Well, I’ve done it. I’ve finally become a “TwitterAholic.” I now find my mind thinking in terms of “Tweets” and wondering about what new “Twits” and “Twerps” I can follow and connect with. My goodness, how did this happen? There was a time not so long ago where I’ll admit it, I thought Twitter was a big ole’ waste of time. I’ve been a Facebook fanatic for years… began using it “back in the day” when it was a college application. I’ll admit, I originally created a profile to keep up with my crazy college age sister’s who were ALWAYS on it. Yes, I “Facebook stalked”…not that I do any of that now of course.
Back to the point I’ll get too eventually. I used to find myself asking, “Why on earth, would I want to post a bunch of status updates….. excuse me, ‘Microblog’… when I could do that on Facebook? After all, Facebook had so many cool, fun things to use?” Facebook offered the variety that Twitter didn’t. But, being the “tech nerd” that I am, I decided I should give it a chance. I created a profile, gave it a whirl, and didn’t get it. I tried to embrace it this time last year, but just couldn’t see its value in my “world.” I even asked a fellow “tech guru” and mentor of mine who had embraced its value, why he liked it and to “teach” me why he valued it? He tried, I tried, I still wasn’t convinced…. and I lost interest.
Fast forward to summer 2009. I found myself living in a new town, a very, very, small town at that, surrounded by new people, with a new life. I was embarking upon a new business venture in a “sales” environment and encouraged to utilize Twitter as part of my marketing and sales strategy. Well that business venture quickly fizzled, but thanks to it, I got a jumpstart on Twitter. Of course, this jumpstart led me down the worst case scenario for starting out with Twitter….. taking spammer-like shortcuts!
When it comes to marketing, I listen to my gut. You are only as good as your product and reputation, and taking shortcuts from A straight to Z never works well in the long run. No way am I going to attempt to sell something to others, unless I’ve taken the time to learn enough about it, and have confidence in its added value. Anytime you promote something, your reputation is at stake- and that’s your most important commodity! Yes, I’m honest, and any reputable, long-standing, successful business will be too! That doesn’t mean I’m always right, or don’t make mistakes! One of the most important lessons I’ve learned is, that it’s through mistakes that I’ve learned my most valuable lessons….not the other way around!
My first experience with Twitter was a valuable lesson…that’s my cover for “big mistake!” All joking aside, I got turned onto every application and shortcut in the book… auto following, auto direct messaging, auto posting. I though I was so smart. I had many followers in no time. But I still didn’t “understand” the value of Twitter. I still wasn’t really “connecting” with anyone. Sure, I had the most ingenious, informative, enlightening tweets ever, I’m sure my “spammer” followers spent lots of time reading them too…. ehem- sarcasm!
Upon closer examination of my followers, however, I realized the majority of them were nothing like me- other than a spammer. They were “selling” something that’s all. They weren’t trying to interact or connect with anyone, they were all touting how to “get rich quick” or get more “followers.” The light bulb went off, who cares about the number of followers if they’re not interacting or connecting? The “social media coach” who originally got me hooked on Twitter kept praising me for my great work, and great use of Twitter, but something didn’t feel right?
I kept wondering, if she was using it the same way I was, how was she having success with it? I was following the same strategy she was? Then another light bulb went off; every other new “spammer” on Twitter claims to be a social media expert. Now I never claim to be an expert….that doesn’t mean I don’t have expertise! So, I decided to listen to my gut instincts, ignore what other “experts” were telling me- the ones with thousands of followers, and I changed my tactics. I decided to re-evaluate, slow down, and take a closer look at how people were using Twitter. I studied- my fancy term for “stalked.”I noticed the following interesting trends:
- Some people were just posting updates.
- Some people were “chit-chatting” about random events.
- Some people were “connecting” with an audience by having actual “conversations.”
I was fascinated by the ones who had conversations because they had found a way to “connect’ with others. I realized that what they did was actually very simple. They used good common-sense by investing a little of themselves into their posts. They revealed a story about who they are, and what they believe in. I took stock, took time, and then stepped out on the edge, and:
- I deleted all my spammer followers whom I shared no common interest.
- I turned off all annoying automatic direct message features.
- I turned off my automatic updates.
- I turned on me- this being the most important and productive epiphany!
I turned on who I am and what my thoughts are. I took control of my tweets and posted updates myself that meant something to me. This makes me stand out from the crowd, because I’m not simply doing what the masses are. I am taking the time to post information that I want others to know about. I am an authentic, real twit who “talks” to other “twerps.” Twitter forces you to be direct, to the point, and make your characters count- just as text messaging does. It can take a bit of getting used to and you also learn a whole new shorthand lingo btw its prT ez 2 lrn -by the way its pretty easy to learn.
My best advice as a fellow twerp learning to tweet is:
- Take your time!
- Invest yourself and tell your story. You are interesting, and like-minded people will follow you.
- Seek out followers who share a common interest.
In terms of how to use Twitter, figure out how to use the Twitter interface, then learn an organizational interface (like Tweetdeck or Hootesuite… although there are plenty to choose from). Download a mobile phone application and learn to use it if you have a smartphone.I have a blackberry and have so far enjoyed UberTwitter- plus it’s free! Don’t pay for anything until you’ve tried out the free stuff! I’ve never been a fan of throwing cash away, I’m too frugal, fancy word for “cheap.”
By the way, if you don’t like learning, and have little patience, I’d advise not wasting your time with it until you can devote time to learn it. How much time is going to depend on you. You learn as you go, so the more time you spend, the more proficient you become. For myself, it took me a few hours to learn the “Twitter” interface, but took me “months” to learn how to use it to “connect” with others. Certainly don’t be scammed into paying money to take the easy way out or pay someone else to tweet for you…another big mistake in my opinion! Authenticity is paramount when using social media. People aren’t dumb, and even if they’re slow to catch on like I am, they’ll eventually loose respect for you if you are someone else…. or worse, a sterile, auto message. For me, it’s always been about the quality, not the quantity!
Twitter is a friendly group, and what’s great about it, is that if someone isn’t friendly or responsive, you’ve plenty of fish in the sea to “tweet” with. Don’t be afraid to dive on in and get your feet wet.