Some of you people still don’t think Twitter is useful. You’re wrong. I’ll write a post regarding the purpose of Twitter later. This post is for those using Twitter and wondering how to organically grow their influence. Here’s five ways to do it:
Interest: Boring is bad. I know that Twitter asks “What are you doing right now?”, but really, besides your mother, no one else cares. That is, no one cares unless you say what you’re doing in an interesting way. James Lileks [@Lileks] is a pro at this. Pithy and incisive, he shares familial travails and makes it interesting. Entertaining and funny is good. Here’s the thing, many people need their day brightened. They don’t need a Debbie Downer–they probably have someone in that role, thanks. People need more fun. Give it to them.
Inform: Share stuff that will help people have a better life. Share it within your interest and outside your interests. Sometimes I pass along things that are boring to me, but I know will be helpful to other people. Tell people clearly in your bio on Twitter what interests you. Make a point of giving information in those areas. I try to deliver on the promise of what I represent. That way, people can’t get mad either that I’m falsely advertising…’cuz I’m not. Mike Lane [@mlane] is one of my happy Twitter accidents. He happens to have a Twitter ID close to another friend of mine Moe Lane [@moelane]. Both men are fantastic Twitterers. Mike, though, brings it when it comes to informative. He is a Unix programmer. Do I care about Unix? No, I do not. But I care about the information Mike shares. He is ALWAYS first when it comes to sharing best design web practices, new fonts, everything web. He informs, informs, informs. Turns out he’s a great guy, too. Be informative.
Instruct: One of the biggest guys on Twitter, Robert Scoble [@scoble] is big for a big reason: He teaches web well. When I was a wee tadpole in the Twitter pond, and had questions, Robert answered them. When I complained more, he sent me links teaching me how to use a tool. There are many teachers like Robert out there. They go one step beyond sharing information, they help you integrate the information in your life. There are people like this who instruct on cooking, mechanics, technology, plumbing… You name it, there is someone on Twitter willing to teach you how to do something better. Be a teacher and you’ll get a following.
Inspire: Entertaining is one thing. Inspiring people to achieve more is another. The first is passive, the second is getting people to achieve simply because your words motivate them to do so. Yeah, yeah. There’s a bunch of coaches and life teachers and gurus and experts on Twitter and in new media generally and most of us ignore them. Still the best Twitterers integrate inspiration into the information, links, or ideas they share. It doesn’t have to be purposeful, even, they just do it. For example, Skye [@Skye820] shares her photography. She’s takes beautiful, often inspirational pictures. Other people share quotes that are meaningful to them. Some share music from Blip or some cool YouTube. People like to be inspired.
Interrelate: Relate, dude. Some people view Twitter as a one-way conversation. That is, they send out links, make bold declarations and then won’t talk to you. It’s rude. If you want to simply share information, it’s called an RSS feed. If you want to have a one-sided opinion fest, blog. Twitter is about give and take. Be generous with others’ ideas too. If someone says something thoughtful, provocative, interesting, informative and inspiring, share it, and give the person credit. Caleb Howe [@CalebHowe] is good at this. He passes along information, converses, interacts and all-in-all puts the social into the medium Twitter.
Bottom line, follow the Golden Rule: Treat others the way you’d like to be treated.
Second unto that one: Be yourself. Pretending to be a bright, happy, shiny person when you’re not, won’t work. Pretending to be an expert, won’t work. Pretending at anything won’t work.
I find myself drawn to authenticity. That means some people swear like sailors, and some people are knobby-headed nerds. Whatever. I like the people who are real.
In my next Twitter installment, I’ll write about those who are resisting Twitter’s charms. Resistance is futile, friends. Resistance is futile.