So last December I loaded up the car with books, CDs and ebooks, and went down to spend a week in Key West. My mission: to discover the truth about Web 2.0 and the exploding social media sites. In particular, I wanted to know whether they could be used for effective business building. And if so, which ones of the thousands out there would be the best ones to concentrate your time on.
Since then, I’ve fast become a born-again believer in their potential for business. While some of them are more geared to mostly social uses, most have broader applications and can be very useful for business and promotion.
If you read “Tribes,” (and if not, what the Hell is the matter with you?), you’ll discover these sites are a perfect way to keep in touch with your fellow tribe members. I think the two biggest breakouts in the space in 2009, and the ones I have mad love for, will be Twitter and Ustream. I believe they will explode this year similar to the way Facebook did last year, and My Space and YouTube before that.
Twitter is blowing up right now, so let’s look at it first, and we’ll explore the others in future posts. Twitter is in essence a micro-blog, since your messages are limited to 140 characters. And instead of dropping by your website or getting a RSS feed, people choose to “follow” you. So when you log on to Twitter, you get a “stream” of all the postings (called “Tweets”) from the people you follow.
While many see and use Twitter as purely another social medium, I’ve found that a broad and growing range of users there seem to view it more as a business network. And as a result, they’re much more open to business messages and even marketing appeals, provided you’re bringing real value to the relationship.
In the few months I’ve been Twittering, I’m shocked with how enjoyable it can be, how helpful it is as a business resource, and how readily you can monetize it. It is this last application – actually making money from your postings there – that most seem to struggle with. (And some find sacrilegious of course, believing as they do, that Al Gore invented the Internet to provide them with free stuff.) But since no one would actually hire me for a job, I find the idea of making money a good thing, and found Twitter wildly profitable.
Now I should note that I approach my Twittering the same way I do this Blog, my email newsletters and websites…
I believe in providing value, giving people a reason to view my stuff, and then offer options (coaching programs, seminars, books and other learning resources) where they can spend money if they like my work and want deeper assistance. So I don’t really make any sales from posting on Twitter directly, but I rake in a lot of dosh because I Twitter.
That’s because I don’t post links to sales letter sites, or do hard pitches, as that’s not really appropriate in the medium, and it’s not effective anyway. I do often link to my Blogs or newsletters that address topics of interest to my Twitter followers, and they often virally spread the message to others. My list grows and a lot of those people flash their cash for my other resources.
There are still a few nitwits that feel God put me on this earth expressly to work full-time providing them free advice, coaching and consulting, but far less than you may think. The vast majority of people, particularly on Twitter, understand that prosperity is a value for value exchange, and understand that while I may be a good guy – Mother Theresa is dead, and I still need to feed my cat.
I believe the effective social media strategies are a move away from interruption marketing and assaulting your market – and a positive move toward simply interacting and being in touch with your market. If you show them you’re passionate about your work and truly interested in providing value to them, you’ll soon find yourself helping to lead a fiercely loyal tribe.
With this post I’d like to share how you can use Twitter to actually grow your business and avoid the “deadly sins” that alienate people and actually hurt your business and your brand.
So, having said all that, I humbly submit this manifesto, a/k/a the 7 deadly sins of Twitter, a/k/a me ranting again, a/k/a:
The 7 Twitter Critters you don’t want to be...
1) The TMI Guy
Information is valuable and we all got on Twitter to get more of it. But there is such a thing as too much information. The TMI guy (or gal) suffers from the delusion that their life is interesting, and Tweets a steady stream of inane blather from rising until they mercifully log off and go to bed. The typical stream from someone in this category looks like this:
@VacuousTwit going to the mall, 2 minutes ago
@VacuousTwit I so need a manicure, 4 minutes ago
@VacuousTwit my cat just spit up a hairball yuck! 7 minutes ago
@VacuousTwit anyone see Buffy last night? 10 minutes ago
@VacuousTwit pink t-shirt or blue one, decisions! 12 minutes ago
@VacuousTwit No tweets from Melissa, bummer, 14 minutes ago
@VacuousTwit Coco Puffs, yum!, 16 minutes ago
@VacuousTwit BRB, gotta poop, 19 minutes ago
@VacuousTwit just got up, brushing my teeth, 20 minutes ago
The TMI Twitterer believes we’re all fascinated to learn that the mail arrived, what they had for lunch, or that they need to buy maxi pads. We’re not. In fact, we really don’t give a shit.
Not even your mother wants to hear a minute-by-minute broadcast of your day. Your life is just not that interesting. This is the online equivalent of the Valley Girl.
