Adele McAlear noted with surprise that I endorse the use of TweetAdder, mentioning on Twitter that most of their promotional stuff encourages practices that I don’t endorse and in some cases explicitly oppose. She’s right, which begs the question, why do I endorse it?
TweetAdder does what I want it to do, which is maintain a lot of data, scan it, cache it, and a few other nifty tricks. It’s a very powerful tool, and like all powerful tools with poor manuals, it’s really easy to lop off a limb or two as you use it. Consider this your disclaimer and warning that comes along with the endorsement.
TweetAdder tries to offer an automation solution for the two sides of social networking, the network strategy and the content strategy. It does the former very well while doing the latter very poorly. Why? Network strategy is a mechanical construct. It’s relatively straightforward to manage and automate with few consequences if you’re using good tools and you know what you’re doing. Remember the social media strategy in one slide? Social is the network, and it’s one of the areas where software like TweetAdder shines.
For example, I know a whole bunch of people I want to follow, such as Chief Marketing Officers. Now, I could be 100% human and manually click follow on all their profiles, or I could achieve the exact same result much more efficiently by finding them with the research tools and then following them. That’s the essence of network strategy: find who I want to have conversations with and create that network. It’s mechanical work, so it’s ideal for something like TweetAdder.
The media in social media is the content strategy, and TweetAdder is a mechanical solution that makes your content seem… well, mechanical. It’s nearly useless from that perspective, which is why it’s not something I use. Content strategy requires a human presence to respond, to react, to publish, and to be human. There’s no way to automate that side of social media and get satisfactory results.
Tools like TweetAdder may not be for you. That’s okay. I endorse it, I use it, and I have gotten good results out of it. That doesn’t make me right or you wrong. Do what works for you and I’ll do what works for me. If we have radically different strategies and worldviews about how to Twitter, that’s okay: I agree to disagree.
Does endorsing it mean that I endorse you using it foolishly? No more so than I’d endorse you buying a chainsaw and not doing your homework before swinging it wildly around the backyard. As I’ve said in the last couple of issues of my newsletter with regard to it, it’s really easy to use TweetAdder stupidly. Like a chainsaw, using it with skill and finesse will make it a valuable part of your social media toolkit, but you have to put in the time to think about the third part of social media strategy: the strategy. What do you want to accomplish, and can the tools available accomplish that goal?
The goal of my network strategy is an audience focused around marketing, and tools like TweetAdder can help with that better than any other tool out on the market and certainly better than doing the same processes repeatedly by hand. The goal of my content strategy is to provide as much value as possible to my network, and TweetAdder (and other tools like it) suck at that, so I don’t use them for that goal.
If your strategy is to “do Twitter” without having to work, you’re going to get mediocre results at best, because like everything else, doing the work yields the results. Consider this your warning.
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