As the rush to Twitter continues, everyone wants to know how to get more followers and be more productive on Twitter. And increasingly, individuals and companies are wanting to build ‘communities’ on Twitter. Here’s five reasons why many are seeing those efforts fail.
1 – Everyone can see that you are in it for the numbers, not the people. Twitter is like any other social media tool, it works best when people are SOCIAL in their intent. Amassing a large number of followers so you can beam messages at them rarely works, and almost never works for companies that are trying to build awareness. If you want people to follow you, treat them as such.
2 – You understand social media, but you don’t understand how to be ‘social’. I continue to be fascinated to see how people that are supposedly ‘experts’ in social media, use these tools to be interact with others. To me, being social on Twitter means that you are inviting interaction. That you are giving people a reason to want to open a dialogue with you. Even when you make a point, you can discourage communication in how you relay that point to others. If your tone is constantly ‘I am right, here’s why’, then people will tend to shutdown communication. If your tone is ‘Here’s what I think, what’s your take?’, then people are encouraged to act. The tools will only function properly if you know how to use them.
3 – You don’t listen. Here’s a secret for getting more followers on Twitter: ALWAYS understand that the people that are following you, are smarter (as a group), than you are. The lesson here is that there is VALUE in the opinions of others. You can always learn something from others on Twitter. A big reason why I started #blogchat was because I wanted to LEARN from others on Twitter. I know how smart the people are that I interact with on Twitter, so I wanted to give them a stage to share their smartitude. I know that the more I listen to the people I follow and that follow me on Twitter, the smarter I will be.
4 – You don’t care about the people you want to be following you. Here’s another secret for getting more followers, you actually have to give a damn about other people. I am now following well over 3,000 people, and it’s damn tough to have meaningful interactions with a fraction of that number. So there are many people I am following that I rarely get the chance to interact with. But I can if I LOOK for ways to interact and let them know they are important to me. For example, if I see someone I am following tweet that they just got a new job, I send them a quick ‘Congrats!’ tweet. It takes 5 secs, but that lets them know I am paying attention and care about them. It’s all about where your priorities are. If you care, others will notice.
5 – You don’t promote others. This is a BIG pet peeve of mine. I go out of my way to promote others, because it’s another way of letting others on Twitter know I care, but it also creates VALUE for the people that follow me on Twitter. And guess what? People appreciate it when you promote them, this isn’t rocket science, it’s social media. And make an effort to promote the people that are interacting with you, and promoting YOUR content. It’s all about reinforcing the type of behavior you want to encourage. Which is an overboiled way of saying that you should say ‘Thank You’ early and often.
For companies and individuals that are looking to leverage Twitter as a way to grow their businesses, these are some steps to avoid, and some ways that I have found success on Twitter. If you have others steps that have worked for you, please share them in the comments. Or if your business would like to learn more about how to use Twitter effectively, please email me.
Tom Martin says
Great post Mack. Along your idea of saying “congrats” when you notice someone gets a job or similar high point… I have started to randomly select one follower every day or so (given work constraints) and try to engage them on something they tweeted. Not a protracted discussion but a couple of back and forth tweets that show I’m listening and interested in what they have to say. Good way for folks with large follower numbers to stay engaged and most importantly learn from their followers.
.-= Tom Martin´s last blog ..Hello. Customer Service Calling. =-.
Guy LeCharles Gonzalez says
All good, though I’d argue #4 is a bit difficult to reconcile with #1 when you’re following more than, say, 500-1,000 people, and using TweetDeck (or some other app) to filter their tweets. That’s the epitome of fauxthenticity, giving the illusion of conversation, and might have made some sense before Twitter redefined “replies” to “mentions”.
The real secret to getting quality followers — numbers don’t matter, remember? — is simply having a clear reason for why you’re using Twitter and always adding value to the stream, whether via links, commentary or replies.
.-= Guy LeCharles Gonzalez´s last blog ..Three Rules for the National Poetry Slam =-.
Tony Yuse says
I enjoyed your post. All of the suggestions are sound and make for good communication on Twitter or in person, especially the notion of taking 5 seconds to compliment or congratulate someone.
Totally agree with your post, what’s hard is when you’re trying to implement in an organization and they won’t listen. It’s hard for some more conservative orgs to really get engaged, follow people back, etc. It’s all about baby steps I think! The first step is getting them to see the proposed value in Twitter, if their audiences are there already — the second is moving away from the “megaphone” approach of “me me me” and getting them to say “you you you”.
