When I look at my Twitterfeed, I see that a lot of people are spending time talking about themselves. I get that…I really do, but let me ask you something. How many people on Twitter do you really pay attention to? Of those, how many of them talk about themselves more than they talk about others? If my guess is right, I’d say that the percentage is less than 25%. So why is it then, that people feel they have to talk about themselves in order to convert you into a reader or a customer?
Do the right thing
It isn’t because it works, we know that already. No, I’d venture to say that it is because they are mimicking the behavior of others. They see everyone else talking about themselves too so they think it is alright. Either that or they are afraid that people will not notice them unless they broadcast their talents like an ad agency. And it is OK I suppose, unless you want to really make a difference. If social media ROI is your concern, you’ll have problems using this approach.
I know it sounds like a contrarian perspective, but if you really want to get people to like you on Twitter, then you need to like them first. Aside from the celebrities, most of the Twitter power users are people that spend time giving away information and ideas. They prop you up and make you feel like your voice matters. This works because people don’t want to hear about you…they want to hear themselves echoed in your words. Even if you don’t mention them by name, they feel connected to you when you share a story that helps them.
In my time using Twitter, I’ve found that I gain the most influence, which I measure as RT’s, replies, and brand mentions, by talking with others instead of talking at them. One of the ways I do this is by constantly scanning my feed to find new ideas and inspirational stories. I keep what I call, “a portfolio of game changers,” and I like to tell other people about them.
Lend a helping hand
I don’t want to sound high and mighty here, but let’s face it…it feels really good to help other people. Oddly enough, when you help people on Twitter, you will often see the most return. This isn’t to say that you should only help others to help yourself or that you can’t talk about yourself at all, but I’m a firm believer in authenticity. Share what is good and hope that your content is strong enough to stand on its own in a similar fashion. You aren’t going to sell a bunch of ebooks on Twitter unless they are good. But, if you are a great designer that people have never heard of before, they’ll notice you a lot quicker when they see you offer to help with a problem or by answering a question of theirs.
Listen and learn
If you simply take the time to respond to the needs of others, they’ll be there for your time of need. It really is amazing how quickly a true talent can be found when they become a window for ideas, rather than a wall. Use Twitter to engage with the people in your niche and let your blog or website do the talking for you. Take it from Zig Ziglar himself…people like those that listen more than they like those that talk. If you can spend just 50% of your time on Twitter as a helping hand, then I can guarantee that people will start to notice you. At that point, your work needs to do the talking, but you already know that.
[Image: Aidan Jones on Flickr]