Here’s the post I wanted to write for new Twitter users – not the step by step I outlined in “Twitter 101” (which discusses account setup). The bottom line is that, for me, Twitter is all about conversations.
(If you’re posting on behalf of your company, please check out my “Seven Twitter Tips for Companies”).
It’s about building relationships
Once of the most important aspects of Twitter is to understand it’s potential value and how it can work. It is not a replacement to Facebook or LinkedIn but an additional tool. It’s about building relationships. Not superficial relationships like LinkedIn has (i.e. click to “connect”) but relationships built on conversations, much more akin to real life. Many users need to update their expectations for the site – you will need to listen, get involved, and share in order to get value out of Twitter.
That’s great, you may say, but how does that apply to actual execution?
Follow Interesting People
While there are a few of the default people to follow (aka “Twitterati”) such as @aplusk and @LanceArmstrong and company, you should also search for topics you are interested in. For example, my friend Dave has an offline-based job in manufacturing but absolutely loves playing and building guitars . If he wanted to venture into guitar repairs Twitter would be a great way to find new customers. He could setup a few saved searches around the topic such as “custom guitar”, “guitar repairs”, and “broken guitar”. When he sees people post on these topics he can then engage the potential customers in conversation. While it might not lead to an immediate sale he’s certainly established his level of customer service and expertise with the user before a transaction has even taken place. Perhaps they only follow him back – either way, it starts the groundwork for a relationship.
Join the conversation.
Just jump into the mix. If someone posts a question you know the answer to don’t hesitate to answer. If someone discusses a topic near and dear to you, hop right in with your ¢2 on the subject. Twitter is an open forum for discussion, take advantage of it. You’ll soon realize be able to make lists of users by various topics and be engaged in several conversations.
Too often people expect an immediate and obvious reward from using Twitter. Don’t get discouraged after a month if it’s value doesn’t jump out at you – just like in off-line social situations, relationships take time to build trust and open dialogue.
Shoot me a note @MattSolar if I write about something you’re interested in – I’ll pull you into the conversation, suggest some specific people to follow, or just help out wherever I can.