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Recently a client questioned the effectiveness of their Twitter account, particularly the question of why people weren’t following at a higher exponential rate as the months passed. One might expect, if you spend enough time tweeting about your business, products, or services, that eventually word will catch on and people will click that magic button to add you to their feed. In theory this should be the case, but to be fair we should consider how no two Twitter accounts are alike, and the reasons why people use Twitter will effect your business regardless of whether or not you are followed.
You may not realize it now, but there are people reading your tweets now and finding the information useful, but deciding not to follow you. Before we get into an explanation of why, let’s ponder a few points:
1) If you operate a niche business that caters to local market where the population is about five thousand people, don’t expect a million followers.
2) In fact, don’t expect a million followers unless you are Conan O’Brien, Lady GaGa, or that guy whose Twitter account became a television show.
Feel terrible now? You shouldn’t. You may look at your hard numbers and think that because your followers have yet to round up to three digits means that nobody is getting your message. This isn’t entirely true. One thing to remember about Twitter is that – unlike Facebook, where somebody is expected to register and/or log in before information is made visible – the data is there for anybody to see. One doesn’t have to have a Twitter account to read Conan’s 140-character long bon mots, nor does one need to subscribe to Lady GaGa’s feed to find out which Pulp Fiction inspired brassiere she plans to wear in concert tonight. Go to Twitter’s main page and search anything you like: people are either tweeting opinions about it or telling you where to buy it.
It is through Twitter Search where the accounts with low followers can achieve conversion. If your follower count is sub-100, you may feel discouraged and consider writing off Twitter altogether. This wouldn’t be a wise thing to do, mainly because every word you type and every link you paste is cached in Twitter’s search database. Let’s say you operate a bed and breakfast in the heart of Virginia wine country and want to fill up some rooms during a lull period. Tweet specials using the essential keywords (discount, Virginia, B&B, etc.) and maintain a regular stream of commentary on what visitors can expect when they’re in your area. Repeat tweet every few days – not too frequently to turn the people who are following you. Whether your activity will attract new fans is up for debate, but notice what you have achieved: you are advertising your inn to one of the most used search engines on the Internet. You have created the opportunity for somebody looking for something to do in Virginia to find you, click to your profile, then click through to your website to make a reservation.
This is where the true value of Twitter lies for businesses and people with niche appeal. It’s nice to say, “I have ten thousand people following me on Twitter,” but it’s even better to say, “Last week ten thousand people visited my website after seeing my tweets.”
Even if ten percent of that ten thousand follow through to convert a sale or other goal, that validates the necessity of your Twitter account. Of course, this may lead you to ask, “Well, if they’re willing to click through and buy or opt-in, why don’t more people follow?” There are many answers to that. Some people may wish to designate specific accounts to their feeds – friends and family, or media outlets – and aren’t savvy enough or willing to create lists. Others, who are interested in your industry but don’t want updates pushed to them constantly, may have your page bookmarked or recall your brand and wish only to come back when they want to see updates.
Remember, too, if your Twitter account promotes your Facebook or blog or other site, people who find you this way may sign up for updates elsewhere and don’t feel it’s necessarily to received duplicated information. You gain a follower, but not a statistic.
So if you’re concerned about hard numbers, focus your energy instead on giving people pertinent information. You’ll get bodies through the door, some will use a different entrance.
Kathryn Lively is a social media specialist who has assisted many clients with their Twitter presences. Clients include European hotel search engines, Gainesville bed and breakfast inns, retailers of cloth diapers, global trade portals, and Norfolk hospitals.
The biggest problem with the Internet, as I find it, is that it seems to give people the impression that everything they post on it is interesting. If Twitter and Facebook can be faulted for anything, it’s for encouraging masses of people to dispense witty bon-mots on current events and other topics with machine-gun speed. It also hasn’t helped that somebody in Hollywood noticed one particular Twitter account recording $#!T somebody’s dad says. Now everybody wants in on the action, when the truth is: just maybe nobody cares to read what your dad, mom, nosy neighbor, bartender, or you have to say.
If you use Twitter to promote your business and services, that notion is all the more depressing. A Twitter account with a trickle of followers pretty much equates to shouting fire in an empty theater, so if your intent is to use this powerful social network to attract new clients or customers, it’s important to first determine why it is nobody is following your feeds, then figure out how to correct that.
