On May 14, 2009, I posted my first tweet. It was part of a “30 Days of Tweeting Experiment” designed to help me (and fellow non-Twitter users) figure out what all the fuss was about. The Experiment has ended and it’s been an interesting ride. As promised, here’s the recap to let potential new Tweeps know what they’re in for. So here goes….
First of all, if you’re brand new, before you even set up your account, check out this blog post by Michael Hyatt. How did I find him? On Twitter, of course! These are the mechanics of getting started, plus some really great food for thought.
Here are some other things to consider when deciding “to tweet or not to tweet?”
Go on, try it!
Even if it is just a fad (someone on Linked In likened it to the CB craze of the 70’s), I suggest that you at least give it a 30 day trial run like I did. It will show that you’re up on current technologies. At the end of 30 days, you may decide it’s not for you, but you will be able to confidently discuss its pros and cons with folks who are active with social media.
Determine your focus—business or personal?
What “voice” are you trying to convey with your tweets? The people I follow can definitely be categorized into either business or personal. Some folks blend the two, but for the most part, the tweets are either flavored with “here’s what I did for the weekend” or “here’s an interesting (business) article/blog”.
Twitter is about The Conversation.
Yes, there are plenty of stories about companies using Twitter to market their products, make sales and so on, but at its heart Twitter is a way for people to talk with one another. If you like to offer witty rejoinders then you’re custom-built for Twitter. If you think that’s a bunch of nonsense, it may not be the space for you.
The verbose need not apply.
This is the place for pithy observations because no more than 140 characters can be typed per tweet. Most social media experts say to avoid having a single thought that takes several tweets to complete.
Think of Twitter as an extension of your face-to-face networking activities, not a replacement.
With work schedules being so packed, it may not be possible for you to get to those noontime networking events like you used to. But maybe, once a week you could invest 20 minutes of your lunch hour connecting with people in your industry via Twitter. In the space of a few Twitter sessions, I was able to connect to at least a dozen key thought-leaders in my industry. Some of the Twitter exchanges have led to more meaningful conversations outside of Twitter. So it’s a starting place for forming business relationships.
Common Sense Still Rules.
Twitter can be very seductive. The first few times that someone “found” me first and followed me, it was thrilling. I needed to remind myself that a professional photo and kind words do not make a person my “friend” or my “colleague”. As in face-to-face networking, these things take time. Trust and credibility must be earned online just as it is in a face-to-face connection. Perhaps even more because one lacks the additional clues that facial expressions and tone of voice convey.
So, would I recommend Twitter to my colleagues? Yes, if any of the following conditions exist:
- You are feeling “out of it” in relation to social media and would like to know more
- You enjoy networking with people of similar interests and aren’t shy about “talking” (tweeting) with strangers
- You can devote at least 60 minutes a week (spread out in 10 min. chunks is fine) to maintaining your Twitter conversations
For me, it was definitely worth taking 30 days to learn something new. My guess is that many of my colleagues will not think it’s worth the investment of time. But that’s OK, because I’m still tweeting and I can pass along any relevant information that comes my way. So, it’s all good.