Mack Collier says
Larissa I agree completely. Until a co/org understands how the tools work, they can’t see the potential, I don’t think. This is a reason why I like to do posts like this, to share what has worked for me, to hopefully help others!
Agreed on all counts. I am very conscious about following new people because I’m at the point where I feel so many messages are starting to get lost in the shuffle.
This is why I’ve never understood the appeal of listing a bunch of userid’s on Follow Friday. I’d much prefer to know WHY I should be following them, so I took that concept and started introducing 2 ppl I follow to each other based on my observation that their networks could be improved by knowing each other. It’s all about the value of your network, not the quantity. Thanks again for the post.
.-= K´s last blog ..Harrah’s Rock Band plasma =-.
You’re right on target for all this and I’m glad you wrote it. (I’ll be retweeting it.)
But, at the same time, I have serious doubts about your ability to follow 3,000 people. I follow just over 100 — a number I’ve been sticking to for the 2-1/2 years I’ve been on Twitter — and have enough trouble with that, even though my Twitter client is open on my desktop nearly every moment I’m at my computer. How do you see the “I got a new job” tweet when you’re wading through the noise of 2999 other people?
I’m not in it for the numbers at all — I’m in it entirely for the social aspects. I feel that I have a great relationship with the people I follow — I’ve made several new friends that I’ve gone out of my way to meet in person. I just about always @reply to followers who comment to me, even if I don’t follow them. I don’t automatically reciprocate follows and I don’t automatically follow via keyword or any service. I also block ALL spammers and report most of them to @spam. But I feel this is possible for me if I keep the number of people I follow down to what I can handle without making Twitter a full-time obsession. 3,000 people is beyond comprehension to me.
And it saddens me that Twitter has turned into a numbers game and that the signal to noise ratio is deteriorating daily.
Anyway, I’ll step off my soapbox now to give room for someone else to have their say. Thanks again for the post.
.-= Maria´s last blog ..Interesting Links, July 20, 2009 =-.
Mack Collier says
Maria I hear you on following that many people. Like you, I don’t follow everyone that follows me, but I try to follow anyone that interacts with me on Twitter.
For managing it all, I love to use Tweetdeck, because it lets me segment the people I am following. For example, right now I have a group created for my closest contacts, the people I *have* to stay in touch with. Another group for contacts from Alabama, and another column just for tweets about #blogchat.
Also, many of my contacts now prefer to contact me via Twitter than email. So I am constantly getting DMs, and for over 140 chars, I move them to email or IM.
And I still remember thinking how impossible it would be to follow more than 500 people. Then it was 1,000, then it was 2,000, not it’s over 3,000. We need better filtering options for the mass of information coming at us, and I don’t see that changing anytime soon.
Hey…thanks for commenting, even from the soapbox 😉
Kate Robins says
…If your tone is constantly ‘I am right, here’s why’, then people will tend to shutdown communication. Gasp! You’re right, Mack, but I guess the first step is admitting I’m a know-it-all. Yes, we can always learn from others. So how long does this beet-red face last? Thanks.
The ability to quickly/easily promote others has to be my favorite feature of Twitter. I’m a new user, and the first time someone RTed something I’d said (just a few weeks ago!) I was elated — and hooked. I now try to RT others’ messages whenever possible.
I would hope that those who don’t promote others simply don’t understand how it works, or don’t see how powerful a simple RT or “hey, check this person out”-tweet can be.
.-= Nancy´s last blog ..Baby Name Needed – Name for Linden and Everett’s Sibling =-.
Great Advice, it does make you aware, the real reason for twitter.
thanks for you input Peter
Linnet Woods says
Although I have no idea what happens if you build a Twitter group artificially (auto-following or bulk following) I can honestly say that following 11,700 people is not that different to following 170 in most ways.
It is not as though everyone is online at the same moment. Many people will tweet minimally, preferring to listen more than talk. Those who really want to address you personally will include your @name in the tweet or DM you and using TweetDeck (or other similar apps, no doubt) allows easier management of tweets.
When you log on, it is fun to see who is around and respond to whatever happens to come up. You don’t spend your entire time in contact with your offline friends and acquaintances and I don’t see why you should feel bad if you don’t spend your entire online time with the same set of people.
In many cases, people follow me for the introductions they know they will get to other people and I think that’s great. I’m interested in everyone but it doesn’t mean I expect to become best friends with everybody any more than I expect everyone to want me for a best friend!
