If you’ve ever been scared of Twitter, confused about Twitter or annoyed with Twitter, this post is for you. If you’re on Twitter and still don’t get it, this post is for you too.
Twitter is critical to building relationships with your readers as well as other bloggers (many of which are your readers). It’s also the best place to stay “in the know” with what’s going on in the bloggy blog world.
Twitter has often been called a social media cocktail party… and a never-ending one at that. To understand how Twitter works, think of it like that. At a cocktail party, you mix and mingle with people from all sorts of backgrounds and lifestyles. Some people you get into really great conversations with, while with others you just break the ice. (The main difference is little birdies carrying a big ass whale don’t crush your conversation if too many people are talking at the same time. Gotta love the fail whale.)
Here are some things to wrap your head around when it comes to Twitter:
You don’t have to “catch up”
Twitter isn’t like reading email. Don’t feel like you have to scroll through hours of tweets to catch up.
That’s like the cocktail party equivalent of… walking into a room of people and walking up to each group going “so, can you tell me what you’ve been talking about since you got here? And what about you? And you over there?”
When you get some time in your busy day to log onto Twitter, read through some tweets to see what’s going on (think of this as listening to others at a cocktail party before you start in with your own stories). Go back as far as you have time for but DO NOT TRY TO READ EVERYTHING. Be in the present and roll with it.
You’ll talk to some people more than others
One thing people new to Twitter often ask is “how do people keep up with following thousands of people?”
The simple answer is, they don’t. Instead, they flow in and out of conversations. Some people they may talk to every day. Others once a month. And others, well, they may not ever strike up a conversation with.
That’s like the cocktail party equivalent of… well, a cocktail party! Think back to the best parties you’ve been to – they were probably ones where you had some really great conversations with a few people and then got introduced to some other people who you hope to get to know more later down the road.
I use Twitter lists to keep up with the different groups of people (I have Carolina followers, Marketing/PR followers, a private list of favorites, and more). These are who I interact with most often.
But since the Twitter cocktail party never ends, I’ll make my way around the room eventually right? That’s why I also check my home feed often to chat with people I may not have before.
Twitter isn’t for one way “conversations”
In Twitter people aren’t successful if they just post content, talk about themselves or tweet giveaways all the time. In fact, if they aren’t talking back to their followers, it sends the message that they don’t really care about building relationships with others; they just want to force their message down someone’s throat. Yuck.
That’s like the cocktail party equivalent of… someone walking up to you and trying to sell you something without even introducing themselves.
This actually happened to me at a networking event last year. I walked into this event with a friend. I barely got through the door when this lady walked up to me, soooo invaded my personal space then said, “Here’s $25 off a membership at ___ Gym.” She shoved the coupon in my hand and pretty much walked off while I stood there flabbergasted.
Um, how about a “Hi, I’m Sally from ___ Gym.” and then continuing with some small talk first.
Twitter is not for the hard sell (whether that sell is visiting your blog, pimping out an ebook or selling jewelry). It’s for making connections so that you’re credible. Put it this way- would you visit Jane’s blog from Twitter if all she ever did was post “read my new blog post” over and over? Now what if you guys have talked on Twitter a few times before? You’d be more interested in her blog post because you know her, even if it’s just a little.
It’s okay to jump into a conversation
In addition to regular ole tweets, Twitter is full of conversations among people. If you follow two people and see they have a conversation going that sounds interested, don’t be shy! Just @ them both so they both see what you’re saying.
That’s the cocktail party equivalent of… walking by two people talking about your favorite Mexican restaurant. And then you jump in with a “Excuse me. I overheard you talking about my favorite restaurant. I LOVE that place!”
Of course, someone could be all snotty and not respond back but who cares? It’s worked for me in connecting with people more often than it’s not.
When this tactic would really suck is if they were having a super serious conversation and you’re all “hi guys!” Be smart, people. Be smart. Of course, we could argue deep convos should be taken elsewhere but let’s just not go there.
Speak off the top of your mind (within reason)
Whether it’s an opinion, an observation or just a random thought, tweet it! While no one wants to read EVERY little thought that crosses your mind, I’ve found that I get the most responses when I just let it out.
That’s the cocktail party equivalent of… seeing some of your besties at a party and telling them what’s happenin’.
For example, the other day I tweeted this ridiculousness, “Just realized I forgot to put on deodorant. Thank God I work from home.” One silly (and kinda embarrassing) tweet like that had people responding to me laughing, saying that happens to them all the time, etc. Why is that important? Because we made a connection and interacted like friends at a party would, even if it was at the expense of my armpits.
Use this tip at your own discretion- you may never ever ever want to divulge information about forgetting deodorant. You may never want to tell your followers that you’re craving pizza or that your cat just peed on the carpet (and if you’re a business, I’d be conservative in tweeting like this). BUT I’ve gotten the most laughs and interaction from the silly stuff.
If I could sum it up in fewer words, I’d say this: we are all humans so speak like one. (well, minus having to use the Twitter lingo like RT, @, #, etc.). Think of what you’re tweeting in a real life context. You’ll be the life of the party before you know it.
QUESTION: Have you ever thought of Twitter as a cocktail party before? Has anything made you hesitate to get involved on Twitter?
Is Your Blog in Tip-Top Shape? Find Out!
Get this free DIY Blog Critique to see what's missing from your blog's design, navigation, and content.