The challenge in becoming a success on Twitter lies in figuring out how make your profile known among the millions of other users who crowd the Internet daily with their own noise. It would be nice for news outlets to pick up the scent when the average entrepreneur sets up a shingle, as they did for Conan O’Brien, but we must make do with our prior marketing experience and willingness to adapt to new media.
Take a look at your account now. Do followers number in the double digits? If yes, and that’s not your intent, it’s sad. You might wonder what it is about other accounts that attracts readers and why the same tactics you try don’t work for you. The key to success with social media, however, lies not with copying another profile to replicate their success, but creating your own unique niche that inspires that viral spark you need to draw traffic. Yes, you can spend money and time building an incredible background image for your Twitter.com page, complete with phone numbers and icons and custom blue birds fluttering around your logo, but given that a good percentage of users access Twitter on cell phones and dashboard widgets, you need to ask yourself who is actually going to your page to read your feed?
Why is nobody following you on Twitter? Consider these possibilities.
You have nothing new to share. There is an old adage in advertising that claims a consumer usually has to see a brand about 7-10 times before deciding the buy it. Same holds true with the Internet – how often do you browse a site, go away then come back a number of times before adding to the cart? With Twitter, if you are constantly bombarding your feed with the same message over and over again (especially holds true if you have one service or product to sell), people are going to wonder why they should follow a broken record. Broken records are annoying, and take up space in a feed that could belong to Conan O’Brien.
You have too much to share. It’s a conundrum: you stand to turn off followers with repetition, and if you’re too chatty you just might annoy people who A) don’t follow too many users and B) are tired of seeing your posts take up an entire screen. Especially if your “wit” hits overdrive, you may end up sounding like that one guy at a party whose voice rises above the din and just. Won’t. Be. Quiet.
You aren’t connected. Maybe, thinking that interaction between social profiles leads to saturation, you decided not to tether Twitter to your Facebook or MySpace, or anywhere else you have set up shop. One school of thought may champion this position, but on the other hand keep your Twitter presence invisible can do more harm than good.
What can you do to change? There are a number of possibilities.
Hit a nerve. See what is trending in Twitter – people actually do use the search function on the site, and it’s not uncommon for site users to set up search widgets to pick up on particular keywords and hashtags. Devise a clever way to integrate a Twitter hot topic into your daily monologue. This increases the possibility of picking up interested readers.
Connect everything. Tell your Facebook friends, your e-mail opt in list, your YouTube subscribers that you tweet. Put the URL in your e-mail sig and print your username on business cards. Mouth in “Word of Mouth” is the operate term, use yours.
Search and respond. Set up a desktop feed reader on your site to pick up set search feeds on Twitter. As you receive posts in real-time, you can sift through them and respond accordingly to Twitter users. You don’t necessarily have to advertise your account directly, but taking the helpful approach just may inspire people to see what you have to offer.
Twitter is a tool of engagement, and unless you use it in that respect you will continue merely tweeting into the wind. Don’t turn your feed into an archive, make it breathe.
Kathryn Lively is a social media specialist assisting clients with social media writing and Twitter marketing. She has helped businesses, including European hotel search engines, global trade forums, Gainesville bed and breakfast inns, and Virginia Beach web design firms improve their social networking.
Need help getting more friends on Facebook? Contact us today at 757-499-1990 for more information.
Just like the song says, you gotta have friends. Friends are there to help seed your Farmville gardens and help destroy the forces of evil in your Mafia Wars. Friends are there to retweet the URL of that “not safe for work” Lady Gaga video you managed to sneak peek while the boss wasn’t looking, and you can always count on them to “like” your Facebook status every time you come up with a whimsically snarky comment about which Real Housewife of Boise is sporting fake…well, let’s say enhancements. In this age of social media, everybody has the potential to be your friend, even people you don’t know and may never meet in your lifetime.
So comes the dilemma as you approach your social marketing strategy: do you grow your Twitter or Facebook page following naturally, hoping that people you do know will recommend you and your business to others, or do you embark on the aggressive vaccum cleaner process of sucking in every profile in sight? If numbers are the only thing that concern you, there are ways to amass plenty of warm bodies. People sell services that strictly invite Facebook “friends” and mass follow Twitter users that automatically refollow. For as little as fifty bucks you could have the ears and eyes of thousands of people, but are they really paying attention?
