Jim Gibson - Publisher, Online Media Today
By Jim Gibson – Online Media Today

Lately, I’ve been hearing a lot of grumbling from people who use Twitter who say that it’s a complete waste of time.  With Twitter constantly in the news and so many people talking about it being the holy grail of social networking, it’s no wonder the immensely popular micro-blogging site has gained so much attention.  Yet, you don’t have to look far to find a bevy of disenchanted Twitter users who claim the social networking site is not worth the bandwidth (both physical and mental) it consumes.

The fact of the matter is, if used correctly, Twitter represents an incredible opportunity to engage with potential customers in unprecedented ways.  We all know the lottery is a game of chance with immensely challenging odds.  But the problem is far too many think that just because they started tweeting, they’ve won the lottery and are immediately due the riches, in reality, only a few lucky will ever receive. 

Twitter, or for that matter, any other social network, is not the lottery.   Like baking a your grandmothers famous pound cake, Twitter calls for special ingredients such as patience, thoughtful consideration and a great deal of consistency.  Add a little personality to the mix and you have the recipe that will make even the most ardent food critics writhe with envy.

 Let’s start with the power of one and ask this simple question:  If you, as a business owner, were able to use social media to influence one person to buy your product (or better yet, become a lifelong customer), would you be inclined to explore how to use social media more effectively?  I thought you’d say “heck yeah!”.

Well, this is great since Twitter is really about the number one.  Distilled down to the most basic element, Twitter is about connecting with one.  That is, one person – not “people” – but person.  That’s where so many get confused and ultimately see their Twitter experience go off the rails.  The problem starts when new users think they need to immediately compete with the big boys and get the most followers in the shortest amount of time.  Don’t get me wrong, Twitter is ultimately a numbers game and “people” do factor into a good recipe for success.  But if you start off thinking “people” and not “person”, your strategy will lack the foundation that delivers sustainable results.  Worse yet, you’ll likely become highly discouraged and quit altogether.    

Let me try to explain this vis a vie my own experiences with Twitter.  I started using Twitter a little over a year ago and quickly fell into the “people” trap.  Against the advice of my colleague (incidentally, a guy who doesn’t even know that much about enterprise social networking), I started following as many people as I could.  Blindly I went about my business of clicking follow, follow, follow… not paying attention to whom I was following but just after the numbers alone. 

Pretty soon I hit the mystical 2,000 threshold imposed by Twitter and was forced to invoke new tactics.  I started looking at who wasn’t following me back and un-ceremoniously “un-followed” them.  That opened up some room for me to add more – which I did but this time I paid money to some fly-by-night service that promised thousands of new followers in days.  It took me a little while but before I knew it, I had over 15,000 followers!

“I’m set!”, said I.  “Now I can start broadcasting my message and sit back and reap the rewards”, or so I thought.   The problem was, most of my followers ended up being people just like me – marketers (since learned this is such an ugly word in social media circles) who’s only mission in life was to achieve the highest follower count as quickly as possible and to broadcast every conceivable “get rich” scam known to man.  Although I felt I had a valuable message, I was immediately lumped into the marketer category and soon learned I wasn’t connecting with anyone – other than other marketers who weren’t interested in my message to begin with.

How did I know this?  I only had to look to my website analytics for the answers.  There they were, clear as day.  For referrals from Twitter, my visitors’ average on site time was less than 30 seconds and my bounce rate was close to 95%!  In online marketing speak, I was a virtual pariah. 

Disgruntled, discouraged and otherwise disillusioned, I joined the Twitter bash party.

But then I found the power of one.  I went back to the drawing board but not before I accepted the fact that Twitter is about person, not people.  The first thing I did was to start going through my followers and weeding out those that I felt were really not interested in connecting with me.   Like real life relationship building, I carefully reviewed follower profiles to determine which ones I thought might be a person I could really connect (and resonate) with.  It took me a long time to do this (my penance for prior egregious behavior) but soon found my follower count whittled down to a manageable number.  More importantly, the quality of my followers was now at a premium.

Next, I picked one follower who seemed interesting (and who might be interested in what I had to say) and began re-tweeting their tweets, commenting on their blog and ##FollowFriday’ing them.  Before I knew it, they recognized me and starting returning the favor.  I picked a few more and started repeating the process.  Before I knew it, I had a bunch of new connections who were listening to what I had to say.  More importantly, their followers started following me and sending me @ messages with positive feedback. 

As of today, I have a great following on Twitter and regularly receive and share great information with my audience.  I’ve even been included in a variety of authority lists where my tweets are pushed out to even greater numbers of people by those who endorse my messages.  My website analytics are breaking new records each day and, although I don’t sell anything on my site (blog), my KPIs are constantly being met and/or exceeded.  I do offer free video SEO tips and the number of opt-ins has steadily increased over time.

Look, you don’t have to start off being a Rock-Star on Twitter.  As a business owner, you don’t have to be Coca Cola or FedEx or Best Buy.  You just have to be yourself go about your business building customers one at a time.  Save your money for more lottery tickets but as far as Twitter goes, be the “Person” you want to meet and you’ll enjoy great success on Twitter.   

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About the Author:

Jim Gibson is a certified search engine marketing professional and serial entrepreneur.  In addition to Online Media Today, Jim is a principal at GibSEM Group (http://www.gibsem.com) and has founded several internet properties including online B2C directory, Service Omni, Inc. (
http://www.serviceomni.com) and QuakeDog, Inc. (www.quakedog.com), a network marketing company focused on the sale of personal survival gear.  You can reach Jim at: jgibson@gibsem.com or follow him @GibSEM.
9/29/2012 06:24:01 pm

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