I recently read the book, Twitterville (2009, Shel Israel), before I committed my time on Twitter.com.
I wanted an understanding of Twitter's history and main purpose.
What was most interesting was Israel's belief that Twitter can be an effective tool for creating authentic "communities" of like-minded individuals providing access to others who share your passions, interests and fears eliminating geography as an impediment to making "real" connections.
While I'm excited to experience that it is possible to create a sense of authentic community online, I notice that Twitter is also flooded with wanna-be "Social Media Experts", "Social Media Entrepreneurs", and various permutations of 'bots and wanna-be marketing gurus whose contributions are not their original thoughts, but scheduled tweets of redundant thoughts with links to their sites and ads.
The result? Worthless connections with bots and phony Twitter accounts (pgs. 241-250, Twitterville).
Am I guilty of promoting our site via Twitter? Yes. However, I'm genuinely interested in understanding the people behind the #hashtags. I aim to provide information I find useful and I'm not selling anything.
*I spend a lot of time with my Twitter friends (...so much so, that my non-Twitter friends have slowly begun to resent me). I'm not bragging and I'm not necessarily proud of this. This is just how things happen to have panned out naturally.*
Anyway, while it's pretty awesome that one can find worthwhile discussions, support, knowledge and expert opinions on Twitter, it's not as easy as scheduling Tweets. You've gotta put in the time, and you've gotta sit through discouraging lag where you don't connect with others for a while.
Most people become frustrated with Twitter because they don't see the results they want overnight. They don't understand Twitter's non "SEO" value and buy into Klout score, numbers, "points" and computer-based algorithms that make their existence on Twitter more about marketing analytics than actually building relationships.
I've observed that Twitter users who truly connect are those who put themselves on the line and risk being wrong, disliked or unpopular out of loyalty for their authentic individual brands.
The others, the "so-called" digital marketers, redundantly post about digital marketing ad nauseam (yawn) and are ineffective in keeping followers engaged. The experience of building a genuine community on Twitter with relevant people (vs. buying friends) is a worthwhile lesson in patience, relationship-building, community contribution (and, naturally, social media's version of marketing). Relationships with clients, peers, professionals, etc... aren't built on superficial involvement via auto-tweets. The connection people want are similar to what offline relationships require - engagement and reciprocation.
People want to experience interaction with you.
The most valuable and interesting take-away from the book is Twitter's unique ability to create success for its most generous contributors.
I've met countless individuals with big names who allowed themselves to become accessible and who over-extended themselves to myself and to others by providing time, introductions, thoughtful responses and general goodwill to any and all. And, you know what? They're the most popular people on Twitterville! (Too many to name)
My point? Twitter is a great tool to connect and build solid networks that require more than tweets as the relationships develop. However, Twitter is also littered with thousands of shell accounts and calculated SEO atuo-tweets that require time to filter through.
As in most relationships, if you have the time to sit through the boring part and filter out the irrelevant individuals without content, you can make the ROI on your time spent on Twitter more than worthwhile.
Thanks for reading (and, thanks for connecting on Twitter, Facebook, our site, or in spirit).
(#Twitter, #prettypinkponies, #SEO, #marketing, #relationships, #Twitterville, #books)