Consider for a moment the pros and cons of the guerrilla invite. We’ve discussed this topic before, but it’s one worth revisiting as ideas on social networking change. If you don’t switch gears as you promote, it means you haven’t grown in your strategy, and it’s good to weigh all options. With the blind follow of Twitter users, for example, you could match your follow count to your followed by as many as six figures if you wish. If those followers boast the same volume, there is the likelihood your tweets are lost in a sea of other updates, but one can also argue that by following a good number of re-follows there is the possibility your message will be seen by people who wouldn’t otherwise follow you naturally. You had to find them first, then they become interested.
Same goes with Facebook and even LinkedIn. With the latter, there are groups solely designed to connect “open networkers,” people who will connect to you regardless of your industry. As a writer and social marketer, it might benefit me to network with as many people as possible because ultimately every industry will need marketing help, right? Gaining more connections increases my chances of finding work. However, for the niche business you might not benefit as much, unless one connection happens to know of somebody interested in what you do.
Where Facebook is concerned, triggers are in place to reign in your mass friending activities. Unless you know one of those magical loopholes to gain five thousand friends in one fell swoop, you might be better off approaching people slowly. To be certain, there are accounts created strictly to sell and spam, which won’t do you much good when you try to sell. However, in a sea of kelp you’re bound to catch a few fish.
So, how do you approach networking? Is it better to throw everything you have against the wall and see what sticks? Do you take out a thinner brush and draw out a more thoughtful plan? Look at what you’ve done to start, and if it hasn’t worked you might consider bolder measures. Experiment with different lighters to see what sparks the fire in your campaigns.
Kathryn Lively is a social media specialist assisting clients with social media writing and local PPC campaigns. Clients include Gainesville bed and breakfasts, European hotel search engines, global trade forums, and Virginia Beach web design firms.
While this is no longer news, and with the announcement of Conan O’Brien’s move to TBS this is probably close to obsolete, the following example brilliantly shows how social media need not be contained within a computer:
In a show of support for the dethroned Tonight Show host, the Lamar Advertising Company arranged select billboards around the country to display words of wisdom (?) from @conanobrien. Whether or not the move contributed to TBS’s decision to offer Conan a late night slot is debatable, but one can wonder if we’ll see another marriage of social media and off-site advertising in the future. In fact, will such things become commonplace one day? If so, one must definitely take note that one day what happens on Twitter won’t necessarily stay there.
Need assistance marketing with Twitter? Spider Writers is a full-service social media marketing company ready to assist with building your social media presence. Call us today at 757-499-1990, ext. 104 for your free estimate.
I hadn’t expected a reply to a recent tweet post made regarding cupcakes. In a moment of good humor, considering my recent weight loss, I posted to my account a link to a news story about pastry giant Cinnabon branching into the cupcake business. Given my weakness for cupcakes and the potential damage they do to my diet, I let forth a curt vent (“Damn you, Cinnabon!) followed by the link. Later that day, to my shock, I received an @replay from the official Cinnabon Twitter.
Just goes to show, people with brands do monitor what is being said, even in jest, and may be inclined to follow-up. While many of us can page the likes of Conan O’Brien, Demi Moore, and the host of other celebrities and bigwigs using this social network, the odds of finding a reply or – gasp – a direct message may be slim. As a business using Twitter to market products and services, however, you have a golden opportunity to reach consumers who share their feedback, or else put out feelers for information relevant to your company. Succeeding in Twitter marketing involves not only tracking those people, but communicating in a manner that doesn’t come off like a hard sell.
Tracking on Twitter
As you monitor the performance of keywords that bring visitors to your main site, it would make sense to track those same phrases on Twitter to gauge overall interest in products and services relevant to your brand. Whether you cater to local or national markets, you have the means to search what people are tweeting without necessarily refreshing Twitter’s search engine. E-mail, web-based and desktop clients allow for ease of researching multiple key phrases, and many of them are free.
TweetDeck, a popular desktop client that can collect the feeds of multiple social media accounts, may be set up to run feeds of a specific nature. Simply add a new column to the screen and program a search. Choose the keywords, and watch the results.
