About 5 months ago, maybe less, I came very close to giving up on Twitter entirely. I would check in enough, that’s for sure, but I couldn’t seem to get over 75 followers (I appreciated all of them, I promise you). The people I was following tended not to respond to my tweets very much. Sometimes I would see a retweet and my heart would race, and I would see it was a spam bot offering me an iPad because I written a blog post about the new technology available. I couldn’t understand what was wrong with what I was doing, especially when I noticed that pretty conversational tweets from other people were retweeted all over the place while my VERY educational tweets (ha ha ha) were thudding.
A lot of my friends think serendipity plays a role in the world of Social Media. Well, in this particular case, it’s hard to argue with that. One Sunday night, I was posting along when someone mentioned something called #blogchat. “Hmm, I blog,” I thought to myself. I decided to check out that little hash tag. It was the best decision of my Twitter life. The person whom I had followed in actually left after a short while, but I stayed for a full 2 hours.
The #blogchat high
That night, when I went to bed, I had gained about 30 more followers, which was nice. But what I had really gained was an understanding of how Twitter at large works. In fact, if you had talked to me on the phone that night, I probably would have sounded like a Twitter brand evangelist. Some exclamations I might have made include:
Twitter is about sharing information with like-minded people!
Twitter is about conversing like you would at a coffee shop where you know everyone!
Twitter has some really really really smart people using it!
Twitter has people who are even smarter than me!! (well, okay, I was really tired, so that one might have slipped in)
That first night of #blogchat, I got pushed up to close to 100 followers, but here’s the thing about that. I realized then that the number of followers you have really doesn’t matter. Several of the new followers I had gotten were spam-bots who like to pick on people who are really active during chats. What I was happy about was that I had been able to participate in a 90mph conversation about things I’m passionate about. Much like any addict, I needed more.
Be a Chatty Cathy
One of the best ways to get a blank look from people who are really new to Twitter or who don’t use Twitter is to say, “Oh, I’m doing blah blah Twitter chat tonight. This has become a common line from me, and it’s not just because I enjoy confusing people. Here is my current Twitter chat schedule:
Sunday at 9PM EST: #blogchat
Monday at 8PM EST: #MMChat (Marketer Monday) – just started attending this one
Tuesday at 8PM EST: #TechChat, launched by MarketingProfs (to say it’s about “tech” is underselling)
Tuesday at 9PM EST: #Custserv (to say it’s about customer service is underselling)
Wednesday at 8PM EST: #IMCChat (Integrated Marketing & Communications Chat)
Thursday at 8PM EST: #B2BChat – just started popping in to that one as well
Now, why on earth would I spend prime time television time chatting on Twitter, you might well ask. The same reasons I’m recommending you do the same thing. Here are the top ten reasons.
1. Engage with people who feel the same way
2. You get to meet new people
3. You get to ask questions knowing you’ll get really good answers
4. You get to help people who come to the chats to ask questions
5. You get to build friendships, just like you do at a book club
6. You tend to be bombarded with links to blogs & articles rich with information
7. You learn something new
8. Topics are brought to your attention you had never even thought of
9. You are able to interface with some of the leading minds on Twitter
10. And yes, if you do things right, it can help you build your Twitter following
This is not a golden egg
If you start doing chats solely to gain more followers, you will likely be disappointed, you will not find the experience enriching, and you will have missed the primary point here. One of the reasons that I follow people and people follow me after chats is that we offer each other really useful information (well, that’s why I follow people) and we seem to be on the same page. If you go to a chat and sound off ads for you or your company, you’ll be ignored. If you put in the hashtag for the chat once and then throw your hands up in the air, it won’t work either.
Chatting means just that. It means engaging with people, commenting on peoples’ tweets, offering a courteous “I disagree” when you, well, disagree, etc. If you get some of the folks you engage with to follow you, and you follow them back, that’s awesome, but after you do a few chats, you understand that content means far more than followers in this world.
Join me at one of the chats I go to and let me walk you through it, or comment below if you have any questions, exclamations, or anything else.
1st Image by Andrew C. http://www.sxc.hu/profile/andreyutzu
2nd Image by Richard Dudley. http://www.sxc.hu/profile/bluegum
3rd Image Credit: http://www.sxc.hu/profile/barunpatro