Category Archives: Twitter Benefits

Is Twitter destroying its own usefulness?

Because it is so open, Twitter allows you to draw on information from millions of people and organisations.

Twitter is the world’s only open-source, worldwide collective intelligence

This is why Twitter is having success predicting profitable investments in advance, fighting disease, and even bringing news of earthquakes to people near an earthquake even before they feel the ground move.

Twitter, the company has to be careful not to make changes that destroy the utility of Twitter the service. Only changes made by Twitter or a failure to deal with spam problems can destroy Twitter’s usefulness.

Why Twitter is on a dangerous path

That’s why I’m so concerned about Twitter’s failure to:

  1. Limit obvious spam (such as @ messages with only links to from accounts to people they don’t follow);
  2. Make search return all results;
  3. Restore lost search functionality after the change of encoding all URLs as links;
  4. Show search results more than a few days old.

As regards point 3, Timothy Ballisty  points out how Twitter searches such as this image search return only a tiny fraction of what they used to. And Twitter’s alternative image search is terrible.

Twitter needs to remember that its most powerful features, replies, retweets and hashtags were all created by users, not by Twitter. Twitter search was not even created by Twitter! It was created by an outside company that Twitter bought. Users are today using Twitter search in ways that make it an amazing feature of Twitter. Twitter needs to stop breaking things (search, retweets, not showing all users tweeting hashtags) for users.

Making it hard for people who create tweets to find tweets is a bad idea

While Twitter has been making strides in making the service and the data from tweets more available and useful to businesses and anyone with a large budget, the data and usefulness has been getting worse for the rest of us. The problem is that Twitter’s “data” comes from it’s usefulness to large number of people. If you make it less useful to most people, the data will no longer be valuable to anyone.

Twitter calls being allowed to see all tweets “accessing the firehose” and they are building a business around this for anyone who can pay for it. But the problem is that if you don’t let the data sources (we, the people) access our data, you’re killing the goose that laid the golden egg.

Twitter needs to quit seeing it’s users as geese who’s needs it can ignore in order to extract gold from us.

The best use of social media is learning

People new to social media, and Twitter in particular, have trouble conceptualizing what it is and how to best use it.

I would say the following quote from Francine Hardaway,  is true for individuals, organizations, or businesses. In how small business can best leverage social media, she said:

The best use of social media for business isn’t really marketing, it’s learning. Social media allows you access to…best practices. That’s never been possible before.”

Get involved to learn things that will improve your life or your business, and help others do the the same.

A favorite recent story is of a medical student that took up Twitter to find a way to “waste some time.” She then started tweeting study questions…and found experts worldwide begin answering them! It became her best study tool.

It’s easy to get started.

As pointed out in 10 Guidelines to do doing well on Twitter, take a 3-step approach to begin:

  1. Seek others that you can help, and help them.
  2. Seek others that can help you, and take an interest in who they are and what they do. Always be looking for better and better mentors. Study their behavior. Emulate them when it is natural to do so. Have more than two mentors.
  3. Seek out and promote people, organizations, missions and projects that you believe in that help others.

Twitter is a $10,000 check you’re leaving uncashed” also emphasizes learning:

You should begin by using Twitter as what is known as a PLN (Personal Learning Network), and finding good answers to your tax, sales, legal, hiring, marketing, investment, and other important business, career or personal questions. As you get good at doing this, you’ll learn naturally how the Twitter community works.

For ideas on how to do more, read through these 100 Essential Twitter and Social Media Tips to find ways inspire people to action, tell your story, connect with supporters and much more.

Why you need to do much, much less on Twitter

In “How Twitter became my secret weapon” reference is made to large amounts of money changing hands between folks who first made contact on Twitter. This is a great reason it’s worth applying some version of the 80/20 rule to who you follow on Twitter. It goes like this:

Follow the best, and keep finding more of them

Say you follow 100 people. 20 of them are giving you 80% of the value you are getting out Twitter. So unfollow the other 80. Now you have a new standard: the 20 people you are left with. Try to find new people to follow who are as high quality as those. Of course, it’s not that simple, but you should always be trying to unfollow lower quality people and find higher quality people to follow.

A wealthy man once asked a much wealthier man why they seemed to do similar work, but the wealthier man made many millions of dollars more income. The advice came back: “Get wealthier friends. Yours make about what you do. Mine make much more than I do. They lead me onwards.”

Of course, quality people can be measured in more ways than money, but the principle is the same: Try to follow absolutely the finest people that will engage with you on Twitter. Additionally, be a mentor to those that are also mentoring others. Always be helping, always be finding better and better people who will help you.

Less work, more benefits

Following fewer people but following more that are very helpful to you mean you’ll get much more out of the time you spend on Twitter. Now you might be thinking that this means follow just dozens of people, and that could be true for some. But there are so many quality people on Twitter that there are accounts that follow tens of thousands of people, and each one is very carefully vetted for quality, and people are regularly replaced.

