I didn’t want to have to write this post but I’ve talked with so many people that feel the same way I do that I’ve realized this might actually be some useful feedback for Shorty contestants everywhere.
First, a couple of disclaimers: I don’t know Dave (@madmain on Twitter) personally [Update: He reminded me that we did speak on the phone a year ago about using the RichmondWiki project in his new media seminars, but I did not count a 15-minute phone call a personal relationship] but I hear he’s actually a nice guy in real life. I have no personal beef with him and my opinions certainly aren’t shared by everybody else. I just call it like I see it.
But since he’s asking so many times and in so many ways, I can’t sit by and not offer my reasons for NOT voting for him to win a Shorty Award. I guess it’s my way of offering some insight into why people might not be inclined to vote. Who knows, maybe this will help somebody win next year without alienating a lot of followers in the process.
I have not, and will not, vote for @madmain for a Shorty award because:
1. Direct Message Spam
What you tweet about is your own business, but when you ask your employees to DM [Update: Dave said he didn’t ask his employees to DM people, they did it because they wanted to…but it came from the agency account so in my mind it came from the company/brand = same thing] me asking for a vote you are spamming, plain and simple. I don’t view the message below any differently than I would an unsolicited email that I did not opt in to receive. What does that accomplish? It lowers my opinion of the brand/company/person that sent it.
2. Overly Repetitive Requests for Votes
One or two requests for votes are fine. But hundreds upon hundreds [Update: Dave counted and said he had only 92 “asks” in 3 weeks. Sorry for the hyperbole] and dozens [Update: Dave counted and said it was only an average of 4.5 each day] each day come across as begging and do not an interesting conversation make.
Any social media marketer knows that repeatedly begging and cajoling your followers for “conversions” is a losing long-term strategy. Social networks and community-driven sites are supposed to be built on mutual value and reciprocal relationships. Brands that simply shout are going to be ignored because they ask but don’t give.
My favorite Twitter analogy is that of a cocktail party. Short conversations with interesting people that can potentially lead to follow-ups and larger conversations. The last time I was at a bar and somebody begged me for something it was a dude selling roses. He was kind enough to drop the issue after a polite “no”.
3. Shifting Signal to Noise Ratio
I still follow @madmain because he occasionally offers an interesting perspective or clues me in to a person that I would want to follow (although not with #followfriday pimping). That’s how it’s supposed to work. But when the ratio of vote requests to useful content increases dramatically it becomes harder to follow the conversation and derive value from the relationship (for me, at least). [Update: Dave counted and said he tweeted over 500 “non-asks” things during the same time period]
4. There’s Nothing In It For Me
Again, back to the value equation. What do I gain from voting? If it meant I could opt out of the unsolicited DM’s and redundant requests for votes then I would consider it. But so far you’ve only taken, you haven’t given me anything in return.
Would a vote secure a future reciprocal act? Again, there’s some value there but it hasn’t been conveyed so I have to assume I have nothing to gain from voting.
5. Social Media Should Not Be a Popularity Contest
As I’ve said before (a year ago today, actually), social media is just communications enabled by newer technologies. It’s still just People + Relationships + Communication. Twitter is just a technology that allows the number of people and communications to scale, sometimes too easily and too fast.
If we can assume that most people use social media to develop relationships and communicate, we must also assume that those people want to develop quality relationships. What happens as the quantity of those relationships increases? The quality must decrease.
Again, this is not a personal attack, but more of an explanation that Shorty contestants all over may find useful. I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments, on twitter, or over a beer.