I KNOW HOW MUCH a tweet is worth after being offered more than $5 per tweet. Because of that offer, I see why people might want to buy Twitter followers.
DISCLAIMER: I am speaking anecdotally in this blog post, based on things I've seen or done. Anecdotal evidence is no indication of a global trend. And I don't tweet to eat.
Where I work in the Limerick Institute of Technology, we use A/B testing on key phrases to get desired behaviour on conversion pages. The testing started on websites and then morphed onto Facebook, ezines, blogs, Twitter and Flickr. Through all the fog of the promotional campaigns and the help of insights from Gaggle Amp (shown above), the images (or banners or rude red borders or enchanting smiles of friendly faces) and the time of day proved more important than the person tweeting, linking, blogging or Facebooking the content.
What we have seen is no commercial secret--the global twitterspace is chock-full of people promoting clients, personal services, or products that sometimes come with commission. And before you click on a link you see in social media, you rarely see a disclosure of paid commercial interest. This is the world we have inherited in the Facebook Era of Communications.
Three years ago, all sorts of flame wars erupted when the Keepers of Social Space decreed best behaviour. Nowadays, you hardly hear a peep from those same people--but you'll certainly encounter their tweets about things that help you decide what to buy, where to eat, when to book your tickets, and what to enjoy as music. All of those activities normally intersect with your wallet and you probably feel good about the process because it is, after all, merely social networking among mates. You overlook the fact that they're sharing good vibes, lovely photos, and clever ideas while engaged by clients or while representing commercial interests. This is the part of the underbelly of social networking. Mountains of friendly banter run alongside the commercial placement just like on the radio.
I like buying via the recommendations of others, so I've my Maxroam SIM, both a Nokia Lumia and Sony phone, three devices running iOS 5.x in the house, a car that I service at a Foursquare check-in where there's really good free coffee, Arabica beans from Fixx, meat from Pat Whelan, business meeting rooms with free wifi from the Absolute Hotel, and books I normally buy via affiliate links crafted by people I respect. I'm a consumer and I grew up believing in the market economy.
Twitter, Facebook and even Google Plus influence what I buy and who I allow to take my money. I know how this system works and I also know how much I'm paid for each hour of daily work. Crafting a link-laden tweet rarely takes more than a few minutes of time, providing the link is tested before being pushed to Twitter. Knowing when to drop the short message into your social flow takes a little business intelligence, graciously provided by Gaggle Amp, Radian 6, or Google Analytics.
I want to be able to fill the gap that will appear when I stop working on my day job in eight years. At the rate I'm going currently, I'll have 100 well-crafted examples of effective copy that convert. Each example will be less than 500 characters words long and come with an analysis of conversion potential, advertising equivalent, and bottome line value to the client. I expect that Facebook will still be ticking over in 10 years and that a lot more people will be carrying around more than a single mobile device connected to the internet.
I carry three connected devices wherever I go because I'm very interested in watching the value of conversation percolate. I think you need to have at least three screens to simultaneously watch what's happening during a campaign, a live television show, or a flame war. I normally use three different mobile screens for that purpose, each tuned into a separate set of analytics and each running with separate log-ins for Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and Google Plus. You don't need all this horsepower but I think it's important to watch sentiment, reach, and amplification in real time through screens that show me live data.
All while helping to value single tweets and overall social communications.