31 Mar 2010 @ 10:53 AM 

This column isn’t really beer related so much as it’s a long ramble of thoughts in preparation for a panel presentation at the upcoming Craft Brewers Conference. If you’re heading there, come see Storytelling 2.0: Social Media as a Conversation on Saturday morning where I’ll probably spend almost a whole minute talking about the contents of this column.

The reason that I’m focusing on Twitter and Facebook is that they are the two most ubiquitous forms of social media. Are there others? Yes. There are many others. It’s quite possible that one of them will turn out to be the Next Big Thing. It’s even more possible that the Facebook-killer is sitting as an unrealized dream in somebody’s head, waiting for VC and a team of developers. Let’s worry about the now.

Right now, Facebook and Twitter are kings of social media space. Very recently, Facebook logged more visitors than Google in a weekly metric for the first time. The media will write all kinds of grand, sweeping assumptions about what this means for internet usage, advertising markets, etc., etc. What it means to you and me is that a freakin’ lot of people are looking at Facebook. Twitter doesn’t see nearly that much traffic, but it’s equally as important. You just have to understand how it’s being used.

Social media is a unique medium. It is one in which you can’t necessarily target your audience, your audience targets you. That might not seem quite right up front if you think about traditional forms of media and advertising (television, radio, newspapers, magazines, and on and on) because you’re not in control of who is consuming your ad, right? Sure. Okay. But in all of those cases, the people who are selling advertising have a really good idea of the type of market demographic they’re reaching. They know their audience(s) and will tell you all about it. Television and radio change their advertising based on time of day because they have a good idea of who is watching or listening when. There’s a reason why sugary cereal commercials play on Saturday mornings and laxative commercials play during golf tournaments.

With Twitter and Facebook, you can only do blanket targeting a la, “I know that my target audience is beer-drinkers.” Certainly, using ads on Facebook you can target specific demographics quite effectively, but when it comes to someone “becoming a fan” of your business and consuming your day-to-day content, it is identical to Twitter where you have no control over who decides to actually follow you. It’s possible that down the road longitudinal data will be collected and statistics will be able to show you that, “Traditionally, 25 – 45 year old males use Facebook between the hours of 9 AM and 5 PM,” but that doesn’t currently exist. Or if it does, I’m not sure I’d trust it to be reliable, yet. There are broad sweeping rules that seem obvious: If you want clickthroughs, post to Facebook on the weekend… y’know.. when people aren’t at work.

In reality, I think that knowing your social media audience is about knowing their consumption habits.

Here’s my theory on Facebook v. Twitter. I have no scientific data to back me up. I have conducted no studies. I am just a big nerd that likes listening to himself type.

I think of social media as being made up of 3 types of usage. These usage types overlap with each other, so it’s a pretty classic Venn diagram.

Obvious: Creators create content, repeaters aggregate and disseminate content, consumers consume it.

For the most part, every user is built of all three of these. However, the extent to which they do any given one of these vs. the others will vary greatly. 90% of content on Twitter is created by 10% of the users. Think about that for a minute. It’s not that those other 90% aren’t there (okay.. some of them aren’t there), they’re there. They’re consuming.

You, as a brewery, as a business, are a Creator. It is important that you are also a Consumer, or you will come off as a Douchebag, which is not good for business. It is also important that you spend time being a Repeater, because Repeaters create community and community is what you want, but your primary role is a Creator. Your task is to get information to the Consumers, and you will largely do it through the Repeaters. Many Consumers will find you directly, but chances are they will do so via a Repeater. So why is it important that you Consume and Repeat as well as Create?

Because social media is a conversation.

I mean, it’s “social” media for crissakes. Like any good conversation, it’s about give and take and balance. When you show that you are willing to interact with others, others will feel like you’re a valuable conversation partner and will disseminate your content as well. It’s about relationships – just like sales.

If you are only a Creator – if you use Twitter and Facebook as a press release machine – people will stop following you pretty quickly because you have no added value. You need to engage with people to be successful in this medium. You can’t just put stuff out there like it’s a billboard. It won’t work. However! It is essentially the largest, free-est billboard you have available to you.

Let me get back on topic: The difference between Twitter and Facebook.

Facebook, regardless of what their founders may have envisioned or would like it to be, is built (maybe even a little ironically) around privacy. That is probably the largest source of their success. It allows people to have an environment where they can be both social and more-or-less safe and private. People that are posting pictures of their babies and families don’t necessarily want that information to be repeated and shared to total strangers.

Twitter has no filter. Everything that is created goes out to everyone. People that use Twitter a lot revel in that. They are attention seekers.

Note: You can protect your tweets – lock them from people seeing them without your permission – but there is anecdotal evidence that shows that when you protect your tweets you essentially cut yourself off from viral community growth, which is the strength of Twitter. People won’t ask to follow you if they don’t personally know you.

