Getting the most from twitter
Leveraging social media extends and enhances your influence, opportunities, and leadership potential.
I hate saying, “twitter.” It sounds like something a person high on cocaine does at night in the backyard just before falling asleep. However, twitter helps people connect, educate, enrich, and enhance each other.
Initially, twitter relationships are exceedingly thin. They take little effort to initiate and represent a casual handshake that may lead to nothing more.
Speaking of handshakes, there is debate on should you follow back those that follow you on twitter. Although I’m slow in keeping up, I practice follow back. If someone reaches out to shake hands with me, I’m extending my hand in return. Nothing more may come of it and I’m fine with that. Occasionally and when time allows, I clean out inactive and inappropriate followers.
Elevating a twitter connection requires intentionally reaching out to tweeps (I know, tweeps sounds ridiculous). Take high potential twitter connections to email, LinkedIn, the phone or Skype.
You’ll get the most from twitter if you focus first on giving. Giving doesn’t always mean doing things for people. Frequently it’s offering insights, experiences, or encouragement.
If you fear social media, let me suggest a rule of thumb. Live online like you live in person. For example, if a stranger asked you to tell all your friends what a great person they are, would you? That type of foolishness happens on twitter. Strangers ask me to endorse or promote them. Just use the “real life” rule and say no thanks.
Additionally, if a neighbor asked you to help them mow their yard while you are leaving for a date with your spouse, would you? Just use the “real life” rule.
What are your thoughts about social media and leadership?
“live online like you live in person”.
Thanks Dan, for making the somewhat fearful, so very realistic. At my age, I feel like I’ve stepped into the deep end of the pond.
Your post is on track, as always. Can’t wait to share with a couple of buds, and my hubby!
Have a Remarkable weekend!
Glad you found the “real life” rule useful. It helps me too.
Thanks for sharing,
Nice, short and sweet! nice post.
Hi Dan, I know social media is important and will be very critical in the future. the problem is there are only a finite number of hours in the day and I am covered up as it is. When my daughter posted pictures of my gran baby on Facebook and I opened an account to view them, within the hour I had over a hundred invitations in my email box. I know as I later found out there are settings to help with that but I cancelled my account anyway and have no regrets and I guess you might say I am a social media introvert but for now until I get some therapy no twitter, Facebook, or linkedin for me! 🙂 Al
Thank you for adding your perspective to this conversation. Your comment reminds me of something I frequently discuss with organizational leaders. How does social media align with your strategic objectives.
If you can’t find alignment, why dedicate the resources. If there is alignment the next questions are how much and to what extent. Once these questions are addressed, organizations and perhaps on the personal level too, effective decisions can be made.
Al is a featured contributor on Leadership Freak. Read his bio at http://leadershipfreak.wordpress.com/al-diaz
Geez Al, if you had stayed on FB, I could have unfriended you! 😉
Al, you hit why I am on FB…family connections that would not have happened as frequently otherwise. The family/close true friends is 95% of FB…along with some free poker. My fam is spread out across the US and some friends are doing some continent hopping and its great to stay connected to them.
Within a smaller network are biz connections, LF and maybe 6 other blogs that help me advance my skills/awareness/perspective.
Dan’s ‘real life’ perspective fits…there are casual acquaintances and a closer circle however if a stranger comes up to me on the street and asks to be my friend…need to do a mental status check both ways. Much more selective online.
I do hear you about limited time available, that’s why it is good to log on on your terms and time.
As far as tweets, still not convinced said the curmudgeon. If I need quotes, articles, etc., that’s what the laptop/net provides pretty darn seamlessly. I have not found that I need that level of immediacy. Well, heck I still have to keep wrapping my head around Dan only posting 300 words, so 140 characters just doesn’t fit me yet. Am still percolating on the cost/benefit ratio.
Doc I always enjoy your comments, you crack me up. Al’s got a point and I think the biggest conflict for me to get over with facebook was “friend”. It should have been acquaintance as that is what most people on facebook are and can develop into what I would put in my friend category. Twitter is even more tricky as it is so random who follows you. What I found interesting was when I started using Dan’s logic of follow back, your net gets bigger and by engaging you start developing real connections, and I definitely also do the odd clean up of people I follow who are way off the rector scale by my measure.
It is a tricky one Al from a time perspective. I do like your question Dan, Does Social Media align to your Strategic Objectives as clearly that will determine whether you throw resource at it or not.
Seeing as it’s the old guys banging on here I thought I’d join in – apologies Thabo you look younger than the rest of us!
