I followed everybody that followed me, I’d probably be in five figures right now and close to a nervous breakdown. I should remind the new people that Twitter serves as my long-term writing tool and therefore having too much crap to wade through daily is a disadvantage. That’s why Lists are going to become a thing going forward for certain topics, but why also I keep 900 followers as an extremely intentional line in the sand. Curation has become an indispensable tool in making sure I’m listening to receptive people, but still there are moments when people leave and I’m sad, even now. It is the very nature of this platform that you get attached to individuals way more than is true the other way. I think that’s just human nature and there’s nothing that can be done about it.

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However on the flip-side, this means other people end up obsessing about you far more than is healthy. I’m still seeing the fallout from the last particular incident of this even now, the slow drip away of people who followed me because of a certain person and now have decided I’ve changed without them around. I have, like it or not, and that evolution will continue as a constant theme going forward. Asking people for money has made me a sell-out, I promised I’d never go there, and once you break a promise like that…? yeah, I’m just like everybody else. It happens. Principles are great, right up to the moment you need to feed yourself or make a career late in life.

Sometimes, you have to accept you were the one who was misguided and just move on.