In other words, Twitter is an extrovert tool and Facebook is an introvert tool. It’s a gross generalization, but it works.

Here’s a guess: I would bet that most Twitter users have a Facebook account but that most Facebook users do not have a Twitter account. Twitter users will talk to anyone and everyone, Facebook users only really talk to their friends.

While there’s a fair amount of content crossover between Twitter and Facebook, you have to use these tools differently.

When you post something on Facebook that people like, they will “Like” it to give you feedback that you’ve done something, or said something right. Some people may comment on it. For the most part, it’s only going out to the people that are following you as fans. These people are enthusiastic for your product, since they have chosen to receive updates from a business in the midst of their private and personal space. That is even more reason to not treat it as a press release machine. Remember: You don’t have to convince these people. They already know who you are and what you do. They’re already fans and customers. They’re following you because they’ve bought into your vision and they want to engage with you and interact.

When you post something on Twitter that people like, they will Re-Tweet it. Those people may not be following you because they’re existing customers. Twitterers are just as likely to follow you because you look interesting, you seem interesting, or you’ve Tweeted something once that they were intrigued by. They are also just as likely to stop following you because you’re boring or you’re annoying. They are the social butterflies of the internet.

When you post to Facebook, it’s your job to make announcements to your customers and start conversations. Ask leading questions. Get feedback. Invite people to events. Post photo albums. Most importantly: Consider that the information on your Fan Page takes a much longer time to move than it does on your user’s “Recent Posts” listing and that they can and will use your page as a time line to go back and read over recent, and even not-so-recent posts. Facebook is much more of an on-going time line that people will scroll back through to see what’s happened. Because they generally are only friends with people they know in Real Life, they’re likely to be following far fewer people than your average Twitterer. You can over-post.

When you post to Twitter, it’s your job to be a fun and interesting conversationalist. Ask leading questions, but also answer them. Create relationships, because those with whom you have good relationships will be your biggest fans. Post photos, but use them as part of your daily story line. Don’t assume that they’ll necessarily stay around for people to see later, because most people won’t bother finding them. Twitter is like a snapshot of life. Because of that, it might seem like a smart idea to repeat the same information over and over again so that others who aren’t looking at the snapshot when you post will see it, but by doing that you’ll antagonize the frequent watchers – and those are the big Repeaters.

On both sites, trust that information will disseminate. It’ll happen. These sites are the very definition of viral marketing. If you have something valuable, it will spread. Like any good conversation, people will revisit a topic later, especially one that they’ve enjoyed. Let them do it. The challenge is to create something valuable and to keep that conversation going.

Posted By: erik
Last Edit: 31 Mar 2010 @ 03:24 PM



Responses to this post » (7 Total)

  1. christopher says:

    How do you see people’s personal filters fitting in to the different networks? Being world readable doesn’t seem to effect want a number of nit-twits post but it certainly makes me think twice about who my audience is. I was going to retweet this article with:

    “[also be ] a Consumer, or you will come off as a Douchebag” – that’s why all my startups failed http://bit.ly/d0G5bF

    I decided not to because a number of sensible folks follow me now whom I don’t want seeing me as a crass individual. I probably wouldn’t hesitate to post it in facebook since one has the illusion of privacy and in theory finer control of who has access to the comment. I also would be more likely to cuss or speak my mind on my blog.

    All I can think of is the likely audience. I can’t control who follows me but I can better target all or some of them with different media. On twitter I am followed by/following friends, family, farmers, brewers, professional colleagues, robots, your mom…all of networks are aggregated into one group. On a blog or (i assume) a Facebook blurb only a subset of your acquaintances are likely to see it. Even tho anyone *can* see it, I know who is *most likely* to see it and filter myself accordingly. Say hi to Charlie for me.

  2. Mike G says:

    Here’s a guess: I would bet that most Twitter users have a Facebook account but that most Facebook users do not have a Twitter account. Twitter users will talk to anyone and everyone, Facebook users only really talk to their friends.

    I’d venture to say you are right on that one. Interesting synopsis. For what its worth, of all your online media, I found you via Twitter.

    • erik says:

      I get a lot more traffic via Twitter than I do via Facebook. A lot of that has to do with the fact that I under utilize Facebook.

      I have a Facebook fan page, but I don’t post to it much, because, as a blogger, I’m having a difficult time finding added value that I can post via the fan page that I don’t already post via my personal page. 90% of the people that are fans of my blog on Facebook follow me personally, so I’m trying not to repeat content for them.

  3. ingrate says:

    Erik, this was a very interesting read. I liked your Venn diagram and I think you are on to something thinking about social media from that viewpoint. Thanks.

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