Please note if you are @lancearmstrong, @THE_REAL_SHAQ, or @MCHammer, you get an exemption. Because we’re fanatically obsessed with celebrity, we want to know all the minutia about every thing that ever happens to and around you, including when you cut your toenails. Sorry @PerryBelcher, you haven’t reached this status yet. But we love ya anyway.
If you’re in doubt as to how well the scintillating play-by-play accounts of your bunion surgery, parking tickets, and bowel movements are playing in Peoria, surf over to TwitterGrader and see how you score. If your score isn’t as high as you like, you may want to trade in your bunions for spinal meningitis.
You can also stop by TwitterSheep and they will run a cloud of the most used terms in your followers’ bios, and that can give you an idea what they’re most interested to hear about.
BTW, don’t think that just because you have a lot of followers, they’re hanging on to every scintillating word you say. Many power users use applications like SocialToo to auto-follow everyone that follows them, but then also use TweetDeck to screen out the trailer trash. So just because someone is following you doesn’t mean they’re actually reading your crap.
Probably the best gauge of this is how many times you get “ReTweeted,” which simply means someone actually read what you wrote, liked it, and resent it to their own followers. Stop by Retweetist and see how often the Twitterverse is shopping your stuff around.
By the way, this doesn’t mean it has to be all clinical and business. We really do want to know the great book you’re reading, if you’re a diehard Battlestar Gallactica fan, or your mother passed away. We want to know who you are and what makes you tick. Just not everything.
2) The Plagiarizer Twit
This person follows everybody, looking for good content that they plagiarize by re-sending it out as if it’s their own. It’s not a copyright issue, just bad form and a quick way to piss off people. The proper form is to ReTweet the stuff you like, and it’s very simple to do.
Just type in RT, put a space, their name with the @ in front of it, another space, then cut and paste their message. So it looks like:
Make sure there is a space after RT and after their name, before the message starts. And don’t forget the ‘@’ in front of their name, because that makes it a link to their page.
Once you start ReTweeting others, they often notice and return the favor. This gets your message and page in front of hundreds or even thousands of other readers, some who may decide to follow you. And ReTweeting good stuff also shows your own followers that you’re interested in providing value, not just hawking your miracle thigh cream. It also means you’re a good person and will receive your just reward in the afterlife.
3) The Reply Guy
The symptom of this malady is the inability to send a private direct message (DM) to anyone. Instead, these people post every reply in their tweet stream. It comes from childhood, when mommy dearest locked them in the closet with nothing but DMs. So your stream is cluttered with dozens of messages from them like:
@ReplyGuy @Nancy no, I don’t think so
@ReplyGuy @BoringDude yes, after the game
@ReplyGuy @Nancy ok
@ReplyGuy @Lou_Stoolz I think so
@ReplyGuy @Nancy bye
@ReplyGuy @DenverDanny only if he can do it for less than $20
@ReplyGuy @Hugh_Jazz OMG!
@ReplyGuy @A1Escort is she discrete?
Twitter is not a chat room. They have places for that. They’re called “chat rooms.” If you’re going to post all replies in the stream, please answer with some context so readers can decide if they want to click through to the other person’s page to follow the plot.
4) The Multi-Level Morons
These idiots seem to be rapidly migrating from Facebook over to Twitter faster than @guykawasaki can toss out plugs for Alltop. They set up an account and think sending their pitch out every three hours is going to build a group. They’re like a combination Jehovah Witness/Amway distributor on crack. When you land on their page, it looks like this:
@MLMoron Amazing jungle juice from berries grown on secret mountain makes limbs grow back, 3 hours ago
@MLMoron Amazing jungle juice from berries grown on secret mountain makes limbs grow back, 5 hours ago
@MLMoron Amazing jungle juice from berries grown on secret mountain makes limbs grow back, 7 hours ago
@MLMoron Amazing jungle juice from berries grown on secret mountain makes limbs grow back, 9 hours ago
@MLMoron Amazing jungle juice from berries grown on secret mountain makes limbs grow back, 11 hours ago
If you’re doing this, I promise you that the only people reading your tweets are already in your group, and they’re drinking the jungle juice already.
5) The Novelist
Listen kids, this is not rocket science. There are only 140 characters for your tweets. When you’re typing a tweet, the nice folks from Twitterland have even given you a counter. When it says -7, that means you went over and the last half of the link you’re sending out will be cut off. That makes you look dumb, and even worse, irritates me. Use Is.Gd or another service that shortens URLs and watch the character counter.
