I love getting feedback from my readers. I especially love getting questions; and do my best to help at any opportunity. The other day I received a question from “Lise” about using Twitter. She had some valid questions and points of concern regarding Twitter that I wanted to address in a blog post. To do that, I thought I would bring in some Twitter “gurus” to help me answer this question. I really appreciate these amazing Internet marketers taking the time out of their very busy days to answer these questions. I really think this can benefit a lot of people and hope you will feel its worth the read! Here is the comment & question that “Lise” asked me:
So Mat. I am really enjoying your blog and have started following you – with thanks to Gerald. But I have a challenge that no one seems to be able to help me with – perhaps you can. 1) I endeavor to ask questions of folks and start conversations and yet I am ignored. I am asking honest questions that I would really like answers to, yet apparently folks think they are not . any thoughts there? 2) I feel like many, many of the twitter posts that run through my desk are links to posts elsewhere. That is well and good, but doesnt really teach me about or connect me with the poster. Am I mis-understanding the uses of twitter? I don’t think I am quit getting the power behind this ..Im sure its a learning curve, and I have been telling my clients about my twitter (I post a weekly special every Monday) but beyond that, I think I am failing somehow. Any helpful thoughts?I have a treat for you Lise! I went above and beyond to answer this one – kudos to you for asking such great questions! In no particular order, here are your Twitter guru’s answers. I hope everyone else finds this information as useful as I did. Here we go: Cameron Olthius – Owner of Factive Media an Action Sports Media Network & editor janitor-in-chief of 5 Ones. 1) I think a lot depends on how many followers you have and if they are knowledgeable on the topics you’re asking questions about. There’s a lot of noise on twitter right now so in order to get above that and have people pay attention to your tweets, you either need a lot of followers or quality followers, i.e. people who are really paying attention to you. You can also @ people who you think might be able to answer your questions, this will ensure they see the question. 2) There are many uses for twitter, one of them is being a way to share news/links/etc. Sounds like this is a just a matter of the people you’re following. If you want to connect more with people, DM them and @ them. Aaron Wall – Creator of SEO Book 1) I think a lot of this comes down to size of downstream network + their loyalty + how you have marketed yourself + how you use words. The larger the network the better than answers will be. People who are brand fans or friends who have known you for many years are more likely to want to help out than someone who only glancingly knows you and/or is using Twitter as a spamming tool, (following thousands and thousands of people, but actually following 0.) Originality of content and how interesting it usually is both matter a lot. Tim O’Reilly is always sharing great links, for instance. Streams full of RT RT RT probably do not add enough value for people to want to pay much attention to the. If people frequently mistake intent then it might come down to general word usage. This is especially true in short and/or rushed channels like Twitter and email. My customer relations (and the value customers got from interacting with me) both drastically improved when I switched away from using way too much email and started to try to run most things from inside our member’s forum. 2) Q: I feel like many, many of the twitter posts that run through my desk are links to posts elsewhere. That is well and good, but doesn’t really teach me about or connect me with the poster. Am I mis-understanding the uses of twitter? A: Through the links you share and the words you wrap them in you share your interests, your passions, and your biases. Blogs do a much better job of fostering real relationships because there is no character count that forces your thoughts to be condensed. Having wrote that, I would still recommend putting far far far more effort into building your own destination rather than putting much effort into a twitter account. Brian Clark’s post on user generated content http://www.copyblogger.com/are-you-someones-user-generated-content/ does a great job explaining why it is so important to build a strong home base away from these networks. cheers aaron Alysson Fergison – Owner of SEOAly a Florida SEO Firm 1) There are a multitude of reasons this may happen. It could be something as simple as the time of day or day of the week you’re posing these questions to your Twittersphere to something as complex as people not completely trusting you – for whatever reason. Instead of throwing out questions to everyone via a general tweet, try posing a specific question @ a specific person you feel might have something constructive to say on the subject. Obviously, if you have a rapport with that person already, it helps and makes it more likely that you’ll receive an answer. Again, this comes back to trust. To be able to take full advantage of the power for Twitter, you must engage people in other social arenas, as well – most importantly, on their own blog. Participating in the discussion within the comments of someone’s blog will help you to stand out and make them more likely to engage in a conversation with you on Twitter in front of the rest of the Twitterverse. 2) Twitter is a medium for sharing information, not just a “look at me…” kind of thing. You can learn a lot about someone based on the posts they share, even if they aren’t the author. In fact, I think you can tell just as much – if not more – about someone based on what they read than what they write. Not only is this an opportunity to find some common ground with the person tweeting, but also with the author of whatever information was shared via the tweet. That said, if you’re trying to learn about someone there is no better way to gain insight into their personality than by learning about what interests them. Twitter makes that task super easy…because they’re literally TELLING you what interests them every time they tweet. Use that to help you build a rapport with the person sharing the post via Twitter and also the author of the post by commenting. It’s a win-win for everyone! Michael Gray – Owner, Atlas Web Service and SEO Blogger 1) Interacting with Twitter users can sometimes be much more complicated than it appears, let’s look at a few different scenarios, to start look at a low level power user say someone who has or is following ~5K people. Even if you assume that 75% of that persons followers don’t participate that’s ~1,250 people who do. So unless they happen to be sitting at the computer when you tweet, chances are they won’t see your tweet. You’re best bet is to use the @ function to get their attention. I try to answer review my @ messages a few times a day and answer anyone who tweets me that way, but it’s an imperfect system. I use easytweets and tweetbeep to monitor for my name and between they catch at least 1-2 @ tweets a day that aren’t in my web interface, on