So Which One Is The Right Use Of Twitter Anyways?

So which is the right use of twitter anyways? 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:

1. Conversation

Twitter Conversations

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.

2. Aggregation

Twitter Aggregation

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

Twitter 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.

4. Personal

Twitter Personal Use

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:

Twitter Style Timeline

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.

  • I'm a little bit of everything, and that's what I like to see from those I follow. (And why I don't follow some hyper self-promotional or power aggregation folks; if it's good it'll get RT anyway.) I'm on Twitter for business, so I show my human side without making things too personal. Still working on the conversation, as for me it seems to take the most time and effort, though it's totally worth it when I can. FWIW.

  • I'm a little bit of everything, and that's what I like to see from those I follow. (And why I don't follow some hyper self-promotional or power aggregation folks; if it's good it'll get RT anyway.) I'm on Twitter for business, so I show my human side without making things too personal. Still working on the conversation, as for me it seems to take the most time and effort, though it's totally worth it when I can. FWIW.

  • I really enjoyed your piece here. I believe that “being yourself” is the key to the success not only on Twitter but in any professional or social situation. I do not mind if one of my friends/followers shares some personal info, even if it is having a coffee or wine! There is a humanization that comes about and through this electronic media when this type of sharing occurs. I do agree that too much is too much. I believe I have found a balance when I read your article. I share news and information that I feel my friends like and enjoy, and I enjoy what they share as well, otherwise,why would we follow each other. I also share pieces of what I am working on, or some frustration I may have. I love Twitter and my friends, and I think being authentic is what makes friends and followers a success. If someone is doing too much self promotion it tends to become annoying. I also balance sharing my personal blogs as well. Again, this was a well written piece and covered in my opinion all the bases. I truly enjoyed it.

  • I really enjoyed your piece here. I believe that “being yourself” is the key to the success not only on Twitter but in any professional or social situation. I do not mind if one of my friends/followers shares some personal info, even if it is having a coffee or wine! There is a humanization that comes about and through this electronic media when this type of sharing occurs. I do agree that too much is too much. I believe I have found a balance when I read your article. I share news and information that I feel my friends like and enjoy, and I enjoy what they share as well, otherwise,why would we follow each other. I also share pieces of what I am working on, or some frustration I may have. I love Twitter and my friends, and I think being authentic is what makes friends and followers a success. If someone is doing too much self promotion it tends to become annoying. I also balance sharing my personal blogs as well. Again, this was a well written piece and covered in my opinion all the bases. I truly enjoyed it.

  • I really enjoyed this post. It includes some great points. I think a great way of using Twitter, professionally or on a personal level, is a good mix. Keep it personal, provide information and interact. In my opinion interaction is key in keeping your followers interested in you as a person or the company. I can honestly say that I'm tending to unfollow people that either constantly promote themselves or don't show any interest in interaction. Mind you, I don't usually follow people, by which i also mean the people behind a company account, whose Twitter stream doesn't contain any sort of interaction with others. For me, that's what Twitter is. A platform that keeps you up to date on what's going on in the world as well as a place to meet great people and have interesting discussions. Key for all of this is authenticity – just like in real life.
    I don't think it's possible to have a “right” or “wrong” Twitter style, it's a matter of what you want to achieve with your presence on the platform.

    Once again, great post. πŸ™‚ I enjoyed it. (calls for a Retweet πŸ˜‰

  • I really enjoyed this post. It includes some great points. I think a great way of using Twitter, professionally or on a personal level, is a good mix. Keep it personal, provide information and interact. In my opinion interaction is key in keeping your followers interested in you as a person or the company. I can honestly say that I'm tending to unfollow people that either constantly promote themselves or don't show any interest in interaction. Mind you, I don't usually follow people, by which i also mean the people behind a company account, whose Twitter stream doesn't contain any sort of interaction with others. For me, that's what Twitter is. A platform that keeps you up to date on what's going on in the world as well as a place to meet great people and have interesting discussions. Key for all of this is authenticity – just like in real life.
    I don't think it's possible to have a “right” or “wrong” Twitter style, it's a matter of what you want to achieve with your presence on the platform.

