As I go through and look at people who are following me, I analyze carefully who I follow back and who I decide to just keep my eye on. I’ve come to notice over the last couple of months that there are things I look for in my fellow tweeters, so I thought I would share my top ten (or tep ton as I just typed) ideas for how to get rolling on Twitter. Let me know if these ideas help!
1. The whole 12:1 Ratio Concept: I was still having a really hard time getting going on Twitter when I saw a remark from Chris Brogan that he makes a point of promoting 12 people for every comment he makes. This changed my entire approach to Twitter. It’s easy to think that Twitter is like Facebook, where you update YOUR status. Twitter is more like a news stream, however, and that means people don’t just want to hear about you, they want to network with you to reach other people and other information. I started making sure that there was plenty of space between me tweeting out posts, and that is when things started to go better for me.
2. Do not become a parrot: It’s easy to think that “Promoting 12 people for every comment you make” means retweeting a lot. I made mistake, too. I would click on “Retweet” like it was an easy button. Retweeting isn’t bad, but if you do retweet, try to add a couple of words introducing what you are saying to show that you really found it interesting. Even more fun is to indicate disagreement so that you can start some conversation.
3. Don’t follow 5 million people right out of the gate: One thing that I look for now is people who are followed by more people than they are following. Don’t despair if you’re just getting started. I’m not saying that if you have 57 followers and you’re following 127 people you’re doing a bad job. Where I start to get a little suspicious is when people have 57 followers but they are following 9,742 people. That tells me they are trying to get numbers rather than a quality community.
4. Don’t measure your success based on the big names: I know that a lot of people base their measure of success on Twitter by how many replies they get from some of the big thinkers. To get RTd by such a person is like gold. To have the beginnings of a conversation is cause for giddiness. I know how that is, but things started working better for me when I said, “Heck, they are following more people than I can even imagine. How are they going to see anything I say?” I started talking to people who were just breaking into Twitter like I was. More chance for conversation, more chance to build community, more value.
5. Attend Twitter Chats: I’ll say it till you beg me to stop. Twitter opened up for me when I went to #blogchat for the very first time. Get out there and share ideas with people who are interested in the same things you are. Here is a list of the Twitter chats in existence right now. You can find me at #Blogchat, #TechChat, #CustServ, #IMCChat, sometimes #B2BChat, and #TweetDiner (which I co-founded with Stan from Pushingsocial).
6. Read as much as you can: This may not seem like a straight line, but in order to pass on informed and credible information, you have to gather it first. Read blogs, comment on them, build u a rapport with bloggers, mention great things you read – that is how you build community.
7. Aim to make friends: I told someone this the other night and I think they thought I was kidding, but honestly, if you worry about things like the “quality” of your followers or the number of retweets you’re getting, Twitter won’t work for you. It’s like falling in love, right? You work on just getting to know people, share content, and then by accident you find yourself as part of a great community. Seriously.
8. Be Yourself: Just because you’re on Twitter for business reasons doesn’t mean you have to only talk about business. A bot can do that. Let people get to know you a little. That’s not to say that you should bleed all over the page, but engage with people.
9. The Avatar: If I see the little Twitter birdy instead of a customized avatar, I’m honestly going to have some doubts about whether you are a human being. This is not meant to be judgmental, but a lot of spam bot accounts are absent a picture, so it raises flags for me. Show me who you are or who you are on Twitter for, barring a personal picture. It doesn’t have to be a glamor shot – in fact those make me suspicious too. Just a nice little portraits works well.
10. A little bio: Take a bit of time to fill out the bio. You don’t have room to tell your life story, so you don’t have to worry about getting too personal. However, having a few keywords there or a brief synopsis is a good idea. It helps people find you, and if Im hedging about whether to follow someone, having a bio, which means a little effort was taken, can be a difference maker.
Image by Billy Alexander. http://www.sxc.hu/profile/ba1969