Quoting Nielsen/McKinsey research, Mashable talks of over 22,000 tweets using the hashtag, reaching as many as 36 million users on Twitter, as of Friday 5pm. I won’t go in the details or politics of the campaign – let’s just say it involved sending quite a large number of tweets asking the 9 million followers of the US President to send messages to Republican representatives.
At the same time, the campaign draws criticism of spamming, some even giving @barackobama the sarcastic title of “Biggest Troll on Twitter”.
More tangibly, about 36,000 people stopped following him altogether. In one day.
WHICH REMINDS ME…
Which reminds me of a great piece of advice I once received from a former boss – the Emotional Bank Account.
The concept is quite simple. Don’t think of your relationships as assets you simply own, with a fixed value that will never change. Rather, see them as a bank account where you can make deposits (positive interactions), or withdrawals (negative interactions). Life is made of both, and its quite useful to make sure your relationships are always “in the black” on that front; sometimes you’ll have to say ‘no’ to people, or ask them for favors. Sometimes you’ll just be yourself and bug or hurt them without intent or even awareness…
A FEW SIMPLE RULES TO KEEP IN MIND
Note that I’m not suggesting to keep track literally of your relationships with numbers and values ; that would be quite creepy… But the following rules are useful:
1. You can never be in overdraft. No such thing as starting with withdrawals when the emotional bank account is empty. People won’t help you or tolerate you unless the credit is there.
2. Negative interactions have more impact than positive. Count at least 4 positive interactions to compensate for every negative one. That works both in work and personal relationships.
3. Asking people to do something for you is a withdrawal. Yes, you can ask nicely, it’s not necessarily a “bad interaction”. But don’t fool yourself – it’s a withdrawal.
4. Keep the credit high. You never know when you’ll need to cash it in…
As it applies to social networks, I think it’s quite useful to think of the bank account as very close to zero; after all, all it takes is the click of a button to follow, and most interactions are even below the weak-tie threshold. But managing the bank account can be done – paying it forward with retweets or @mentions, sharing ideas and knowledge openly, helping others… or more generally being open to interactions. And all this BEFORE you ask anyone to do anything for you. Yes, the same rule applies.
WHEN IS IT WORTH TO CASH IT IN?
Back to Obama.
For 36,000 people who clicked “unfollow”, the bank account was just not full enough to support the withdrawal and tax of repeated spam on their timeline. For many more, it was OK, judging from the many supportive tweets and positive sentiment. But the point is this – Obama chose to cash in his credit on Twitter on this campaign because he believes it matters… and it cost him followers and relationships.
Did he have enough in the bank is another question… but it’s a deliberate choice he made. He cashed in the social currency in his twitter bank account.
Think about it. Where’s your credit? How do you grow it? What’s worth cashing it in?