a busy day it can be more. Also take into account misspellings (in my case @greywolf vs @graywolf) or misdirected messages (again in my case I get between 10-20 messages per week intended for graywolf press), it’s a an imperfect system. Also take into account people’s time constraints while I’d love to help everyone there simply aren’t enough hours in the day, so like everyone else I’m much more likely to respond to you if I know who you are. 2) A lot people forget the simple stuff when they sit in front of a computer, like social media is all about being social and using social skills. For a moment let’s assume that I’m single and there’s this woman who works in my office building who I’d like to ask out on a date. I’d pay attention and try and find out when and where she goes to lunch, maybe if it was the food court I’d try to be there at the same time and say hi once or twice. What type of books does she read, maybe I could read some so I could find something to talk about when we pass by and I see her carrying it. Maybe she has an iPhone and I show her this really great new mophie juice pack external battery I got. I’m looking for things that she’s interested in and trying to find a way to break the ice and make a connection. Connecting with someone on twitter is no different, what time of day do they tweet most often? Do they tweet about their iPhone or blackberry? Do they tweet about their upcoming vacation, what type of food they like, or how certain they are that Captain Kirk was truly the best Star Trek Captain and how all other Captains pail in comparison? Look for a common connection and a moment to engage them. The one caveat is don’t try to hard, you want it to appear as natural and casual as possible, otherwise you’ll look like you’ve got both feet planted in Stalkerville, and nobody wants to be social with a stalker. Nate Moller – a Utah SEO, Owner of Moller Marketing, and follower of The_Real_Shaq on Twitter (had to throw that in Nate!!!) 1) Yes, this will happen, especially if youre new to the Twitter scene. The key is to be consistent. Start by retweeting stuff they are sharing. Publish articles of theirs in your tweets. Promote what they are doing they WILL notice this. You can also follow their profile link to their site and attempt to connect with them via their website too (email still does work). You have to realize, you may not be able to connect with the biggest dogs in the industry right away. They get tons and tons of questions and do their best to answer. The more you get your name out there though, the more youll get response. 2) Thats the beauty of Twitter, there are no set rules. The best tweeters do a combination of both: converse with the community and broadcast links (their own and others). To show them I care about what they are sharing, I will often RT what they say, make a comment on it, follow the link and read/comment on what theyve posted, etc. The golden rule does apply to twitter, if you take care of people, most of the time they will take care of you. Plus, following their links can often help you know where they are coming from and give you a better perspective whether or not they are a good connection to pursue for your business. Happy Tweeting! (by the way, The_Real_Shaq does follow Nate on Twitter too, and it makes me a little jealous – but don’t tell Nate) David Wallace – Owner of Search Rank, A Phoenix Search Engine Marketing Firm 1) I would ask who is actually “following” you and how engaged are they? I have over 1,600 followers at the moment but honestly, I don’t know who most of them are. Could be bots or simply people that signed up but are not that actively involved. One thing I might advise when asking a question is to Direct Message legit followers (people you know) if you don’t get a response by just “putting stuff out there.” Also, make sure your questions include popular keywords that people might be looking for. Example, “Did anyone get pre-sale email for “U2 360″ concert tickets?” 2) Lots of people on Twitter will share stuff that interest them. So while it is cool to share your own stuff, hopefully you are sharing other interesting stuff as well. Such as today I shared a link to the Fox News story of the DPS Photo Radar officer that was killed and even though I hate photo radar, how I thought this was way out of line. Ann Smarty – Owner, SEO Smarty and avid Search Industry Blogger 1) I say, keep trying. I am aware of no other effective ways to engage Twitterers into conversation except talking to them daily. Answer others’ question, retweet and comment on others’ Tweets – and you will soon see others do the same for you. Twitter is more about talking to people than being talked to. The more you engage, the more are involved (like with any other social media site). 2) There are so many “uses of Twitter” that it is actually impossible to mis-understand them. Many people have many various styles of using Twitter. Look at this post for example which I love: http://mediacaffeine.com/network/the-14-types-of-twitter-personalities/ It’s your choice who to follow – which is decisive in the way your Twitter stream is maintained. So if you don’t like to follow links, just unfollow those who Tweet them (or use TweetDeck to filter those out). Andy Beal, Founder of Marketing Pilgrim, an Internet Marketing News blog. Andy also owns Trackur, a reputation monitoring software company. 1) It’s likely not a case of whether someone believes your questions are honest or not. Twitter is just like a real-life networking event. Just because someone’s a registered attendee, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll be in the same room at the same time as them, be able to spark up a conversation with them, or find each other interesting. 2) People use Twitter (and other social networks) for different reasons. While many use Twitter as a channel for making personal connections, others view Twitter as nothing more than an additional broadcast channel. Don’t hold it against them–there are so many social networks demanding our attention that it’s hard for any of us to be fully engaged with all of them. If you find that you’re following someone that only syndicates their updates from other sources, either accept that’s how they’re using Twitter or unfollow them. In conclusion: Initially I thought I would try and add my two cents to answer these questions, but I could not say anything better then the 8 gurus that rocked this post for me already! Twitter is not going away, and business owners wanting to learn how to use it effectively are going to be the ones who are rewarded. They will be rewarded with more traffic, more business, more sales, more connections and so many more opportunities that they couldn’t have even imagined! One final suggestion to take away from all this, make sure you are following everyone on this list on Twitter. You will find their names linked up to their Twitter profiles to make it easier for you. Oh yeah, and since this is my blog – I will throw this in here too – follow me on Twitter as well! Lise, if this did not answer your questions I don’t think I can do anything else to help! I really appreciate you asking these tough questions and giving me the opportunity to learn from some of the best Twitter users (not spammers) out there!