Breakdown: 4 Ways Brands Are Earning –and Buying– Followers on Twitter

Update: July 6th, I added a 4th way, as I recently met a developer this weekend who showed me the scripts he created to quickly auto follow thousands of folks.

Companies who don’t have iconic brands with millions of adoring fans, often have to resort to other ways to get the attention of the market.  This isn’t evil, nor is it uncommon, it’s just business, and was here before the web, and will be afterwards.  Don’t get mad or emotional about it, let’s break it down to understand how it’s going to work, if you’re a concerned user, use this post to figure out how to beat it.  If you’re a marketer, figure out what works –and throw away what doesn’t.

Breakdown: How Brands Are Buying –and Earning– Followers on Twitter
As a result, we’re seeing some of the same method applied to the web and email as to the social space.  Here’s three examples (again in outline form) that I saw this week.


1) The Sweepstakes Giveaway: Moonfruit becomes a Trending Topic

  • Summary: This giveaway contest spurs word of mouth –results in opt-in “registration”
  • How they did it: Moonfruit offers website building services, and is offering a new computer to those that tweet about the contest (see their official contest page), the only way to receive a product is if you follow their account (opt-in).  Of course, this means the members are subject to future messages.
  • This is the same as: Contests, WOM marketing, tell-a-friend.
  • Benefits: Rapid word of mouth about a brand driving awareness and opt-in as people follow the account, likely a percentage of followers will convert and buy the service.
  • Risks: This doesn’t build long term engagement with a brand, and it’s likely many will unfollow after the contest is over.
  • Costs:  10 Macbook Pro (13″) which is $1500 each for a total of $15,000.  If the follower count retains at 10k a day (it’s day 3 today) for 10 days resulting in 100,000 followers, that’s about $.66 a follower, not including marketing efforts.
  • Results: Big wins.  Moonfruit is a trending topic 3 days after the contest landed, there are thousands of retweets and tweets about the brand, as well as an increase in followers of about 10,000 a day (graph).Update: It’s now July 6th and the Moonfruit account has stalled out at 43k followers –it didn’t grow 10k as the first 3 days did. It’s also no longer a trending topic. Techcrunch Europe comments.
  • My take: A natural extension of other marketing forms to Twitter. The giveaway prize matches well with the type of clientele the brand wants, and it’s certainly generating a high degree of discussion for at least 10 days.  This really isn’t a new model, and we should expect more brands to offer these types of sweepstakes, however to make it better, the tweets should be more inline with the brand promise, such as asking the followers to tweet about “what website they love, or would build”

2) Buying Customer Matching Lists: uSocial Promises Relevant Followers

  • Summary: Service  called uSocial offers brand cost per action (CPA) advertising resulting in customer match
  • How they do it:  uSocial  matches brands with suggest followers that have similar affinities, keywords, or profile information, BBC has the story.   It looks like they will find matches, and suggest to twitter users that you follow that brand, (likely through an automated spammy system) till the reserve is met.
  • This is the same as: What’s new is old again.  This is very similar to direct marketers buying email lists of prospects that have similar demographic or affinity information.  Martin agrees.  Kevin Marks makes a good point that it’s not like email, as you can’t make folks follow them on Twitter. I suggest it’s the same, as you can’t get a user to open a spammy email.
  • Benefits:  They promise lots of followers within a few days, a very low cost.
  • Risks: Brand damage.  If the market finds out (it should be easy) that a brand isn’t earning their followers, they risk backlash and people unfollowing, or even worse, unfollowing.
  • Costs:  The lowest package (there are others) is $87 for 1000 followers–it breaks down to 8 cents a follower.  If you buy the 100,000 follower package it drops down to 3 cents a follower.
  • Results:  I’ve not heard if this works, I’m sure someone will report back to me.
  • My Take: Use as a last resort: If it looks to good to be true, it probaly is.  The uSocial site looks like a ‘get rich quick’ site, the design comes across really spammy themselves.  It’s likely brands that do buy this will likely act in a similar way, and I wouldn’t expect followers to stick around if they behave in a similar way.   It’s likely a brand that goes for the quick hit doesn’t have a long term strategy to interact with their public market, and will use Twitter as a distribution point. However, brands that do have a community strategy, and have developed relationships using Twitter, could certainly benefit from the increased awareness to likely prospects –the only risk is that it may come across as spammy as uSocial makes recommendations.

