You know I love Twitter, right?
I’ve written a lot about my enthusiasm for Twitter. So, this morning, when a Facebook friend— his name is Brian— posted a link to his brand new blog, I asked him if he uses Twitter.
His response: “I’m on Twitter, but it’s completely useless as a promotion tool! Twitter = Everyone speaking, no one listening!”
Before we go any further, let me tell you that I don’t know Brian well. We’ve never met but we have a lot of mutual friends. I know he likes pizza, he has a cat, and he’s a comedian…a good one, probably. His posts on Facebook make me laugh.
But I had a strong reaction to Brian’s comment, and not because I haven’t heard similar themes, even in my own home. My husband wouldn’t call Twitter useless, although he does admit he thinks there is very little use for it. But he has a sense of humor, too, and he sends me cool links to great stuff other people are saying about it.
After I read Brian’s comment, I did what we Twitter enthusiasts do. I tweeted about it.
And then, just to show where I stand, I tweeted this:
Within a few minutes, several people replied to my tweets. You know why?
Because they were listening.
Kip, Paul, and Dean were listening. So was Stephen — he even started a long conversation with me, sharing his thoughts and experiences with Twitter.
I’ve been on Twitter for over 20 months. I’ve logged over 14,000 tweets on several different accounts. 14,000 tweets represents a lot of talking, I know. But it also represents a lot of listening. Without exception, my experience has been about interacting, connecting, and relating to others.
So why the disconnect for Brian? Why has his experience on Twitter been so different from mine?
I wonder if his lack of enthusiasm is related to a learning curve: it takes time to find community on Twitter. Perhaps he is not following (or being followed by) people who share his interests. Or, maybe he was looking for a magic bullet, a fast and easy way to promote his stuff.
I’m not sure if it matters.
Brian, if you’re listening: it’s okay with me if you don’t like Twitter. If you want to try Twitter again, I’d be glad to help.
I have some great friends on Twitter. I can introduce you to them.
They tweet a lot, but they also listen plenty.
Tell me something! Do you use Twitter? Love it? Hate it? What would you say to Brian about Twitter?
If you want to learn more about Twitter, check out this white paper that I wrote: Twitter for Beginners. I wrote it when I was a beginner, but I’m pretty sure that most of the stuff in it still applies.
I am the founder/CEO of the Weaving Influence team, the author of Reach: Creating the Biggest Possible Audience for Your Message, Book, or Cause, and the host of the Book Marketing Action Podcast. I’m a wife and mom of three kids, and I enjoy running, reading, writing, coffee, and dark chocolate.
Glad to hear that I wasn’t the only one listening.
Thanks for checking out my blog… and thanks, even more, for choosing to engage with me on Twitter. I appreciate it, and I look forward to getting to know you more.
See, I really do think it depends on how you come to Twitter. If it’s just to keep track of IRL friends throughout the day … well, okay, but I don’t see the point. Still that can be your legitimate aim. Me, I’m too busy for that.
But if you’re looking to connect with people, just for an intelligent exchange when you’re alone and stuck in a boring sitch, I get it. And I certainly understand it if you need to meet and reach people in your line of work or business to move ahead professionally. That was why I reluctantly–because as I told you Becky, I was skeptical about “this Twitter thing,” that it might be inhabited by a bunch of narcissuses who wanted to tweet their lunch menus every day–signed up.
And then some different things happened. I met people who were interested in hiring me. I got to know someone I knew elsewhere online and wound up working, at last count, 3 books for his academic press. And I got friendly with people who agree, and others who strongly disagree, with me politically. These people help keep me awake when I’m fading but need to work just a little more when it’s late and the house is dark and quiet.
So , yeah, I didn’t get Twitter either. Then it got me.
Stephen, I love the way you describe your experience on Twitter. I have also experienced the joy of finding new work opportunities — and more — through Twitter. More than that, I have developed real relationships that I have continued beyond 140 characters, to phone calls and in-person meetings.
I am glad to know you more now as a result of this interaction and I look forward to getting to know you more in the future.
