This second fabulous post for the series is by Dawn Westerberg. Based in Austin, Texas, Dawn Westerberg Consulting LLC serves companies from coast to coast and border to border. Dawn Westerberg is the president of Dawn Westerberg Consulting LLC. An Authorized Duct Tape Marketing Consultant, she invites business owners to “Fall in Love with Your Business Again” through sound marketing strategy.
I have a series on my blog called Twitter for Beginners. As I write this post, I’ve got 15 installments in the series. When I posted Part 14, I got a tweet from an acquaintance who asked “If you’re on Part 14 are you really still a beginner?”
In all honesty, I’d have to say yes.
It was two years ago that I really began practicing social media. Prior to that I had seen it, heard about it, and was only registered with LinkedIn. I viewed LinkedIn as the ultimate contact management system with the great advantage of putting the onus of updating contact information on the contacts themselves – a truly great way to stay in touch with all you colleagues past and present. LinkedIn holds vastly more potential than the initial benefit that I saw in it – and that’s part of the reason that, in all social media platforms, I would describe myself as a veteran beginner. With every facet that you master, several new uses emerge.
The next realm I entered was Twitter. I was introduced to Twitter at a conference and several friends gave me a crash course and showed me how to utilize hash tags to see what other attendees were saying about the conference. I was hooked. A year later I was asked to speak on Social Media at that very same conference. I’ve learned so much more since that speaking gig, that it seems to me, I’m still a veteran beginner.
In my early days with Twitter, the more I toyed with it, the more I seemed behind the game and unable to get any critical mass. I seemed pretty stagnant at about 200 followers. I didn’t feel like I was really connecting. I would look at folks that had thousands of followers and wonder what I was doing wrong.
Let me break here and make a quick analogy – Twitter is a lot like XM radio, which I’ve got in my car. At first it was a little overwhelming. Of all the choices, how do you decide what to tune in to? One sunny Austin day, I sat out in my car with the XM station listing in hand and set about programming all of my radio buttons. First, I had to put down the listing and refer to the Honda’s owner’s manual to figure out how to program the buttons. Then, painstakingly, I read through the list and selected channels that I thought would be of interest to me.
How does this relate to Twitter? It’s kind of the same exercise – you need to plug into things that attract people with similar interests. Things started to move for me when I started to participate in Twitter chats. I started to utilize Twitter lists and used Tweetdeck to keep multiple lists open. Between chats and being a more responsive and encouraging follower, the needle started to move. I also thank people for retweeting my links and tweets. Today, I am well over 3,000 followers. I follow most of the people that follow me.
I have various tribes on Twitter. I’ve got my sports tribes – which I connect to via hashtags, e.g. #Longhorns, #Cowboys, etc. I’ve got my chat tribes – #tweetdiner, #imcchat, #blogchat, etc. I have friends that I check in on regularly via my lists.
The next frontier for me will be Facebook. I participate daily (Tweetdeck allows you to keep a column open on your Facebook and LinkedIn feeds, so that’s a big help) but I know that I am not as proficient on Facebook as I am on Twitter. My goal for 2011 is to become more knowledgeable and active on Facebook.
There are many more platforms than just LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook (and I hope to explore more of them soon) but here’s how I differentiate the three (something I shared at a recent #tweetdiner chat): LinkedIn is a business network for me. Facebook is a collection of friends, family and friendly business associates. Twitter is more of an open house. Twitter, for me, is relaxed. It’s also a place for learning, sharing, asking questions – it’s raucous, educational and fun. In contrast, with Facebook and LinkedIn, I am very selective with whom I connect and the tone and frequency of communication is different.
In closing I’d like to share what has been the reward of persevering with Twitter:
1. Great friends. I have met some incredibly wonderful and generous and encouraging people on Twitter. In a couple of weeks, I will meet in person for the first time, someone I have had as a Twitter friend since my early days.
2. Collaborators. As my business has grown, I’ve had the need for outside help. My intern, a press release guru, and a copywriter/designer have all made money and helped me tremendously – all of whom I met through Twitter.
3. Education. I have learned so much about blogging and marketing and the industries that my clients serve through Twitter. Without Twitter, my learning curve would have been slower and less productive.
4. New business. I have actually made money as a result of businesses getting to me via Twitter.
5. Thrills. I’ve had authors I admire and who are active on Twitter comment on my blog!
6. An opportunity to give back. Through Twitter I’ve been able to help and encourage people. In that small way, I feel better about me because I can help as others have helped me.
It has been difficult at times, frustrating at times – but the rewards, as I hope you see, have been more than worth the effort.
Image from hollrahs.com