How to "be somebody" on Twitter

The 10 rules of TwitterTwitter is a marvelous innovation that I both use and believe in strongly. I think if you don’t have Tweetdeck on your desktop, you’re really missing what’s happening in the real-time world of news and information today.

Twitter’s beauty is in the conversation that takes place within its walls, so it’s really about who you follow, not about how many tweets you send or how many people follow you. You can’t participate in the advancing of ideas and memes unless you follow those who are talking about them in the first place, and long after its personal branding attributes have done their thing, the ideas advanced will be Twitter’s greatest accomplishment.

Media people, however, are more into its marketing value, as are a great many of its more famous users. Tiger Woods joined Twitter last week, for example. Already, he has 251,944 followers. He’s on 3,955 lists. He follows only 11 people. Clearly, he’s in it for the ability to reach fans directly. This is what I call a media 1.0 usage of a media 2.0 tool. Tiger Woods doesn’t want to interact with anybody. He’s interested in its one-to-many (broadcast) facilitation.

Celebrities, athletes and media people all use Twitter this way, because of its unparalleled ability to get a message out in a really short period of time. Those 251,944 follows all have followers, too, so in a retweet frenzy, Tiger can get his own words out to most of the world before anybody can sythesize them or analyze their meaning. This is a power that is most definitely new, and we don’t even begin to understand where it’s taking us culturally.

Not everyone is Tiger Woods, though, and so Twitter is home to a new form of personal brand management that’s known only to the experienced users. The thing about Twitter, however, is that this behavior is hopelessly transparent and, therefore, a bit off putting. So, with sarcasm on my mind and my tongue firmly in cheek, I offer ten rules that you must follow if you want to “be somebody” on Twitter.

  1. Retweet any tweet that mentions you. Your followers might not be their followers, and you always want to show your followers that you’re important enough that people tweet about you. Always include humorous things, because it makes you more human and approachable, even though you probably aren’t.
  2. Tweet links of articles that are controversial in your space. Read only enough to provide a statement that proves you read it and think it’s relevant. This way, you’ll be known as one who watches the space and are “in the know.” The more links you tweet, the greater your presumed knowledge of the topic. “Gosh, she must know EVERYTHING!”
  3. Make sure you tweet links of articles that prove or validate your point-of-view. In so doing, don’t forget to take credit for creating or advancing the idea. Remember, it’s all about appearances.
  4. Retweet tweets that reference articles that prove your point of view. This gives the impression that the original tweeter of the article accepts that you are the person responsible for creating or advancing the idea.
  5. Follow the people in your space who are retweeted often, and do likewise. However, try to retweet their thoughts before anybody else to prove you’re on top of things. It also might get their attention, so that they’ll follow you.
  6. Repeat your best tweets late at night “for the Asian or European crowd.” This makes it appear you actually have a lot of followers in different time zones who may not have seen your earlier tweets. You’re all about them, right?
  7. In Tweetdeck, make sure you set up a column searching your name, so that you can see what people say about you that don’t refer to you properly through your official “mention” name (hint: it begins with @). Retweet those tweets so that people know you’re important (see #1).
  8. When someone with a lot of followers retweets something of yours, thank them with a tweet of your own. It makes you look important in the eyes of your followers, not all of whom follow the guy who just retweeted you (see #1). It also makes it look like you know these people, which may or may not be true.
  9. Be careful not to respond to somebody you’ve never heard of, because you might accidentially advance their brand and make yourself look bad in the process.
  10. Never jump on a bandwagon, especially hours after it was started. It’s too easy to get lost in the crowd, and it looks like you’re just jumping on instead of leading the band. If, however, the situation demands that you jump on, draw attention to the fact that you’re late and make up some excuse. It’ll make your followers feel better.

There are many other rules, of course, but if you practice these, you’ll be well on your way to establishing your brand via Twitter. Be careful, though, because the Web has a way of seeing through disingenuity, and with Twitter, trying too hard stands out like a fat, naked guy on a stage.

Go forth and be known!

(Originally published in AR&D’s Media 2.0 Intel newsletter)

Comments

  1. glad i was NOT drinking coffee when i read this (see comment on terry’s “on the vibe” post)

  2. Twitter is a marvelous innovation that I both use and believe in strongly. I think if you don’t have Tweetdeck on your desktop, you’re really missing what’s happening in the real-time world of news and information today.

    Twitter’s beauty is in the conversation that takes place within its walls, so it’s really about who you follow, not about how many tweets you send or how many people follow you. You can’t participate in the advancing of ideas and memes unless you follow those who are talking about them in the first place, and long after its personal branding attributes have done their thing, the ideas advanced will be Twitter’s greatest accomplishment.

    And whet exactly is new here? Everything cited above was already possible via blogosphere.

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