I created my first Twitter handle in March 2009. Of course, it was private. Along the way, I also created several additional Twitter handles for myself – each with a specific personal objective – Like one was a personal log of my life, One was to capture my incessant thoughts, One was a repository of interesting data / links I came across, One was for all the quotes I read,etc. Over time, I could not keep up with regularly tweeting on all of these. And hence, some became defunct along the way.
In 2010, I decided that I would focus on only one of my Twitter handles. At about the same time, I also began to understand the power and reach of Twitter and hence I converted it to a public profile. Along the way, I tweeted, followed several interesting handles and began to understand how to really use Twitter. Not only did these interactions teach me about Twitter, they also enriched my understanding on human behaviors!!
And the reality today is that I YET DO NOT have even 100 followers on Twitter! (Got pretty close once, but not yet managed the MAGIC 100). Over the past few days, I have done a critical analysis to understand WHY this is the case when every second person I know seems to have 1000+ followers on Twitter… Do I not get it? Am I doing something wrong here?
After some analysis, observation and introspection, I figured WHY?
In this blog, I have listed the key reasons based on my analysis. The reason I am sharing is so that YOU LEARN from my experiences and probably reach the 100 or 1000 or a million mark much sooner that I do!
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1. My personal objectives from Twitter changed frequently
To be honest, when I started using Twitter I did not have any specific objective. I started using it out of curiosity and because everywhere I went people spoke of Twitter! Along the way, the objective has changed from being a learning platform, to being a knowledge sharing platform, to being a personal log, to being a platform to market and promote my blogs and writings, etc. etc. And there’s nothing wrong with these changing objectives.. But just that to see tangible results in anything in life or business – you need to have a specific objective and focus on it for some time duration to see visible results!
The key take-away is this: You need to have specific objective(s) for your Twitter usage. In fact if you have SMART (Specific Measurable Achievable Realistic and Time Bound) objectives, your Twitter usage will be more effective. And the objective can be anything that it important to you – But you should be aware of it and make it explicit to yourself – Simply because you will eventually follow people and tweet based on your personal objectives. And your followers are usually a function of who you follow and what you tweet. And of course, there will / can be deviations here – But the point is at least 80% of your Twitter behavior has to be governed by your objectives!
2. I had a set of Twitter guidelines on whom I would follow
Twitter is a social media platform. And the focus is really on “Social” here. And while there are so many tips, suggestions and guidelines on whom you should follow.. I had my own guidelines which were:
i) The tweets should be “relevant” in my personal context and aligned to my objectives
ii) I will not follow a handle because they follow me – No “Follow Back” policy, unless again it is “personally relevant”
iii) I will be able to devote at most 30 minutes a day on Twitter. And my focus was always on how I could maximize my personal Return on Time Invested in line with my objectives – Trust me! 30 minutes is also a stretch for a working mother!
These guidelines did come at a price. But I was willing to pay this price!
The key take-away is this: Irrespective of all the tips, tricks, suggestions, advice available galore in Twitter-verse, take a minute to reflect on what your own guidelines are with respect to your SMART objectives. That is the key to your personal success on Twitter!
3. Most of my real world friends are NOT on Twitter
Again, something which surprised me – But it’s TRUE! Most of my real world friends (both personal and professional) are NOT on Twitter! And though some are, they barely use it. And the reason is that Twitter is really not an integral element for their personal commitments or professional responsibilities. And hence, the chances that I get some followers from my real life connections are abysmally small. So, I need to start building new networks and relationships in the online world. And this takes time!
The key take-away is this: It’s a BIG BIG PLUS if your real-world (personal and professional) friends are on Twitter. They usually become your initial set of followers and your network has the potential to grow from here!
4. I have not been regular in the usage of Twitter
To be honest, I have “courted” Twitter in brief spells from 2009 to the start of 2012. So there will be a day in which I post 30+ tweets (I love Twitter) and then probably 30 days with no Twitter activity (I forget Twitter) and then probably 3 days when I don’t want to see Twitter (I don’t like Twitter) and then days when I don’t have time for Twitter (Twitter is way down in my priority list).
And though I know that the quality of content that I tweet is good and will have a global audience, the point is that if I exhibit “random tweeting patterns”, chances are that others will also “randomly read my tweets”. And hence, I have lost several followers along the way. It was only this year (2012) that I have become more disciplined and focused on the usage of Twitter. So hopefully over a period of time, I will re-build a follower base!
The key take-away is this: A consistent usage pattern on Twitter helps in building and retaining a follower base on! You can use tools for this – But ensure some degree of consistency. It can be 3 tweets a day or 3 tweets a week. But over a 3 month period, figure a pattern that works for you – again aligned to your SMART objectives. And stick to it!
5. I am NOT YET an online / off-line celebrity
Real but TRUE! I am NOT YET an online / off-line celebrity (Though I hope to get there some day). I am probably just like you in a quest to find my TRUE identity in the real and virtual world! Yes! I am a working mother, an active blogger and blog for several sites of global repute .
And yes! I’ve had my moments of online and offline glory! For e.g.: My blog 12 Most Wonderful Moments in the First Year of Motherhood was tweeted / Re-tweeted by celebrities like Alyssa Milano (Yes! The Hollywood actress and former singer) & Jure Klepic (who was represented in Forbes’ Top 10 Influencers in Social Media) and it went viral after that.
Does that make me a mini-celebrity with moments of celebrity status? Probably, Yes in select circles.
But does that make me a celebrity enough that thousands of people will follow on Twitter? Probably, NO! And hence I probably may never get as many followers as Lady Gaga or Amitabh Bachchan or Katy Perry or Shakira or Shah Rukh Khan or Rihana or Oprah Winfrey or Guy Kawasaki or Deepak Chopra. And hence, I need to work hard to build my follower base; and even harder to retain them with high quality tweets on a consistent basis!
The key take-away is this: It helps if you are an online / off-line celebrity to get your initial follower base and retain these followers. However over a period of time, you need to tweet regularly to increase your follower base and retain existing followers.
6. Twitter was not integral to my overall Strategy
Again a great personal revelation! For a long time, there was no need for me to use Twitter as I did not have a SMART objective and hence, no real motivation to use Twitter. Consequently, I did NOT spend time to use it nor did I make a conscious effort to read and understand about the Twitter developments, the new features, extensions, add-ons, tools, etc.
But once, my objectives were well defined, Twitter became an integral element to my overall strategy – And hence today I use Twitter for specific objectives.
The key take-away is this: Twitter needs to be an element in your overall strategy. And the strategy has to be aligned to your SMART objectives to achieve Twitter Success.
Ending Pearls of WISDOM:
- Have SMART Objectives for your Twitter usage
- Define your own guidelines for Twitter usage in line with your objectives
- Review your success against your objectives periodically
- Re-define your Objectives, as appropriate
Lastly, Have fun along the way! Learn! Grow! Evolve! Make new Twitter friends and connections!
And leave a legacy on Twitter that you and your grandchildren will be proud of!
On that note, Happy Tweeting!