Have you noticed all the electronic and tree-based books that have come out on Twitter? There’s an amazing amount of verbiage being thrown at us for such a simple service. The sheer volume of training guides, paper books, and in-depth courses on using Twitter is kind of weird when it surrounds a service that worships brevity, 140 characters at a time.
You can learn about the hottest 3rd party applications that purport to make Twitter more useful, efficient, and effective on thousands of sites. You’ll find over 11,000 search results on Amazon for “twitter.”
On the flip side, there are only a little over 13,000 results on Amazon for “rocket science!” Can a simple microblog actually be almost as complicated to understand as rocket science? Requiring just as much training in order for us to understand it? Don’t forget, Twitter’s history makes it a toddler compared to the much longer history of rocket propulsion.
This made me wonder if there really could be an overlying theme or practice which could sum up in one sentence the most important thing you need to know to be successful using Twitter to generate buzz.
The one thing I believe is more important than anything else about how to use Twitter to gain followers and to move crowds in your direction is this:
90% of what you share on Twitter should be made up of personal insights and thoughts along with a heavy dose of helpful links, while 10% should be made up of messages that more directly benefit you.
90% Helpful Stuff (Giving)
This can be anything really, but should be made up of links and messages that help your followers do something better, find neat things they appreciate, and thereby bind them to you in a positive way. The more the pattern of linking and messaging follows the interests of your ideal followers, the better your buzz will be when it comes time to ask them to visit your blog or take a look at your latest “thing.”
Variations on the “helpful” theme, depending on the market you service with your website, blog, or store, can include funny, controversial, political, or newsworthy things.
The feeling of following you on Twitter should be like “Hey, here’s something from Darren. He always has good stuff!” And the clicking of the links you share in Twitter, when your followers think this highly of you, becomes second nature. A foregone conclusion. Dare I say, automatic?
Won’t that be nice when it comes to the 10%, more self-serving tweets?
10% for You (Giving and Taking)
Now that you have done such a good job providing an overwhelming amount of great things to click on or ponder by your followers, you can certainly ask them once in awhile to check out your latest blog post or something else that directly or indirectly benefits you.
Now, you still have to massage your message with an air of altruism. And you still have to come through with something good on the other end of that link. That’s why proper blogging is in order and why you should follow the 90-10 rule on your blog as well.
Because you follow the 90-10 rule, your followers will come to know you as a giver. So a blatant advertisement isn’t going to fit the character you’ve shown on your Twitter stream.
Think of the most favorite person you follow. If they are doing their job, and they probably are, then when they post something that obviously helps them out, like their latest post or some other content on a site they own, you aren’t repulsed by this.
Your reaction is probably very positive because you’ve been to that person’s site before and they live up to the same spirit of giving that they do on Twitter.
So the number of times you click on 10% of their “taking” tweets isn’t much different than the number of times you click on 90% of their “giving” tweets. That, to me, is the heavy duty power of Twitter.
You might have to think about the power of that for a moment. But after you clear away all the twitter tools and mountains of strategies and tactics flying about, I believe this philosophy is really the heart and soul of Twitter networking.
It doesn’t mean you wouldn’t benefit from some books and courses on Twitter. But get this down pat first, and the rest is going to support something of value rather than some short-term, possibly cheesy set of tactics.
Is 90-10 Some Hard-Fast Rule?
No. I’ve never actually tallied up the percentages myself. Twitter isn’t rocket science after all. 90-10 is just used to help me prioritize how often I post different things on Twitter. I just strive to make sure that I give way more than I take from my Twitter following.
And remember that you shouldn’t feel like you’re really “taking” anything from your following just because you are pointing them to your stuff. As long as you work to provide content on your site that’s as great as the other things you share on Twitter, you’re actually working to help your followers even when they are helping you.