Hrish Thota (known as @dhempe, on Twitter) gained something online today that is perhaps a world’s first for normal people on Twitter – he got himself a @fakedhempe. It really doesn’t matter who is behind this effort, but the point is simply this – with this, Hrish joins the illustrious company of Steve Jobs, BP Oil Spill and CWG, to name just a few.
To evoke a @fake<twitterID> is to be really influential, usually in a mighty negative way, as the other examples have shown. In short, it just means Hrish really pisses off a lot of people, particularly the person who created this fake ID.
A quick glance at the few tweets shows that this is actually a guy with some decent sense of humor.
But no – this post is not going to be anti-Hrish Thota. Why should it be, anyway? I asked a few people on what is it, about Hrish, that pisses off people. One friend, on strict condition of anonymity put it succinctly, with adequate contempt in voice, ‘He’s a brand pimp’.
I have written about ‘brand pimping‘ earlier and even if that was purely from the perspective of the said-brand’s inadequate homework on why it was inviting those people (online – also touched upon the largely shoot-at-all-directions approach of the brand), I was admonished in a friendly way by another friend that I shouldn’t use phrases like ‘brand pimping’. The point, however, is that there will always be a few people online, like in the real world, that are more vocal than others in supporting brand(s). They will have their own online/offline network and followers and that is precisely what brands are gunning for – not the mad love from this influencer alone.
So, the question: Aren’t we all brand pimps, in some way? I liked ITC’s new instant noodle and I blogged about it. That is brand pimping too, in a way. I tweeted earlier that I prefer Lee over Levis, when it comes to my jeans. That’s brand pimping too. I see so many pro-brand tweets and blogs online anyway.
The same do-not-name-me friend offered me an alleged example of brand pimping that goes over and above merely saying you like a certain brand, for whatever reason – according to that friend, it seems Hrish retweets (which is called ‘spam’ by the friend) offline or online brand events/efforts at the drop of a hat, to gain their favor.
Question, again: Why should that bother you/me/anyone? We follow people on Twitter based on some trait. If you think Hrish is spamming you with brand pimp tweets, you have a choice – you stop following him. If you still ‘need’ him at some point in life, you do not unfollow, but simply ignore those spam’ish tweets.
It was at this point, the friend offered an analogy, to better explain Hrish’s behavior – he used one of my own, old comment that I had left in Sampad Swain’s blog, to explain!! I had written this comment, in a post titled, ‘5 Problems with Social Media *Marketing*‘,
My point is about influencing target audiences using the tools made available by social media – not sell products to them. That to me is like entering a party, open up your suitcase and start talking loudly about how good your product is. On the other hand, social media PR is about entering the same party and trying to hit a rapport with select people and talk to them about what interests them. And perhaps talk to them about your product during your 4th meeting post that party, that too, if it is contextually relevant.
Gasp! I didn’t expect that to hit me. While I continue to stand by what I had written, I really do not think Hrish is doing what I have written in the first 2 lines of that comment. Twitter, or other online tools, by nature, offer a lack of immediacy that is so different from entering a party with your sales suitcase. If Hrish tweets for a brand, you, as a recipient of that tweet could act on it…or ignore it. The latter would be equivalent to moving to another section of the crowd in the above mentioned party, if I were to force-fit my own analogy here. You really have a choice and do not need to continue standing next to him in sheer annoyance if it bothers you so much. My friend assured me that he’ll try that next time!
What Hrish seems to be doing is simply this – he tries to connect and befriend brands more than people…we normal folks perhaps do the reverse. It is perhaps our natural, personal biases that doesn’t allow us to do the same…or could simply be lack of interest or time. Whichever way you see it, people like Hrish have built a credible (you could contest that with me) network as a pro-brand, online influencer, from scratch. We could name it anything, but it is hard work.
There will be brands who need his following/influence…and at the same time, there will be brands, who would perhaps value relevance and context over visibility and go after people with lesser influence, but more direct relevance. Both exist and can exist at the same time, without the need to diss each group.
On that ‘personal biases’ phrase above, let me leave you with an example. See the conversation between Hrish and a brand (Foster’s), below.
Personally, I wouldn’t have responded to @art_of_chilling and when I checked with a few random friends on Facebook, they said they wouldn’t too. Hrish did. And there’s a reason why @art_of_chilling even picked Hrish (notice that they ‘invited’ him) via a Tweet!