How to be Real on Twitter

Picture yourself in a large, crowded space. There are hundreds of people, maybe even thousands.

A few of them are looking around, somewhat bewildered. Occasionally they say something, a little tentatively, and look around to see if anyone heard them. Quite a few people are standing off to the side by themselves talking importantly, hoping someone will pay attention to them, but no one’s listening.

A few people seem to be marching around holding signs and shouting about their signs. Some are talking in small groups. Some are conversing in larger groups. Some people are gathered around listening to someone who is speaking. And some people are moving around, meeting people, engaging them in conversation and more or less “working the room”.

In these different scenarios, which one are you?

Let’s take this example and apply it to twitter. Many business owners get a twitter account and start sending out random tweets about their products or services. Maybe they follow a few people they know and a few people start following them. They don’t really engage anyone in conversation.

Others maybe find a few friends online and engage them in conversation. They are mostly interested in staying in touch with people they already know.

Some people get a twitter account because they feel they are “supposed to” but they never really say anything after the first few tweets. These are the accounts that have two or three tweets dated back to 2009 and nothing since.

Then there are the accounts that just say the same thing over and over again, hoping someone, somewhere, will click on their link and they’ll sell some product or other due to the massive numbers of repetitive tweets they send out. Often these are sent out as automatic direct messages when you follow them. I just got a message that said “Hi My name is DeeDee. Click this link to lose weight.” Imagine meeting someone and the first thing you tell them is that they need to lose weight! You wouldn’t do that in person; why would you do it online?

And of course there are those who have already have a huge offline following. These are the Ashton Kutchers of the world. Their celebrity status in life easily transfers to massive numbers of twitter followers.

But celebrities aside, there are two groups who are doing the right thing and using twitter the way it should be used. These are:

  • people who engage other people in conversation and are building a bigger and bigger circle of new connections as a result, and
  • people who have built up a huge online following simply because they are writing about topics that a lot of people are interested in reading about.

To build a large following you really need to be saying something significant and/or valuable to your readers, not just trying to sell them something. Be real. Your communications should come from just being yourself and talking about what you want to talk about. Your following doesn’t really even have to be huge, as long as you have built your credibility with the following you do have. And sure, you can mention what you do for a living occasionally, but don’t overdo it. Don’t be the kind of “salesperson” that everyone – including you if you think about it – wants to avoid.

Wayne Porter, Social Media Strategist and Monetize Your Vision Coach