3) Product Discounts or Specials: Dell Offers Followers Specials

  • Summary: Some brands are generating followers by providing special deals to followers.
  • How they do it:  For some time, Dell is offering reduced priced or refurbed products on their Dell Outlets Twitter account.
  • This is the same as: signing up for emails to receive discounts.
  • Benefits:  A low cost channel to sell products to an opt-in crowd, avoiding excess inventory.
  • Risks: Can’t think of any, leave a comment if you have one.
  • Costs:  Inexpensive.  It appears there is a community manager responding and answering questions, so the cost of this part time employee, or contractor, must be accounted for.
  • Results: Dell has made the claims they’ve generated over $3 million in revenues from this single account.  Of course, that’s a drop in the bucket for this tech giant.
  • My Take: Replicate. This is a great use of using the medium to obtain more interested followers that are requesting to be customers.  The downside is that not every company has products to offer on a discount, nor the brand appeal.  Brands should find ways to offer special deals to this highly viral community, offsetting the costs by weighing in the benefits of WOM and press coverage.

4) Auto Following Scripts and Services: Get followed by following

  • Summary: A variety of services have been released that will find followers for your account to follow, then do an auto-follow script that will add them. The hope is that many of them will auto follow you back, out of courtesy, in order to increase follower amount. The downside? It can look spammy, and many who return the follow are often bots.
  • How they do it: Similar to the Usocial service, they find followers (sorted by keyword, geo, name, etc) and start to follow. There’s a limit to how many Twitter will let a script auto follow per day. After a few days, the Twitter account will be following thousands of other accounts, and the hope is that many will follow in return.
  • This is the same as: Cross linking and link farms. Websites a few years ago would share cross links in hoping of increasing their page rank –soon Google caught on to this and started to regulate. A whole industry of ‘link farms’ emerged, however some of the sites involved with this were penalized by Google.
  • Benefits: Cheap way to get lots of followers.
  • Risks: Brand damage by being somewhat spammish, and many of the return followers are likely bots just returning the follow. As a result, the returns for this may not be mixed: some new followers may be your target market, although not all will be the ideal individual.
  • Costs: I’ve heard of package that can add a few thousand followers for around $25-$100, it’s just a simple script to run.
  • Results: You will get lots of followers if you follow others –although you’ll have to live with the risks
  • My Take: Easy come, easy go. While many popular twitter users go on a rampage to follow as many people as they can, I find the slow organic way of letting the right folks opt-in is the a better long term strategy. The Twitter founders Biz and Ev told me first hand they frown on people who do mass follows, at some point we should expect Twitter to clamp down on this behavior, just as Google did with link gaming.

Hope this breakdown is helpful, it’s important to look under the covers and analyze.  Of course, I’ve not discussed the organic way of brands providing helpful content, interacting, or supporting customers, but that’s been written to death by the many social media bloggers.

70 Replies to “Breakdown: 4 Ways Brands Are Earning –and Buying– Followers on Twitter”

  1. Hi Jeremiah,
    Good timing!
    We are currently figuring out how to use contest to create more awareness for our brand.
    I like the first example.However young companies cannot always afford the same means.We will try to be very creative to reach our goals with twitter combined to others social media platform.
    Thanks for sharing!

    Jean-Paul

  2. Hi Jeremiah,
    This post is perfect timing. I speak with a lot of home builders large and small, and Twitter seems always to be a main topic of discussion. “Should we go for thousands of followers by means of the pay for followers model, or should we go for earning followers that results in conversations?” I recommend not taking shortcuts but earn the following of your consumers. It takes time and effort but will result in genuine influence. Influence, in the end, will result in better fans and greater word of mouth marketing.

    Thank you for breaking it down.

    Jim Adams – CEO
    New Homes Directory.com
    @Jim_Adams
    http://www.JimAdams.me

  3. Hi Jeremiah,

    A risk of offering product discounts and specials is it perpetuates the consumer’s behavior of buying only when they can get it on sale or at a discount. I’m not saying to never do it. Just have a really special reason to offer it.

    Retailers should want their customers to support their brand because of consistent brand features like product quality and performance and customer service, not because they got a special price or added value. Lower prices don’t create loyal and raving fans. They create brand hoppers that are always looking for the best price.

    A great post as always. Generates good food for thought.

    Connie

  4. I agree with that Connie. Macy’s has sales from marked up items just about every week –as consumers we know that and just end up waiting for certain products –or seek them elsewhere.

  5. Hey Jeremiah,

    I like to believe that quality over quantity is more important for a brand or company and to culminate that relationship over time. Doing these WOM sweeps etc is a great idea to get new followers, but from there it is the brand’s job to form relevant connections, listen, join the conversation and keep those followers.

