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How Not To Be A Tool On Twitter

Twitter ranks as one of the best platforms for:

  • Seeing what friends and business contacts are up to.
  • Communicating either publicity or privately (via direct messages)
  • Tunneling through to someone on their iPhone or other device, set to receive tweets
  • Concise and to-the-point communication because everyone is limited to 140 characters

As a “micro blogging” platform, Twitter has gained sufficient critical mass that enough people are on it (like MySpace was in 2006 and Facebook was in 2008) to make it a viable and useful platform. (Sadly, other platforms like LinkedIn and Plurk have not achieved sufficient critical mass to be considered ubiquitous at this point).

Despite the benefits of Twitter, inevitably some marketers are going to be flexing their e-peen by sending frequent tweets about how they’re hit 5,000 followers, 20,000 followers or are in the top 50 on the top Twitter groupies list.

In my opinion, talking about the size of your community in a bragging fashion is disrespectful to the people who are following you. In a very real sense, you ARE reducing them to a mere number – one of 50,000 nameless faces who have chosen to take their time to read your potentially useful content.

Instead, why not spend time getting to know your community/followers.

Instead of going on an ego trip, can you say you know most of your followers?

On another note, twitter is not your platform to send a string of product launch announcements or to send your affiliate links out to some hapless n00b who happened to follow you.


Now that we’ve defined the “ego” type posts, what falls into the non-ego/useful content basket? For me they fall into 4 categories:

  • Informational: Some useful stuff that your audience is interested in, whether it’s marketing their products more effectively, tips on losing weight, or improving their relationship with their partner.
  • Entertainment: Something to break the monotony of working in real life or on the net. A link to a funny youtube video or clever banter (like between @Oilman and @MrsOilman – I met Oilman AKA Todd Friesen at the Affiliate Summit, at the same time, Mrs Oilman seems really cool)
  • Community/Relationship building: What’s the point in having people follow you, if you’re not talking to them or getting to know them?
  • A combination of two or more of the above

One of the reasons why I’ve done more communication with people who’re interested in reading my blog over social networks like Facebook and Twitter, compared to using email marketing, is that the conversation is more real-time and dynamic in nature. (It doesn’t hurt that conversion rates are several magnitudes higher too).

If you’re not already using twitter, whether it’s to get feedback or to start a conversation (having a goal or outcome helps…), then perhaps it’s time that you should.

And as for the follower benchmarks you’re hitting, please paste it in your excel spreadsheet and time/date stamp it if it makes you happy, that’s one bit of information the twitterverse can do without.

Also, check out this recent post on enhancing your twittering efforts from a guest TechCrunch post by Digg founder and Twitter investor Kevin Rose.

Like this post? Follow me on Twitter.

5 comments on How Not To Be A Tool On Twitter

  1. Chung Bey Luen
    January 27, 2009 at 12:28 am (4288 days ago)

    Nice article, Andrew! Usually I like to follow people who is sharing informational tips or building community/relationship.

  2. Lisa Riolo
    January 27, 2009 at 6:15 am (4287 days ago)

    Maybe you could put that second to last paragraph about benchmarks in BOLD.

    Here is something else the twitterverse can do without: repeating post after post in short succession on the topic of adding more and more followers.

    Thanks for this post and the reference to the TechCrunch guest article from Kevin Rose.

  3. Luvologist
    January 28, 2009 at 3:33 am (4286 days ago)

    You hit a really good point on the ‘followers benchmark’. For me, that’s an instant ‘unfollow’.

  4. Rocky
    November 18, 2009 at 2:12 am (3992 days ago)

    I can’t stand the ego posts. I’d rather hear something that is at least worth reading. I definitely think it’s worth mentioning that the constant business promo is utterly annoying, to all you Mary Kay and Avon and Pampered Chef selling yo yos.

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