Wading in the Social Media Kiddy Pool: Twittering at the Deep End

Social media is a lot of work. Keeping up with thousands of tweets a day is challenging on a good day, addictive on a bad one. (Some would argue that I reversed those days.) Sometimes it is decidedly anti-social. Others, you can almost feel the electronic love.

Twitter is social media on steroids. In the blink of an eye, you can learn anything from what someone is having for lunch to how to prevent an ice cream cone from dripping. (Place a small marshmallow in the tip prior to adding ice cream. – @foodimentary)

Twitter is simultaneously fun and educational. The randomness of tweets is part of the appeal. You receive glimpses into the minds of others. While some folks should keep their thoughts private, most enlighten and entertain.

My foray into the social media world of twitter has had some incidents, good and bad. Here are my thoughts on the experience so far:

  • Twittering brings out the best in most people. They are quick to offer assistance, share information, and/or provide a smile.
  • It can be anti-social, especially if you violate someone’s personal rule. Twitter is a no-rules zone, but individuals have their own preferences. Some do not hesitate to respond negatively if you offend them. I crossed the line with a few folks because I sent direct messages thanking them for following me. I thought it was polite. They thought it was invasive.
  • Effectively promoting your brand via twitter is a lot of work. It requires a commitment of time and effort to establish a presence worth following. The people who are doing it well are actively participating in the community for several hours every day. They post, respond, retweet, and post again. Their content is fresh and timely.
  • Automating anything is a major faux pas for twitter enthusiasts. If you want to see the dark side of the media, start sending automated direct messages. It won’t be long before you are outed.
  • Every great marketing team has a strategic plan. If you want twitter to provide a return, a strategy is required. Start with your objective and develop a plan for accomplishing it. My strategy is simple. The objective is to learn how to use social media. The strategy is to watch the leaders and participate at my comfort level.
  • I was surprised at the effect twitter has on my website traffic. Over the few weeks that I have been actively participating, my traffic increased 20%. When I was offline for a little over a week (with the flu), it dropped 10%. There was still a net gain.
  • The activity of some tweeps confuses me. They seem to be competing with each other to see who has the most followers. They follow others to be followed back, then stop following. In my mind, this reduces the potential benefits of tweeting.
  • My initial experiment with twitter is over. It is a great networking tool for meeting people with similar interests. Whether or not it delivers a return beyond expanding my horizons remains to be seen. For now, I am content to twitter an hour or so each day. Feel free to join me. I’m @wilsonellis

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