5 indispensible lessons for Twitter success

This author shares valuable lessons he’s learned during three years of tweeting.

It’s hard to believe, but my three-year Twitter anniversary is approaching. Lately I’ve been reflecting on this channel and what it means to me.

I know this may sound bold, but it’s undeniable that Twitter has changed my life. I’ve learned so much, and discovered wonderful people who have become great friends, collaborators and business partners.

In a celebratory toast to this incredible little tool, here are five indispensable lessons for success on Twitter:

1. Numbers matter—sort of. It’s not politically correct to tout the number of followers you have, but you need to have at least a mass of followers for Twitter to be fun and meaningful. In my classes, I emphasize the need to be systematic and mindful about whom you follow. If you don’t surround yourself with people who care about and enlighten you, you’re probably wasting your time.

If you’re just starting out, work on finding at least 200 interesting people to follow. Why 200? With less than that, Twitter is boring and you’ll quit. Don’t worry about how many followers other people have, and don’t worry about their Klout scores. Just find interesting people you want to befriend and engage with them.

2. Content is power. Think about this: For the first time in history, you can gain influence completely based on the content you create and share. You don’t have to be a star athlete, powerful politician or beautiful movie star to create a niche of power and success.

Take a look at some of the Twitterati. Most of them are humble and modest people. Twitter and the social Web allow anybody to carve out a niche of fame if they concentrate on providing exceedingly interesting and helpful content.

3. Bury the sale. I generally don’t buy into a lot of the myths on the social Web like, “it’s all about the conversation,” but the one that does ring true is “don’t sell.” People are sick of companies advertising, selling and marketing to them. Social media is about building relationships, not expecting people to buy based on your tweets.

4. Reframe the experience. Is Twitter for everybody? Here’s a rule of thumb that seems to work: If you and your business can benefit from live networking meetings, you can probably benefit from Twitter. Twitter is personal networking on steroids, connecting you to important contacts you never would have had a chance to meet otherwise. And, it allows you to connect with them as often as you like. Think about Twitter as an opportunity for business networking, and I think you will have more success.

5. Show up, don’t show off. To experience business success on Twitter, you can’t be a stalker. You have to take responsibility for your own success by showing up consistently. Just like in real life, you might have to engage with people four or five times before you get on their radar screen. Twitter is not a passive sport. You need make an effort to connect, engage and create value for the people in your tribe.

But wait, there’s more!

Just because you’ve been so kind and read this far in my post, I’m providing a bonus idea especially for Twitter newcomers.

Once you follow more than 200 people, the “noise” from your stream can be overwhelming. Separate your followers by creating Twitter lists. For example, you might have lists for local friends, customers, thought leaders and business prospects. These lists follow you around on your smartphone, iPad and computer so you can always be in touch, even on the go. Try a free platform like Tweetdeck, Seesmic or HootSuite for useful ways to view and manage lists.

What do you think is an indispensible Twitter lesson?

Mark Schaefer is the executive director of Schaefer Marketing Solutions and blogs at grow, where a version of this article originally ran.

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