When I began to tweet ten months ago for my social media class, I didn’t have a clue how much I would learn, both technically and socially, from the experience. This is not a post about the best time to tweet, how to use Buffer or Hootsuite to schedule your tweets, or how to geo-target your Twitter keyword searches. It is a post about some of the more subjective things I have observed about myself and other people on Twitter:
- Social media is very much like group therapy. It’s free, it normalizes the human experience, and it is a great mirror for your own behavior. Chances are, the things that irritate you most about someone else on Twitter are the things you could probably stand to work on yourself.
- Do your personal work, because who you are shows up in how you interact (sooner or later). After I have interacted with someone for a while on Twitter, reading their posts and seeing which of my posts they favorite and RT, I get a real sense of their values, their goals, and how they treat people. My goal is to work with people who share my values, so I try to remember that other people are also seeing who I am with every tweet I write.
- There is no such thing as anonymity. As with email, don’t say anything on Twitter or any other social media site that you wouldn’t want read out loud in a courtroom. Even when you think no one is reading your tweets, someone probably is.
- Karma: what goes around comes around. Do nice things, and eventually people notice. The same applies for tweeting mean or negative things.
- Learn the rules, but then be yourself. Learn the basic etiquette, but don’t obsess about the details or adopt someone else’s style because you admire them. Pave your own way, let your own social media style emerge.
- Don’t sweat the metrics until you understand their drawbacks. I used to care a lot about my Klout score and how many followers I have. Now, I check them occasionally, and I still like to use Klout as a way to communicate my appreciation of others on Twitter, but I don’t ask people to give me +K’s, and I don’t use it to judge others.
- Follow a policy of attraction, not promotion. If you are clear on your goals, are genuine and are not superficial, people will grow to understand and respect who you are over time. In my experience, people who are effective in business genuinely enjoy helping other people reach their goals. Over time people will be attracted to who you are and will want to help you reach your own goals.
- Be positive and you will feel better. I have never regretted a compliment or positive comment I made on Twitter. Sometimes I write tweets I don’t send, especially when something really upsets me. I always feel glad I didn’t hit ‘send’ on those tweets.
- Jump on trends, ride the wave, take the opportunity when it comes – it won’t come again, but other ones will. The Twitterverse moves incredibly quickly. Make your content and interactions timely and relevant. Learn to discern which trends synch best with your goals, and try to match your content to them.
- The more you do for others, the more opportunities come your way. The positive things you do have a way of multiplying quickly on Twitter, and that can create unintended and unforseen good and amazing opportunities. Over time, that can add up. I just met someone in England this past weekend through a 24 hour cascade of events that started with Twitter and ended with us deciding to collaborate on some music together across the pond. How cool is that?
- Social media is addictive, so have a good strategy to deal with that. This is one I still struggle with. I look at it like any addiction, though, and try to notice when I am using social media to avoid other things I don’t want to deal with (whether it’s people, emotions or onerous tasks). When my family starts complaining, I take note.
- Meet people in real life whenever you can. I have met so many interesting and admirable people through Twitter, and meeting them in real life is the best feeling – to finally put a real human face to that online personality always brings me new insight about that person.
- Use social media to extend your network, not AS your network. Nothing replaces the good old-fashioned “let’s meet for coffee or lunch” when you really want to get something done or close a sale. And email is still my medium of choice for sending important business documents like briefs, business plants, or contracts.
- Curation IS creation. What you choose to forward to others says a lot about what you are thinking about, what you care about, and what you believe.
- Create original content and tweet it out. The statistics shows that there are still many, many people who lurk on social media. Twitter is one of the easiest ways to participate – sending a tweet is creating a 140 character mini-blog! It’s just a short jump from there to a real blog, and creating your own content is the best way to interact with people and provide value.
Just some of the people I deeply respect on Twitter, real individuals who are actually there behind their Twitter handles, who I have watched and from whom I have learned a great deal, include: @thornybleeder, @michaelsb, @playitloudmusic, @michaelbmaine, @madalynsklar, @mrbuzzfactor, @deborahe, @howtorunaband, @genedexter, @marismith, @jeffbullas, @tedrubin, @mikewhitmore, @industryears, @lamiki, @floraandflying, @firebrandtalent – just to name a few. Thank you to all of you for teaching me so much.
What have you learned? Who inspires you? I’d love to hear your comments and additions – I know I’ve learned a lot from my Twitter experience so far, and I learn more every day.