Monday, January 07, 2008
Giving Twitter another look...
Ten months ago I wrote here that I just didn't see what the big deal was about Twitter. But recently I've been thinking that perhaps I should give the service another chance, and CK mentioning how much she enjoyed being on Twitter was the clincher for me.
But I decided that if I was going to dive head-first into Twitter, that I needed to change how I was using the site. When I wrote last March that I didn't 'get' Twitter, it was mainly because I was only following about 40 people, and most of those people wouldn't be on the site when I was. If someone would follow me, I would follow them back IF I knew them. If not, I wouldn't. IOW, I was basically trying to see what value I could extract from Twitter. It didn't seem like much to me, so I stopped using it.
So when I decided to give Twitter a second chance a few days ago, I decided to switch gears. I went from only following a few dozen people, to following as many people as possible. I quickly added any friends that I wasn't following. Then I went through the lists of people my friends were following and added any people that I noticed several of my friends following. Finally, I added people/bloggers/marketers that I knew of, but that hadn't really talked to before. People like Chris Messina, Micki Krimmel, Jim Long, etc.
The hundreds of diverse points of view made for an absolutely fascinating experience. In between amazing marketing/social media discussions with people like Shel Israel, Ike Pigott and Connie Reece, I read about Xeni Jardin's account of what she was experiencing on her vacation in Guatemala, and New Media Jim detailing a high-speed chase with a carjacker.
This experience has hammered home this point for me about social media: it works best when you view it as a way to create value, not as a tool to extract value. When I didn't 'get' Twitter before, it was because I was trying to extract value from it, without really providing any. For example, before I was only following a few dozen people, and used Twitter mainly as a way to link to my own blog posts. I wanted more followers, but was using the service mainly as a way to pimp my own posts.
But now by following everyone first, I am using Twitter as a tool to create value, instead of just extracting it. I still link to many of my new posts, but I also link to posts and articles that OTHER people write that I believe the people I am following will find VALUE in. I try to contribute to discussions as I can, and treat Twitter as a community.
I've gone from following about 100 people a couple of weeks ago, to over 500 now. I've 'only' gone from about 150 followers to over 300, but that's ok. Now that I am viewing Twitter as a community, I'm getting far more value from it than I can give back.
The end lesson for companies, and myself, is that if you want to get value from social media, you need to first create value for others. Attempting to extract value without providing any is a recipe for frustration.
Thanks to Armano for suggesting I write this.
Tags:The Viral Garden, Marketing, Twitter