I'm seeing more and more of this on Twitter, so I thought I'd share my two cents here and see what y'all think.
Mostly I'm noticing this Scan and Spam approach when I look at CVB Twitter accounts. They're not all doing it, but by and large you see a replication of approach. Specifically:
- They have more followers than they follow
- If you look at who they do follow, it tends to fall into three areas -- local member company Twitter accounts, media outlets, and various web 2.0 "must follows"
- When you look at their stream you see a lot of @TwitterHandle Glad to see you're coming to [name of city] be sure to check out [name of local establishment] for a great lunch or [name of establishment] for great kid friendly activities.
What you don't see, and this is where I'm thinking CVB's and other "destination" driven Twitter brands (hotels, restaurants, city entertainment brands) are missing the boat, is true engagement. The kind of true engagement I'm talking about starts with following back consumers that follow the CVB. Here is why I think that is an important first step.
Once you've identified that I'm coming to your city, wouldn't you want to follow me so you could see what I'm tweeting while I'm in town? If you did, you might see me asking for restaurant locations, or you might see a TwitPic of me and realize I have young children (which means you can tell me about your great children's museum) something you'd neglect to tell me if all you did was respond to my tweets that contained your handle or the name of your city. You'd get a chance to learn about me and help me by providing real-time concierge services and not just canned Twitter responses to anyone that happens to tweet they are coming to your city.
Second, you'd get a chance to continue the conversation after I'd left your city and gone back to mine. Why would you want to do this? Well ask yourself, when you come back from vacation, what do you spend most of your time talking about with co-workers and friends? See the connection? By making sure you're still talking to a visitor AFTER the visit, you get a chance to make sure they left happy, had a good time and didn't have any open issues. If they did have any open issues, like safety concerns, cleanliness, traffic, etc., you could address or mitigate those concerns before the visitor proceeds to share their latest vacation story with friends.
Third, it's free research. Not only can you get a pretty good post-visit survey, you can continue to "monitor" the visitor to see where else they travel to in the future. This can help you better understand your true competitive set, not just who you think your competitive set is. It may also help you to better categorize your visitors to create profiles and then market to those profiles.
Fourth, you get a remarking opportunity. By following back and building a relationship with a visitor you get permission to talk to them whenever you want. So the next time you lose a big citywide convention and the hotels in your city drop 30-40% occupancy because of it -- you have a built in, happy customer base that would likely welcome a "last minute Twitter follower only" deal. Will you replace all of that lost business, doubtful but hey, every bit helps right?
And lastly, if you can round up some pretty smart programmer types and marry them with linguistic and data analysis types -- I think you'll find that you can take those profiles I mentioned a minute ago and start to create proactive Twitter efforts that will help you find and follow Twitter users that will be predisposed to want to follow you back AND be open to your messages, if delivered properly.
All of this to say, that if you're current Twitter strategy is to scan and spam using Search.Twitter or some other type of search tool, I contend you can be doing a whole lot more if you'll just invest the time and effort to create real relationships and not just transactional ones.
But like I said, I may be off base. Y'all tell me. What do you think?