If you’ve read my posts here for any length of time, you can tell that I am a huge Twitter evangelist. The site’s ability to let me communicate and network with an ever-growing number of people continues to amaze me. But as I talk to people on and about Twitter, they are also amazed at how I can follow (currently) over 900 people on the site. I reply that as I follow more people, I get a richer Twitter experience.
Here’s how I believe most people get started on Twitter. First, they follow their 10 or so closest online friends. After a while of doing this, they begin to wonder what the big deal is, because they are likely emailing all these people already, so what does Twitter bring to the table?
So next they likely go through and add another 20 or so experts and pundits from their particular industry. Now they follow around 30 people. But there still doesn’t seem to be much on Twitter for these people. Since they are only following 30 or so people, updates are few and far between, because it’s likely that only a few of those 30 people are ‘on’ Twitter and using it at the same time they are. I think it’s at this point that many people decide that Twitter isn’t really that big of a deal, and stop using the site.
This is where I found myself around Christmas of last year. I was following about 40-50 people and had about 100 or so following me. Twitter really didn’t seem like it was worth all the time and fuss to me, but I had a few friends that kept raving about the site and telling me to give it another chance.
So I did. But I knew that in order to give Twitter a real ‘chance’ to win me over, I had to change how I was using the site. So I went through and added another 50 or so marketing bloggers and social media notables. This alone got me to the point where I was getting updates every few minutes, where previously I might only get new tweets from the people I follow every 15 mins or so.
Then I started asking everyone on Twitter who the ‘power’ Twitter users were that I should be following. Many names were shared, and several people told me to check out the Tweeterboard 100, which claims to rank the 100 ‘top’ Twitter users. I went through the list and added just about everyone listed.
This changed my Twitter experience completely, because now for the first time, I was following people that I didn’t know, and that weren’t coming from a marketing/social media background. So suddenly my Twitterstream (what I call all the new tweets coming in from the people I follow), was much richer and diverse. Suddenly, I was following people from many different backgrounds with many different viewpoints and stories to tell.
By this point, I was following around 300 people, and updates were coming in every minute. And the conversations! Some people were discussing social media and ‘what’s hot’. Some were discussing their vacations, some were giving play-by-play (tweet-by-tweet?) of the NBA or NFL game being played.
The point was, now I had multiple conversations around multiple topics happening all the time. There was almost always something striking my interest, and prompting me to want to share my opinion and ‘talk’ to others. And again, this is what makes Twitter such an amazing networking tool. As you follow more people, it becomes much easier to find topics to talk about with your followers. As I have talked to my followers, we become friends, we contact each other off Twitter, and there you go.
So how many people can I follow? Where’s the breaking point? I’m not sure. Another point is that as you spend more time on Twitter, you become adept at ‘scanning’ the tweets from the people you are following. I know which topics appeal to which people. And using Twhirl makes this much easier, as Twhirl makes the tweets that are replies to me a different color and makes a different sound when these come through. So this makes it much easier to keep up with and respond to others.
And as I talk to other people on Twitter, I *always* add followers. Jennifer Laycock and I were both on Twitter recently talking about getting links from blogs and Twitter, and which we thought drove more traffic. Other people joined in the conversation, and after about 30 mins or so, we had about 10 people joining us by chiming in their thoughts. Jennifer and I compared notes later, and we both realized that we added followers on Twitter almost as soon as we began the conversation. What happens is that people that are following the people that are talking to us see the conversation that their friends are engaging in with us, and decide to follow us as well.
So if you’ve started using Twitter and think you’ve hit a wall, try adding more people that are NOT in your industry. This will completely change the experience you are getting from Twitter, and it might just be for the best!
Tags:The Viral Garden, Marketing