Skip to Main Content
by Phil Stott, | December 14, 2009


It's amazing how quickly the debate over the benefits of Twitterhas shifted from "who's going to use it?" to "how best can weuse it?" Gone are many of the naysayers who questioned the effectivenessof marketing efforts on Twitter, to be replaced by legions of people keen toexploit the technology to build their businesses and personal networks, butwithout much of an idea of how to go about doing that.  

Twitter logoHaving spent a fair amount of time of late getting togrips with Twitter (both for personal use and work—check out Vault's feeds at @vaultcareers, @vaultpinkslip and @vaultcsr),I've read screeds of advice on the subject and come to a few conclusions alongthe way.  While I'm not going tolist everyone or every thing that I've found helpful, I would recommendchecking out anything written on the subject by the ever-reliable Guy Kawasaki.Especiallythis piece, which closes with Kawasaki suggesting that in the socialmedia sphere everyone is just as clueless as the next guy: "Thebottom line is that there’s only what works and what doesn’t," he says,"and you won’t know which is which until you try."

Now, having said that—and deferred to Mr. Kawasaki'sinfinitely superior knowledge of the field—I'm going to be so bold as to offerup a couple of thoughts on things I've come to realize plain don't work.

There are no short cuts to Twitter success...

First, and most importantly, is the realization thatTwitter isn't going to fix anything, or make miracles happen for anyone—be theya company seeking better relationships with customers or a job seeker trying tonetwork their way into a position. If you don't have a decent product, orsomething interesting to say, or an interesting piece of content to publicize,no amount of Tweeting is going to make it any better. In fact, any effort spenttrying to promote a bum product is just effort wasted that could be being spentmaking the product better.

Assuming that you're a person or a company with somethingdecent to say or sell, however, your next challenge lies in building enough ofa following to really make a difference when promoting yourself or yourproduct. The simple answer to this, at least according to the "get richquick" crowd, is to blindly go out and follow the feeds of as many peopleas possible—the rationale being that many of the people will automaticallyagree to follow you back. Result: a ton of followers in a short space of time,none of whom have any idea who you are or what you do, and zero in the way ofcredibility. take your time and be yourself

As a strategy, it's akin to a job seeker blitzing a room fullof execs and stopping to speak only long enough to swap business cards. Sure,you come home with a bunch of contact details, but what are the chances thatany of the people you've spoken to will remember you in a week? Meanwhile, theperson who specifically targets the people she wants to talk to and spends alittle more time building a genuine relationship is much more likely to see apayoff. Twitter is exactly the same: a small core of followers who aregenuinely interested in what you have to say is much more likely to actually readwhat you post, and act on it, than a random sampling of the entire populationof the "Twitterverse". The converse is that you're also much morelikely to get relevant, interesting information flowing your way—something thatis key to nurturing productive relationships and that will in turn lead to moreopportunities to extend your network to the type of followers you'd want totarget.

All told, having a presence on Twitter is simply anextension of a normal job seeking or marketing strategy. You don't have to doanything special to promote yourself or your brand: just decide what image youwant to convey of yourself, be consistent in how you do that, and target youraudience. And above all, work hard at it. If that sounds painstakingly obvious,that's because the nature of good advice rarely changes—whether it's fordealing with the hottest trends or not.


Filed Under: Networking
Subscribe to the Vault

Be the first to read new articles and get updates from the Vault team.