What I Learned On the Way to 200,000 Twitter Followers

Slightly over two years ago, I decided to join Twitter.  I didn’t have a blog.  I wasn’t on Facebook (I’m still not really, but that’s the subject for another time).  I wasn’t a celebrity.

About a month after joining Twitter, I launched this blog in December of 2011.  Leadership Insights is now two years old.

Learning from Others

Learning how to use Twitter was my first goal.  All around me were experts.  My friend and best selling author and social media expert Michael Hyatt was encouraging me to join.  For some reason still unknown, his Twitter feed was embedded into my desktop even without me joining the service.  I was able to see him Tweet for months.  Many of those tweets made no sense because they were replies, but I learned by watching.

Then I attended a Preds game with another friend, best-selling author Karen Kingsbury, and her family.  Karen graciously sat with me, walking me through the ins and outs of Twitter and how she used it to connect with her loyal fans.  I think I was looking at her phone more than the ice during that game because I don’t even recall who won.

Yet another best selling author friend came to visit Nashville, and I sat with Margaret Atwood at dinner and received another tutorial.  Her use of Twitter was vastly different, and so I began to see how personal style was important.

That was the first few weeks, but many others with huge numbers of Twitter followers started to give me advice.

Jumping In

I began to blog and wrote a post on Why You Shouldn’t Avoid Twitter Any Longer; later I wrote 13 Tips for Twitter Effectiveness. Last year, I even wrote a note to Santa for my Twitter wish list.

Never did I think I would be near 200,000 followers in just over two years.

You think, well, sure you had all these amazing friends and that’s how it started.  I thought that, too.  After several friends with many followers sent notes to “Follow @SkipPrichard,” I thought I would be on the way.  The reality was that it barely moved my numbers.  Then, after a month or two, my followers started dropping.  I would get to 300, then go backwards.

Finally, I decided to not think about it.  My goal was not numbers but to really use the service to connect with others, to share, and to learn.

Random Learning

A few things I learned along the way:

You will get out of it what you put into it. The best way to learn is by jumping in.

Be yourself. 

Decide: What’s your purpose? What do you want to get out of it? You may just want to watch and listen.  You may want to share or meet new people.

Upload a picture.  Don’t be an egghead!

Have a follow-back policy.  Are you going to follow everyone back?  Be highly selective about who you follow?  It’s up to you.  Remember you can change your mind later.

Make sure your bio reflects your purpose. Make it clear why people should follow you.

Follow people you’re interested in.

Watch out for spammers.

It’s a resource.  Once I was in a camera store trying to decide what to buy as a gift.  A quick message to my friend and world class photography instructor @SkipCohen and I had my answer. Another time I was in New Orleans looking for some good gumbo. Ten minutes later we were in a restaurant ordering the best gumbo in the city.

Learn.  So many opportunities to learn.

What’s the Future of Business?

Brian Solis is an author, analyst, and a principal at Altimeter Group, a firm focused on disruptive technology. He’s one of the world’s premier thought leaders in new media. His blog is one of the world’s top resources for business strategy and marketing.

What I most enjoy about Brian is that he has the ability to take complex subjects and break them down so you can understand them. His latest book, What’s the Future of Business? accomplishes that in a very different way than his previous work.9781118456538

Brian, before I jump into the latest book and the future, I want to slow down and talk about the past and the present. Because of the nature of your work, I imagine that you’re surrounded by social media experts most of the time. But there are still companies that are just now jumping in or maybe are still on the sidelines. With that in mind, what are the three biggest reasons a business should be utilizing social media today?

First, let me just say that I appreciate this opportunity to speak with you. While social media is part of what I do, it is true that I do have a unique opportunity to see how businesses are or aren’t using social media to reach connected consumers. We live in a social economy where social is an extension of customer engagement. Social media become the channels and mechanisms to listen, learn, engage, and adapt.

