I initially joined Twitter for no other reason than mild curiosity. I was also doing a stint in marketing at the time and being active in social media was kind of expected of anyone involved in marketing. However, I knew absolutely nothing about twitter, had never blogged, and wasn’t particularly comfortable with the idea of sharing my opinion with the faceless Twittersphere. So, in a nutshell, I was less than comfortable with Twitter in the beginning.
My first step was to try to understand exactly what Twitter was really about, at which point I quickly realized that it means many things to many people. I was very lucky at that time in that I found a good article that asked you what sort of Tweeter you wanted to be. This helped me figure out what I wanted to get out of Twitter and how I wanted to be perceived to others. I knew that I didn’t want to be someone that just regurgitates marketing messages into the twittersphere, instead I wanted to become recognized as someone who has a well-informed and insightful opinion on a set of focused topics. I was a specialist and not a generalist.
But how to start… I started by using Twitter as a socially filtered news channel. By following like-minded people who didn’t spam and who weren’t self-involved myopic eco-centric bores (there are lots of those on twitter), I started to get a good stream of interesting material to read. Next I started to share material I was reading, but only if it was high-quality and had an interesting perspective. I always tried to add a personal comment so that I was adding some value to the link and not just redistributing.
So I then started to attract like-minded people. Next I started to look at what other people were saying about the content they were sharing. Slowly and tentatively at first, I started to share my opinion and move onto the interaction level. It’s really important to give back into the Twittersphere, and not just take. The usual story with life in general. Anyway, once I got comfortable with the medium and started to know the community that I was following and which was following me, I was more comfortable at engaging and letting my “opinionated self” start to show…
Over time I have found twitter to be a really valuable medium in terms of getting access to good information, getting a sense of the “temperature” of certain topics, and building out a high quality social network. I am careful about who I follow as I don’t want to bury myself under a mountain of noise. Through Twitter I have gotten to meet and have engaging conversations with a variety folks across the industry – from analysts, to customers, partners, and even competitors. It’s been a rewarding experience on multiple levels. If you know what you want to get out of Twitter (and its different for everyone) then I really do believe it can be a valuable forum.
Anyway, I just wanted to share my experiences with Twitter and to let Twitter newbies know that it does get easier once you get used to it. The trick is decide early on the type of Tweeter you want to be, and then stay consistent.