Thanks for the MeTweet

by on May 27, 2010 | posted in Marketing

I’ve been on Twitter since November, and since then, I’ve decided on following, at the time of this posting, 230 people. I use TweetDeck most hours of the day, so I’m starting to get a pretty solid grasp on Twitter marketing techniques – as in what works, what doesn’t, and how that fits into various profiles – whether that’s entertainment, personal accounts, or company accounts.

Beyond the simple intricacies that you could probably pick up with a decent IQ and having read 4 hours of strategy blog posts – such as using lists, keeping tweets short, and engaging with people – there’s a few extra curriculars I’ve picked up from a few of the most prolific accounts.

Two of those accounts are run by Hiten Shah – @hnshah and @KISSMetrics. Shah is the CEO and Co-Founder of KISSMetrics, as well as a former founder of CrazyEgg and ACS Consulting. He specializes in web metrics and helping startups.

It is my opinion that Shah’s Twitter approach, both on @hnshah and @KISSMetrics, is essentially flawless. It has a lot to do with his mix of engagement, quality content dissemination, and willingness to promote others – but there’s a small subtlety to his tweeting style that creates a true value creation proposition and almost eliminates all notions of self promotion, which makes people completely engage and love the accounts.

This is – as I’ve described it, the “metweet”, a deformed cousin of the retweet. Generally, retweets are adored because they help promote content, and are often considered an essentially selfless act. In Shah’s version, though, he manages to subvert this thought and both retain the positive, community and tribe building nature of the retweet, while also utilizing it as a self-promotion mechanism.

Before delving any deeper, let me show you some examples, both from @hnshah and @KISSMetrics.

Without personally promoting his own content, he manages to get the promotion done without coming off as a blowhard. By retweeting someone else, he grabs some additional mindshare and builds community and loyalty from said users, just like any other retweet. However, in this case, Hiten is promoting himself, but lets his users do the talking. As people see things like this happening, they feel increased desire to tweet something positive about KISSMetrics or Shah, both popular accounts, creating a promotion ball that just got shoved down a really tall hill in tech-friendly San Francisco.

The less he uses his own voice to push out his content, the more he is seen as a philanthropical, egalitarian user. Don’t get me wrong, he is definitely above average, if not near the top – but the perception outweighs reality due to these subtle tweaks in both accounts’ Twitter style, which are nearly identical.

Who should use the MeTweet?

This “MeTweet” concept is something more and more and power companies – and “hollow” power users – should adopt. When I say “hollow”, I mean that your account, if personal, must be almost completely devoid of personality. Shah’s Twitter feed is almost completely aggregated content relevant to his niche, and it has always contained zero personal commentary besides the recent birth of his child, Jayden Shah.

I’m trying to visualize a situation where someone could maintain some moderate percentage of metweets-to-quips where they wouldn’t seem like an egotistical brat – but I can’t. In example, Robert Scoble, blogger and prototype early adopter, somewhat commonly uses this style, yet is pretty unanimously viewed as an Egoblogger.

Therefore, it is most valuable to use this tactic in a more robotic fashion, which most commonly applies to businesses. It also allows for a less time-intensive style (if you’re a big company), as you have to spend less time thinking of things to Tweet that protect your brand and more time letting the positive sentiment spin through the Twitter content jungle. The more you jump from thing to thing and then randomly settle back on your ego, the stranger this act becomes. If you stay within one style that comments on a relatively small realm – for Shah, startups/metrics) – and these metweets fall within the same realm, you have the basis for acceptability. If you jump to TV and then SEO and then Rap and then randomly retweet someone saying something nice about you, you just look full of yourself, and not helpful at all.

Props to Shah for finding a technique that diverts from the standard, and more importantly, works. More and more businesses, and specific Twitter profile styles, should take on this technique. Shah will be the first – or the first who did it well – but he will not be the last to fully utilize it in order to maximize marketing returns on the blue bird.

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