Hey Fitties!

I am SO pumped to start our free workouts together in September.  I’ll be joined by some AWESOME Fit Tweeps as well! Can’t wait! More info coming soon!

So I’d like to share some schtuff I’ve figured out about Twitter… as I mentioned before, it’s a great way to build up a network to support you in your goals as well as to develop a market for your entrepreneurial goals.

I’m not an expert or anything, I’ve just noticed some things I’d like to pass on. There are tons of trainings out there if you’re really interested. My intended audience for these posts is people who are just kinda getting interested in Twitter. Maybe they use it to Tweet their friends and find out about local social activities and that’s about it. This is going to be a long, surreal post. Sort of like a David Lynch movie.

Twitter’s a little different than Facebook. Anyone seen The Social Network? I haven’t, actually. I can’t stand the actors in the movie and I find the founder of Facebook odious, so watching a movie about his life sounds about as fun as having my teeth drilled. I can appreciate his product but I don’t have much use for him. He has a cute dog, though.

Anyway, Facebook came on the heels of MySpace and I think MySpace influenced how Facebook evolved. It was a way for students to sort of rub up on each other, electronically speaking.  That’s totally oversimplified, but really, isn’t that how college kids used MySpace and FB back in the day? Who’s dating whom, who has pics up of the last party, OMG, look at who he’s dating now, she’s SOOOO not prettier than me… etc. etc. Then business began to take notice of what a huge audience Facebook was.

While it’s still about stalking your friends and acquaintances, it’s also a new way of business promotion and networking. There’s a reason why we don’t pay to FB or Tweet. We’re a willing audience, just waiting to be marketed to. Twitter has been less successful at monetizing their captive audience, but that’s another issue. Maybe the AntiRat wants to talk about that.

Twitter came along after this evolution. I would argue that it has always been more self-consciously a business-oriented social network. I could be totally full of shit about that, but that’s my impression. You “friend” people on Facebook, you “follow” people on Twitter. Totally different tone, yes?  You only get 140 characters to be social on Twitter. Facebook lets you ramble lots more than that. And photo sharing etc. was very minimal on Twitter until recently.

When I use Twitter, I keep those differences in mind. It often reminds me of these old-fashioned things we used to have back in the olden days called “chat rooms.” See, we had this internet called “dial up?” And it went through your phone line. Then you’d sign on to your AOL account and chat with people about… whatever. You’d join the Buffy the Vampire Slayer chat room (not that I ever did…) or the botanist chat room or the Grunge Musik Rulez chat room and geek it up. Twitter is like one giant chat room and you see that chats of your followers and they see your chat and it’s one giant melee of conversations of all topics.

Got all that? Great. So now that I’ve inarticulately explained the differences between using FB and Twitter, here’s a hypothetical situation to help you figure out your own Twitter strategy:

Pretend your name is Arty Farty, just because I like making people pretend strange things. You work as some sort of cubicle zombie doing something God-awful with spreadsheets or Excel or some crap like that. The highlight of your day is when there are leftover cookies in the kitchen from the A/R meeting. You majored in something awesome in college like Renaissance Cocktail History or Form and Design of Papier Mache Donkeys. You have to pay rent and you really hate your job.

You sign up for Twitter and you follow your old roommate and some people you know from work. And nothing much happens because you’re following 4 people and all you see is their sides to weird conversations and you don’t get it and you hate Twitter so you go back to Facebook because at least they have Farmville.

You need to get followers.  Again, let me reiterate: If you are an awesome superstar like Britney Spears, you don’t need this advice. Britney wakes up everyday to 500,000,000 new Twitter followers. But you’re probably not Britney, so you’re going to have to work at it.

How do you get followers on Twitter?

By following people!  In the search box on Twitter, you can search for things like “Renaissance” or “Papier mache” or “cocktails” or “cubicle jockeys” and you can find people JUST LIKE YOU with your interests. You can do automatic follows through things like HootSuite (often you have to pay for these).

