Why I’m Quitting Twitter (and you should to) was the title of a recent discussion on the Legal Blogging Group on Linkedin. I dip in on occasion to see what’s going on. Usually it’s a mess of rah-rah Web 2.0/SEO/social media marketing talk. But there is substantive discussion on occasion and a large number of lawyers spend time on there. The thread in question was questioning the value of Twitter. Everyone was discussing the SEO value of Twitter. Or the ROI of Twitter use. People talked about posting links to their own websites and were curious as to why no one was following them? It all boiled down to one thing:
“What’s in it for me?”
My response was as follows:
All this reads like: “Look at ME! Pay attention to ME!”
It’s analogous to walking into a large cocktail party and yelling: “Hey everyone! Check out how great I am!!!” and then being surprised when everyone ignores you. You wouldn’t behave that way in real life, so why are you doing it on Twitter?
Yes, Twitter is a broadcast medium…but only if you have a significant amount of genuine followers. Twitter is more accurately a communication medium. And communication is about listening just as much as it is about talking. Sometimes you’ll share links (to your content, sometimes to others). Other times you’ll read links. Sometimes you’ll just chat.
For a recent example of the strengths of Twitter look no further than the recent dust-up over Rakofsky v. The Internet. Go to Twitter and type in #rakofsky in the search bar and there will be a hundreds of tweets from lawyers and others linking to posts about the case or just discussing its merits (or lack thereof). While lawyers were using Twitter to direct traffic to their own posts in regards to Rakofsky, they were also taking part in a larger conversation on the topic. It’s about contributing something meaningful to the conversation – not about demanding something quantifiable in return.
Twitter can become all-consuming if you let it, but with a bit of self-discipline it doesn’t necessarily have to be. Turn Tweetdeck on a few times a day, see what’s going on, and then turn it off.
Limit the amount of people you follow. See if you can help them - not what they can do for you. Don’t auto-follow people back. Act like a real person. Don’t just spam your own content. TALK to people on Twitter.
Beyond all that…you just have to be a good writer. Twitter/FB/LinkedIn/etc are icing – not the cake. If your content isn’t up to snuff, then no amount of tweeting/sharing whatever will do it any good.
Along those lines, spend 5x as much time as you are right now on your headlines. The titles of your posts have to be snappy as hell and draw a reader’s attention. This is especially key in having content spread on Twitter. A good example is my post, You’re Being Played By Twitter. I tweeted the headline once, but it’s been Tweeted 300 times because it has a snappy headline and the content to back it up.
I’m not saying the above is the only way to operate on Twitter but, again, I follow less than 50 people and have less than 300 followers and regularly get hundreds of referral links from Twitter every week. It’s takes up maybe 20-30 minutes out of my day and I treat it as a lark. That’s probably the big secret: Twitter functions much better when you look at it as fun instead of work.
The links, re-tweets, the traffic, whatever – really aren’t that big of a deal to me. I hang out on Twitter cause it’s a fun diversion during the day and I get a chance to chat with some people that I otherwise wouldn’t have the opportunity to interact with. The moment it starts being a hassle or I am concerned about my ROI or some other such thing is the day I’ll quit.