Should you be on Twitter?

Recently people have noticed that I’m not talking about Twitter very much. They’re right – I’m not. Is it because I don’t think Twitter is a good tool any more? No. It’s because for most of the people I’m talking to, I just don’t think it’s the right tool for them. At least not in the beginning.

I love Twitter. Don’t get me wrong, I think it has huge potential and can make a lot of difference in any business, but I also think that it is one of the tools that requires the most time and effort to do well. I know how busy business owners are, and when they are just starting to use social media they aren’t going to be ready for the time commitment required to take advantage of the potential on Twitter. 

I’ll elaborate a bit more on why:

Twitter is about relationships

Most people think that Twitter is about telling the world what you had for lunch (by the way – I totally think you SHOULD do that). But it’s also so much more than that. Twitter is an opportunity to have conversations. It’s about interacting with other people. It’s about sharing ideas and thoughts, and learning from experts.

While some people use Twitter as a newsfeed, so many more only pay attention to the people they know and have built relationships with. If you aren’t talking to people, you’re never going to be one of the people others are really paying attention to.

Short story:  Last week I was at the Canadian Hard of Hearing Association National Conference in Toronto and I met a ton of great people. How can you build a relationship a step beyond meeting in person? How about a selfie, that you tweet and tag? It’s the small things that help build relationships.

Twitter is about getting to know people 

Did you know that Karen and I met on Twitter? There are so many opportunities to find the kind of people you’re looking for. Maybe those are customers, maybe they are people to partner with, maybe they are mentors. The point is that you can find and have conversations with and really get to know people you never would have had access to before.

Twitter is an amazing networking tool. I’ve made friends, I’ve gotten media coverage, and I’ve gotten clients by getting to know people and having regular conversations there. This takes a lot of time. It can be well worth it, but it’s going to take a commitment far beyond sending out a few tweets a day.

It takes a lot of effort to filter through the noise

Most people follow a lot of other people on Twitter. I follow about 3500 people and if I didn’t use lists I would never see the content that I want to see. 

Why don’t I just unfollow everyone but the people I’m interested in? Because I have different interests on different days. By following lots of people and by creating special lists for different interests, cities, topics, etc., I can spend my time on Twitter talking to and about the things I’m focusing on at that moment.

It takes a lot of time to set up those lists and filters, but once it’s done your time on Twitter is much better spent. 

So, should you be on Twitter?

If you’re new to social media and you feel intimidated by the idea of spending time on Twitter every day, it may not be the right starting place for you (I still think you can get off to a great start in ten minutes a day, but you’ll do better with a bigger commitment).

If you aren’t the kind of person who likes to chit chat, it might not be the place for you. 

If you’re looking for opportunities to network, find new communities and really jump in to conversations, you absolutely should and there are tons of great opportunities for you. 

Not every social media channel makes sense as a starting place for every person.  Figure out where your audience is and what you feel comfortable with. That may or may not be Twitter - and that’s okay!