So, you tweet. And you have a few followers.
But, even now, you’re just not feelin’ the twitter love…should you keep tweeting? And why do people quit following you? And how do you get rid of all those annoying bots and porn followers? Where do I get to the good info that other tweeters rave about? Can twitter really work for me, much less my business?
Nielsen reports that 60% of twitter users quit after the first month.
Does this describe you? Were you hoping for more but stopped using twitter because of unfulfilled je ne sais quoi? If so, read on. This post is for those who are beyond the basics of sign up and want to become more “tweetsmart” (If you haven’t really gotten on board yet, you should read the initial Twitter Primer here: http://bit.ly/lPtke)
In order to get the most out of your twitter experience, I’m going to lay out some key points:
What’s Your Purpose?
Why the heck do you want to be on Twitter anyway? I ask because being on Twitter can be like—let’s say—walking into an airport. Everyone is there for a reason, but most people’s reasons differ from yours—meaning there are only a planeful of people going to the exact location you are at the exact time. And even then, those people probably aren’t going there for the same reason you are. Still, you share a seat next to someone and you have a conversation and turns out you have a few things in common. So you exchange business cards and perhaps you get in touch at a later time. Now, let’s apply that analogy to Twitter. You need a reason to be on Twitter – otherwise it’s just a big exchange terminal for information you probably won’t find useful. Perhaps your reason is related to your career or your expertise. For example: I am on Twitter to connect with people in HR and Social Media and Education. This is my reason for being on Twitter. It doesn’t have to be super specific, but a general reason. For the sake of this post, let’s say your reason to be on Twitter is to connect with people in Marketing and Sales, because you are in marketing and sales. And let’s say that you sell tractors (it’s okay—I don’t know anything about tractors, either. It’s just our little example for the sake of learning.) So, you now have a reason to be on Twitter. You want to connect with key people in marketing and sales and even more specifically those who work with tractors, sell them, manufacture them, tweet good information about them that you can use.
Who Do You Follow?
Following people is tricky. You should only follow people that are giving you the kind of information you genuinely value and/or you feel you want to develop a twitter relationship with. Following people for the sake of having them follow you is useless, because people can be fickle and decide one day to follow you and the next day to drop you—and you’ll waste all your time managing follows and unfollows instead of interacting with solid colleagues you’ve found on Twitter and exchanging good info on sales and tractors. So, once again, DO NOT FOLLOW PEOPLE FOR THE SAKE OF GETTING THEM TO FOLLOW YOU.
Think of building who you follow like building your very own business. What kind of colleagues do you want to interact with? What do they bring to the table? Can you learn something from them? Can they contribute to your world of marketing and sales or tractors (it’s our example again, remember?)? Not everyone you follow will follow you. That’s okay. The value proposition of Twitter IS NOT that it’s a popularity contest (although for some people, it is—but most of those are people who peaked in high school), but that it is a place to build a community of valued colleagues and exchange information.
How do you find those people to follow? Try using hashtags. If you haven’t used hashtags (#), then you should. They are the greatest way of keeping track of stuff on Twitter, and thus researching stuff on Twitter. So, if we want to follow people who know lots about sales and tractors, we might type #tractor into the search space on twitter. And there are all sorts of people tweeting about tractors. You will need to sort through, pick and choose among people who you think to be valuable tweeters on the subject of tractors, but then you follow them.
Why Should People Follow You?
There are a few things to consider here. 1) How you’ve branded yourself and 2) Whether you are a solid Twitter citizen. Both of these matter if you want to build a solid, interactive Twitter community. Let’s start with how you’ve branded yourself. What does your profile say about you? What does your photo or avatar say to people? Be sure you include in your profile why you are on Twitter—in the case of our example, you might say: Marketer/Sales of Tractors. Then, because we know you must be more than that, you should tell people something interesting about you that makes you human. Maybe you like Skittles. Or have 2 kids in high school. Or white water raft on the weekends. Don’t be snotty and elitist. No one likes that. Not even snots and elitists.
Now that you are sure your brand is authentic and interesting, let’s examine the kinds of things you tweet about. I suggest that you break out your tweets so that about 30% of them are retweets of other people’s good info, 30% is info YOU find and tweet about (so you are adding to the conversation, not just regurgitating what others say), 30% is conversation with other tweeters—where you are responding to their tweets, etc. and 10% is you thanking people for their retweets, recommending them for #followfriday and acknowledging their mentions of you in their tweets. You don’t have to be exact with this breakout, but it is a nice way to ensure you are mixing it up, being a good citizen in your Twitter community. If you have a good brand (interesting/professional) and are a solid tweeter (at least 5-10 quality tweets a day), then people will likely follow you. I’m sure there’s a ton of research out there on how to get good followers and retain them, but sans the research, this is what works for me.
Managing your Tweeple (aka Followers)
Okay, here is where you are really empowered. If you have been somewhat hurt or felt slighted when someone doesn’t follow you back OR follows you for awhile and then UNfollows you, then you need to get familiar with the tools that help you manage your twitter followers. Personally, I like refollow (www.refollow.com) because it allows me to see who I follow that doesn’t follow me and then I can decide whether to keep following them or not. Others include Social Too and Twitter Karma. Basically, these tools allow you to monitor your growing Twitter community and make sure it’s remains a quality place for you. Check out these tools and just play with them a bit to get used to them. Generally, I get rid of people who don’t add value to my world—and tend to block all bots and porngirls (after you block a ton of them they tend not to follow you anymore).
Nope, That’s it.
I don’t have a fifth point. If you do the above, you should find that Twitter is really helpful. There’s more research out there that shows people who have a solid community of tweeters in their chosen areas of interest (and you CAN have more than one reason to be on Twitter—and thus follow people from various strains—and manage them all in lists on Twitter—but more on lists later) actually spend LESS time randomly searching the web for info. This is definitely true for me. But more importantly, I get critical information about my industry and my interests faster than anyone else. I do have an iPhone twitter client (Twitterific) which helps with the fast part…
So, now that you have a few more tips on how to use Twitter, try them out and let me know how it goes! And be sure to follow me on Twitter if you think I can add value to your world!