So you follow people who seem like cool cats.  If they’re well-bred Tweeps, they follow you back. Then you have the beginnings of your support network to leave your awful job and set up shop as a wry papier mache artist or open up your Renaissance-themed cocktail lounge.

Do’s and Don’t’s:

1.  Do not use HootSuite or whatever to set up automated bullshit direct messages. “Hi! Thanks so much for following! I want to help you achieve your goals as a Tupperware salesman. Let’s connect on…” NO! DON’T!

Here’s why: Again, when you’re Britney and people automatically love you before you ever had a Twitter account, you can get away with being automated and self-promotional. But Arty Farty is not Britney, so Arty Farty needs to make GENUINE connections with her would-be followers.

When people follow you on Twitter, they are usually saying, “Hi, you seem like you might make life a little less dreary today. Could you do that?” (There are exceptions, some people are just trying to get you to look at porn)

When you respond to a genuine follower with some automated direct marketing crap you basically have just told your optimistic follower that you really don’t care to connect with them on any real level and they should look elsewhere for non-dreary interaction.

Social media is all about connections so you have to be willing to put in the time to connect, ya feel me? Britney does not have time to connect with all of her legions of followers. But Arty Farty does, so Arty Farty SHOULD.

2.  When you get a follower, check them out. If they have a blog, go visit and poke around. Oh you do too have time! You were just playing Farmville and waiting for the email to go out that the leftover cookies were in the office kitchen! Instead, go find out about your new Twitter follower. Look at their profile pic. Do they have a cute baby? Funny hat? Nice abs? What are they telling you with their pic? This is a good opportunity to weed out any nudists, by the way. 

Beginning in May, I always, always, ALWAYS ALWAYS thank each person who follows me on Twitter. I realize they’re doing me a favor because, remember, I’m not Britney. I’m kinda nobody. So I appreciate people following me.

I mention them, not DM (direct message) them, because we all like to be mentioned on Twitter. I figured this out because I once mentioned someone and I got a mention back: “Hey FitwithLizzie, thanks for the mention.” Um, thank YOU for the mention? Wait, do we go back and forth thanking each other for the mention (no). The point is, realize that mentions are valued. DMs are not. When you have a relationship with a Tweep, DMs may be appropriate, but not in the beginning. In the beginning, only spammers use DMs. Stay away.

When you thank them for following, note something from their blog that indicates you’ve actually engaged with the person’s profile. This way they know you haven’t automated the process. Some people skimp on the details because the internet is a creepy place. You may be limited to seeing the person’s first name and that they like rocks. So you say in your mention, “Hi First Name! I have rocks at my house too! Thanks for following!” See? Now they know you’re not a fake spammer, that you are interested in them and you have rocks in common.

3.  Try to be interesting and/or funny to attract new followers and keep the ones you have. I have a policy about Facebook and Twitter: I need a 3:1 ratio of amusing/positive/uplifting comments for every negative/complainy update I read from a person. If I have friend/follower who bitches about everything all day, I gotta hide them. I have enough to bitch about, I really don’t need other people’s complaints running through my head.

Remember: “don’t complain and talk about all your problems – 80 % of people don’t care; the other 20 % will think you deserve them.”

The exception is if you can make your complaints funny. Boring: “My pinky toe hurts.” Funny: “I got so drunk on Renaissance cocktails that I tripped over a papier mache donkey and I think I broke my pinky toe.”

Okay, that wasn’t REALLY funny, but you get the gist.

4.  Twitter is about who you can connect with. It is not about who you follow. I am disagreeing here with some people who have taught me a lot about social media, and I’ll explain why:

Okay Arty Farty, you’ve built up a pretty respectable Twitter follower list. You have witty repartee with your Tweeps and actually look forward to using the network to see what people are up to. When looking for new people to follow, you find PabloPicasso. Nope, the creator of Guernica is not dead. He’s on Twitter! And he has TWO MILLION FOLLOWERS! He’s only following 10 people though.  So you follow Pablo thinking that if you can just have him give you a shout out to help you promote your upcoming art show, you’d be golden!

