Infrastructure // PC & Servers
Commentary
1/26/2009
04:22 PM
Mitch Wagner
Mitch Wagner
Commentary
Connect Directly
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

How To Succeed At Twitter

As with most things, persistence pays off on Twitter. Just post regularly, a few times a day. Follow people. Engage in discussion. Respond to what other people say. Post whatever interests you if you think it interests other people. Sometimes post what interests you even if you don't think anyone else will find it interesting. Experiment.

As with most things, persistence pays off on Twitter. Just post regularly, a few times a day. Follow people. Engage in discussion. Respond to what other people say. Post whatever interests you if you think it interests other people. Sometimes post what interests you even if you don't think anyone else will find it interesting. Experiment.Nobody knows the right and wrong way to use Twitter. This isn't sales, where we have thousands of years of experience to build on. This medium was invented two years ago. Sometimes you try something on Twitter and people say, "That's wrong!" But those people are full of baloney. Find out what works for you, and go with it. The only way to be wrong on Twitter is to tick people off.

Here's someone with an interesting take on the right way to use Twitter: Britney Spears. Spears has a social media director to update social media accounts, with input from Britney herself, her assistant, her publicist, and the rest of her entourage.

When I first heard about that, I thought it was crazy. The essence of Twitter is that you update it yourself, even if you're a celebrity. Hiring someone to use Twitter for you seems deeply wrong, like hiring someone to go bowling for you.

And yet Spears's approach seems to work for her. The fans on Twitter like it.

If you just keep Twittering, and participating in the conversation, you'll find a voice that works for you.

One of the reasons I have a large following on Twitter is because I invested the time in it. I got in early: Spring of 2007, and I've been on it every day since. I try to talk to people one-on-one, not just broadcast. And I always, always try to be either entertaining, or informative, or both, even when I'm just twittering about dinner. I spend time on it every day. Even on weekends. Even on vacation. Even in the evening when I'm sitting and watching TV with my wife.

And, while I'm proud of my 1,600 followers, that doesn't put me in the top ranks of Twitterers: People like tech blogger Robert Scoble and Internet entrepreneur Jason Calacanis have more than 50,000 followers.

Recently, Digg co-founder Kevin Rose posted a list of 10 ways to increase your Twitter following. Rose is the second-most popular person on Twitter, with 89,780 followers (the only person on Twitter more popular than Rose is a guy whose street address is 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., Washington, D.C.). I think it's a great list -- but I have an objection.

The objection is that I don't think increasing your follower count just for the sake of accumulating big numbers is a worthwhile pursuit. Sure, I'm proud of my follower count -- but that's really just foolish vanity, something to be enjoyed but not really taken too seriously. The real value that you get from Twitter -- or any social media service -- comes from the personal and professional connections you make. And you make those connections one at a time.

The same thing is true of face-to-face networking, by the way. The best connections I've made at conferences often aren't at the big networking events with hundreds of people in attendance; it's going out to a bar with a few people I met in a hallway conversation. So I disagree with some of Rose's advice. For example, asking your followers to repeat your tweets (a/ka/ "retweeting") seems a bit needy and desperate. Likewise for starting a contest to encourage people to follow you.

I take a different approach to building traffic on Twitter -- I look for ways to help other people. I rarely ask people to retweet my posts, but I often retweet other people's when I find them useful or entertaining. (For example, this just cracked me up). And, while I often post links to InformationWeek on Twitter, I post links to other people's works, when I find them interesting, even more often.

I've taken to using this philosophy in all my efforts at promotion and marketing. Look for ways to help other people, and you'll succeed for yourself.

A little self-promotion doesn't hurt: Follow me and InformationWeek on Twitter. But you'll notice that I posted those links after posting links to other people.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Server Market Splitsville
Server Market Splitsville
Just because the server market's in the doldrums doesn't mean innovation has ceased. Far from it -- server technology is enjoying the biggest renaissance since the dawn of x86 systems. But the primary driver is now service providers, not enterprises.
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
InformationWeek Must Reads Oct. 21, 2014
InformationWeek's new Must Reads is a compendium of our best recent coverage of digital strategy. Learn why you should learn to embrace DevOps, how to avoid roadblocks for digital projects, what the five steps to API management are, and more.
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
InformationWeek Radio
Archived InformationWeek Radio
A roundup of the top stories and trends on InformationWeek.com
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.