I went over 50,000 tweets earlier this week. I joined twitter in May 2009. My first tweet was “is this working”, followed by “Can anyone see this?”. I had no idea in those days where twitter would take me, or really what I might get back. I was just curious about this channel that everyone was talking about,, where messages could not exceed 140 characters.
It seemed a kind of crazy place. I know that if I was measuring the R.O.I, I would have given up after a few months.
Without wishing to sound over evangelical, twitter has changed my life and my business beyond recognition, and in ways I would never have anticipated. I can honestly say that if I was measuring R.O.I. and looking at what I was getting back, I would have stopped at 250 tweets. There is very little business I can trace back to one tweet or another. I have not sold many tickets to events or won consulting business from a link i have tweeted, but what I do know is that virtually all the business I do is because of the network of people I first connected with on twitter, and that is what I see Twitter as, the introduction channel.
I tend to follow new people most days. I don’t automatically follow people back because they have followed me. I don’t even rush off and check a bio to see if they are “worth” following, because my view is that anyone who has tweeted something that got my attention in a busy stream, is worth following. I don’t expect people to follow me back, only 40% do. I don’t count follower numbers, because the only matrix that is really important to me is shares, retweets or @ messages. That tells me if people are choosing to interact with me or not.
I’m not concerned about people who unfollow me, that is they’re  choice and prerogative. I don’t hold by the practice of mass unfollows, If someone was worth following once, their worth following unless they spam me with porn, free i-phones or really irritate me. I have learnt that as my network has grown, both in terms of follows and followers, some people interact with me every 6 months or so because of something I’ve tweeted, or they might ask for my help with something because they perceive me as having some level of knowledge of something, or they may respond to my request for help. What I do know from these occasional interactions is that even when we are not talking, they are watching. Thats what most normal (I don’t consider myself in that category) do. I’m more interested in the people I don’t know than the people I do, that’s why I try to follow new people every day. I spend most of my time on twitter either following #’s, taking part in chats or responding to @ messages, or asking my own questions.
According to the “experts” I should have no followers because I tweet a lot, retweet often and take part in chats that can flood the stream. It doesn’t seem to have done me any harm, and I will not be changing that approach any time soon.
I have learnt so much from all the content that has come to me via twitter, and although I connect in all social channels, most of the relationships, business or otherwise, originated from a tweet, and as twitter has no geographical boundaries,they are global relationships. Without twitter, these would not have happened.
I don’t think about brand, authenticity or transparency or any of that stuff when I’m tweeting, I just tweet what comes naturally and it seems to work.
This year I will be hosting 29 #tru events in 5 continents. All the track leaders, attendees and sponsors involved can be traced back one way or another to a network that originated on twitter. I can’t measure that via click-throughs, links or visits, but I know that it’s a fact.
Your approach to twitter should be just do it, tweet, spread your net wide and see what happens.
Thanks twitter for everything!