I believe that Twitter is the greatest relationship building tool that exists!
When I give presentations on using Twitter to build relationships, I normally emphasize my recommended best practices for using Twitter. From my perspective if you follow my recommendations, you are using Twitter as a social tool and connect with other people as a result.
But for my presentation next week at the Social Media Summit in Waterloo Region, I’m going to take a different tact and focus on highlighting how to go beyond an overview of best practices and place the emphasis on how to build relationships using Twitter.
I’ll begin by taking a more in depth look at some of the techniques I presented in my post about building relationships on social media if your time is limited. Then I’ll share more techniques on how to build relationships using Twitter.
Set up lists
You’re not going to see every tweet everyone sends so you may not see tweets from people often enough to spark a relationship. Use Twitter list function to closely follow people you know or would like to get to know. For example, you might create a list of people who share a common interest with your organization. Make a list for that interest. Or there may be people who you don’t tweet often but whose tweets are always great stuff. Put them together in a list. Another list might be thought leaders that assist you and your followers with professional development.
You might create the lists on the fly as you decide someone fits one. Or you might decide upon a list and add tweeps that fit your criteria.
Most of these lists could be “private” for your own use. But you may want some to be public to introduce people to new folks to follow or enlarge an existing community.
Use searches for keywords or better yet hashtags
One way to find people to follow or to include in lists is to do a search for key words that will help find people relevant to your purpose for being on Twitter. Better yet, conduct a search of a hashtag since hashtags help you follow a conversation on a topic without needing to follow everyone who is interested.
By using a search, you’ll be introduced to new people on Twitter that you’ve essentially pre-qualified as someone you may like to get to know.
Use a tool like Tweetdeck or Hootsuite that provides you a dashboard to monitor
These “Twitter clients” help you to more easily navigate the wealth of information and people on Twitter. They prevent you from becoming overwhelmed and use it strategically.
They do so by placing all the key information you want to stay on top of right in front of your eyes. For example, instead of needing to check three different places on Twitter.com to see your feed, mentions and direct messages, they all have their own column in your dashboard. You can also create columns for your lists and hashtags you want to regularly monitor.
Keep the most important columns on the left. Scroll over the right occasionally (at least once a day) to see what is happening in your other columns. If you are going to an event that has Twitter activity in advance such as a big conference, you might put that column temporarily on the left of your dashboard and move it right or remove it afterwards.
Be on and actively interacting an average of at least once a day
If you want to connect through Twitter, you need to take initiative and engage people without first being engaged. It’s a key difference between “having an account” and “using it.”
Reply to their tweets with your thoughts, reactions or questions.
Retweet their content that you found valuable or interesting so your followers might also benefit or just have a laugh. Consider adding value by including your own comment before or after the RT. You can’t add anything to a retweet on Twitter.com so that alone is why you should move to use a Twitter client and/or mobile app that allows you to do what is often referred to as an “original” or “native” retweet.
When people reply to you, respond! Perhaps even have a bit of a conversation for as long as it makes sense. Do so as quickly. Right away if possible.
Twitter is a bit like a party. If you say something then disappear for a long time (especially a day or more), you may respond to a comment that the person who made it has forgotten about as they’ve moved on to new conversations and topics.
Say something like “Thanks!” or “Thank you for sharing!” when someone retweets you. Maybe add the person’s name or make a personal connection as you would in person.
Set up alerts that allow you to respond quickly
I appear to be on Twitter all day every day. While for the most part, Twitter is “on” all the time, I’m not on Twitter all the time.
I’ve set my Twitter apps up so that a notification flashes up when I have have been mentioned or received a reply or a direct message. That allows me to respond in real time if possible similar to how I and others use notifications for when we have e-mail.
I find clients and others getting their feet on Twitter, use e-mail notifications of these type of activities to help them respond quickly. But if you’re on often enough or keep your Twitter program open, you can turn off the e-mail notifications.
You’re best to grow the list of folks you follow slowly and organically but you can’t get to know anyone if you don’t follow them and get a sense of all that they are as a person. To use Twitter as a social tool, you need to understand the importance of following.
Act like a person
Avoid corporate speak and using the official voice of your organization on Twitter like the plague. It only creates distance.
Use conversational language. Talk like you. Show some personality. It’ll help people take the initiative of replying to you since they’ll feel that they are getting to know you. You’ll find you’re more likely to respond to accounts that do the same–even if it’s for a business or a social profit organization.
I advise you to identify who is speaking on your organization’s Twitter account in your bio. I’ve had people disagree but I’m convinced, it goes a long way. People don’t have relationships with organizations, they have relationships with people. I read a post recently that suggested even replacing your business logo with the picture of the person using Twitter and having your logo in a corner. Worth considering.
Make building relationships a priority
I’m sure I could keep going on and on. But in a way, it’d be a variation of my key point.
If you want to use Twitter to build relationships, make that a priority for how you use it. If you take initiative to connect, you will. If you are open to others connecting with you, it’ll happen.
Pick at least one of these techniques and use it to start building relationships today. Then as you get more comfortable, work in more. Before you know it, you’ll walk into events heavy with Twitter folks and have lots of relationships that started on line.
Oh, I almost forgot the most important tip of all!
Meet people in person!
If you want to have a chance at fully realizing a Twitter relationship, meet your Twitter friends in person. Go to events where you’ll know they’ll be. Be sure to at least “say hi!”
You can also suggest getting to know someone one on one by grabbing a coffee.
Nothing beats getting to know someone as being together with them in person!