To receive Twitter searches via e-mail, TweetBeep offers the means to track the activity you want to browse. Similar to Google Alerts, TweetBeep delivers the information directly to your inbox. This is handy tool to use if you want alerts sent to your phone.
The popular web-based program Monittor presents up to three real-time feeds of key searches. One advantage to Monittor is that is permits for geotargeting – you can search tweets within a specific distance of any city, and RSS capability allows you to aggregate the results into your favorite reader. Twitter itself offers a similar method of tracking in its widget functionality, where one can create an ongoing feed of trending tweets, though geographical parameters cannot be set.
Once you’ve determined how to find potential consumers and clients through Twitter, there comes the challenge of approaching them. Just because a Twitter user does not protect his/her feed from public view doesn’t necessarily mean an invite to relentless hustling. If you see an opportunity to recommend your products and services to somebody who appears to want them, you don’t want to give the impression that your Twitter account is used mainly to distribute ad copy.
Engage the tweeter first with a question for confirmation. Are they looking for what you have to sell…are the specific designs or benefits they want? Would they be interested in a discount if they ordered online? Can you answer any questions they might have? Don’t let the distance of a computer screen distract you from the fact that behind that Twitter avatar is a human being who is social, and may likely use Twitter to recommend you in the future.
Using widgets and search clients to help with leads can cut your Twitter research time significantly, giving you more time to perfect your social media skills.
Kathryn Lively is a social media specialist assisting clients with social media optimization and travel social media services. Clients include Gainesville hotels, European hotels, and Virginia web design firms.
It’s natural, as you sign on to a new site or social network, to gravitate toward like-minded people or others working in your area of expertise. As a writer and social media specialist, I tend to follow colleagues and experts in the published and SEO fields to keep up on rumors and events. Ultimately, I realize many of the people I follow are using Twitter not so much to trade recipes and water-cooler talk about Lost and the Super Bowl, but to promote their own interests. Authors have books to sell, SEO mavens have services to exploits, and the bottom comes down to money – the more time invested in social marketing should eventually yield results.
So it comes as no surprise to see people I know opting to post “sponsored Tweets,” data designed to offer the profile’s owner a kickback on click-throughs and/or purchases. Sponsored tweeting works similarly to pay-per-blogging: a business sets a budget to advertise products and services through a site that connects advertisers and Twitter users. Registered Twitter users then accept or reject the ad copy given to them, and post accordingly to their account(s). Depending on the company, these micro-bloggers may need to disclose which of their tweets are sponsored, and as people click through and/or take advantage of the deals the one who posted the tweet receives a commission. Whether or not one can get rich simply by tweeting is up for debate, but it does beg the question of whether or not the practice could risk your Twitter following.
Think about why you tweet, how you post, and what attracts viewers to your feed? What expertise do you offer that keeps people interested, and how often do you directly socialize with the people you follow on your profile? I mentioned earlier that I do follow a number of authors, all of whom have books and other projects to promote – naturally I expect to see links to online bookstores, blogs, and contests for book and prize giveaways. On occasion, I am known to unfollow a Twitter account based on saturation. If every post off the feed is a “buy my book” plea, offered every few minutes, I may find a reason to quit reading.
Personally, too, of those I know who are supplementing their income with sponsored tweeting, I find it isn’t too disruptive, and the profiles continue to offer data of value. As with any such venture you consider, for whatever reason, balance promotion with genuine socialization to keep those who came to you for a reason.
One thing to note about sponsored tweet programs: just because you use Twitter doesn’t mean you automatically qualify. An advertiser with money to spend wants to be seen, and if you’re a new user with only ten followers to your credit chances are you won’t fit the criteria, as opposed to the seasoned poster who organically grew a following.
One may contend that Amazon.com, arguably the largest online retailer of books and videos, weathered a good amount of abuse in 2009 due to gaffes involving the de-listing of gay and lesbian literature and other titles from their internal search (these were quickly corrected). The Twitter hashtag #amazonfail became well known and oft-used to chastise the mega-eCommerce site for their actions, yet these days it doesn’t seem that term will retire soon.
Last week, in a dispute over eBook pricing, Amazon.com decided to pull all eBook titles by publisher MacMillan, thus removing thousands of titles for sale and angering MacMillan’s authors, of whom many took their aggravations to the “streets” – namely their social accounts. Without Amazon.com’s support, MacMillian authors discovered Kindle users were unable to purchase their titles.