I like how Dan provokes – and here is again with his relentless forward momentum. Come on Al – reconnect with FaceBook – Doc and I can be friends and then you can unfriend us (that would top Docs offer!). There are some unusual and new ways of being as a result of this type of media and sometimes crazy things get asked, where I absolutely go along with Dan is that if you want to be an influence (don’t we all?) then it’s only sense to embrace and manage these streams.
I have been in twitter and when I was Hootsuite was just awesome. Currently my needs are different but as Dan proposes it doesn’t mean you should stop giving – so I am now thinking OK back to that.
Time is a tricky, but with minds like Al’s and Docs it is amazing what can be given within 5 minutes. I love Docs comments about 300 words – when I re-started my business blog it was because of Dan’s 300 words – I relaised unless I could tell it concisely I hadn’t done the thinking. That is where twitter fits too, 140 characters – make them count!
I can tell you my name, age, DOB and hometown in less. Not that you would want to know. (87, with spaces)
Good post. Your approach to Twitter is similar to what I have been practicing. I have found it to be a great resource for quotes and links to interesting articles.
I’m using quotes and links as the things I’m giving back to the community. Additionally, I’m always watching for a potential connection.
This is a great post with wonderful practical ideas. Thanks for the insight!
Thanks Tom…a kind word is a good word.. cheers, Dan
Dan – having met you first via Twitter, I agree with most of your points. The one I disagree on is follow back. Much of the noise on Twitter is not from people, but rather from automated programs. So it’s generally not a person reaching out, but rather a machine.
I have multiple accounts. For some I use auto follow back, because I just want numbers. But for my main account, @mpfriedman, I only follow back those who appear to have a genuine voice that interests me. If they are fully automated (subscribers to services that provide automatic tweets supposedly tested to get more click throughs) or filled with hate or inane, I do not follow back.
Here’s the kicker. I’ve tested sending the same tweets on multiple accounts. The one where I do not automatically follow back routinely gets 15 to 30 times more productivity (defined as click throughs or RTs) than the ones where I do auto follow back.
In 30 years of marketing, I have never seen such compelling results!
More on the subject: http://ht.ly/4BH5P
Wonderful and insightful comment. You are not alone. Many agree with you and I think your experience holds true with others. The quality of the connections determine the quality of results.
Obviously my approach is problematic in that area because it’s difficult to keep my account cleaned up.
Thanks for adding value and leaving a link that extends the conversation.
Mark has been a long time online friend. Read his bio at http://leadershipfreak.wordpress.com/mark-friedman
PS…its nasty, cold, windy, and rainy in PA today. I’m betting out West it’s lovely!
Twitter has extended my personal growth in that I have been able to get to know people way ahead of me in their personal growth. You, Dan, are a prime example.
For all the strangeness of the words “tweet” “twitter” “tweep” and “tweetup”, this is an extraordinary method of expansive community. I believe the vast majority of those who take advantage of social media in a smart way are better people for it.
I feel like you do only in reverse. I’m the fortunate one in our connection. Thanks for all you do for others.
Scott is a featured contributor on Leadership Freak. Read his bio at http://leadershipfreak.wordpress.com/scott-couchenour
This is a very wise perspective in my opinion…twitter is like real life. No need to give in to pressure to be something different just because it’s virtual. Some tweeps are creeps. I just avoid them.
Lovely phrase .. “some tweeps are creeps” thanks…
Good, quick overview of twitter and handshake analogy. I think of twitter as your virtual talking business card and following others the equivalent of exchanging biz cards like you would in person. Would encourage those unfamiliar with twitter to think of it the same way – but it’s like any internet technology, coming down to perception and utility.
Agree with the above comment re: following back. For my org’s account @talentanalytics I do not use those programs and instead manually identify every single follower via specific criteria that identifies the business value. This manual process takes more time but allows marketers and would-be twitter users to think in terms of follower quality (not quanity), enhancing business value of those”virtual handshakes.”
Related to leadership, twitter is a good way to demonstrate your expertise on a given topic – as you do Dan, about leadership via both your tweets and the Leadership Daily. Twitter is like any internet technologies ie Facebook/LinkedIn – its value comes from both your perception and utility.
Great stuff as always.
Great comment and love the analogy of business card exchange.
I see you land with Mark on the following back. You are in good company.
Thanks for taking time to share your insights with the LF community.
Best to you,
Thanks, Dan. Helpful tips.
Dan. I tend to agree with Scott on the value of Twitter.
I look at Twitter as a conversation in a public space, whereas Facebook is like exchanging letters. In my mind the key to getting the most value from Twitter (or any other conversation) is engagement. As you said, connections start out weak (or thin as you put it), but with engagement can quickly escalate to looking to meet IRL and frequent conversations. It’s just like talking with people at a meeting or conference. You click with some and not with others.
