How to really benefit from twitter is a massive question among twitter users at this time with debates raging on etiquette, forms of communication and regularity, requesting an RT (ReTweet) of your information, spamming, the infamous follower count number, bots and a whole lot more and of course, everyone has an opinion.
When you begin with twitter its a little daunting. Its empty. Twitter will suggest some people to follow when you begin but these suggestions are exactly the type of people you DON’T want to follow. Mostly they are celebrities, or networks already familiar to you such as CNN. Great for finding out the news or what ferrari they just bought (or crashed) but none will communicate with you directly (except possibly @stephenfry but even he cant keep up with half a million people).
Find People on Twitter
If you don’t have any real life friends to begin with then first of, just do a search by choosing the Find People option. (you will notice it says Find PEOPLE not followers!)
Search for a word that relates to you specifically, a good example is your town or city.
The result you get will show people who are talking about your area at that given moment or who have they town or city in their names.
For the sake of an example I will use Marbella.
Now remember that the results can change every 60 seconds. Yep, that’s right, this isn’t Google here with a semi permanent list of results, its LIVE, when you look at the results for the search term Marbella you will see a different set from me. But that’s good.
Click on each persons profile and check them out in their bio description, and certainly take the time to check out their website or blog.
No Website or Blog? Or have they put something silly in one of the fields, such as:
Location: Planet Earth. if so, seriously consider not bothering with them (but some people have a sense of humor as well so bear that in mind!)
Seriously consider the value of each person you follow, a follow doesn’t mean anything in real terms, but a conversation means conversions.
Limit your follower number to something low and manageable (say 50 but if you already know 100 people or friends then lets say 50 NEW people).
Get to know those people.
Consider removing the followers who are not benefiting you, remove spammers or people who are continually trying to sell you something, and be wary of the people who send you an Auto DM (thats a whole other debate but in short it means they auto follow you back, cant be bothered to actually write something specific and are trying to seel you something, but thats my opinion) and try and replace them with new interesting followers, but don’t pass 50 followers.
Give yourself a month to know these 50 PEOPLE on Twitter (the term followers in context is dehumanising) well and develop from there.
Solid foundations make for solid buildings.
Dont let follower count dictate the quality of your account, its an easy trap to fall into and one thing I cannot stress enough. Big numbers mean nothing, big relationships mean big reurns. You may well be tempted by schemes to gain followers quickly and easily, stop and ask your self WHY?
Do you go to a conference or networking event and dash around throwing business cards in peoples faces with no regard for establishing a relationship? If you did, would they take you seriously? If someone did it to you, would you take them seriously? NO. I think not.
Following people back on Twitter
Also you may well decide to follow people back when they follow you. Its not a requirement and don’t ever feel that it should be. If people follow you and you do not follow back, they can still send you messages with the @ function but just not Direct or private messages. This helps to see if they are really interested in getting to know you and not just adding you to their artifically infalted follower count.
Alternatively of course you can follow back and then remove them if they prove to be any of the unwanted types mentioned previously.
The Evidence of large follower counts
In my previous article, which I want to draw your attention to, Social Media People and the Twitter Follower Trend it has the perfect example of what can happen when the numbers take on more value than the people behind those numbers. Take the time to read it. Its evidence that the advice im giving above really is the best way to gain real benefit from twitter, for you, your following and ultimately your business.
At the end of the day, you are free to use twitter in whatever method you wish with whatever goal you have in mind but the point here is value, people and long term relationships. Whatever you choose, choose wisely!