Those that follow me on Twitter know I don’t use it to advertise. I don’t shout out “What I’m doing” very often or take irrelevant pictures of my food. Instead, and to the annoyance of some that will not follow me after learning this (and I’m fine with that), I use it to talk WITH people, not TO them.
Against the ideas of Darren Rowse in his new blog (the ProBlogger guy) who tries to keep us from broadcasting “one-sided telephone calls” that annoy 99% of your followers, I do use it for chat. Not exhausting conversations but to at least converse! No, it’s not to exclude anyone.
I can do this by keeping my lists tight. Those on my list have something in common with each other and if I offer a “one-sided” chat, they know they can butt in and get involved if it’s my public feed, cop feed or Colorado Mustang feed. I love it.
If you have thousands of followers then I completely agree with Darren. But most of us don’t have that kind of following and we’re lucky!
A twitter list that will benefit you is where the members have something in common. I have 3 twitter accounts – one is open and the others are clubs. Even my public profile is true to this point. Note: they are all public, but 2 aren’t Id’d as me, it’s another story. When I speak with someone briefly, the others know “who” and relatively “what” I’m shouting out. They know they can be a part of it and we all know we can learn from each other. Yes, I have the stalkers that never talk, they don’t get it. My local competitors are there too and never say anything. Don’t they know that an hour over coffee together would strengthen both our businesses? I digress.
This post is about communities. Simply, Twitter tightens them. A forum for your industry is a great place to begin virtual friendships. Seminars and conferences work well too but all is lost when new relationships aren’t maintained.
I have a friend from Bethesda I met a month or so ago briefly at a conference but beside the meet ‘n greet we were still acquaintances – that’s too bad, I thought. Now, with the casual and simple way we can converse! Twitter allowed us to forge a friendship. Now the next time we meet there won’t be any small talk, it will be drinks and a plan to take over the world – maybe not, but the trust will already be there.
Too many personalities build a large followings simply to shout out links for traffic or sales. It SHOULD be social. If this is done, conversions are the byproduct.
One place I “hang out” is a real estate forum. Though I’m not a realtor and I don’t perform any SEO for real estate, I’ve made a point to meet these guys. Why? First of all, you’d be surprised how good at SEO some realtors are;) but the real reason is because the community members are more interested in learning from and helping each other than they are of promoting themselves. Lou runs an Ulster County Real Estate site and though we’ve never met in person, we do have many common associates and offer help to each other that frankly, would be considered “billable hours” to other people.
Carolyn Gjerde-Tu who runs a Sacramento real estate site wrote a great blog post about twitter for real estate. She did this on a web property that she doesn’t even own but in a place where it will help people in that industry – hardly a cry for attention that most twit-whores strive for. She’s helping people, not selling to them.
THAT is what makes a community genuine, that is why my twitter lists are genuine. If we mutually follow each other that means I’m your friend, it means I’ll buy your beer when we meet.
Like in real life, I’d like to have a few close friends I can count on than an army of superficial friendships. Respect breeds respect too so I’d be there for them as well. I’d never be able to say that If I kept my twitter shouts to a minimal link drop here and there or with fear of offending or excluding someone. My twitter shouts are invites, not lectures.
What’s the bottom line? Twitter isn’t something that should be used to broadcast what you do, what you sell or blast your opinions. I think it should be used to show WHO you are and that you’re a real person, imperfect and human. Most importantly, to show that you’re someone willing to engage others.
I show my public feed on my sidebar for this reason – not to gather followers (again, I don’t need many) but to show my website visitors that there’s a real guy behind it.
Remember Godin’s rule – People don’t do business with businesses, they do business with people.
Update: Thanks for the comments, let’s roll them over to Carolyn’s Active Rain Real Estate Blog.