Your IRL rule is definitely a must follow. It’s one reason that I don’t do 4Square.
Another aspect of Twitter that I find valuable is the immediacy and availability of news. In particular, news relating to the world at large that is often not covered by our western media for a variety of reasons. As an example, I was following what was going on in Libya long before any story appeared in a major North American news outlet. Tech news often reaches many by Twitter before it hits mainstream media. Just a couple of examples.
Great blog. Keep up the good work.
I just got back from a gathering of crocheters and designers from not only around the Austin area, but some who flew in from both coasts for the 2011 Flamies, our 3rd annual crochet awards. Including a magazine editor. If it hadn’t been for social media like Twitter and Facebook, none of us would have met. In fact this event would never have happened. And let me tell you, not only did we build relationships in small bites before we came together today, and we enjoyed finally getting to meet face to face, but business relationships were forged as well. Even I may be writing an article for someone I wouldn’t have otherwise. Social media made that difference.
All I can say for the naysayers is – don’t knock it. Twitter is a communication tool, just like this blog community is a communication tool. And that boils down to relationships. You can make use of it, or you can waste it. It is social in nature without some of the pressures face-to-face situations can present and it has the potential of helping even the “shy ones” to make connections that might not otherwise be their strong suit in a public situation. When I finally meet tweeps in person who’ve followed me, it’s not really ice-breaking. We’ve already begun a network and an acquaintance-like relationship. I already know a little about them. They already know a little something about me. We’re all networking information and when we come together in person, so much more can happen at lightning fast speeds. I probably couldn’t do that with someone I just met cold turkey, especially in larger numbers. This automatically bestows an edge.
I’m on Twitter to build relationships and self-educate. It’s that kind of tool for me. That’s even how I found Leadership Freak. And I don’t spend a lot of time on Twitter either – I just don’t have it to spare. But I don’t need to spend tons of time because I’m “real” no matter what and I add to my relationships each tweet I make. It’s not really that different from making a point of smiling and briefly chatting with someone in the check-out line. You know, even simply stopping to make someone’s day.
My personal policy on follow-backs is not to follow-back anyone who doesn’t interact unless they just have something so great to offer that I don’t mind if they never interact. For instance, I love MythBusters, NASA and SyFy. Maybe they’ll talk to me, maybe they won’t. That’s OK, but it’s cool to see what they’re up to. Joe Schmoe or Jane Etsy who do nothing but post links or quotes and never say thank you, never seem human, forget it. I don’t surround myself with people like that in “real” life, I’m not doing it online. Although, it really is a mis-nomer to claim online life is not real. But that’s a whole ‘nother topic. As it is, apparently my general policies have helped make my Twitter profile as an expert in my niche more valuable. A larger percentage of the people in my circle are genuine and actually cross my path. Hence the offers I receive to pay me for tweets are getting higher as a result too.
Anyway, food for thought late at night. Have a great weekend y’all!
I am about to post Leaderships Freak biggest admission of Stupidity. Julia – I have always enjoyed your comments and read you r blog. I have only juts now relaised your name is not Julia Aberrant-Crotchet – I must stop speed reading!
I had a great weekend (clearly cleaned soem cobwebs out) thank you.
Dan, really good stuff. And if it weren’t 12:20 am Sat nite/ Sun morning I’d write a very poignant reply! All I know is that social media has helped me refocus on service — and that’s helping me in many ways.
– Barrett aka @barrettrossie
Dan, your advise is awesome when you say “Just use the “real life” rule.” You can’t live in a bubble and when I started on twitter I was rather cynical and found it to be noise pollution as I guess I did not know how to sift through the content. By actually engaging people I have actually built strong relationships which are authentic. I do follow back, but only if there is a Bio of some form (as in I would not follow back if your Bio did not agree with me). If there is no Bio I will check out some of your tweets and that will sort of sway me to hearing what you have to share. It is an amazing balancing act though. I love your question; “How does social media align with your strategic objectives.” I can’t see how you would not factor Social Media in some form or shape into your strategic objectives today. That goes for both you the individual and the business. It is your best platform to create context about who you are and what your purpose is.
Dan, thanks for starting a conversation about Twitter which actually highlights its benefits..honestly, i didn’t know it had any.
i’ve just created an account, @murtazarizwan, and already begun following the evergreen Leadership Freak.
Keep up the great work, and thanks to everyone whose comments provoked me into signing up.
Have a great weekend everybody.
Twitter has been very helpful, I actually attended my first “Tweetup” last week and it was neat to meet some of the people I’ve read Tweets of.