  6. What strikes me about this article is the Moonfruit Twitter marketing campaign. I agree with your observation on their rapid expansion technique, and subsequent value-basis per follower; however, I’m more inclined to believe that the followship garnered from this campaign, will remain intact post-giveaway, since these are the gamblers of the consumer groups… they’ll need to be given a reason to un-follow, and beyond that, I would go so far as to say Moonfruit is likely developing a strategy for that attention.

    I wonder what they’ll do next?

  7. I think the way Dell is buying followers is by tooting their horn a bunch about how much money they’ve made on Twitter (the thinly veiled mssg being “businesses, if you use twitter you could make $3m in sales”) and arguably thus getting their e-commerce link pushing account added to the Suggested Users List on Twitter.

  8. The #moonfruit promotion rules do not require that you follow. It is strongly implied. But you can check winners on the web site. I participate in some of these hash tag lotteries – but only if they don’t require the @ follow.

  9. Thanks Lon, you’re right, it doesn’t require but it’s strongly implied:

    “You can be creative with your tweet or re-tweet our message, don’t forget to follow @moontweet to find out if you’ve won.”

    However if users are tweeting to hopes to win, I’m sure they’ll follow –why risk not winning the prize.

  10. Hi Jeremiah, thank you for the great post. In your opinion what is the best way to create a viral social media campaign specifically for the tourism industry? I see a lot of contests/giveaways out already but they just remind me of the old email contests. Any thoughts?

  11. Where in the analysis is the impact of the externalities, ie the unwanted impacts – a lot of people are getting very annoyed by being spammed with moonfruit twts for example, and it is starting to get a strong kickback and negative press…..

  12. Thanks, Jeremiah. Interesting post.

    I wonder to what extent the folks participating in the contest may continue to recall the brand well after the contest ends? To this extent, using a contest as a pure branding play via follower acquisition, no matter the retention, could be beneficial. The first impactful contest that I can recall on Twitter, for instance, was @NameCheap’s 24 days of Christmas trivia contest where they gave away domain names every hour for 24 days last December. Note that I still recall their brand name 7 months later…

    As for Dell, when I created the @DellOutlet account in May 2007 and talked with @StefanieatDell about how to grow our followers, I was already being followed by Twitter “spammers” who followed me even though I didn’t use/buy their product (they were following EVERYBODY in the hopes of getting some to follow back – nearly the definition of a Twitter spammer to me). Stefanie and I agreed this was not the approach we should take for @DellOutlet. We decided then to put the offers and discounts out there and let the account grow organically. I’m happy it’s been successful, but the difference between Dell and the average small/medium business is pretty vast. Dell already has great brand awareness in many countries, particularly the U.S., while a smaller company may be struggling to get noticed and reach people who’d be interested in their products/services if they only knew they were available. As such it’s important to consider how that should happen. My personal belief is that it’s important for the company not to take shortcuts such as spamming, due to the likely brand backlash inherent in spamming, but contests and special offers can be good – as long as there’s an understanding that follower counts due to a contest may not last and that discounts only work if there’s a commensurate attempt to establish relationships with followers.

    Everything varies, of course, but at a minimum every business should want to know if they’re being talked about on Twitter, and – if so – they should probably respond. Beyond that, branding on Twitter, just as in other media, requires some level of commitment and effort. Contests may lend themselves for brand awareness, but if the brand then does something incongruous and off-putting to it’s followers all that could be for naught. If there’s no intention of continuing offers/discounts in the long term, attempting to grow one’s followers with this method could also backfire in that it sets the expectation that the reason to follow is to get a great deal on the product in which one is interested. Only when a brand approaches these as ways to get some initial attention that can be followed upon by true interaction with the intention to build relationships/community is it likely that most small/medium business will see benefits in the long term for these techniques.

    Again, thanks for a thought-provoking post.

    — Ricardo Guerrero
    @ggroovin

    Founder & Principal, Stwittergy
    @STWITT3RGY

  13. Ricardo Guerrero

    Good to hear a founders’ perspective, were you a Dell employee then?

    Alan P, not surprising at all really. As the contest becomes more popular, folks will certainly get annoyed.

  14. I was then and still am, actually, but in a totally different role and department. I’m also in the process of creating a Twitter metrics & reporting tool as my own business, Stwittergy. Happy to share with you as we enter Beta partners phase in the next month or so.

    Cheers!

