In my opinion, the whole conversation about what is the right way to use Twitter or who’s using it wrong just adds to the confusion of those on the early stages of social media.
There are different styles and it seems that we tend to go one way or the other. What’s important is that the objective of using Twitter for your business is clear to you. Your voice, as some call it, will develop naturally.
What I want to do with this post is provide some basic understanding and clarity on the different styles to see if there is in fact, a right way to use Twitter. If you navigate through some of the accounts of the biggest names such as @guykawasaki, @chrisbrogan or even @aplusk you will be able to see the differences in style very clear.
So who’s using Twitter the right way? Who cares… what’s important here is that YOU as an entrepreneur or brand, reach your goals. So this is how it looks like from a basic point of view:
Conversational users are the ones where you see a heavy use of @replies, not so much of self-promoting or even sharing content. This is the way to get to know and interact with actual human beings, Retweets are important but not real interactions.
Business opportunities are created this way, seriously.
On the other hand, users enjoying of some level of popularity sometimes are turned into a constant thanking for praises from their followers and there is no real value provided. The other thing that’s very common to see is users interacting with only a small group and ignoring the rest of his/her network.
The user gathering information to share on Twitter, hopefully valuable to those in the community. Mostly links from blogs in a specific niche.
If you share useful or interesting articles in your industry, you become resourceful. People will trust you with the information you share, specially if it’s not so obvious. Sharing is good karma, if your competitor published a great article, share it with your network and you’ll see what I mean.
Also to consider is that there is no real engagement in sharing, while you will get retweeted, there is no interaction with other users.
Don’t become a Mashable feed, believe me, you will annoy everybody. Besides, nobody needs a link to Mashable to find it (you get the point, right?).
3. Self Promotion
A biggy, up for some controversy for sure. Self-Promotion is how you share your own. There is nothing wrong with sharing your content, events or work with your network as long as that’s not all you do. Great content doesn’t promote itself (read my post “10 Steps For Self-Promotion“).
You really have to be careful with this because constant self-promotion will make you look as spammer in your community, besides, nobody likes a pushy salesman.
Photo Credit: Femto Photography
People sharing what they’re doing, which was the original purpose of Twitter, at least until they changed to “What’s Happening?” I guess. We used to say nobody cares if you’re having coffee but apparently now we do, as far as you tell us where you are having it.
It is important to humanize your content, people also want to know about the person and your points of view. Always having in mind that nobody cares about every single step you take during the day, unless you are Tiger Woods, of course.
Don’t turn your Twitter into a Foursquare broadcaster, perhaps you should only be on Foursquare…
So Which One?
How about none! The problem is not that, the problem is that we lean towards one. If we focus on being ourselves and not on what others think or the so-called social media experts advice us to do, we’ll do just fine. During the day (on the real world) you establish conversations with co-workers or potential clients, then you tell somebody about a great documentary or article you read, you probably tell a friend you’re having coffee at the corner and even tell somebody about your new product. You don’t walk around just sharing news all day…
Represent yourself as who you truly are, technology means nothing.
A Matter Of Time And Work
What nobody seems to mention is that this is also a matter of time and work, people that get retweeted a lot without even posting their own links have been actively working on their own business, building trust on their communities, providing value and sharing their knowledge.
Let me tell you a short story (and sorry to use myself as an example…). In my previous business, besides the traditional advertising methods (yes, in the “before Twitter” era) I developed a distributor program to enable independent people to represent and sell my product. It was very hard at the beginning to get in front of as many people as I could and then convince them, even my small office was playing against me, but it was built over time and a lot of hard work. There was a point in which all I had to do was show up for a few hours once a week to say hello to people and chat, share a few laughs.
I don’t think being fully conversational works for just anybody at just any time. In reality, the timeline would look something like this as your network grows and you build trust:
Over time, conversation slowly replaces everything else, sharing other sources will still be important, self-promotion will almost vanish to probably an occasional blog post of your own because your community will do that for you and personal sharing should slightly increase as they want to know more about the person.
Are there exceptions? of course, @guykawasaki is all aggregation, @mashable is pure self-promotion. That is what they do. Take in consideration that you should develop your Twitter style thinking of your objectives.
Now it’s your turn…
What’s your point of view? Do you think you fall into one of these categories? Is it possible to have a balanced Twitter style? Share with us in the comments section.