140 characters. And yet a million different strategies. That’s Twitter. No two users seem to use the service in quite the same way. It’s amazing that an interface that allows for such minimal variation allows for such distinction. I follow almost 300 “people” on Twitter and they all have a distinct Twitter “personality”. I’m not going to get in to every single way that people can use Twitter, but I’d like to discuss at least two.
Let’s start with what people do right. Engagement. For me, this HAS to be the focal point of Twitter. If you post 20 tweets and not a one of them has an @ symbol, you’re doing it wrong. That’s an opinion. Maybe that’s what you’re going for. But if that’s what you’re going for, I feel like you’re missing the boat a little bit. The people that I really enjoy following are the people who engage in meaningful (or sometimes just entertaining) “banter”. Whether it’s a serious question posed in regards to another’s intentions or whether it’s a playful jab at a celebrity, politician or happening, these are the things that keep me reading.

A lot of people say, “I don’t care what other people think”. Ok, well, then I guess I’m weird. Maybe it’s not going to make or break me, but I am interested in the opinions of others. I want to know if someone liked a piece I posted. I want to know if someone was moved by something I created. And I want to know that someone laughed at a joke. I am absolutely interested in what other people think. I do my best to engage others. Whether it’s a directed question or a comment on someone else’s tweet, I absolutely want to engage my followers and those that I follow. If I write an article that deals with someone else’s viewpoint or opinion, I almost always copy them on the post in order to get their reaction. When I ask a question, throwing my wonderings into the ether, I often copy individuals with a vested interest or qualified opinion. And I like people who do the same.

Then, there are the bullhorners. This is a term that I THINK I coined. It refers to the people that just shout on Twitter without being interested in what anyone has to say about anything. Bullhorners are all about me, me, me. While they may occasionally try to trick people with a disinterested retweet, but don’t be fooled. They don’t care. They just want to hear their own “voice”. Occasionally a bullhorner tricks me. Maybe someone retweets something that I find particularly poignant and I follow the original tweeter. But I either unfollow or mute pretty quickly when I realize that they are just shouting and they’re not listening.

The key to relationships is listening. You’ve heard this before, right? It was probably in a romantic comedy starring a lithe leading lady and a bushy eyebrowed stud. They were, unfortunately, right. Twitter is a very big relationship. If you’re using it for business, which most of my posts are in relation to, then a failure to listen is a failure to understand your clients. And that can be fatal.

So, but down the bullhorn. Stop yelling at everyone. Listen. And converse. Don’t just talk to yourself. It’s embarrassing. 


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