So there is no specific number, but you should always be trying to refine your account down to a smaller quantity of very high quality folks if you want to get the most learning and help from your Twitter network.

Why are so many people so helpful on Twitter?

Some people are helpful because it’s easy, or they figure out that they can help themselves by helping others. Others come to Twitter because it’s the best place in the world to help others! No matter who you are or why you’re here, Twitter can help you if you help others.

► Power to the people

The first reason is because it’s easy! Simply by retweeting something, in one or two clicks you spread valuable information. For example, I know a lot of people that search for pets waiting for adoption in their area and then tweet about specific ones. Their local friends then retweet, and together they have built a network for finding new homes for animals. (Take this idea and find other good causes local to your area that you can support!)

And in areas of political unrest, people have used Twitter and social media to protect others, by making information about arrests and perpetrators of violence public in real time, in addition to organizing and reaching out to media worldwide.

► Everyone is an expert to someone

With so many people on Twitter, you can always find someone you can help, and someone who can help you. Often it starts with sharing what you’ve learned about how to use Twitter with someone who is newer here. It’s satisfying to solve a frustration for someone else that was once a frustration for you—it’s called empathy :)

► Reputation building

Even cynics can be successful by putting in some time helping here and there. The more you help, the more others find it valuable to connect with you and promote you to others. I love how some people whose hearts really are NOT in the right place still put on their helping attitude and do some good on Twitter. While they haven’t changed their cynical world view (yet) they still see the benefits to their reputation of doing some good publicly.

► The very finest people in the world are on Twitter

Twitter has such incredible power to amplify a mission of helping others that nearly 100% of the finest people in the world are on it now. It’s amazing that a tool used by so many for little more than random chatter is a channel of communication for the giants of the human race. Twitter even spreads the life missions of those greats that have passed on, through all the people that quote them!

Which kind of person are you?

Probably my favorite thing about Twitter is how people get caught up in helping others without expecting that they would. First you find it’s easy, then you stumble across someone you can help, and soon you find people are connecting with you because of your positive reputation. And—hopefully, eventually—you become one of the finest people in the world yourself!

Twitter Is One Of Life’s Biggest Opportunities

I’ve advised clients (years ago) not to buy late night television ad slots for their infomercials. Why? Because that’s when many people are at their most vulnerable. As a human being, you don’t want to be exploiting vulnerable people.

Everyone has a chance to help others

I started @TweetSmarter to help people in a human-to-human way when they need it most. I learned from working in tech support years ago how difficulties with computer and internet technologies can make people VERY vulnerable. It can ruin their day, their work, their peace of mind. Working with computer and internet technologies creates an overall feeling of day-to-day malaise for many people.

There needs to be a caring person there to help (not just a “warm body” who answers the tech support phone), someone there to help you both with your technology issue, and to help you in a human-to-human way with the feelings of vulnerability that arise. Unfortunately, that’s often the opposite of how many marketers or businesses think. They want to find vulnerable people, or use fear-anger-disappointment, etc. to generate vulnerabilities in people they can exploit. But social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook CAN be a huge opportunity for anyone to do the “human” thing—and help people, connect with people in a real way.

“There’s never been a easier way for any person anywhere in the world to reach out, make a connection, and help someone.”

That’s why I almost always go out of my way to help, asking if I addressed their question, asking folks to check back and let me know how their situation turned out, sending multiple references and suggestions if I think it will help. It’s not for business reasons—I’m in my fourth year on Twitter and don’t use @TweetSmarter to build a list or gather customers. I help others for human reasons—because that’s why we’re here on earth. As my wife Sarah and I often like to point out, We Are God’s Representatives on Earth.

Life is about people connecting with people to give and receive support, humor, kindness, interest in one another. If you’re on Twitter or Facebook and you’re not concentrating on making connections as a real person, connecting to other real people, you’re making a huge mistake—and missing one of life’s biggest opportunities. There’s never been a easier way for any person anywhere in the world to reach out, make a connection, and help someone.

Multiple ways to use Twitter

Of course, there is no one “right” way to use Twitter. In general, I would say not to worry about people that don’t want to follow you, and use Twitter the way that makes the most sense for you.

How can you get a better job, better friends and a better life? One word: Twitter

If you were to meet people who appreciate who you are, what you do and what you love, and can help you do more of it and get paid for it, would that be a bad thing?

TIP: You might first want to read How To Use Twitter to get influential people to help you

BEGIN: Find people in two or more of these 5 categories:

  1. People who have needs or interests you can help them with;
  2. Supportive people you enjoy being around;
  3. People who work doing something you love;
  4. People who work doing something you are good at;
  5. People who work doing something that you could (or do) get paid to do.