Becky, I do believe that twitter like everything else in life is about “time in the market not timing the market”. If you look for a magic bullet, you will simply attract more noise than what you would get from a simple organic engagement of people. Your experiment is interesting of putting it out there and getting your responses. I think that is indicative of the quality connections you create. As I mentioned to you before you were and still are the longest engagement I have had on twitter in some form of constructive conversation (it was authentic).
You also asked an interesting question the other day when you were looking to establish whether people’s tweets were automated or whether they were really up at that time? It demonstrates how of you engage on twitter and approach who you follow and your followers. You obviously have your balance right hence the type of people you attract as followers as well as people you follow, creating what is to me a real community where there is conversation rather than simple broadcasts! It is admirable and an art, but I am not convinced that most people on twitter have got right.
Let’s just say I am glad to have connected with you as I am inspired to push the twitter approach going forward with an open mind to engage rather than just broadcast. I have listened, but did not think it was the sentiment out there (to listen), but that belief system is changing.
I like to think that there are three types of people on twitter. Posters, Listeners, and Engagers.
Posters come in a variety of flavors. They might be a local news outlet, an automated quote account, or businesses that just post information about their business (some of the last of these are just straight spammers).
Listeners are just looking for information. They may follow celebrities or check out the local business to see what the special of the day is. Some listeners might have accounts, others may just use Twitter like a search engine to look for information.
The last set, engagers, are the key to Twitter. These are individuals that both listen and post. They are interested in what others share and want to share themselves. These are the individuals that really are at the core essence of Twitter. They form loose communities. The share their knowledge and are also willing to share the knowledge they gain from others.
The hard part with Twitter is that it is like walking into a cocktail party. You can stand their for a long time and if no one knows you they might not engage you. You can stand there in listen or you can stand their and shout. Neither of those work too well. Step forward to someone and engage them, chances are they will return the favor and listen.
Kip, I like how you have painted this picture. I guess it is about knowing what your story is and sticking to it. Sooner or later you will engage people that actually want to share with you what they know AND listen to your thoughts and what you are looking to share.
I’ve had more response/success on facebook, however I believe because it is due the amount of time I spend there.
I have more followers on FB who interact with me, but it’s because I’m spending more time interacting with them. I cannot spend the amount of time I would like blogging (and visiting other blogs), facebooking, and twittering and still remain connected and focused on those in my own home, although I wish I could.
So for me, although I enjoy twitter, facebook gets more of my time presently.
I believe it is the best quick source for networking. I found your blog on twitter! (it was a retweet)See…I was listening too!
Thanks, Becky. And thanks for blogging this. It’s been good remembering my initial, skeptical outlook on Twitter. And it’s also been good to take a look at how far I’ve gone with it in two-and-a-half years.
I’m a big fan of metaphor as a way of understanding something new, so when I first came to social media I had to find governing metaphors for what was going on there. Facebook, I decided, was like a big weird party with friends and family and former co-workers and people from church and people I grew up with all mooshed in together. Twitter is like walking through the halls in high school – lots of background noise, lots of conversations going on at once, so you can focus in on one or two people or just listen to the snippets passing by. I confess that I have a harder time getting it to work for me – I’m very on and off with Twitter.
I agree with your comment, that there is a “learning curve: it takes time to find community on Twitter”. I think the real value of Twitter does lie in the communities that exist among those with a shared interest. For example, I have truly benefited from having ‘conversations’ with the #LeadChange community. I value what is shared by those who follow this hashtag and I have received valuable feedback from this community on what I have shared on Twitter. I do feel listened to on Twitter.
Even your mother is listening and because she talks to snakes, others are getting your Tweets. The one I am thinking about is Molly my Schnauzer…..I read her your Tweets when your Dad isn’t listening………..And each day when I walk with friends, they get an undate on what you are writing about………..So in a sense, Cross Hill, SC is listening……….be careful what you write about the south……they think they won the war………..By y’all.
Other than taking time to read the Help section, there are no buddies nearby who teach you the ins & outs of Twitter.
Thus, for me, Twitter is often the window where I lean out to yell at the top of my voice “I’m mad as hell & I’m not going to take it anymore!”
I’ve been surprised at how many people feel the same way. I suppose I’m on some developmental pathway that most users follow and will “mature” in my tweeting, but there it is…