Mashable reported yesterday that John Mayer shut down his Twitter account, leaving 3.7 million followers high and dry. The reason? He was only using Twitter to promote his recent tour; otherwise, he mostly communicates through his blog.
I’m so glad to hear that Mayer is committed to blogging. However, the Mashable folks and I had a very similar reaction to his Twitter reneg: Seriously? You’re never going to have another tour again?
It seems insane to purposefully say goodbye to a fanbase of any size. But strangely enough, I’ve seen lots of advocacy folks doing basically the same thing. Maybe they’re not shutting their accounts down (though some of them are), but they might as well be.
So what’s the fan-busting equivalent of the delete button?
Creating Facebook and Twitter accounts for each individual advocacy campaign instead of using one organizational brand to promote multiple campaigns. There are times when this is not true, of course. For example, if the campaign is run by a coalition of organizations, or it’s a long-term project that is significantly different in theme and scope than your organization’s original mission. But what if your project basically boils down to a single action alert, well within bounds? Why not keep your brand–and your fanbase–intact?
Creating an account for a brief offshoot campaign before or instead of an organizational account. What happens when that campaign ends? Do you really think your fans will follow you to your website, a different Twitter handle or a more generic Facebook page? Brand as broadly as possible to get the most fans as you can, and then set about categorizing them by interest by which of your action alerts they take.
Creating an account for one purpose but then using it for another when you run out of things to say. This is pretty much like the previous example, except you’re taking the new topic to your fans instead of taking your fans to the new topic. Maybe people will stick around, maybe they won’t. I wouldn’t. I don’t like to get spammed on Facebook any more than I like it on email.
Again, there are exceptions to every rule. But advocates are by definition fan-getters. It’s important at least to start with a long-term mindset, trying not to go more specific than you need to so that you don’t wind up “eating your young.” (Sorry for the mental image, but now you’ll never forget my point, right?)
Let’s face it, John Mayer’s concerts will still sell out, so he can probably get away with some bad social media choices. You can’t.