  15. Jeremiah,

    I asked my staff who were tweeting up Moonfruit and before that squarespace – what they were, they had notionally only a clue. Blind contests are the high value coupons of the internet. It may be one thing to have someone’s email from a contest that drives database entries, it’s quite another thing getting self-serving tweeters on your wall….there is not much value there if they haven’t been pulled by content, but pushed by your incentive. Great for name awareness, horrible for other motives.

    Don’t even talk to about #2 – although mass is still necessary, brokering eyeballs as suggested breaks so many unwritten rules of the social media space.

    #3 is the way to go – fortunately Dell had a great, credible brand name beforehand. Whatever happened to being creative, outrageous to get attention

    Sean

  16. Interesting post Jeremiah! Good of you to point out that it is very much about using existing marketing techniques in a new format.

    Marc

  17. Hi jeremiah,

    Cool Insights, . In future, there will be companies coming in for helping customers to run a promo campaign in Twitter. And may be I w’ll try a shot

  18. I just updated this post with a FOURTH entry. I met a developer who showed me his scripts that can follow thousands of people within a number of days –hoping that others will follow back.

  19. i think the contest idea is quite effective if executed well and succeeds in reaching the right demographic they want to attract.

    the uSocial — hate it. it just rubs me the wrong way. i notice they’ve stopped bragging about which “big companies” hire them. i remember some months ago they had some brand logos plastered all over their site. i refrain from even mentioning them on Twitter b/c some idiot in some big company desperate to show their boss their ROI skills on social media probably is inclined to use their services. i’m sure if uSocial will sell the names of twitter people, they’ll sell their client list for a price too. it’d be interesting to see which companies are taking the ultimate short cut of just going for the numbers.

    the auto-follow is also lame. i know because i used to do it. your timeline is filled with so much junk …as a brand i would wonder what the point was. in the long run this doesn’t build a loyal base of customers or fans of the brand. it just adds your twitter name to the list of those who will follow back. like that kid in school who says signs everyone’s yearbook saying “have a cool summer, you’re my best friend” to all the kids. lame.

  20. Thanks Christine, that’s very helpful. I wonder what Scoble and other top twitter users are going to do? He’s following over 100,000 people. Perhaps we should weigh the value of twitter followers by their *RATIO* of followers to those they are following.

  21. Keep in mind there are 2 types of auto-follow. One is more spammy than the other. The first is, as you mention, actively going out and following as many as you can hoping they’ll follow back. (I call this the “Twitter Game”, and it can very well get your account suspended if you’re caught) The other is only reciprocating the follow – considered a kind gesture (imagine a Britney Spears fan getting followed back by her – it feels good), and also enabling your followers to DM you back.

    The spam accounts following you and your auto-following back (which Christine mentions) is definitely an issue we have to work around. This is the reason we’re focusing on auto-unfollow with SocialToo. I’ll never provide a service which actively finds new followers just due to the potential for spam, but what I can do is provide services which detect the spammers, by keywords in bios, dms, replies, default pictures, number of tweets, or just overall spam score of people that have flagged them as such, and each user can choose who gets auto-followed that way. The goal is to cut out on the spammers significantly this way. You’ll see a lot more from us in this area.

    Another technique people use to gain traffic/hits (some think it’s polite – it’s not) is to automatically DM those that follow you. So, ideally, the more followers you can get, the more potential click-throughs you get through those auto-DMs. This is another thing we stopped doing at SocialToo due to its abuse, but it is definitely a technique used by some brands to build traffic. I think it’s ineffective and hurts your brand in the end however. SocialToo enables users to flag people that do this and you can opt not to follow people flagged by others as such.

  22. This is an interesting question even from the personal level. As a technologist (working for Intel and twittering as intel_chris) who is interested in find others interested in the same areas on twitter, it is the same issue. You follow some people who have posted on a topic you are interested in and hope they will follow back. You also try to post interesting content. However, you still may end up following more than follow you and have a certain number of followers that may be bots or spammers.

    Note, I did a similar thing in the early 90’s on the newsgroup comp.compilers. I’m sure some people wrote me off as simply pushing my product Yacc++. However, over time persistence and having real content paid off and the feedback suggests that I’m now a valued member of that community.

    Finally, I should note that my employer Intel is supporting my twittering in the hopes of reaching embedded developers and truly engaging them. Again, the goal is real relationships, although numbers of followers is a simple metric that I’m certain will be measured.