    Once again, great post. πŸ™‚ I enjoyed it. (calls for a Retweet πŸ˜‰

  • Very interesting article! I found that I only meet people through conversations, personal interactions. Would like to mention that although personal interactions are the most effective way to build twitter relationships, it is also the most time consuming. So, I agree that there should be a balance between above mentioned ways to use twitter. Love all tour articles! Always great points!

  • I really like your post, and agree with most of it. I personally fall mostly in the aggregator column, and finding useful information is my main use of and interest in Twitter. But I respect how other people use it and am fine with peoples' varying ways of using Twitter. As I blogged about (http://nmc.itdevworks.com/index.php/2010/03/qui…) what drives me up the wall is when people say you have to use Twitter (or LinkedIn, or FB) a certain way, otherwise you're using it wrong. I'm currently in (and the cause of) a large discussion on LinkedIn about how Discussions should be used, with some people insistent that there is only one way to use those forums. Drives me crazy.

    Not sure I agree with your chart. You might be right that conversations take over eventually, but I'm not certain.

  • I completely agree with being yourself and Tweeting as you would a normal conversation. Treat Twitter the same as being at a party or a restaurant. If you wouldn't say those things in public then don't say or do those thing on Twitter. Most people, especially business owners, will gravitate towards conversation, personal and self promotion. I find that I personally have to work towards aggregation as I feel people can find information just as easily as I can. I have to remind myself that sometimes what I share could be valuable to someone else.

  • I think it's a little bit of all of the above, and maybe more so in one direction or the other depending on the followers you want to keep. If you don't get a little personal and conversational, people will think you are a bot, and if you get over personal and conversational, people will get annoyed. You just have to find the right balance for yourself and go for it!

  • Thanks Gregory, you make a good point on aggregation, that's why I sometimes hesitate about retweeting sites such as Mashable, not because I don't like it (I do) but because I feel I'm not adding my 2 cents. I try to share stuff from awesome people that is not so mainstream but provide great pieces of content.

    Thanks for your comment and have a great weekend!

  • Not agreeing is cool Neicole =) the chart is really a personal opinion and not actual stats.

    Thanks for sharing your blog.

  • Thank you Davina. I know what you mean about conversation being the hardest and as you know, that's where all the juice is.

  • If the parameter is tweetlevel of edelmen there is should has an activity to building trust and branding. I thought aggregation should be more naturally not by some plugins

  • If the parameter is tweetlevel of edelmen there is should has an activity to building trust and branding. I thought aggregation should be more naturally not by some plugins

  • Thank you Arham. I agree with with you, both aggregation and self-promotion should be manually done.

  • Moderation is vital and none excessive use of each point is ideal if you're into building a 2-way connection with your followers/following. Twitter is so effective yet risky enough if one has no idea how it is to be put into collaboration with own brand and goals. You've shared a good example at the end of the post – to make oneself worth the attention by being conversational. There may be a sequence involved too, for instance – quality and communicative, then self promoting etc. We need to work out the formula according to our audience behaviors.

    Thanks for the enlightenment. πŸ™‚

    @wchingya
    Social/Blogging Tracker

  • Moderation is vital and none excessive use of each point is ideal if you're into building a 2-way connection with your followers/following. Twitter is so effective yet risky enough if one has no idea how it is to be put into collaboration with own brand and goals. You've shared a good example at the end of the post – to make oneself worth the attention by being conversational. There may be a sequence involved too, for instance – quality and communicative, then self promoting etc. We need to work out the formula according to our audience behaviors.

    Thanks for the enlightenment. πŸ™‚

    @wchingya
    Social/Blogging Tracker

  • The problem is not that, the problem is that we lean towards one.

  • The problem is not that, the problem is that we lean towards one.

  • alΓ³? esto es una prueba..

  • toninewman

    I rarely comment on blogs but I wanted you to know how valuable this post was for me. I love the approach. Researching what other people are doing is important. Figuring out what works for you and putting it to work so that you can meet your own objectives, is smart business – or smart Twitter.

    as you say, “Represent yourself as who you truly are, technology means nothing.”

  • Pingback: Gretchen Gary's Blog » What Are You Tweeting About?()

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  • Twitter or who’s using it wrong just adds to the confusion of those on the early stages of social media.

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