Growing a Quality Twitter Posse: My Do’s & Don’ts

My Twitter posse is always there for me. Today they offered fast, good ideas for E-Media Tidbits.

Like a lot of people, I’m an avid user of Twitter. But I don’t do so aimlessly. Twitter is worth my time because every day it offers me clear rewards:

  • Posse power. The 700+ Twitter followers I’ve accumulated have proved to be a collectively generous helpful group that offers, by-and-large, on-target and useful information whenever I ask for help, feedback, or insight.
  • Radar & serendipity. The 150+ people I currently follow on Twitter generally provide, at any time of day or night, a steady stream of interesing, useful, timely, or entertaining content.
  • Relationship-building. This may sound strange for a text-only, short-post medium, but I’ve found Twitter to be a more natural, human tool for keeping up with friends and colleagues on a daily basis. It also relieves the sense of isolation from working at home alone every day.
  • Convenience and lack of pressure. I leave Twitter on when I have time or can offer divided attention, and turn it off when I need to focus. I feel no need to “catch up” on posts that happen when I’m not online. (Replies or direct messages to me do get saved so I can see them later, however.)

Of all those rewards, “posse power” is by far the most important and valuable. I’ve come to the conclusion that Twitter has become so very useful to me because I’ve actively cultivated a high-quality posse.

Here’s how I did it…

On Twitter (as with most social media services) you can’t force anyone to follow you. Instead, to grow a quality posse you must make yourself worth following.

The basic tenet of social media is that you generally get out of it what you put into it. That’s where Twitter’s short-text simplicity helps — by making it so very easy to contribute with relatively little effort or learning. The downside of this is, of course, that it’s also easy to contribute in ways that will bore or alienate people. (Personally, I suspect this is why a lot of folks complain about Twitter being “useless noise” — they don’t contribute much good stuff, they don’t actively seek good stuff, and they get turned off if the first few people they happen to follow don’t suit them.)

If your goal is to develop a Twitter posse that will help you out when you’re in need, the trick is to strike a balance between posting content that’s both natural and comfortable for you AND attractive and relevant to the folks whom you hope will follow you.

In my case, I think I’ve been able to strike this balance fairly well by following these do’s and don’ts:

  1. DO keep a good attitude. Be useful, helpful, and friendly.
  2. DO demonstrate ongoing interest in others. Make at least half of your posts responses others’ posts. Remember to thank people when they help (or try to).
  3. DON’T be a bummer. Specifically, don’t whine, attack, or (especially) be boring. However, it is OK to be genuinely down or angry sometimes. That’s authentically human. So it’s OK to Tweet about the down side of life from time to time. But probably, don’t go on at length about negative stuff regularly on Twitter. And also, don’t simply list the minutiae of what you’re doing moment-by-moment. Unless you’re a porn star or an astronaut, that’s REALLY boring.
  4. DO post occasional personal notes, thoughts, or quips. This fosters human connections. But try to keep it entertaining or interesting, and don’t overdo it.
  5. DON’T overuse cryptic abbreviations. That gets very hard to read and thus alienates followers. A better way to cope with Twitter’s 140-character constraint is to think clearly and edit concisely.

As I said, these are MY guidelines for myself. They’ve worked well for me, and I’ve got the quality Twitter posse to prove it. Your mileage may vary.

While my list may sound like a recipe for a sunny, likeable PR-style Twitter “persona,” It’s actually pretty strategic. (Trust me on that — being likeable is definitely NOT a top priority for me, and I just don’t do “personas.”) Twitter can be a big, useless time sink if you aren’t at least slightly strategic about how you use it. I’ve found out how to make it worth my while. That said, my strategy isn’t rigid. It leaves ample room for — in fact, it requires a lot of — casualness, spontaneity, responsiveness, and authenticity. Humans are always more inherently compelling than automatons.

…And, incidentally, these guidelines have made Twitter more fun for me to use. They tend to put me in a better mood, and keep me more alert and engaged.

Would you like to grow (or have you grown) a helpful Twitter posse? What’s your strategy? (If you don’t think you have one, think it over — you probably just weren’t conscious of it.) Do you disagree with my guidelines or goal? I’d love to hear how others view this issue. Please comment below.

2 thoughts on Growing a Quality Twitter Posse: My Do’s & Don’ts

  1. Interesting comments and strategy. I do get a lot from Twitter and it can also be a bit of time waster, I’m learning to manage the benefits and entertainment value. Now that the novelty value has worn off it is interesting to think about strategic uses for this tool.

    adios from Adelaide, sunny South Australia

  2. Pingback: 15 minutes media » Marketing/SEO Social Networking » More on Twitter for Business

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