A little over a year ago, I was wholeheartedly launching my freelance career. In November ’08, I’d gone to my boss and asked for less money. I made this bold (or odd, according to some) move to buy my freedom to forge my own endeavors. I saw lots of opportunities for businesses to work directly with me on the lean and wanted to be able to openly promote myself without tiptoeing around LinkedIn on a covert mission. Since it was clear 2009 was going to be less than stellar for the marketing firm of my employment, my boss was very accepting of the configuration. I was off and running.
Free to hang out my shingle on the ‘Net and set about networking, I started absorbing ideas and information. In January 2009, I heard Social Media Guru (and I don’t use that term loosely for him) Jay Deragon speak on the blazing trails of social media. As I’m not innately a “joiner,” I’d disregarded the whole Twitter thing and was only then gearing up to really start working LinkedIn. I was on Facebook for personal enjoyment (still my approach today). Hearing Jay speak, I was immediately motivated to start tweeting—with purpose.
Thus my first Twitter account was born. I call this my “Irene, writer” account. It’s mostly “me,” it links to my personal Facebook page, and it serves as my message board of random musings, life updates and light conversations, with the subtle intent of reminding those I’m connected to that I get paid to write stuff.
To build my “Irene, writer” follow list, I started with Jay Deragon. Then I looked at who he was following and pegged many from his list that seemed relevant. I searched “Nashville” (my home base) and hit follow-follow-follow as I felt led. Many folks reciprocated by following me, too, though there was (and still is) a disparity among those I follow and those following me. I follow many more than follow me.
Eventually I got zealous and really thickened my follow list, nearly to the point of losing strategy and mucking my new feed with the tweets of people I’d not vetted at all. The account’s usefulness became diluted because I started playing a ‘follow” game and lost focus of my purpose in being in the Twitterverse
By February, my connection with Jay Deragon changed from speaker-audience member to colleague-colleague. At a second occasion to hear him present, I spoke with Jay, and he subsequently invited me into the fold of the new SocialMediaConnection.com. Soon after, I launched this very blog as part of the endeavor and was receiving amazing mentoring that would further my career path.
With this new blog, I felt the need to create a new Twitter account, one in which my purpose would be tightly on the topics of this blog. So many of my “Irene, writer” posts would be left field for the connections that would presumably occur in relation to this blog. Thus, my “Small Biz Big Time” Twitter account was born.
With lessons from my first account in mind, I kept this new account’s follow list very focused and lean. I wanted to be sure that I’d find only useful nuggets anytime I viewed the “Small Biz Big Time” Twitter feed. And since I was positioning myself as a voice of knowledge on my topic, I was motivated to gain as many followers as possible, to (1) indicate I knew how to use the tools and (2) to help promote my blog.
Ultimately, I’ve achieved the 2 goals mentioned. I’ve got lots of followers (there’s a trick to that, by the way; comment if you’re curious about building followers fast), I kept the feed focused, yet I’m not inspired to hop on there very often. I know I can change that by beefing up my follow list to glean more fresh insights and make better connections. For now, it’s really a one-way forum coming from my direction; it’s certainly not the conversation I need it to be.
Note, this is the account I have linked to my LinkedIn status update. Since the messaging I use here is so business-oriented, it makes a great ‘two birds, one stone’ method of keeping both accounts fresh and relevant to the audiences at hand.
Ya know the saying “third time’s the charm?” My third Twitter (yep, I have three…and you’re putting off starting your first one, huh?!) account is where I finally found my balance. I get so much out of my new “DesignVine” account.
I recently started my DesignVine blog to write about home products news, and I want the blog to become a forum for raw, honest consumer reviews of the stuff that goes in our homes. I started the accompanying Twitter account truly just to find direct lines to great information, product announcements, ideas and content.
Frankly, I didn’t care at all if anybody followed me. I simply wanted to peg the brightest brains and brands in the home products and interior design industries and see what they’re talking about. I carved a couple Saturday afternoons and strategically, abundantly started to follow-follow-follow. I started by following a few industry leaders, seeing who they chose to follow and mimicking. Eventually, I was able to start to identifying the players in the Twitter design community—who was friends with whom, who was most retweetable, what personalities where prevalent, etc. Even though my ‘follow’ number got really big really fast, I find the time I spend in this account to be absolutely rewarding because I’m connected to a real online community.
I quickly became quite followed in the DesignVine account, and I’m listed quite a bit, too. When you’re listed, that means other Twitter users who categorize their connections have added you to one of their categories, and being listed is a good indicator that people have paid attention to you and may be watching what you have to say based on specificity.
There’s a great rapport I’ve found in this targeted community. I’ve been able to lob out inquiries on topics I need to write about and get quality responses. I’m regularly absorbing great ideas, reading useful information and seeing inspiring interactions. This is where and how Twitter brings value to my business endeavors. Lesson, at last, truly learned!!!
It’s funny to think that just a year ago, I was dismissing Twitter. Now I’ve written nearly 1,200 words in this post about this network that allows only 140 characters per mesage. Hopefully, you can glean some real life application from the tale of my three tweets.
Know your purpose for Twitter. Target your follow list.
Join the conversation to learn, and you’ll earn your voice in the Twitterverse.
Thanks for reading!