Last week, I was talking about my personal Twitter philosophy with the posts The Problem with Follow Friday and Twitter: The Quality Versus Quantity Debate. One of the comments on the first post really struck a cord with me:
I like the suggestions here. I am new to blogging, social media and, specifically, Twitter, so the clarification on what Follow Friday is and how to improve it was welcomed.
The points that you make about getting to know the people you follow also struck me. I follow a number of people who write very engaging material that I enjoy reading about social media, internet marketing, blogging, etc., but I have never connected with them on a personal level. I hope that they don’t think I am only interested in boosting numbers by following them. I feel like I am a true follower of theirs, I just haven’t reached out and said hello because in the vast scheme of things I feel so insignificant compared to who they are and their popularity. Perhaps I should reconsider my thought process.
Thanks for the great article,
This is along the same lines as something I wrote about being nervous to meet people at NMX/BlogWorld. If you’ve never been to a conference before, it can be an overwhelming experience just because of all the things to do, let alone the people to meet. It can also be a bit intimidated by the “big names” who all seem to know one another well and who don’t know you at all. Who doesn’t want to be part of the cool kids’ club?
I think the same thing happens on Twitter. I follow some big names in my industry and in the Internet marketing industry, and it can be intimidating to reply to them on Twitter, since I look up to them and they don’t know me from any of their other 123908123809 followers. That’s okay – I don’t expect them to know every single blog reader or Twitter follower…but how do I break into their circle? Some days, I see Twitter conversations between a few people I really respect and I just want to stomp my foot and say, “Hey, guys! I’m interesting too! Be my friend!”
Luckily, Twitter actually does give you a way to do that…without seeming like a brat! This is the first time, in my opinion, that a social media network has been a “safe space” to meet people without feeling like a stalker. After all, Twitter is all about getting as many stalkers…erm, I mean followers…as you can. Most people encourage following them through Twitter buttons on their blogs. And really, I think most people want their followers to hold a conversation, not just listen to them talk.
I don’t think I’m saying anything here that you don’t know already. I think RhondaRanae hit the nail on the head with this line in particular: “…in the vast scheme of things I feel so insignificant compared to who they are and their popularity…”
So, if you’re feeling insignificant, what can you do to break that barrier and reach out?
- Do more than retweet their links.
When a guy like Darren Rowse announces a new blog post on Twitter, hundreds of people retweet it. While I’m sure they appreciate the promotion, there’s no way they can go back and say thank you to everyone. There aren’t enough hours in the day. They get so many retweets, in fact, that those mentions because white noise. So do something more than just hitting the RT button. Rather than just a copy of their Tweet, send out you own promotion of the post you enjoyed. “This post really helped me figure out blog monetization *link*. Thanks @problogger!” They might still not have time to reply, but your retweets stand out as more genuine.
- Tweet their links on your own.
If you find something on their site that you really enjoy, even if it is older post or episode, tell your followers. People like when you tweet things they’ve written, especially when you’re promoting a piece that isn’t currently getting a ton of attention. It’s a friendly wave, like “I like your site for real! I’m not just following the crowd and retweeting everything you say.”
- Comment on a personal tweet.
Tweeters have two types of tweets – links and personal. It’s great to comment on the content they’re sharing, but if you really want to make friends, reply to some of their personal tweets as well. Like with comments on blog posts, make sure you’re adding to the conversation, not just saying, “I agree!” Give them a reason to want to reply back to you.
It’s tough to reach out, especially if you’re an introvert (which many of us are). I realize that, and I struggle with it myself. It’s especially hard to reach out and get nothing in return, but don’t take it too personally. If you’re persistent, your tweets will get through eventually and the big names in your industry will start to recognize your name. It doesn’t happen overnight.
One word of caution, though: Make friends unselfishly. Don’t use these tips because you want to be popular yourself. Use these tips because you legitimately like a person and look up to them. If your thought is, “Hm…if Chris Brogan gets to know me, he’ll retweet my links and I’ll be popular!” you have no respect from me. Of course we all want to make valuable connects with people who can help our businesses, but don’t abuse connections you make on Twitter. Friendship first, business second. Trust me, the links will come in time if you just focus on being a good friend.