Also, be a little biased towards people who live near you. How do you find them? Join Twitter and find them by their bio description (click the Tips links below to search for them), then read what they say on Twitter and on their blog to see if they are supportive and someone you would enjoy getting to know.

Also realize that anyone you would love to get to know probably has friends you would love to meet. Ideally, look for people that you can do something helpful for, and people who live near you.

BE IN TOUCH: Help them when you can, and have fun taking an interest in who they are and what they do.

Be helpful and supportive when it feels right. Comment on their blog, share helpful information, tell them what you like about them, etc. The “work” part of it is that you have to allocate time to do this. Once you have committed some time, simply be sincere. Share information about yourself and ask questions.

BE WHO YOU ARE: Share your interests, questions, hopes and desires

Sure, die-hard “networkers” will tell you to organize everyone’s birthday information, have a set of things you want to achieve and a list of people you think can help you achieve them, etc. But a lot of good things will happen naturally when you’re connected to the right people if you share about yourself.

If you have trouble sharing, work at it. Start with simple things. Make sure you have said enough about yourself that people get to know things about you through your comments on Twitter. I actually don’t do this enough! I spend more time helping, responding and sharing links than I do sharing about myself.

AND THEN WHAT? My wife’s experience

Skip this first paragraph if you are “results-oriented.” But the first thing that happened to her was she found people she could really be of help to. It’s very gratifying to find the perfect connection, where a quick word or link from you can be the answer to someone’s else’s dire need. And since she connected to the right people, that started things happening right away.

Okay, but what about “results?”

She is a dance teacher, among other things. By the time she had been on Twitter two weeks four new students had sought her out to inquire about taking lessons with her. Note: She never said—or even remotely hinted—that she was looking for students, because she wasn’t! Although she is happy to have them, she simply hadn’t thought that far ahead. She was just convinced that the best way to have a good life was to find a way to connect with people that you can do something for, and to connect to a lot of them. So, for measurable results #1: additional income from dance students found through Twitter.

Double her salary

By the time she had been on Twitter two months one of her new Twitter friends started looking for a better job in radio for her! And also giving her advice and connections to helpful people to get the jobs they found for her. And they found here two jobs that pay about TWICE what she was making that she came under serious consideration for.

Again, she never said—or even remotely hinted—she was looking for another job. In fact, she wasn’t! She had a job she loved. She didn’t even think her contract would allow her to look for another job.

Folks even provided her contract advice so that she became eligible for those jobs, and connected her to people considering hiring her, and others advising her on how to get hired.

What about doing business on Twitter?

The same rules apply! You might want to put more emphasis on finding people doing something similar to what you are doing and look at the people that follow them. And consider providing more highly useful links. You want to be a resource for people.

What else should I be aware of?

Pay attention to what people do and share! They may be doing thing that you would love to do and just hadn’t considered. I realized I could sell my used dance dresses on Etsy after I saw so many people on that site. So read about what people do and listen to what they say for ideas that could apply to you.  I’ve also had lots of great advice and links from folks on Twitter.

Remember: help people AND share your own interests, questions, hopes and desires. Yes, Twitter can be a “reality show about you,” and you should share the occassional few tweets in a row when you’re going through something, but to get the most out of Twitter, I suggest concentrating on the helping/sharing/networking aspects.

#OperationShoutOut in support of U.S. Military service people

Office Depot and Lexmark are donating new Lexmark printers to Operation Homefront, a non-profit organization dedicated to the needs of military families nationwide, each time a customer purchases a Lexmark printer in an Office Depot store (regularly priced at $199.99 and above) or online here. Office Depot and Lexmark hope to donate more than 4,000 printers.

How Twitter is involved

Beginning now through June 5,  tweet the name and rank of a loved one in the military, along with the hashtag: #OperationShoutOut, from your Twitter account, and you’ll be entered for a chance to win one of 10 Lexmark printers. This is part of Office Depot and Lexmark Operation Homefront program. Read more about the program here.

“Office Depot is honored to support Operation Homefront through our partnership with Lexmark, and give back to thousands of military families by providing printers through this special program,” said Steve Mahurin, Executive Vice President of Merchandising for Office Depot. “We applaud Operation Homefront for their dedication to military families all over the world, and we hope that our customers will embrace the opportunity to help these families as well.”

“Operation Homefront provides necessary assistance to the families of U.S. military troops who are serving our country,” said Paul Rooke, executive vice president and president of Lexmark’s Imaging Solutions Division. “Lexmark is pleased to support dedicated partners like Office Depot that value corporate citizenship as much as we do. In addition to saving time and money with their purchase of a Lexmark all-in-one printer, customers will walk away feeling good about supporting this worthy cause.”