The trick, as in offline life, is to relax and enjoy and see how things go… if you aren’t liking the result, you can always make changes 🙂
Bill Free says
Enjoyed and learned from your post and the commentary. I’ve been active on Twitter a fairly short time, and I’m still trying to understand its dynamics. I’m particularly interested in contemporary notions of community, and my experience so far has taught me a lot. Life’s a journey.
For both personal and professional reasons, I’ve gravitated towards folks like you who are building active, collaborative communities defined more by qualitative engagement than numerical size. I find it fascinating and encouraging that as these communities develop, we’re learning (or re-learning) a lot about the art of communication. Dialogue is the lifeblood of a healthy community, and we’ve never needed it more.
I have to admit to fast becoming a convert.
I recently lost my job and income and in looking around for a way of earning some cash I came across Affiliate Marketing. I joined Twitter and bought Tweet Adder as a mechanism for promoting that business and as such I hold my hands up to throwing hourly Tweets at the Public Timeline in the hope that someone will click on one of my links and earn me 5c.
I know….. it sounds awful…. but if anything, it has taught me fairly rapidly what Twitter is actually for and in the next 36 hours I will be terminating the campaigns.
But I am only 1, there are thousands in the Affiliate scheme that I joined and there are thousands of Affiliate schemes all of whom are using Twitter to promote their latest scheme.
So I guess my question isn’t so much about who follows who, it is this, 1 convert wont solve the problem, how do we filter the interesting stuff from the rest, or more radically stop the extreme marketing that is going on in Twitter ???
this is an excellent post, and so very true! If someone IS on Twitter for the purpose of selling, how can they possibly sell anyways if they don’t get to know the people they want to sell to!
I have meet some amazing people on Twitter who uplift me every day, make me laugh, smile, send me great articles, and it truly is a circle of connections – not just a marketing pyramid.
Thanks for this post – You get 2 snaps in the shape of a quadrangle! 😛
Brent Harrison says
All great tips, Mack. The manner in which I found this post either: A. underscores the way the somewhat serendipitous manner in which twitter works, or B. points out the flaws and challenges in actively following and interacting with people on twitter (as many noted in this comment thread).
Despite the fact I follow you, Mack, I didn’t catch your tweet of this post (and yes, I use TweetDeck – perhaps not as well as I could though). Instead I caught it by chance upon it’s 2nd RT – btw I RT’d it again – but just as easily could have missed it.
So I guess I struggle with the conflicting advice of follow everyone who follows you while keeping the people you follow to a manageable level so you can interact with them. And, oh by the way, what to do if you have a job where you can’t devote constant time and attention to twitter?
After a year plus, I’m still trying to figure it all out. Thanks for letting me be part of the conversation here.
.-= Brent Harrison´s last blog ..Dude, Where My SEO At? =-.
Mack Collier says
Guys I love how you all are sharing your stories about how you are trying different things to manage who you follow on Twitter. This is a big point that so many people and even companies miss. There’s a BIG difference between the one ‘right’ way to use social media, and the way that’s right for YOU. I am still tweaking and fine-tuning how I use Twitter, and I’ve been there for about 30 months. I’m sure I will continue to tinker for as long as I am there.
The best we can do is use a lot of trial and error, and share our results, which you all are doing here. Thanks!
Prodazha Zemli says
All written and true love your post. You will chirp – the audience to understand more and make fewer mistakes. Continue the repair as long as the can – it will be interesting to read.
Jeff Timpanaro says
I would love to Repost this on my blog at http://www.oberata.com, with of course full credit & links to you, etc. (duh)! We share a lot of the same sentiment! Very well written.
If not, no worries. Just let me know . .
.-= Jeff Timpanaro´s last blog ..Twit-Ku: My Stab at Twitter Haiku =-.
Mack Collier says
Jeff thank you, I’d appreciate that!
Rose (Bloggertalk) says
I’m social. I promote others. I care about my followers, yet I receive no love. “Sigh”
.-= Rose (Bloggertalk)´s last blog ..An Online Interview with Lorelle VanFossen =-.
It takes time, in my experience. Oh yeah, I thought I’d been around Twitter for a while, turns out it takes some more waiting around.
For someone like me who hasn’t done much to acquire fame, getting love on Twitter asks for a heck of a lot of investment. Time is one of them, the other is speaking up or replying to tweets in helpful and/or meaningful ways.
That’s how things are working for me – and it’s not exactly an express train 🙂
Totally Alive Online says
step,step , ….. , jump .
Done all that stuff. Then realized that 95% of people on Twitter don’t follow those rules. But then I realized that the phony fakers don’t really matter all that much away from the website. So in the end, if you want love, don’t plan on getting it from twitter.
