Is Twitter Worth the Time?

Twitter bubblesI was sitting with some friends yesterday discussing their new website and strategies for increasing their online presence. We discussed the usual suspects and, of course, Twitter came up in the conversation.

Their response was typical, “I don’t get Twitter. Why should I use it?” If I had a dime for every time I’ve heard that, I’d have a stinkin’ load of dimes.

I am no Twitter expert, but I can share what I’ve learned. LIke most everyone else, I joined Twitter and wondered the same thing. What was the purpose of Twitter? What do you say? Over time, I’ve gained a bit of an understanding.

Twitter has many uses and many different end results. As I’ve started following people, it seems to me that the main purpose of Twitter is marketing, be it full-blown intentional marketing campaigns or something as simple as a slightly narcissistic interest in talking about what your doing. I don’t say this as a negative thing, merely an attempt to explain the “psychology” behind Twitter use.

There are a few Twitterers out there who go against the flow, so to speak. I’ve seen a few who do nothing more than follow hundreds of people and say nothing. I compare these people to my mother who used to go to the mall just to sit and watch people. For the majority, the goal is to gain followers.

Gaining Followers

As I write this, I have 250 followers. That’s pretty slim compared to many of the Twitter heavyweights. Gaining followers is a slow process. Twitter has policies and restrictions in place that prevent you from following or gaining followers too fast (only 50 per day). So, how do you climb a mountain? One step at a time.

There are some practical steps. The easiest is just to ask. An occasional post on your Facebook page is helpful… “Hey, I’m on twitter. Follow me @garymoyers.” You’ll gain a few friends quickly that way.

Another strategy is to list your profile on Twitter directories like WeFollow, Twellow, TweetFind and Just Tweet It (thanks to @Smorgs13 for that tip). Lots of serious Twitterers use these directories to find more people to follow, and they are listed by category and interest.

The simple act of following others is a good way to gain followers. Find other users who are similar to you (either in interests or profession) and take a look at who follows them. This a great list of people for you to follow. Some will, in turn, follow you as well.

The most effective way to gain followers is to share.

Join the Conversation

The heart of Twitter is all about sharing and engaging others in conversation. As you run across great articles that you think others should know about, tweet it. There are great tools, like Buffer, that let you queue your tweets in advance directly from the site your looking at. Most websites include ways to tweet from their site as well.

When someone else posts something you find valuable, retweet it. Let others know about. The more you retweet, the more others might retweet you and increase your audience.

Engage in direct conversation through direct messaging. Ask questions. Get to know people. It won’t take too much of your time. After all, you can only write 140 characters at a time.

Tweet on a regular basis. I post 3-5 times per day and I make sure that at least 80% of my posts are not about me. The best way to turn off potential followers is to post about yourself all the time. People can smell a self-promoting Tweeter a mile away. Granted, the underlying premise of Twitter is to get others to follow you and eventually be drawn to your site or product, but passive promotion is the way to go in the Twitterverse.

There is another aspect of Twitter I must mention. Twitter has become a moving force in world events. It has become common for current events to appear on Twitter before they are broadcast on news channels. It is a powerful medium for social change. Many of the news channels are monitoring Twitter like they used to monitor the police channels in the old days. Amazing.

So, is Twitter worth the time? I believe it is. It’s a slow, long process, but it’s definitely worth it. Find your voice… humorous, intellectual, sarcastic, political… get on Twitter and join in the conversation.

Comments

  1. Gary, great post! I’ve realized that Twitter has helped me in my preaching. As I am studying, I want to share the things I’m thinking about in a compact way. Twitter with it’s 140 character limit has helped me form great truths into bite sized nuggets that are easy to remember. It also gives a sneak preview of what I am going to be talking about on Sunday.

    • Interesting. I had not equated Twitter with sermon prep. You could do a thesis on that. Ha!

      • Jeremy Kughn says

        I use twitter to find out what is trending in Christian reading material. In other words, to keep me from buying lame books. Most of the heavyweights post what they are reading from. I also love to follow parody accounts. I used to BE one of those accounts until twitter shut it down. It turns out tht twitter must really care a lot about NBHardeman.

        • Haha. I think I followed NBHardeman. Sorry they shut you down. I have a parody account out there too. 🙂

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