Who will follow Fast Follow?

Earlier this week Twitter announced a new feature for US mobile users, ‘Fast Follow.’ Twitter’s blog gives all the details but to summarise in a nutshell, Fast Follow will allow anyone to sign up to receive Twitter alerts via mobile SMS.

Clearly aimed at passive users, Fast Follow is an interesting addition to Twitter’s portfolio and has the potential to change the way certain users tweet. As most mobile users won’t be keen to receive the many random tweets sent every day by your average Joe Bloggs, you’d assume that the main categories of interest for Fast Followers will be celebrities, news sources, public services (i.e. travel, transport info) and brands they are fans of. Depending on the success of this new venture, I wonder how this will affect the latter’s social media strategy?

Whilst the numbers behind Twitter are impressive and rapidly growing, the micro-blogging platform still has a long way to go before it rivals the dominance of Facebook. Fast Follow offers the opportunity to use the Twitter platform to reach a far wider audience, giving brands a new and exciting way to push their messages out to potential customers. Importantly, for digital marketers it also gives a free and instant way to connect with those mobile users who aren’t interested in actively engaging with Twitter.

One way that Fast Follow is likely to make an impact is in geo-location, a current phenomenon spearheaded by Foursquare and with which numerous brands are now experimenting. It might make sense for some brands, particularly in the retail and hospitality sectors, to create individual Twitter profiles for a local area. Fast Follow users could then sign up to receive the latest updates on relevant events, offers and discounts.

It’s too early to predict the success of Fast Follow, and Twitter hasn’t yet mentioned rolling it out elsewhere. As many mobile operators will undoubtedly charge users to receive Twitter updates in SMS format, most won’t be keen to receive a constant stream of messages from those Twitter profiles they choose to follow.

Perhaps Fast Follow will encourage Tweeters to consider the information and opinions that are being shared, diminishing the mass of irrelevant tweets in the process. Alternatively, we may just find Britney, Ashton and Lady Gaga add a load of Fast Followers to their ever growing Twitter armies.

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