Faulty Marketing Strategies – Follow You, Follow Me!

The Hutch Report

Follow You, Follow Me

This phrase used to have impact as the title of a classic Genesis song, but it has morphed into something much more banal since the advent of social media.

It has now become a marketing strategy that has no real influence and no real purpose, aside from stroking the human ego, yet many in Twitter and elsewhere have adopted it. These kinds of people are easy to find on Twitter. They have 15,000 followers and are usually following about 15,000 (just to name a number). Here is a clip from a blogger’s post on their strategy for gaining more followers on Twitter:

After about three days to give people a chance to follow me back, I go back and unfollow people who have not chosen to follow me – remember the goal of all this is to have a large, engaged following. So: If you have been followed by me you have something interesting in your profile or recent tweet. If you follow me I will continue to follow you. If you don’t follow me I will unfollow you after about three days. 

Unfortunately the title of this blog post was not “My strategy of contradictions,” or “Proof that I know nothing about marketing.”

Firstly, the author says his goal is to have a large “engaged” following. To have an engaged following means that people have followed you because they have found that you have something interesting to communicate. Something that fills a need. You are providing value to them in a way that others are not. Having people follow you just because you have followed them is far from the notion of being engaged.

Just for discussion sake, we could argue that there is an element of exchange, which is the foundation of marketing, whereby one side gets a new follow and the other side recieves a new follow. The big difference here is that in this type of situation there is no production surplus. If you are a plumber and I am an electrician, I will turn on your lights for you if you will install my toilet. We have exchanged our expertise returning value to both of us. Follow you, follow me can be equated to you put in my toilet and I will put in your toilet.

The author writes, “So, if you have been followed by me you have someting interesting in your profile or recent tweet,” and even though he says he has found something interesting, he promises to unfollow that person if they do not recipricate. Translation: In the end, I really don’t care who you are or what you have to say, if you don’t follow me back you are worthless to me. Another interesting thing about the post in question is that the author is talking about a Twitter marketing strategy yet he does not even think to post his Twitter handle in the article so that he may get a few more follows!

So, if I am only concerned that you follow me because I follow you then where is the value proposition? This is like a consumer going into a pen shop to sell the owner a pen. Is it not a contradiction to say that “I have followed you because I found a recent tweet interesting,” yet I am going to unfollow you because you didn’t do what I wanted?”

All organizations and people must create utility if they are to survive. The design and marketing of want-satisfying products, services, and ideas is the foundation for the creation of utility. So, what is utility? Utility is “the state or quality of being useful; usefulness,” something useful; a useful thing. The word has a long history and goes back to its latin roots from the word “Utilis.” Therefore, a properly oriented marketing system will provide utility that reflects consumer and societal needs.

Instead of “expecting” somebody to follow you back just because you followed them, you shoud be asking yourself the question “what value am I providing to this person?” Are they even your target market? This is where robots fail, because many people will do a search of key words and phrases to identify people on Twitter to follow, yet these descriptions don’t describe in any way what the real needs of this person are. To discover this requires more reserach and a greater level of effort on behalf of the curator.

Follow you, follow me is not a marketing strategy, it is a great classic song by Genesis!