Your brilliant branding strategy to use the handle @World’s_Mostest_Greatest_Copywriter_Ever may not be as clever as you originally thought. It’s going to limit what you can say, and will eliminate the likelihood that anyone can ReTweet you.
Likewise if you didn’t have enough sense to be born into a family with a short surname, be creative. There’s a reason Gary Vaynerchuk is @GaryVee. (Of course he's a JETS fan, so don't give him too much credit.) So instead of 140, limit yourself to 120. It’s the new black.
6) The Anonymous Stranger
I can’t count how many times I get a follow and click through to their page to see if I should be following back and get nothing. No picture, no bio, not even the city they live in. Now if you just have the account to be in touch with a few friends and look for interesting stuff that’s fine. But if you are hoping to use social media to build your brand, expand your reach, or God forbid, actually make money, give us something to go on.
Put a pic on your page for God’s sake! If we go to your page and there’s only the Twitter graphic and no pic, it’s like a billboard that says, “Hi I’m Amish and I’m checking out this computer fad to see if it’s gonna last.” Even 97-year-old mammies are emailing pix of their great-grandkids. If you don’t know how to load a photo yet, ask someone.
Make it a real photo of you, not your dog, cat, or llama. Please make it a current one also, and save your high school yearbook pic for the dating sites. We want to know who we’re conversing with. Likewise with caricatures or icons. Use them only if they really are an essential part of your branding.
List where you live. There are people that look to network with others in their town and some places are actually holding Tweet Ups where Twitterers in an area meet. And TwitterGrader lists the “royalty” in each town, and if you show up on that list you’ll attract more followers.
This is not Linkedin, or Plaxo. Keep with the friendly attitude of the site. Occupations like “Father of twins, Krispy Kreme addict, software developer and surfer” are okay here. “Engineer” is just boring and we’re afraid you might be Wally from Dilbert’s office.
Do give us an idea of what you do, and why we might want to network with you. That doesn’t mean bludgeon us with a sales pitch. Just let us know how you might bring some value to us.
Your bio and your tweets should reflect who you are. Ideally they will anchor your brand in topic and tone. People should be able to take a look at your bio and the first page of your tweets and know what to expect if they follow you.
If you look at my page, you’ll see it mirrors what I do and who I really am. My posts are about success and prosperity, with a large dose of marketing. Just like me, they’re informative, sometimes snarky, direct, controversial, contain an occasional F-bomb, but always brilliant. And humble.
P.S. And what’s with all the “protected updates”? If you’re in the witness protection program, you probably shouldn’t be on Twitter.
7) The Needy Beggars
Listen if you get your self-esteem from how many Facebook friends or Twitter followers you have, you have some unresolved childhood issues and need to call Dr. Phil.
We don’t want to get your tweets begging for more followers because when you get 200 you can go to bed, or crying because you woke up to discover there are two less people following you. And if you have to award prizes or give bribes to get people to follow you, what’s the point?
The people that respond to these pleas are the same ones that opt in to receive Spam emails. They’re looking for someone to talk to in the commercial break between Judge Judy and the Jerry Springer show. The whole idea is to create a group of people with commonalities and shared interests, so you can network and mastermind for mutual benefit, not accumulate a following of mindless boobs.
The same rules that govern direct mail lists, and email databases are in effect here. I guarantee you I make a lot more money from hundreds of followers on Twitter than a lot of the people with tens of thousands. The secret in any direct marketing list is having the right people on it. So don’t worry about quantity, do things that attract people that have an interest in what you do.
And no kids, mccaffrey didn’t have an interesting idea on how you can attract 19,530 followers in 30 days. He had an irritating idea to try a chain letter on Twitter. And the last time that worked was never.
Somebody let me catch my breath…
So all told, Twitter is a great medium to connect, network and grow your business. If you’re not on Twitter yet, jump in today. It takes about two minutes to set up your account and you’re good to go. Go to: https://twitter.com/
And if you’re not following me on Twitter, what are you a Godless communist or something? Do it now. I need the money. https://twitter.com/Randy_Gage
P.S. If I missed any, or you just want to tell me how dope I am, there’s a comment box below. And if you found this helpful, please tweet this blog, so we can fight the forces of evil, save Gotham City, & have joy, fun and seasons in the sun. Just click the cute little Twitter ‘T’ below. Or if you’re a Digger, Facebooker, or one of those other pretty buttons down below, hook me up, dog. Did I mention I need the money?