Have you ever felt excluded by someone talking on the phone in your presence?
Image by lecercle
We’ve all been there. Out with a friend at a cafe having a good time when their phone rings.
They answer it and proceed to talk to the other person in front of you (usually quite loudly) for the next 10 minutes. You kind of get what they’re talking about – but because you’re only getting half the conversation it quickly becomes annoying.
You feel left out! You feel ignored! You feel like ripping the phone from their hand and showing it down their throat!
Or is that just me???
Twitter can be like that. While it’s a great tool for conversation – at times it can also become a little excluding to some of your followers, if you let it be.
Here is a quick Twitter tip that I think could help a lot of people become more effective, inclusive and engaging users of Twitter.
The Problem of One Sided Conversations
One of the limitations (some might say weaknesses) of Twitter is that while it is possible to have great conversations using it – when you’re interacting with one of your followers publicly it can actually be somewhat alienating for other followers who only get one side of it.
For example when a follower asks me a question and I respond with an @/reply all of my other followers see that reply. While the reply will make sense to the person who asked the question it is likely that 99% of your followers have little idea what you’re talking about (unless they happen to be following both you and the questioner).
While this might be OK (I think most twitter users are used to seeing tweets that they don’t fully understand) if you have a back and forth with the person as a series of public tweets your other followers could become a little frustrated. It is like listening to one half of a phone conversation which for some is quite annoying.
So what’s a Twitter user to do?
Two ’solutions’ come to mind:
1. Take the conversation private
I’m doing this more and more. If a twitter conversation is getting into a back and forth and looks like going beyond just a couple of tweets I’ll quite often reply with a direct message instead of a public reply. The exception to this is when I think the conversation is of interest to a wider group.
2. Reframe the question
What I notice effective Twitter users doing is making their replies more inclusive by including the question in some form so that the tweet becomes understandable and useful to their wider followership.
This is a technique that I’ve learned in doing TV interviews where the interviewers question will not be heard by the audience. It means taking the question and putting it into the start of your answer.
For example – if someone asks me in an interview ‘how do bloggers make money online?’ I would start my answer with ‘Most Bloggers make money by…’. This means when they show your answer viewers immediately know what you’re talking about. The alternative answer ‘Advertising, Affiliate programs and Paid Reviews’ would make little sense to anyone who hadn’t heard the question.
Of course this becomes slightly more challenging when you only have 140 characters to play with on Twitter but it can be achieved.
Reframing tweets to give context to what you’re saying is not always easy and I don’t do it in every case – but when I do, I notice that the conversation spreads beyond the one on one to becoming a little more communal.