3 Wrong Ways to Think About Your Twitter Presence

pointless twitter messagesYesterday was my one-year Twitter anniversary. And no, I am not crazy enough to track the day I joined, but @citytweeps tweeted at me informing me of my first completed first year. To confirm, I rapidly navigated to HubSpot's Tweet Grader. The grader verified that on October 24, 2010, I jumped on the Twitter bandwagon. I was only a wee bit excited... 

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The following are 3 examples of the wrong way to think about Twitter.

1. Longer Membership > Shorter Membership

As I just mentioned, I am a victim to this mistake. Just because you joined Twitter in its early days when nobody knew about it and can now say you’ve been over 3-years-strong doesn't make your influence on Twitter any more prominent than someone who started last week. Your Twitter username is not measured by time, but by value. What did you say when you joined? What are you contributing in conversation? What are you sharing that is meaningful to someone else other than you?

Twitter is about open and narrowed (140-character limit) conversation. While tweeting your life updates from getting coffee to using the bathroom every 5 minutes may make Twitter a good forum for you to express yourself… how does that incline users to follow you? People follow for value; to receive information they wouldn’t necessarily stumble across on their own. Engage with them; not yourself. And the worth of that engagement has little-to-nothing to do with how long you’ve been present on the site. So let’s switch the variables.

Theory: Longer Membership > Shorter Membership
Reality: Value to Others > Value to Myself

That's better.

2. 5,000 Tweets Per Day > 5 Tweets Per Day

This inequality is just as wrong as the first one. I once heard of an interactive media class that required its students to tweet a certain number of times per week. Totally not the right idea...

While it’s true that tweets have a short shelf-life (thousands of tweets are being sent every second, pushing your most recent tweet down a user's feed almost instantly), constant tweets can be quite irking. Users follow you for the great content, opinions, thoughts, etc., you have to offer. So when users see a tweet from your account, that’s what they expect. Constantly trying to meet a certain number of tweets quota per day is not creating greater value. Having the occasional meaningless tweet can show personality and humor, but please Twitter marketers, don’t litter your Twitter stream with tweets of no value just because you think you need to be sending out more updates. It will only generate unfollows.

Theory: 5,000 Tweets Per Day > 5 Tweets Per Day
Reality: Reasonably Spaced Out Valuable Content > Constant Invaluable Content

Keep in mind that if you have tons of great content, there is nothing wrong with tweeting often. Just keep it natural; not forced.

3. Follow Industry Leaders > Follow Regular Users

Aha! Are you one of those people who only follows back people who you deem “important.” As in, this user is a celebrity, a hot shot in the industry, and so on, so I should follow them. But are you ignoring all the potential and current customers and everyday fans who are following you? Twitter is about two-way communication. Not everyone who loves your brand is going to inscribe it onto their Twitter bio (although mine does admit I’m a Harry Potter fanatic), so it’s nearly impossible to decipher right off the bat whether or not they will be of value to you. You’ll be surprised to see what the average user has to say about certain topics. It might even inspire the way you think. So don’t try to look cool by having 4,770,448 followers, while following back a whole 0—that is the exact ratio, at the time of this post, of Kanye West’s follower to following ratio. Once you’ve garnered enough of a fan base as him, you'll likely have fans for life. Chances are, your pool company won’t have such luck.

Theory: Follow Industry Leaders > Follow Regular Users
Reality: Follow Industry Leaders = Follow Regular Users

You can learn from both, and there is no true way of knowing who is more “important” than the other. 

Marketing Takeaway

It’s never too late to start something new. Just because you’re starting later in the game doesn't mean what you have to say is any less pertinent. Posting quality content that can spark discussion or be thought-provoking is effective Twitter communication—and that content can be from any old Joe Shmoe! Don’t judge a user by his/her title. And lastly, let whatever you say produce organically.

Can you think of additional ways marketers are thinking about their Twitter presence in the wrong way? How would you define effective tweeting?

Image Credit: Jim Milles