Taking it beyond 140 characters

I often hear friends and followers tell me “you are great at Twitter”.   I am not sure what that means- perhaps they find me interesting or engaging, silly, goofy, a great listener, I don’t know. 
Being interesting is definitely a start, but those traits don’t make someone “great”.  If you stay interesting and amusing inside a web tool, how does that enrich your life, save the world or pay your mortgage?

What makes a twitter user great is their ability to take it beyond 140 characters. I was reading a post yesterday about Twitter best practices.  In the post, Tim Otis says “it’s key that you know the Twitter user outside the Twitter community.”  This point was dead on.  Twitter is a great way to establish connections but it can’t stay there if you want something of greater value to come out of it.

Twitter is like peeking through the mini-blinds.

You can catch a good glimpse, but in order to get the full picture you really have to open the shades and let the sunlight in.  Each tweet is like opening one slat of the blind. How do we do this?

Use Tweets to provide opportunities to start discussion and dialog outside of twitter

  • Twitpics and links to Flickr -pictures tell 1000 words.  Pictures capture people on an emotional level.  What we photograph is a huge opening into our lives and our hearts. 
  • These posterous blogs that everyone has and I am not quite sure I get, well, they provide a great opportunity to easily share whatever you choose to share.  Pictures, poems, quotes, random thoughts.
  • Our blog posts- our blogs are the motherships.  They are the home base of our online presence where we can establish our reputation, demonstrate our expertise and act as a living, breathing resume.  Morgan Brown wrote a great post about blogs and why they matter.  It was one of the best I have seen written.  Blogs still have a huge relevance and huge value.  Social media is the “who you know”.  Blogs are the “what you know”.  If you don’t demonstrate “what you know”, at some point “who you know” will get bored. 

Get Face to Face
Go to a social gathering with other people who you network with online and who might have similar interests or goals.  (yes, I am talking about a tweetup but the word “tweetup” makes some non-techies throw their hands up in the air and run away screaming.  Tweetups are not just for nerds you know.  If there aren’t social gatherings “tweetups” in your area, schedule one.  Pick a place and invite people.  If only 2 people show up it is a success.

Engage them through your twitter profile
I can’t believe some people don’t fill out their profile.  Read me now—use a good link for your twitter profile!  9 times out of ten, if someone posts something interesting, funny or engaging, or even if they just stop by and say “hi”, I follow their profile link.  Why?  I want to open the blinds!! 

I used to use my real estate blog link.  When we started SMMI, I wasn’t sure which site to link to.  I had too many hats!  That quandary was the best outcome possible.  Ever. Really.  Since I couldn’t pick which one, I finally got smart and created a page that captures who Ginger is.  It opens up all the blinds and let’s visitors get more than just a peek at a good chunk about me.  It was one of the best decisions I could have made.   Sure, I get less traffic to my official business sites, but Twitter is not about web traffic to me, it is about creating relationships.  The best way to create a relationship or to engage it open the blinds and let people see you as a person.

Perhaps you might connect with one person over music (blip.fm), another over photos (flickr) or a third because of the non-profits you support.  Let your visitors have the opportunity to find out what part of YOU they can connect with by opening the blinds for those people who are curious about you.  The time spent on my about ginger page is far longer than if I just sent them to a my business blog.

People like to do business with people they know.  People they trust.  People they can relate to.  My guess is that you can relate to a lot of different people for different reasons. 

Open the blinds and let them get to know you. That is the best way to take it beyond 140 characters.