There have been a plethora of blog posts regarding Twitter.com that have come to my attention over the past few months – I’ve even written a couple. Everyone seems to be feeling their way around the Twitter world and wondering how to get the most value without being sucked into the time wasting vortex. Do I think Twitter can be a time waster – absolutely, but do I think it has to be – absolutely not. More importantly, I think twitter can add a lot of value with the application of a little discipline. So here is my strategy for getting the most value out of Twitter…
Don’t worry if you miss a few tweets
There is always something interesting going on in Twitter, but we can’t spend every waking hour reading every tweet from our friends. I used to actually spend a decent chunk of time every day catching up on tweets that were made the night before – what was I thinking? I finally started following enough people that I couldn’t continue that behavior which is a good thing.
My strategy now is to use OutTwit to capture tweets in a separate .pst file so that they don’t clog up my main .pst file and they don’t distract me because I can’t see them coming into my Inbox. If I do find an interesting conversation that I want to review, I can sort or group on user id to review the tweets more quickly. I can also save tweets from clients or other people I track in my Outlook Contacts folder and they will then become a part of that client history.
Otherwise I try to spend at least a few minutes every day reviewing the latest traffic and checking for replies that I need to answer. I have to agree with some other bloggers that Twitter really is about the conversation and it has really kept me up to date in what people are saying about Outlook and add-ins like the Google calendar sync and Xobni. If you never tune in, then you miss the conversation and what is the point?
I like to track topics of interest to me like “Outlook” which has allowed me to get the latest scoop on what issues Outlook users are running across as well as what add-ins are working well for them. I’ve met some great friends this way that have really added a lot to this blog by way of comments (if I haven’t thanked you all lately then THANKS!).
I also track my user ID @MistyKhan so that I know immediately when someone has posted a reply directly to me. This is an especially useful tactic if one of my followers has a time sensitive question.
I started off tracking to my cell phone but that became a nightmare when chatter picked up about the GCal sync tool so I switched to tracking in GTalk instead. Even GTalk can be distracting and as much as I like to stay connected, there are times when I have to sign out of GTalk so that I can get billable or project work completed that requires heavy sustained concentration. And of course when I’m in client meetings, I’m totally unplugged unless I want to quickly demonstrate the power of Twitter.
On the other hand, when I’m working on research, having GTalk active can be invaluable! I’ve often tweeted questions and gotten quick answers that I was able to catch immediately without having to constantly check the Replies page.
Follow and Be Followed
I’ve gone back and forth on my strategy for following all of my followers, but finally decided that it usually makes good sense. Here are the cases where I don’t return a follow:
If your a follower of mine and I’m not following you yet, but you don’t fit into one of the categories above – I must have missed you so please don’t be offended. Every once in a while I check out my twitter karma to make sure that I haven’t missed people and to unfollow people that never chose to follow me back.
Stay on Topic, but Inject Some Personality
I have Facebook and Plaxo set to track my tweets so a lot of people besides my Twitter followers who have no idea what Twitter is see them. For that reason, I try to keep my tweets informative and relevant and reserve conversations for Direct Messages.
However, just like in real life, people enjoy doing business with someone they can relate to so injecting a little personality in your tweets (an blogs for that matter) is important. I’m pretty friendly and casual with my live network so why wouldn’t I be the same way with my network online.
Don’t Be a Twitteraholic!
OK, I fall off the wagon some times I admit it. But I do try to be careful about getting so engrossed in Twitter that I neglect my core business. Keep in mind that for some Tweople, Twitter is part of their core business – social media types (sorry, @EricaOgrady, but I forgot the new term I’m supposed to use), online marketing types, etc. And there are times when Twittering is a part of my core business as well such as when I’m conducting research for a client and want to tap into the brainpower of my fabulous Twitter network. I just have to exercise some discipline when it is time to move onto the next task.
So that is my Twitter strategy. Please leave me a comment and let me and your fellow Arrow-heads know about yours.