Donna Gibson says
I agree with what you say PJ..I believed in love online, and it was not quite as I expected.
I just use above for my own muse.
Ken Mueller says
All great points, Mack, and all pet peeves of my own.
It’s all about the give and take….and the more “give” the better. Thanks for this.
.-= Ken Mueller´s last blog ..Of Baseball Gloves and Marketing =-.
Holly @mobienthusiast says
Mack, this is right on target. I see so many people on LinkedIn asking “Is Twitter worth it” only to be told “no!” by people who tried it for a week, didn’t understand how to do it and then quit. I love Twitter. I find when I start to follow people with similar interests, whether professional or social, and then retweet or recommend them for something or follow friday (with a reason why), it deepens these superficial online meetings and has led to some real-life networking for fun and profit for everyone involved.
There is definitely a trick to learning to say what you mean in 140 characters and using those characters to build other people up.
.-= Holly @mobienthusiast´s last blog ..Mobile Web Design That Rocks =-.
Mack, when I read your posts I realize how far behind I am. 🙂 This one from over a year ago still holds true. I hope you don’t mind me pilfering from your articles to pass to clients and colleagues (with a link back, of course).
Victor has preached a similar sermon from day 1, and I agree with you both completely. I, as others, struggle most with the time factor.
I think that option number 4, “you don’t promote others”, encompasses a lot of the other reasons people fail. People “don’t listen” because they are only on Twitter to promote themselves and not others. Thus, they do not “actively” participate and fail in their social marketing strategy.
Melissa Clawson says
Lots of excellent points being discussed here. There’s no way to read every tweet of everyone you follow. However, you can read all those directed to yourself. This is how you build relationships. Listen to other people rather than just tweeting yourself. Make comments, ask questions, retweet other people.
There are many people on twitter who tweet constantly but never take time to listen to what others are saying!
Good post, reminds me of the book Crush It!
I think that Twitter is a fad that will fad away. Aside from a few clever quips from random people ,it’s really a load of junk with primarily self-promoters. Facebook will remain, Twitter will…well, will twitter out. Then, I will make my one “Tweet” and it will be on Facebook saying, “Finally, Twitter is gone”
Amanda Cromhout says
Great post. Short sharp & I learnt a lot
thanks for insights. Happy New Year
You are absulotely right about that points, I’m starting to implement some things on twitter myself and I’ll do what it take to interact nicely…
NOTHING is worse or more transparent than the old “Here’s my take, what do you think?” followed by another outgoing message that makes it clear the writer doesn’t really care what you think, he just wants a lot of @’s.
Sadly, nothing is more common, either.
Mack Collier says
Man I hate asshats like that 😉
Wayne McEvilly says
The delight of twitter, for me, is simple:
I love to listen as much as I love to talk.
Engagment is what I value in those I follow. The only way I can have a conversation if we’re both totally “there” –
I love the tweet mechanism of “being there in 140” –
If you’re not there, where are you?
Right. You got it.
Love #blogchat – thanks for it and a lot more…
Chris Eh Young says
It always amazes me at how many people don’t realize how similar online engagement is to offline. The principles are the same, only the methods are different.
I Write l 2writewithpassion says
Mack, this post is as relevant as the day you wrote it – almost 2 years ago. Many of us hadn’t been on Twitter for 30 months in mid-2009 and in many cases hadn’t even heard of it at that time. I just started my account 6 months ago.
My favorite thing on Twitter is to promote other people’s work. I have tried engaging in conversation but it seems that the majority of people aren’t really interested in that. I get the occasional reply back when I do comment to individuals or ask a question to the broader Twittosphere. Still trying to figure out what I need to do differently in that area.
Anyway, thanks again for a useful post!
I like me. 😛
I agree with you
Lisa Karl says
Great reminder to so many. I’ve followed, then unfollowed many on Twitter because they just post links to their blog and don’t offer any other commentary.
I am quite new to social media marketing. My company is currently thriving by being a digital communication company for health care. Shortly speaking, we are specializing ourselves in social media marketing for health care partner like pharmaceutical companies, private diagnostic laboratoriums, private clinics, etc.
However, what you have said in this article is very true! All my clients seem to be clueless about social media and they cannot even say what are their original purpose to create a social media presence. It seems like they are just following the trend without knowing why. And that has been a burden to me and my team on achieving their KPI which is not fairly measured by social media metric.
Any tips for me to be shared with my fellow colleagues about this particular problem? Not to mention health care on line’s presence tend to be more problematic because of our current national policy.