  23. One more comment for those considering contests. Around 2000 I used to fill out web surveys, join online contests, etc. It lasted for about a year and then I began to realize that, although I got some return from the survey companies, overall I was just giving away personal information and encouraging myself getting spammed. I now feel the same way about the moonfruit contest, while it would have been nice to win a macbook, it isn’t worth the risk of spam and I probably will never do another.

  24. What we’re doing at @SEGA is a modification of the Moonfruit model, and one that works really well for us. We give stuff away to our followers every Friday, and we’ve taken to calling it Free Stuff Friday (or #freestufffriday).

    Because our @SEGA account is contributed to by our US and UK teams, we alternate weeks of giveaway. Items to be given away are pulled together early in the week, and we photo/video them, and blog them on Wednesday or Thursday for people to pass around and get excited about. Items include games, T-shirts, soundtracks, figurines, or anything else we have around. We’ve even given away stuff from our personal collections of SEGA stuff before. Games are region locked, and therefore restricted, but anyone is eligible to win anything else regardless of where they live.

    The giveaway mechanism is simple. We announce the prize, announce a word or phrase, and what number DM you have to be to win. So, for example, the 10th person to DM “Madworld” would win a Madworld soundtrack. We’ve modeled it after a call-in radio contest, and it works very well on Twitter.

    As word spreads, we’ve surpassed 10,000 followers and we grow by about a few hundred per week pretty steadily. This doesn’t have a huge one-time impact like Moonfruit, but it gives incentive to follow us and to keep following us for next week’s giveaway. In the meantime, they receive information and updates about our games because they are following us.

    Kellie Parker (@kellieparker)
    Community Manager
    SEGA of America

  25. I think most new tweople, think that twitter will promote their brand in a very efficient way, but that’s not the case. brands moving to twitter create an additional channel, but without a brand, trying to build a brand with Twitter is very hard. I might be wrong, but cannot think of a brand that has exploded on twitter from tweets alone.

    With that being said, starting an account, posting 1 affiliate link tweet, and using an auto follower is pointless. Yes it is spam, but seriously, if you follow them back, it’s your fault for the spam you will get.

    on the other hand, twitter has millions of groups, albeit, there is no structure for groups, but millions of people are talking about the same thing and creating a structure for group discussions. The Twitter search API (Twitter has 3 different API’s BTW) allows you to find these groups and when the data is taken off of twitter and analyzed it is pretty awesome what is happening. reply’s, trends and streams on Twitter do not show any of this.

    What do you do when you want in on that group? There are people talking about food, real estate, tv, etc… to break it down even further, there are people talking about food is san francisco, tv on comcast, etc…

    In these situations the autofollower is essential to joining groups and building relationships… not spamming those groups.

    Twitter has made note that they are heavily pursuing auto follower scripts and suspending them. Twitter has recently lowered their API follower call rate from 1000 to 500/day, without updating any docs, wikis, or forums. I think it’s funny how they want to be THE “What are you doing” website, yet don’t follow their own mantra and keep the developers informed = #twitterfail

    It’s going to be interesting over the next few months to see how this evolves, how can they promote relationships and also maintain the ability to follow the groups of people that are important to your brand?

  26. extremly nice article. Thanks for sharing this! I think that both usocial and autofollowing scripts strategies are spammy and won’t be that successful in the near future.

  27. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and work again. Instinctively option 1 and 3 seems more honest, you get or you may get something from us if you give or do something back. As mentioned here not all companies have the opportunity afford a big prize or a discount, but something is better than nothing.

    Anyway I think that the most important issue is to be completely honest and open about the campaign. The user should not feel forced or tricked into do something they do not want to or understand. Both alternative 1 and 3 are easy to make that way, and it should also be made easy to leave the campaign as it was to enter. As you say business is business and we all struggle for attention.

  28. Jeremiah – I like the post. I do worry about these services and tactics. They create short-term buzz and results thus leading companies to thinking they have made a major impact in the social web space when maybe they are just making noise that will die with the campaign. How many times have we seen the big spike in viewers or a new microsite, promotion or campaign, only to notice a few months later no one coming back and no one caring.

    We must figure out how to have a long-term impact that we can build our brands on. Thanks for digging under the covers of these tactics.

    Bert DuMars
    VP E-Business & Interactive Marketing
    Newell Rubbermaid
    http://www.newellrubbermaid.com
    http://socialmediaeocsystem.blogspot.com
    http://twitter.com/bwdumars

  29. Hi Jeremiah
    Great, current article. Moonfruit appears to be the first to market doing this properly and it has worked.
    Bravo to them.
    Regards
    Jon

  30. Bert, we agree. These are really tactics, or campaigns, (cept for Dell, but who has many other Dell Twitter accounts) and shouldn’t be seen as a long term strategy.

