Today, Tuesday 21st, is the longest day of the year (at least for us Northern Hemisphere folks.)
The skies are blue. The sun is shining. Everybody is on holiday.
It’s the time of beach-parties, cool drinks and swinging hammocks.
Everything is perfect.
If it weren’t for that nasty bloodsucker from the family Culicidae, the mosquito.
That’s Spanish for “little fly”, by the way.
Despite their short life-span – adult mosquitoes only live for 4-8 weeks – they are masters of annoyance!
They normally don’t cause much harm. But they’re just that.
As weird as it may sound at first, many self-professed “Internet Marketers” and “Social Media Experts” share those exact characeristics with our buzzing and nerve-wracking “little flies”.
Filling Your Plate With More Than You Can Swallow
Dunbar’s Number states that any given person can only relate meaningfully to about 150 people. In other words, Social Networks are great but if you cross that threshold, you won’t be able to relate to anyone.
Facebook caps at 5,000 “friends”, as if that wasn’t mind-numbing enough, already!
On Twitter, instead, you can follow hundreds of thousands of people. But to what purpose?
You can tell yourself whatever you like. If you follow more than a few hundred or even thousand people, you aren’t in it for “connecting to people”. You’re in it for yourself.
Which is not a problem. If you don’t pretend otherwise.
The Maths Of Egg Production
While male mosquitoes usually feed on juice or nectar, the female requires blood to lay its eggs.
If you are a marketer, this “egg” is your goal. And it goes through different states: First you need to drive traffic, then you generate leads resulting in the sale or conversion or vague sense of fame – which is the egg!
Like the mosquito, the Social Media Marketer needs a constant supply of blood, which – in our example – simply means traffic or clicks.
So she follows thousands of people, in the hope of them “following back”. Those who don’t follow back, she quietly drops after a while.
If done consistently this results in a 1:1 ratio. A person has 18,000 followers but only because he follows roughly the same amount of people.
Also it’s utterly meaningless and a waste of time!
A person following more than 230, the absolute maximum according to Dunbar’s Number, can’t possibly keep up with what all these people are doing, no matter how noble her intentions!
Claiming to listen is one thing.
Actually doing it, another.
After a certain number, no matter where you mark it, it becomes a biological impossibility.
The only thing we get are millions of “monological broadcasters”, senders – not receivers, in other words.
Imagine a room full of people all talking at the same time, not listening to anyone but expecting everyone else to listen to them.
It’s a closed circle. Mosquitoes feeding off mosquitoes.
The result: no eggs.
An Alternative to The Hive Mind
But what if you really need those eggs, these clicks resulting in sales of your product or service?
A great way to do this is to answer people’s questions.
That’s right. Feeding people instead of feeding off them.
If you’re really good at something, share your knowledge with no strings attached. Don’t send people links to your stuff. Just be helpful!
How to find questions?
If you go to search.twitter.com you’ll see that, like Google, you can actually use quite a few operators to refine your search.
So, let’s say you know a lot about baking cakes.
Go to search.twitter.com and type in:
how to cake -filter:links ?
What this does is filter out all tweets containing links (the stuff of nasty mosquito marketing) and the question mark only lists questions!
I’ve prepared a link for you here that leads directly to the search. You can bookmark the query and experiment with it.
If you do this on a consistent basis and have some valuable expertise to share, people will appreciate it since you’re not trying to get something from them but contributing!
As for the “eggs”, I got good news for you, as well: A recent study showed that 64% of people were more likely to make a purchase from a company who answered their questions while 59 % grew more willing to follow a brand.
Ready to do some spring cleaning?
Let’s drop the mosquito marketers and their approach.
And have a great annoyance-free summer!
If you want to find out more about how to use Social Media more effectively without getting hung up on distractions and skewed promises you can also download my free ebook “A Mindful Guide to Social Media” – and no – I’m not asking you to sign up for anything.
img: CC via Travis S.