Home > Social Media > Twitter Tuesday: Why to Not Be a Broadcaster (and How I’m Going to Stop)

Twitter Tuesday: Why to Not Be a Broadcaster (and How I’m Going to Stop)

February 9, 2010

It’s easy to fall into the trap of treating Twitter like a P.A. system; you tell everyone about the articles you’re reading online, your latest blog post or even the food you just had for dinner and expect that you’ll gain followers and readers.

However, unless you’re a major brand or some kind of celebrity, it probably won’t work like that. Instead, you’ll tweet and tweet and tweet and get very little attention.

Why is that?

Well, in Twitter-speak you’re being a broadcaster. That is, you’re talking a lot but not really “joining the conversation.”

Think of real life: do you like to talk to someone who keeps talking endlessly without giving you a chance to respond (or who completely ignores you when you do)? Of course not. People like to have interaction; a chance to ask questions and to make observations of their own.

Now, you’re not a bad person if you’ve acting like a broadcaster — at least, I hope not, since I’ve fallen into the broadcasting trap myself. However, you’re not using Twitter to its full potential. The true strength of Twitter, like any social network, is in building relationships — because, as LinkedIn says, relationships matter.

So how am I going to stop being a broadcaster and start building relationships? Here are my thoughts:

Remember it’s not all about me

Everyone on Twitter wants to be heard, and it’s good to acknowledge someone who’s tweeted something interesting or relevant. A great way to do this, of course, is the retweet; forwarding someone else’s tweet to your followers. Twitter has a function for this now, but I still like to do it the old-fashioned way: either a) cut-and-paste the tweet, adding “RT” to the front, or b) using the retweet function on TweetDeck. This lets me explain why I think it’s worth retweeting.

When my friend JosephRanseth co-hosted an webinar on “Guerilla Social Marketing,” I didn’t just forward his announcements, I encouraged people to come and then sent out the link to the recorded version after along with my thoughts on how the webinar went.

Make Good Use of Follow Fridays

As long as I’m acknowledging other people, I really need to take part in Follow Fridays. #FollowFriday or #ff gives me a chance to point to someone else who I think is worth following on Twitter, and — as with retweets — tell others why I think this person is worth following.

My friend Joseph had some good thoughts on the subject over at his blog. I’m not sure he always follows his own advice, but it’s good advice anyway.

Comment, Ask Questions, Answer Questions

I can’t expect people to reply to me unless I’m willing to reply to them. It’s kind of like dating. I didn’t date very much before I got married, largely because I didn’t do my part to engage members of the opposite sex. I didn’t talk enough to them, so they didn’t talk enough to me.

When Dave Kellett asked his followers what typeface captured the fun and energy of “Squee!,” I answered. In fact, I posted an image on TwitPic with my choice (Alpha Thin) and sent a download link if he decided to use my suggestion. I forgot to adjust my kerning on the image and Dave never replied, but hey, I actually engaged someone. I need to do this more — there’s no better way to show someone that their tweet is important to you than to actually reply to it.

Join a conversation

I think the best experience I’ve had on Twitter was joining #webcomicschat hosted by Patrick Scullin. This is Twitter taken to a logical conclusion: a mass instant messaging system. I enjoy webcomics and hope to get back to one of my own someday, so I like joining in with other like-minded twitterers to discuss whatever topics get thrown out.

I haven’t had a chance to join in on the chat for awhile, but hopefully I’ll be free tomorrow for the next one.

Start a conversation

This is the step I’m not sure I’m ready for quite yet. I’d like to host a regular chat like Patrick does. I have a few that I’d like to do, ranging in topics from graphic design to creating a more focused webcomics chat that would specifically be a big brainstorming session for concepts and stories. I think that I’ll hold this as a goal while I work on the first four steps a little longer. Hopefully, the next time I post about this topic I’ll be able to say that I’m not a broadcaster anymore.

We’ll see.

Got any more ideas for how to make the move from being a broadcaster to forming actual (virtual) relationships? Leave them below — I’d love the help!

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  1. February 9, 2010 at 9:07 PM

    Great article, and I’ll overlook the personal shot.. j/k πŸ™‚

    While I do take great lengths to follow my own advice for #FollowFriday recommendations, I have found it challenging to personally thank each person who retweets something I have posted.

    With a growing number of followers, I have found that sending a song to a few people at a time is a way that I can still say ‘thank you’ to those who interact, but is also manageable in time. Perhaps it’s not the best way… but I haven’t figured out a better way yet. I want to stay in gratitude, but don’t want to live on twitter. I’m DEFINITELY open to suggestions. πŸ™‚

  2. Michael Dozark
    February 9, 2010 at 10:14 PM

    Definitely not meant as a personal shot, though I should have chosen my words more carefully.

    You propose an interesting dilemma: trying to thank each person who retweets you (which is good, and something I should probably start doing) vs. having to tweet in lists (which we both say you should avoid).

    I’ll have to stew on that awhile, as I’m sure you have.

  1. March 2, 2010 at 2:49 PM
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