Though Amazon’s original intent was to convince the publisher to lower its eBook pricing from $14.99 to the retail site’s standard of $9.99 or less, critics saw the move as detrimental to the retailer and also logged onto Twitter and other social outlets to protest. Amazon.com has since recanted the action.
Nonetheless, the weekend offered plenty of time for competitors to take advantage of #amazonfail, and thanks to the viral speed of Twitter in particular, word spread quickly. All Romance eBooks, a large online retailer of romance fiction, along with its general eBook vendor site OmniLit.com, staged a spontaneous weekend sale in conjunction with popular book industry blog Smart Bitches, Trashy Books. Using a specific coupon code, readers could purchase any title from ARe or OmniLit for 50% off the cover price, while publishers and authors with titles listed on-site received their full commissions. ARe and OmniLit.com are able to accommodate owners of the Kindle and other eBook reading devices.
This marketing campaign, tagged on Twitter and Facebook with the term #AReSale, kept author and publisher accounts active all weekend, and even inspired some publishers to offer select titles as free downloads during the promotion.
“Riding that social media wave can be tricky, but when you get it right it’s an incredible ride. The #AReSale blitz is a good example,” said Lori James, co-owner of OmniLit/ARe. ” A convergence of circumstance, timing, and a carefully cultivated supportive community. We’re still reeling from the response.”
Indeed, the viral effect of this one action in the eBook community continues to resonate. Google Blog Search results for OmniLit.com display an impressive number of blogs that reported the half-off sale, and Facebook status updates repeated the time-urgent news with efficiency.
The immediacy of a news item, coupled with the ability to spread information via social media, created a spontaneous PR campaign that proved beneficial for one independent company. Social networks like Twitter and Facebook provide the opportunity for free advertising via word of mouth, and in turn allow others to receive residual benefits.
Normally when I log on to my computer for the day, my Echofon Twitter client will show tweets in the low hundreds – I follow a rather chatty cadre of Tweeters. This morning, however, the traffic was lighter than usual, though one message did jump out at me: a complaint about the omnipresent “Fail Whale” graphic that everybody seemed to find today when they tried to record their daily greetings and pitches. As convenient as social media is when it works properly, when it goes down for an undetermined amount of time it appears the world stops – this despite the fact that we as a civilization have done well for centuries past without it.
Of course, working in social media, I understand the frustration. As a writer, I use Twitter to promote my works, and as a Twitter user I follow certain businesses that advertise to me, and friends with whom I like to stay in touch. When Twitter fails, I may not receive a time-sensitive promotion in time, and I can see how that would frustrate somebody who uses social networks to sell. For me, the opportunity to promote is held off temporarily, else I can wait until Twitter is functioning again and I start a new campaign. Regardless of the reason you use this social platform, there are ways to survive the looming Fail Whale and continue your marketing.
Turn Your Focus Elsewhere – If you use Twitter, most assuredly you have a Facebook page as well. If you’re like me, however, the followers on Twitter may greatly outnumber your Facebook fans, but if Facebook is running well there’s no reason why you can’t market to that attentive audience more aggressively. If you have your accounts set up for Twitter to feed into Facebook, just directly post onto your page what you have planned. When Twitter is up and running again, simply post your FB page link and encourage your followers to catch up on what they missed.
Have a Back Up Plan – You may feel overwhelmed as it is to have so many social accounts for marketing – Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, LinkedIn, and so forth. However, one will argue that securing accounts on minor sites helps solidify your brand. If ever you become frustrated with Twitter outages, Tumblr offers a nice alternative for imparting news. With a Tumblr account, one can post short notes, share audio and video, blog stories, and even integrate the social site with others, like Twitter and Facebook. With this account, you can connect with established friends on the other media sites and never miss a word.
When in Doubt, Retweet – Lately, I’ve noticed some users are retweeting themselves on points they really want to get across. They don’t do it consistently, maybe a retweet after half the day has passed, but as repetition is one tool used in marketing to get customers to recognize your brand, it’s not a bad idea if done properly. If you fear a Twitter blackout has swallowed your campaign messages, check your free and retweet the pertinent posts, the links and the sales. If a follower has to wade through a few hundred accounts, chances are he/she may have missed it the first time around even if it did get through.
