In this article in Social Media Today, Neil Alperstein discusses the premise that the weak social ties we experience on Twitter, where interactions occur mainly between followers, rather than personal friends.
Why is this observation important? Because, according to Alperstein, weak social ties do not require trust in order to be effective. He cites issue-based groups, that might tweet particular hashtags to gain traction.
Interestingly, Alperstein’s thesis runs counter to that espoused by Malcom Gladwell in The Tipping Point, that strong social connections are necessary to elicit societal change.
There’s a lesson here for marketers as well. If Alperstein is correct, and “proximity, trust and incentive to connect based on friendship no longer matter” then marketers must understand that the approach to brand marketing on Twitter will be quite different to that on Facebook, where social connections among fans are typically stronger.
This means in practice that a marketer will want to provide value, as always, but it may also be necessary and justifiable to increase the size of the marketing megaphone to reach an audience. This translates into tweeting more often, maybe repeating some high value tweets, and not worrying too much about connecting with every single follower whose tweets are mostly “Wassup?” It also reinforces an influencer marketing strategy, since it weak social connections imply that the brand network may have less impact than the networks of influencers.