Twitter pretty much sucks
A few things have happened recently that prompted us to re-evaluate how we're using social media. I was going to post about this on Twitter but thought that a longform blog post would be a better venue. Hopefully this clarifies some of our decision making and provides some advice for others building a commercial social media presence.
The first event was a message from a concerned customer telling us that one of the accounts we were following was problematic and we should stop following them. I should mention that up to this point we've pretty much followed anyone who followed us or looked remotely interesting so unlike most commercial accounts we were following a lot of people (Hint: If no one else is doing something there might be a reason why). I should also mention I'm a rabid free speech proponent so I wouldn't unfollow someone just because I disagreed with them. That said there are limits on everything and after reviewing the account it was obvious that unfollowing was the right decision. A bit more digging on some specific hashtags turned up a few more accounts I wanted nothing to do with so I decided to do what most commercial accounts do and restrict following to only a few folks. So over the next few days and weeks I'll be dropping our follows to a couple hundred folks that we actually know or interact with regularly. A few people have already noticed us unfollowing them and expressed disappointment so I followed those people back (gotta keep the people happy). All in the lesson here is if you are building a commercial presence on social media even in the very early days don't follow people you don't know. As your presence grows it will become an issue. Obviously you'd hope that twitter would limit the content that is posted within basic limits but barring that you need to be careful.
The second event was some negative feedback to a tweet we posted the other day congratulating @TabletopLoot on hitting one year in business. In the tweet I made a comment about trying to put them out of business since they are competitors (given the fact that we operate in different countries they really aren't, also they're way bigger then us). This seemed funny to me but a couple of people felt it was in poor taste. I should note that friendly ribbing between gamestores online is pretty normal behavior and nothing about this tweet was remotely out of the ordinary but I get where people are coming from with their concern. I think the real issue is that our following has grown a lot in recent months and I need to re-calibrate how I use social media because of that. When we started we had maybe 12 followers and the average tweet would be seen by maybe 50 people. In that environment I could tweet pretty much any inane thing I wanted without anyone caring (or noticing if traffic stats are accurate). We are now over 4,500 followers and we've had tweets get more then 100K views. That sort of audience is a wildly different thing then where we started so we probably need to think a bit more about what we put out there.
That said we're sort of analytics obsessed and the interesting take away from the controversial tweet is that it drove more traffic (and sales) to the site then pretty much any other tweet we've made. The only bigger tweet is our currently active giveaway that was retweeted by @matthewmercer. To put it in perspective the giveaway tweet currently has 158k impressions and the controversial tweet has only 2.5k but the giveaway tweet has only driven about 2x the sales (also the giveaway tweet has been out there for way longer). Not that I intend to use this info but you can see why someone might post deliberately inflammatory content given the response it gets.
Anyway I hope this clarifies things a bit and provides some useful info to others. Also congrats to TableTopLoot on making it to one year, with luck we hope to be there soon.