When Twitter fails, for a minute or even longer, it’s not the end of the world. It presents the beginning of opportunity for thinking outside the box and finding another way for your marketing to work. Sit back, take a break from the Fail Whale, and see what other fish are in the sea.
Kathryn Lively is a social media specialist assisting clients with social media optimization, travel social media services, and Virginia web design. Her clients have ranged from Gainesville hotels to local PPC companies.
From the tragedy of the earthquake in Haiti has come perhaps the best example of global cooperation by way of social media. Following this natural disaster, it’s reported that text message donations alone have accounted for at least $22 million dollars given to relief organizations like the Red Cross. Sadly, with this also comes a number of accounts designed to defraud donors – some might argue the online option to give is not as 100% secure as handing a check over to a Red Cross official. Nonetheless, these actions display well the growing shift toward utilization of social media as an altruistic tool.
More examples of social media involvement in charitable efforts (including Haitian relief and other causes) include:
The Facebook Causes Application – This application allows non-profits to set up their own widgets which allow users to donate via Facebook. Supporters can join the application and list favorite charities and invite others to join as well.
Care2 – A social network geared toward promoting understanding of environmental and similar causes, Care2 utilizes their technology to generate interest in wildlife preservation, political change, and human rights. Organizations can start petition drives and encourage others to use “click to donate” badges to generate awareness.
ChipIn – This widget builder works with Paypal to allow users to collect donations online for any cause. A simple Flash application is then applied to a blog or website, or may be added to a Facebook profile, and promoted easily.
If you plan to give online, it is important to research where you plan to give. Clicking through a link on Twitter may take you anywhere – your Twitter feed client may not always reveal the source of a shortened URL, so it’s best not to provide your financial information immediately. If one social network account claims to collect for the Red Cross, check official Red Cross sites and profiles first for their collection sources. Check websites for the secure lock logo before providing credit card information, and avoid using bank debit cards online. The more you understand how social media can be used for charitable giving, the better for those who benefit.
While tracking those I follow on Twitter recently, I noticed a number of posts by a colleague lamenting the quality of material made available on the wires, ostensibly disguised as news. To paraphrase, my friend groaned (as much as one can groan on Twitter these days) her disbelief that, in a time where more troops are to be sent to Afghanistan, the buzz in this nation is more focused toward A) a former sitcom star coming out of the closet; B) a golf champion cheating on his wife; and C) speculation about the death of an heiress. The conspiracy theorist might contend that the buzz generated is intentional, to “wag the dog,” as it were.
The realist, however, will use these examples to affirm one more thing that isn’t really news: people like to gossip. People have gossiped for centuries. Hey, did you hear what happened to Eve in the garden? That we have access to something as unifying as social media serves to amplify our vested interest in such non-news.
That said, should one consider to be more responsible while using social networks like Twitter and Facebook? When we post status updates and share news, we essentially share with the world a taste of who we are in real life. Why do we post the words we choose to share? Some of us use Twitter to promote our projects and businesses, and inform clients and customers of new products and services. Some people use Twitter to vent or offer play-by-play commentary of favorite shows or sporting events. I couldn’t tell you how many people I follow watched the MTV Music Awards…actually, yes I can. Nearly everybody had a remark about at least one of Lady GaGa’s dresses.
Still, there are others who see Twitter, I think, as a means of obtaining some level of celebrity. The likes of a helium-voiced pre-teen named Fred and acomedian with a shoe fetish have proven it is possible to cross into the mainstream, and the Internet provides more avenues toward fame than reality TV. Already we’ve learned that plans are in the works to adapt a Twitter account into a sitcom (???), and if you ask me, I highly suspect that people are purposely dressing bizarrely so somebody will snap them for the People of Wal-Mart site.
Is there a fear that we might come off as vacuous or indifferent people, or does social media challenge us to be more interesting and entertaining – always “on”? Perhaps deep down we are all entertainers at heart – deciding if we can’t be in the spotlight, we should at least tweet about it.
That said, perhaps we should also take some time out of the day to post on news and items of social responsibility. Remind friends to do a self-exam for breast cancer once a month, or retweet Amber alerts in your area. With the growth in smart phone use, one is likely to see news on a feed and do something about it. After work, when we’re ready to unwind, we can catch up on the gossip.
Believe me, there’s plenty to be read.