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You should NOT follow me on Twitter

Posted in News on January 15th, 2010

Dustin Curtis made a wave on the Internet when he wrote a post which detailed how he increased his twitter followers by 173%. The key idea was that the phrase “You should follow me on Twitter here” did all the magic. Since then I have lost count of how many times I saw the same phrase copied verbatim on numerous other websites. (Apparently, I had also fallen for the same trap on my personal homepage).

Every time I see that copied phrase, I feel slightly sad because it illustrates the way people copy so-called best practices without testing for their specific case. There are more than 4.5 million Google results for “You should follow me on Twitter” and I am sure:

Not a single website would have tried replicating Dustin’s results by testing this new phrase against their existing text.

“You should follow me on Twitter” is not a magic potion which will increase your Twitter followers overnight. It works for Dustin Curtis because it blends well with the tone of his posts and his design. On your website, the same phrase may look terribly out of place. You cannot be requesting your blog readers to please subscribe for RSS updates and then subsequently order them to follow you on Twitter.

Of course, the underlying issue here is much broader. It is hard to avoid copying best-practices and blockbuster results others have got (especially if it is easy to copy). But it is extremely critical to test those best-practices for your case. What works for them will not necessarily work for you. Your website is unique, your business goals are unique. Copy-pasting other’s results may actually decrease website effectiveness (the good news is that you will never realize it decreased because, hey, you don’t measure website goals in the first place).

I am not to denying that you shouldn’t read successful case studies. (In face, I recently blogged how case studies is an excellent way to get test ideas) The key idea here is to:

  • Measure what you are planning to change
  • Never apply someone else’s results without testing it on your website

If you were also lured into the “You should follow me on Twitter” hype, now is the best time to test it against a politer version “Please follow me on Twitter” or a a version that creates excitement “See what I am doing right now”. In fact, there are hundreds of other versions which may be better suited to your website’s theme, tone and design; proper A/B split testing is the ONLY way to find out what will work for you.

That said, you should definitely NOT follow me on Twitter.

Paras Chopra

CEO and Founder of Wingify by the day, startups, marketing and analytics enthusiast by the afternoon, and a nihilist philosopher/writer by the evening!

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10 Comments
calivita
February 27, 2011

Well, everybody did it at some point. First someone copies, then learns how to do it on its own. It’s human nature. But, as you said, everybody needs to do some measuring before going one way or the other.

Frank
May 28, 2012

How exactly do I ” apply someone else’s results”?

Adi R
May 28, 2012

Good read – that said, I decided to respect your wishes and not follow you on Twitter.

Hope that won’t preclude you or anyone else “to visit my blog”.

:)

Dave
May 28, 2012

Did you just cast reverse psychology to make me follow you? Because it worked. D:

Mike
May 28, 2012

What’s even more sad is that EVERYONE feels the need to tell me I should follow them, subscribe to their channel, or favorite their video.

Look, if I want to follow you, I will know where to go. You don’t have to use an imperative, it’s insulting.

grel
May 28, 2012

Well, I’m sold.

Sam
May 28, 2012

Valuable lesson learned, thanks.

Daniel
May 28, 2012

Dustin tends to set this kind of thing off a lot. He will take a very limited experience and talk about it, and people will interpret it as end-all be-all advice that must be true. You’re right that it works for him, but the real point in that article was that we should be testing everything, and we shouldn’t settle for the results we have.

Katie Saxon
May 28, 2012

Excellent point, best practices are best for a reason – but they’ll never work 100% of the time. You gonna let us know the results of your reverse psychology test? :)

Pit
May 29, 2012

nice trick :-)

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