I have a limited number of hours in the day and some people tell me I spend way too much time on-line anyway. I’m quite active on LinkedIn over 4,000 connections, I have a Facebook profile, and I also spend some time on a few other social networking sites. I usually consider myself a pretty early adopter when it comes to embracing cool new things that help improve your life, although I must admit I don’t own an iPod. I know, I know, but my wife has one so I do use hers occasionally. I must admit though, when people started asking me if I was on Twitter, I half rolled my eyes thinking that I just didn’t have time for another social networking diversion to waste time. One here, one there, people kept tweeting me, “Rich, are you on Twitter?”. Two people I speak to regularly (@philanthropic and @inspiremetoday) kept saying; “Rich, you gotta get on there”. With both of these people, we regularly brainstorm business ideas together so when both of them kept pushing me to get on, I finally gave in and promised to check Twitter out after one of them said it was perfect for ADD folks because communication is limited to 160 characters. Wow, great for ADD folks, they had me…Two days ago, I set up my profile.
So, Twitter huh? Custom profile picture, check, custom background, check, bio….160 CHARACTERS???? How the heck can you do that? BTW, if you can’t explain what you do to someone in a conversation in 160 characters, you’ve lost them, FYI…Short Bio, check. Zero friends, zero followers. Once you set up your profile (shouldn’t take more than 5 minutes), there’s only one question that remains; “What Are You Doing”?
“What are you doing?”, is the question that’s behind Twitter. That seemed like a good question. Why spend the time to even answer it I thought? Who cares? Ask yourself the question, who SHOULD care about what you are doing? Friends? Family? How about your business colleagues? Seems the more I considered the question, the more I realized that the closer you get to people, whether it be friends, business associates, or prospective clients you don’t even know about, the better. Having spent a good deal of time in the advertising business, we know that eyeballs mean money for advertisers. It’s not just about quantity though, it’s also about reaching the right audience, right? Twitter lets you send out your personalized message (limited to 160 characters) to whoever is a follower of your network. But I have no followers remember? Here was my strategy. First, found the friends who have been bugging me to get on. I followed them, they followed me. This means that they now receive my updates whenever I answer “What are you doing”. Yesterday during the Super Bowl, I was making chili, joking that I started it way too late and how it wouldn’t be ready until the post game show. Today, I’m discussing my business issues (the same issues BTW, as the friends who invited me). Who cares though right? With only two followers, not many people care, except for the fact that between those two friends, they have almost 6,000 people following them. Whenever they post things to me, their network sees it. Guess what…The people in THEIR network are interested in the same kinds of things as I am. I spent some time looking at the folks following my friends and started following them. Just because I follow someone’s “What are you doing?” updates , doesn’t mean that they have to follow mine. Following this so far? Usually people reciprocate but not always. For example, I subscribed to @andersoncooper from CNN because I like to follow what he has to say. I receive his links and quick updates, but don’t expect that he would become a follower of mine (however Anderson, feel free to invite me). Still following me? Why does all of this matter? Good question.
We are all bombarded with spam email, too much to do, and not enough time to do it. I’m finding that Twitter allows me to instantly touch and stay in front of people who want to know “What is RICHARD doing”? In fact, many of the people I have discovered are people I have been meaning to stay in touch with but just didn’t have the time to do it. I’ve also been trying to find a way to provide relevant info to my 4000 LinkedIn contacts without filling their email inboxes with clutter. I could write an entire article on how difficult it has become to manage my list of contacts and keep people informed with the right kind and the right amount of info, but that’s another story. For now, let’s just say that Twitter SEEMS to be filling an essential void that has been missing with my connections. I’m still trying to feel my way to find the right balance of blogging, tweeting (the official Twitter word), and other more traditional things. Time management will continue to be a balancing act however, I can tell you that in two days on Twitter, I connected with more non-profit, social entrepreneurs, philanthropy, business people, and other people right down the center of my business niche than I have in the last 3 months on LinkedIn, and the last two years using traditional meet and greet tactics. I think Twitter is here to stay for me. I’ll let you know how it’s going. Do you follow me?