  31. Hi Jeremiah. Thanks for your article, Thought it was well researched and insightful.

    I think lots of people are interested in the ROI on this campaign. We’ve been blown away by the response and so far results wise it’s exceeded expectations. I think though by far the most heartening result has been in the area of brand awareness and affinity. We have had thousands of creative responses as to what is Moonfruit? How many brands could say they’ve had songs, animations, paintings, haiku’s and videos made about their brand and products. Thanks and respect to Twitterverse.

    http://www.moonfruitlounge.com/post/2009/07/04/Real-people-get-creative-with-moonfruit

    Jeremiah, if you’re interested in strategy and results would be happy get in touch.

    Wendy (Founder Moonfruit)

  32. Jeremiah:

    As someone twittering officially for Cargill’s BiOH polyols division on my own timeline @tkpleslie, I can tell you that what works for us is deep, real engagement. My client does not measure my success for her brand by the number of followers-she measures it based on the VELOCITY and the QUALITY of connections that I am able to bring to her that have real business value, i.e. revenue potential for her brand. My social media work for BiOH polyols has been extremely successful on delivering on this objective and never once has she asked me or even cared about the NUMBER of followers or suggested that this is a metric we should care about.

    It’s interesting to me to see brands care so much about follower numbers. To me, it’s irrelevant. What matters is the depth of your relationship, the relevance of your followers to your needs and the speed at which you can bring your client and your followers together to produce a mutually beneficial revenue result.

    Does this take money and time? Yes. Is it worth it? If you are a brand that values loyalty and integrity of messaging, I think so, but I am always interested in the thoughts of others.

    I would never advise a client to go after the numbers-in the LONG run, what does that do for a client? I think it hurts them. #just sayin’

  33. Jeremiah:

    Two posts in a row..

    Having said what I said in the last post re: Cargill’s BiOH polyols division-my client, I want to add that we ARE starting a video marketing campaign CONTEST on Monday, July 13th whose sole purpose is to EDUCATE consumers -not gain followers! It’s funny, we never even discussed follower gain! What we DO care about is, by giving away 100.00 a day for making the most insightful comment (notice how this is not about spreading something, BUYING something, using a hashtag on your tweets, etc.) on our videos of various furniture manufacturers talking about their new eco friendly furniture will help EDUCATE people about eco friendly furniture and how foams made with soy vs. all oil (BiOH polyols’ business is soy polyol production) fit into this picture.

    If anyone doubts my clients’ willingness to educate authentically, pls. read the following paragraph and understand that I can’t say it without permission: I want anyone reading this to know that my client truly values integrity and has never had any intention of gaming the system on Twitter to gain followers:

    Foams made with soy are not the greenest option. They are a BETTER choice, to be sure, than 100% oil based foams, but latex is the greenest option. It has its issues(very hard to sit on) which is why soy is more popular, BUT, for those who are truly green, green ,green-latex is the way to go. NOW, that level of transparency and authenticity on behalf of a brand- with the many people who will read this comment- is the key to building brand loyalty- NOT the number of followers, fans, etc.

    People respect honesty-even when it may cost the brand money… people don’t RESPECT, ADMIRE and ASK for a brand-OVER TIME-when the only thing the brand has going for it is discounts, give aways, etc. It’s not sustainable. INTEGRITY is sustainable-always-even when it might cost a brand money- and I hope I’ve just shown that to your readers.

  34. Realize I’m very late to this discussion, but it seems to me those that can carve out a niche and provide useful content in that niche are the ones that are going to be successful. I analyzed the content of Tweets for Whole Foods (http://bit.ly/dG78Y) and Zappos (http://bit.ly/pKAxh) — two of the more successful non-tech/media brands using social media with regards to followers — and they each have distinct content that speaks to their specific brand, culture and niche. Plus very little of the content is promotional or deal driven by nature (granted it’s there, but part of an overall content mix and strategy). So to me you need to add a 5th way to the list: valuable content.

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  37. Twitter followers have really exploded lately. The phenomenal growth has catapulted lots of businesses into their prime. Most seem unaffected by the recession. What’s going on?

  38. Twitter followers have really exploded lately. The phenomenal growth has catapulted lots of businesses into their prime. Most seem unaffected by the recession. What’s going on?

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