Using Twitter for Business AND Pleasure (Part 2)

Apr 2, 2010 by

If you’re not a people person, or if you’re really only looking for a way to get your message out as cheaply and broadly as possible, you should probably stop reading here.

Do you know what the difference between Facebook and Twitter is?  Facebook is more like a reunion and Twitter is like a virtual cocktail party.

What that means in a nutshell is that you use the two tools differently with respect to how you connect with people.

The most successful Twitter users view the site as somewhat of a glorified chat room.  You are constantly making contact with new people by way of retweets, mentions and the like.  The whole never talk to strangers bit of wisdom that was drilled into our heads as kids has no place in this medium of communication.

In order to use Twitter effectively, a mindset of ‘connecting’ has to be learned before anything else can go forward.  The idea is to try to connect with as many people as you can, whether they’re really relevant to your business or not.  And by connecting, I don’t mean reciprocal following just to inflate your ‘audience’.  Twitter is not a tool for blasting your message with the hope that someone interested will act on it.  Twitter is for engaging people and building your brand.

The most successful users of Twitter, like Chris Brogan (@ChrisBrogan) for example, have 10’s of thousands of followers and engage them by talking to them like people.  The ‘chitchat’ can range from personal stuff to comments about current events to business topics.  In other words, they interact like normal humans do.

The reality is this:  People like Chris Brogan and Shaquille O’Neal (@therealshaq) and Brian Clark from CopyBlogger (@copyblogger) and many other Twitter rock stars use the tool not as a means of self-promotion, but as a way to connect with people on a basic level – and they successfully build their personal brands by proxy.  And, they have a blast doing it.

Unless you’re a news entity like The Huffington Post (@huffingtonpost), no one wants to follow you if you’re only going to use Twitter to spout off announcements about your latest blog post, or the latest affiliate item your pimping.  There’s really no enjoyment in that, anyway.

Whether you’re just starting out or if you’ve had an account for a while, if you have a desire to increase your influence on Twitter, here are a few guidelines to help you get going:

  • Follow people who are already successful in the niche you’re in and see how they use Twitter to reach people.
  • Follow people whom you are interested in what they have to say.  If they provide value, retweet their good posts with a [@twitteruser] mention so they’ll notice (currently, simply clicking the ‘retweet’ link on the post does not accomplish this – you have to retweet manually in order to mention them in the post).
  • Reach out to people with common interests – and to those who follow you.  You can use search.twitter.com to query keywords that are related to your business.
  • Don’t be afraid to ‘butt into’ a conversation.  Remember, this is a cocktail party.  You’re SUPPOSED to eavesdrop and join the conversation.  It’s safe to assume that anyone who posts anything on Twitter is looking for dialog.  What’s the worst thing that can happen?  They don’t respond to your post and everyone moves on?  Just make sure you’re not talking just to hear yourself talk.  That’s a good way to get unfollowed fast.
  • Have fun with it!  There are no rules.  Twitter presents a fantastic way to connect with tons of interesting people.

I was resistant to Twitter for a long time because I thought it was stupid and pointless.  Then it finally occurred to me that Twitter wasn’t going anywhere, and that the conversation was taking place whether I was a part of it or not.  The biggest mistake a person can make when trying to build their business or personal brand is to ignore their clients/audience.  You have to go to where the people are.  They’ll tell you exactly what you want to know – for free – all you have to do is ask!