Twitter Badges For Brands Who Want to Avoid Narcissism

While Facebook is mailing signs to businesses, I’m pretty sure no one is helping them understand Twitter – for free anyways.  After all, Twitter is for narcissists, right?  It occurred to me the other day that the phrase, “Follow us” or “Follow me on Twitter” is getting things off to the wrong start.  Businesses should all aspire to connect with people who are engaged and interested in conversation, creating a value exchange – Twitter is just one of many tools to enable that access to direct conversations.  Companies can ultimately activate that engagement by providing value first and asking for help in return.

My point: A business that says “Follow Us on Twitter” is going to be more and more likely to treat twitter as an opt in broadcast channel, which can ultimately damage the relationship among all the other noise and duck the value of engaging customers (and potential customers) in conversation.

A Proposal

I propose the following to the Twitter Pantheon:  Get rid of “Follow Us” signs on web pages, blogs, email, direct mail, catalogs, billing inserts and anywhere else a business wants to use a badge.  Replace it with the phrase: “Talk to Us on Twitter. It’s a simple change that will encourage conversation from the onset and also change expectations within your organization of how Twitter can be used – more than just pushing messages.  (I did a Google image search and found that only the Frederick, MD Chamber of Commerce had a quick badge on their site using the same language.)

A Little Help

Inspired by Christopher Penn’s post, I’m going to make it easy for you.  Just edit the name in this flash tool below (feedreaders may need to click through to enable) and download the image. – You’ll have a jpg that you can use anywhere.  If you prefer here is a photoshop template you can download and edit to your heart’s desire:

Twitter Talk to Us Template, PSD file, 400K

[SWF]/wp-content/uploads/TwitterLogo.swf, 500, 350[/SWF]

Here are a couple of examples, one for Whole Foods because I happen to be a fan and one for my employer.

Special thanks to Chad Milburn (blog & twitter) for taking a small ask for help and turning it into something more useful than intended.

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  • Love this post Adam! I was having trouble with the narcissism stigma the past few weeks. I think as an individual ‘follow’ sounds narcissistic. As a brand it sounds out of touch.

    Great suggestion to start off on the right foot. …and how nice of you to provide templates.

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  • I agree that it's a very subtle change that alters the mindset, but I can't help but think…

    “Talk to the Badge, because the ear isn't listening.”

    To be honest, I don't always recommend full-on engagement as the end-game. It simply doesn't work for all industries and business models – at least not yet.

    I do agree the denotation of the words we use can set expectations… and if an entity really does just need a broadcast channel, then “Follow Me” is perfect for that.

    Great post!

  • Thanks Ike – I hear you on “talk to the badge…” I also agree some situations do dictate the usage of Twitter as a broadcast channel, but for others who are looking to make Twitter an easier way to approach, I'd hope this subtle wording change enables them to think differently. Thanks for the feedback!

  • As we have been Tweeting back and forth, I do not like the “to” aspect, as it portrays a 1-way interaction. I like “with” better.

    Mike P

  • Pretty cool idea. Most organizations are just using social media to broadcast their message. This conveys an organization is more interested in hearing what other people have to say rather than just finding another way to get its message out.

  • I think you're right Mike – however maybe the “to” offsets all the 1 way outbound communication channels with an inbound one 😉

  • Thanks Paul. To Ike's point earlier, there certainly are some use cases where Twitter as a broadcast channel may make sense, this is just a different way to convey otherwise. Thanks for the feedback.

  • Thanks Jill! That link above for an article on social media and narcissism may interest you, the best articles I've read on the subject. In terms of the template, just thought a little help would encourage adoption 😉

  • What I like is the reframing of the “Follow” context: set expectations for what connecting on Twitter will be like (or at least what you want it to be). I do take Ike's criticism here- again, it depends on what you want to do with Twitter (or what-have-you); context

  • Completely agree. Context is everything 😉 Thanks Doug.

  • You know what is strange, is that LinkedIn changed to 'follow' instead of connect. I think they are confused about what 'follow' means… It implies more of a one way relationship and that's not what LinkedIn is. My company has a group you can 'join' but to connect with me you 'follow' me. Odd…

    Got about half way through that article and then remembered I have to get work done but its good and I will finish it. Thanks!

  • Paperclip head-slappingly obvious in retrospect: like all great ideas. Top call. You have motivated me to lift the html hood on a few client sites this afternoon…which has now ruined my carefully planned schedule, so I´m not sure if I should thank you as enthusiastically with the sentiment that I started this sentence with.

  • This could be my favorite comment of all time – thanks for that. Didn't mean to ruin your afternoon but very glad you found this useful. Thanks!

  • I love this. But suggest a tweak: “Talk WITH us on Twitter”

  • Thanks Lauri – you're not the only one who has suggested that. Perhaps “to us” is just a way to invite the conversation and to overcome years of 1 way broadcasting the other way 😉

  • I came here to say this. We can talk “to” an account all we want and never get a response, and technically they are fulfilling their half of the statement. talking “With” raises the level of responsibility of the business to be responsive.

  • Thanks Jeremy – based on the feedback I've received here and on Twitter it seems like there is universal agreement on that … When I suggested “to,” it was from a casual, cordial way – I think the subtle further change of “with” avoids people taking things to literally. Both are still better than “follow us” – it's customers that need to lead the brand, not vice versa.

  • Agreed, but if you can position the “with” as a business, then you are going to more likely have genuine and productive conversations with your audience. They know, in advance, that you will engage “with” them. If you say “to”, then they will likely hesitate to actually post anything, as they realize that it is likely only going to be a 1-way flow of interaction, and the is not what people are looking for.
    setting up expectations up front will go a very long way to ensure for success.

  • I hear you, but I wonder if people take “to” too literally. When I casually say to someone, “talk to me,” do they assume I'm not going to listen or talk back? I agree “with” is more clear (and as you can see many agree with you) – either way both are better than “follow.”

  • Agreed on the “literal” aspect. and both are better than follow. Thanks again for the post!

  • I think till the date you had written this post nobody could had doubt or expressed it as some negative factor! However, there is a widget ' tweet this' which gives more positive impact provided the content/product is worth enough.

  • Jim S.

    Great post Adam. One tweak (and yes, I'm tweaking you)… I think it should be talk “with” us. It was my first thought as I read the post and I'm glad to see that horse lies dead in the corner. Actually, strike that about dead horses… I do not like dead horses.

  • Thanks Jim – I agree (about the tweak and the not liking dead horses), and the beauty is that if anyone is actually interested they can modify directly in the .psd template 😉

  • Couldn’t agree more Adam. I’ve never liked the ‘follow’ buttons and have always used ‘connect with me’ in place of it on the website and blog. In a similar vein I was having a (face to face) conversation with someone recently where I talked about ‘my followers’ on Twitter, as I said it I realised how (I want to use a profanity here, but I’ll refrain) ridiculously narcissistic it sounded. The person I was talking to just laughed, loudly. I won’t be making that mistake again.

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