I had an interesting conversation with Ryan the other day regarding Harpoon's Twitter account. Neither of us have a great strength in marketing, nor do we have a ton of followers on our individual Twitter accounts. We've always stayed plenty busy with client work despite our lack of self-promotion. But with Harpoon we know we'll need to step out of our design and development comfort zones and step up our marketing efforts if the product is to be successful.
I Feel Dirty
So we started reading up on marketing strategies. It hasn't been easy. Have you ever tried to Google marketing topics? It's a dark world full of shady SEO articles and link bait blog posts that leave me feeling dirty after wading through them. Hard to find quality advice to say the least. But most of these articles make a big deal about the importance of Twitter followers to the success of a web product. I don't know if that's true, but the more the merrier seems to be the consensus.
How do you get these followers? Well, according to the shady articles you basically start following the crap out of anyone and everyone related to your topic of interest (in our case #freelancing) and hope they follow you back. If they don't, unfollow them. Nice. Also start tweeting and retweeting any link that might put you on the Twitter radar for your topic of interest. Don't even bother reading the articles. That'll just slow you down.
Now when I see other Twitter accounts doing what's described above my stomach turns and I avoid them like the plague. But this time the shoe is on the other foot. This time we're the ones trying to get attention. And wouldn't you know it we started following the advice of the marketing strategy gurus. First we found some list with a bunch of "suggested" people to follow. Then we built up a queue of auto-generated articles to tweet automatically, spread out during suggested times of the day. I feel dirty just talking about it.
Back to Reality
Halfway through the first morning of this "strategy" we called an all-hands meeting. This wasn't going to work. It's not us. It's not who we are. It's not how we want to succeed. We're building Harpoon because we're passionate about the product. We're passionate about having 100% control over the quality of the product, and we now know that needs to include how we market it if we want to be able to look ourselves in the mirror.
So we wrote some simple Twitter guidelines for Harpoon:
- We'll only follow accounts we're genuinely interested in as a company.
- We'll follow back anyone who has a genuine interest in us.
- We'll only tweet links to articles we enjoy ourselves, and consider genuinely beneficial to our potential user base.
- We won't flood our stream with too many links. We've agreed on three per day at the most, but even that might be too many.
- We'll only butt into conversations if we have something genuine to contribute that's beneficial to others in the conversation.
- We won't do anything on Twitter for the sake of promoting ourselves at the cost of being a burden to anyone else.
That feels better. No gimmicks. No shortcuts. Just us.
No, we're not marketing experts (yet), but you can't go against your gut. And in the end hopefully the relationships we'll build on Twitter, although maybe not as high in quantity, will be much higher in quality. We'll see how this plays out.