If you are not competing for the future, you are competing for irrelevance. -Brian Solis

The first reason that social media is important to businesses is that it amplifies the voice of the customers, their expectations and questions, their touch points, and most importantly the experiences they have and share. There’s much to learn by listening and observing. It is a form of digital anthropology where you gain not only insights but empathy. Try to not let it intimidate you . . . if you’re human, you can feel what’s taking place and as social is a very human series of networks, you can understand how to glean and deliver value as a result.

The second reason is that having a notable presence in networks of interest allows a brand to earn relevance where the attention of Generation C (connected) is focused. This isn’t a channel for the same one-sided marketing as executed in other channels. Social media is just that, it’s social. It’s not all about marketing. It’s about engagement in the context of how people hope to interact with the company.

The Four Moments of Truth in WTF The Four Moments of Truth in WTF

Last, but not least, is alignment. See, to build customer relationships requires that we see the customers for who they are and what they need to build relationships with the businesses they support. To do so requires a “social” philosophy where social media becomes an extension of a more engaging corporate mindset. Since social is bigger than marketing, key stakeholders from other functions and lines of business, or in the case of small businesses, other people responsible for the customer experience, need to come together to talk about the customer journey and the desired experience they wish to deliver. Today, businesses are aligned around the traditional funnel, but each department is responsible for its own portion. Whereas in connected consumerism, the journey is much more dynamic and experiential. And, since people have access to publishing these experiences in places of influence, these experiences contribute to a new reality. By rallying stakeholders together to deliver a consistent, meaningful and shareable experience, people come together around something that’s bigger than the team they represent. Alignment is powerful and required for the future of transformation and evolution.

Where are companies still getting social media wrong?

Dear Santa: My Twitter Wish List

Dear Santa,

This year, I’ve fallen in love with Twitter.  You remember I sent my first tweet just over a year ago, and I’ve never looked back.  I launched this blog one year ago, and Twitter connected me with many helpful people.

This Christmas, I’d really appreciate it if you could just change a few things on the service for me and a few hundred million users.  Here’s my list:

I’m always getting direct messages saying things like:

“look at this pic of you!”

“someone caught you in this video.”

“Horrible things about you!”

“find out who unfollowed you.”

“Early investors got filthy rich.”

“Someone is making cruel things up about you!”

I don’t know what these are, and I think they may be viruses.  Why not create an easy way to report and remove these?  Or a “spam alert” button?  Then Twitter could sweep them away for good.

Oh, and the people doing this, would you mind putting coal in their stockings?

Endorsing the Endorsing on LinkedIn

LinkedIn

Photo by TheSeafarer on flickr.

Not too many weeks ago, I received an email from LinkedIn indicating someone had endorsed me for a skill.  After deleting the message, I noticed another one appeared the following day.  Taking the bait, I clicked, signed in, and saw the new Endorsements feature at work.

I thought about blogging about this new feature immediately.  After thinking about it, I decided to wait a few weeks to see if my opinion changed.

Endorsement Criticisms

The new feature has been widely criticized.  And, at first, I was with the critics.  Many people are complaining:

When I asked my own network for opinions, they were varied.  Here are a few:

How It Works

13 Tips for Twitter Effectiveness

Photo by cobalt123 on flickr.

This time last year, I was a Twitter skeptic.  How do you find the time to tweet?  Who cares what you ate for dinner?  I don’t care what you are watching on TV.

What I knew of the service was limited because I wasn’t a participant.  My judgment of Twitter was like watching a show from the obstructed view section, then trying to rate the performance.

I finally joined Twitter and sent my first tweet on November 16, 2011.  A month later, I was fully “Twidicted.”  I launched a blog and one of my first posts was Why You Shouldn’t Avoid Twitter Any Longer.

As I started to gain followers, I learned a great deal from them.  Here are some of my Twitter tips and common mistakes (yes, many of which I proudly made personally).

Tip 1:  Learn from role models.

 Once I joined, I jumped right in.  Watching others, reading articles, and asking questions was all part of the fun.  Peppering my celebrity and non-celebrity friends alike about how they use the service made an interesting subject.

The Twitter community is made up of people happy to help, who love the service, and have information to share.  Ask away.

For me, the key question was:  How do I use this social media tool effectively?

 Tip 2:  Start with purpose.