The wrong way(s) to use Twitter


I can’t claim to be any kind of Twitter guru, but now that I’ve actually put a little bit of time and effort in to the site I can see exactly what I was doing wrong in my initial approach.

I’m also not much of an early adopter, and I’d usually like to skip the hassles of bugs that go along with any kind of alpha & beta releases. Even with a trusted brand, I’ll often hold off on buying any kind of new models until a few production runs have completed and the major issues are worked out.

Twitter is no exception. I didn’t even bother to sign up until everyone was talking about it and TV news anchors read from search results when they didn’t know what else to say. I’ve cracked wry jokes about how some companies like Golden Corral are using it, and I tried to conclude that was inherently superior because it didn’t slap a generic “nofollow” on every single link.

But the web doesn’t work like that – not even in the purest sense of link-based SEO. And as much as I’ve proven that an anti-social late adopter with no regular posting schedule, no expressive personality, and few online friends can still make money online, that doesn’t mean I’ve been looking at or confronting the situation in the most efficient way.

People and connections matter – and no smart search engine is going to completely ignore that just because a small tag was slapped on to all the links. Not only does there seem to be some direct consideration of Twitter profiles, follower counts, and following/follower ratios, but the only way to get the really good links these days is to convince active webmasters that you’ve got some good content. When they read what you’ve got and enjoy it, they’ll throw you some links because they want the reputation for being someone who finds & shares good stuff. There is absolutely nothing better out there, so the more eyeballs you can get in front of the better your chances of being appreciated are.  Of course, you have to bring something valuable to the table if you want those eyeballs to give you a second and third chance…

With all that in mind, here is what I’ve learned in the last year and a half of Twitter failure, and the last month of finally (slowly) moving forward… Here are the things you should absolutely never do, unless you want to get stuck with a few dozen followers who are actually just spammers & bots.

The quick guide to Twitter #fail:

  • Follow no one – if you build a profile, they will come.  I mean, look at Charlie Sheen.  He’s got three and a half million followers, but he’s only following like thirty people.  You want to be like him right?  Ok then, all that acting and being famous is pretty tough so just make a Twitter profile instead.  And instead of following people and discovering that you might not like some of them, just skip that step entirely and assume they’ll come to you.
  • Only talk about yourself and your own sites – because the whole point is promotion and marketing, right?  Just skip the fluff and get straight to the point!  Flood your updates with a constant stream of self-congratulations and your own links!  World War III broke out?  Not my problem, this Twitter account is only for blue widgets or whatever the hot Clickbank product of the day is.
  • Ignore trending topics – Stand out from the crowd by ignoring what the crowd is doing!  Charlie Sheen and half the memes are honestly insane, so why waste time having fun, cracking jokes, or just fooling around?  No one likes to fool around or have light-hearted fun!  Never!
  • Avoid conversations – We’re here to sell widgets, remember?  If this conversation doesn’t include an affiliate link and end with a conversion, you’re probably just wasting time with personal chit chat – right!?
  • Automate everything – once you realize how easy it is to ignore everyone and everything going on around you while endlessly promoting your own website, you might as well skip the actual human input and just feed your RSS straight in to your Twitter account!

Now, that is a pretty dramatized version of my original twitter use, but some of the general bad ideas are in there.  I had convinced myself that I had no interest in incoming Tweets, so I never went out of my way to find interesting people to follow.  It was a self-fulfilling prophecy that keeps you pretty isolated and uninterested in further engagement!

The next step was the narrow focus of self-promotion.  I wanted my links for people to follow in to my site, so I focused exclusively on publishing them.  But you know what?  Even if I added up all my websites, and somehow had a Twitter list of people who were interested in all of those topics at once, there’s still no way I could come up with enough content fast enough to keep up with the rapid pace of social media.  Two days between tweets?  That is ancient history, not an active account…  Instead, you have to stop looking at everyone in your niche as competition, and start thinking about where you can find and share all the best content related to your topics.

To fail a bit less…

Get out there: Follow people who might be interesting, and respond to the questions you can answer. Retweet the best tweets, stories, and links you see. Follow some more interesting people and restart the process all over again. Perhaps most importantly:  Feel free to unfollow people who aren’t interesting you anymore. You might be tempted to be nice or to just ignore them, but if some annoyance keeps popping up in your stream you’ll just lose interest and patience that much quicker.

1 Comment

  1. Twitter is a social network, we must remember that. So, you must socialize and connect to the others. How will you survive if you are thinking only of yourself and what you can get from it? I think it’s a give and take relationship we must have.

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