When it comes to Twitter, I certainly wasn’t an early adopter. Count me among the many who just didn’t get it. What, of any value could be communicated in 140 characters or less. Who cares what people are having for breakfast! Every mention of Twitter began to annoy me. I couldn’t wait for it to go away. But it didn’t.
I started seeing articles on business use of Twitter. At first I still thought it wasted too much time. When a respected colleague joined in, I decided to give it a chance.
Twitter is tough at first. I didn’t personally know many others on the platform so it was kind of like walking into a room where you don’t know anybody. Where to start? Who to follow? Well, I was in this for business, so I began clicking the follow buttons at various blogs and news sites I frequented. Then I followed authors. The great thing about doing that is the people whose thoughts you value connect with others in their field. It makes it very easy to find intelligent people sharing valuable insights and links to articles with deeper perspectives.
Soon I was following over 100 people and faced the dilemma of how to handle all this information. How did other people do it? Some follow thousands of people. This is Twitter’s dark little secret that few will talk about. Many people who follow you actually…don’t. Twitter allows you to group your followers into categorized lists. This is great when you follow people from distinctly different fields. My own include Design, Web and Social Media. These lists are public but you can also make a private list – an “A” list. If you only check that list you only see tweets from those people. Everything else is filtered out. At this point, following less than 300 people, I don’t filter my stream. I’m not saying I read everything but I don’t block anything.
The other side of Twitter is even more difficult to start – getting followers. Some people follow back everyone who follows them. Others are leery of someone with few followers. It took me over a month to get 12. But I kept at it. If you want followers, real followers, you have to give a tweet. Share your insight. Share (retweet) things you like from other people. Most importantly, reply. Remember, it’s supposed to be a conversation not a speech. You might be surprised how easy it is to engage people. Even the most high profile people are more likely to follow you if you reach out to them.
I consider myself very fortunate for the relationships I’ve developed on Twitter. I’ve connected with some incredibly brilliant and generous people that I would have no other way to meet. Every day offers new opportunities to share, learn and connect. I look forward to each one.
Oh, you can follow me too.