The problem is, getting Pablo’s attention is going to be hard. He has 2,000,000 paying attention to what he’s saying, but he’s only listening to 10 people. Even if his followers mention him on Twitter, he has so many followers vying for his attention that he simply cannot acknowledge them all. See the problem?

Now let’s say there’s another Tweep. PaulPickass. He draws comic books and he’s following 430 people. He has 500 followers. Chump change compared to PabloPicasso, right? NOPE! If PaulPickass follows you back, do you think he is likely to see your Tweet about your upcoming art show? YES!

Who is more likely to Retweet your event, PabloPicasso or PaulPickass?  Obviously, PaulPickass. He may only have 500 followers, but chances are good that they also have a relatively small number of followers. So if he Retweets you, HIS followers are likely to notice it.

Here is where I diverge from the conventional wisdom that would have you chase after the sexy big Twitter accounts. 

It’s not about NUMBERS, it’s about CONNECTIONS. Remember that.

5. The power of the #FollowFriday or (#ff). I will never forget my first #ff shout-out. God bless Tommy Craft (@CraftFitness) and his pea-pickin’ heart. One Friday, I saw myself mentioned with a bunch of other Tweeps.  He did it like… 4 weeks in a row or something. And I assure you, it was not because of my brilliant Tweets. He just helped a sister out. And suddenly, people like… started following me.

Huh?

Thank you Tommy. He is the the King of #ff for new fitness Tweeps. Those early #ff shout-outs got interesting people following me and eventually I got a clue and started following them back.  DUH.

#FollowFriday is an opportunity to share recommendations with your Twitter followers of other Tweeps they may like. You’re connecting people with similar interests through Twitter. It’s networking, remember?  Tommy was a peach and helped me out and I hope you guys are racing over to follow him on Twitter in the hopes he’ll #ff you to his 2,000+ followers. 😉

Before I continue about #followfriday, let me just prove my own point here: Tommy #ff’d me back when I had, like 50 followers to my name. See the impression it made?  I will never forget the hand up he gave me. See what I’m doing here? I’m using my social media muscles, such as they are, to promote a good dude. See why it’s about connections not numbers?

So here’s what you want to do: Every Friday, start putting together the list of Tweeps who made you laugh. Include the people who were kind enough to Retweet you to their followers (that’s even BETTER than a mention, by the way, and ALWAYS follow up with a thank you for that).  Anyone who interacted with you or who put out stuff you enjoyed gets a #ff mention.

A great service to use is FollowFriday Helper.  Here’s the key: when you mention Tweeps that you think your other Twitter followers would like, you should group together Tweeps that you think would like each other.  So, for example, I will group together Zumba instructors who aren’t following each other yet.  Or I’ll group together entrepreneurs that are getting off the ground.

People who know how to use social media usually will follow the people they are mentioned with on #ff. So help people make new connections by mixing up your #ff mentions.

6. Following and Unfollowing. I have mentioned before that I think it is good manners to follow people if you want them to follow you. Otherwise, you are saying “Please let me market my blog/company/product/self to you, but please do not inconvenience me with your chatter.”

I do not follow people who don’t follow me. I use JustUnfollow and unfollow people who haven’t followed me back after a week or so of my following them. I know that sounds harsh, but if social media is about connections, you can’t connect with people who aren’t following you!  I don’t follow Britney anymore, by the way. With her weave, she can’t afford to be so picky about not following me. 😉

Some people are really worried about the number of people that they follow compared to the number of followers they have because they’re considered a more “powerful” Twitter-er if they don’t follow very many people versus having a lot of people follow them.

I don’t know about that. I don’t care about power. I care about connections.  You can’t run a successful business with a powerful Twitter account. But with supportive connections, the sky’s the limit!

Um. I think that’s all I have to say about that. Questions? Comments? Contradictions?

Tomorrow’s Friday! I’m starting to put together my #followfriday list. Who wants in? Tweet me @FitwithLizzie!

xoxox