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When I first got onto Twitter, I did it for work. I work for a social media company in the automotive industry (obviously) and I had to have a presence there if I was ever going to meet the most progressive digital people out there. It was a huge resource for me in terms of learning about the industry in general and getting to know others. Such a great foot in the door.
Of course, the techniques I used to interact on Twitter were largely learned from the exposure from those I followed: Tweet links, retweet other links, always #FF, and don’t share anything unless it’s remotely related to your job. Oh, and reply to someone if you can somehow pound your chest to demonstrate how cool/smart/[insert prideful word of choice here] you are.
Ugh. Please don’t make me. Twitter quickly became a necessary evil that I forced myself into for the sake of work. In fact, I could hardly follow or interact with any of my outside-of-work friends because after connecting, they would quickly unfollow me – they didn’t care about the awesomely progressive digital information I was sharing for car dealers.
Flash forward to 6 months ago, when I started to reconnect with a group of girls I used to coach playing soccer, who are now all sophomores in college. Their interactions, although oftentimes comical in content, are a breath of fresh air! They showed me how real people are communicating with Twitter. They’re practically mass text messaging multiple people at one time. It’s sharing just the status messages from Facebook or AIM. You know, what Twitter was made for when people would put up an away message on AOL that said, “off to the gym, then lunch with Kate, and homework.” It was a brief (say, 140-character) description of what you were up to or into.
Cue light bulb overhead. That’s how people are really using Twitter. People aren’t on it just to show how cool or expert they are, although for a business account, a version of that might be more important. People are using Twitter to engage, as should we. If you’re managing a business account, we should all take a page out of their book. Maybe it’s the generation difference, or maybe it’s the use of Twitter for reasons other than business; either way, these are the people that you’ll be selling cars to next, and they’re telling you the kinds of interactions you’ll want to have with them. JD Rucker outlines some awesome tips in this vein to optimize your business twitter account for engagement.
If you’re managing your own personal account, figure it out! Nobody wants to see link after link after link of information. Yes, oftentimes it’s good content, but to share links because you’re supposed to or because you want people to think you’re smart has gotten old. Take a page from Scott Stratten’s keynote at DSES – 75% of his tweets are replies, and he’s one of the most prominent figures in the Twitter world. Engaging in conversation make people more likely to hear you when you do share links or CTA specific information.
Use Twitter the way it was intended – to communicate with others, not just to them. It’s so much better that way.