When people sign up for twitter and, shortly thereafter, cry, “I don’t get it!” my impulse is to say, “Well, have you made a real effort to share and get to know people?” Then I remember that not everyone is a word-a-holic like me. Not everyone loves to see that which they think or feel or opine in print. It just doesn’t come naturally. Let’s face it: there may only be 140 characters in a tweet-a far cry from an article or blog post-but there is something intimidating about that little white box. It demands brevity. It craves succinctness. And it seems to implore profundity.
I get this. Search Old Tweets
Staring at unfilled white space on a screen has reduced many a good writer-and twitterer-to tears.
Perhaps more than most, I empathize with the desperately frustrating feeling of not knowing what to say. This is because I’m a writer, and we writer types feel we must not only fill the page with words; we must write a heart-stopping dissertation that promises to save the world (as it relates to the subject matter at hand of course). If we fall short of this lofty goal, we will prove for once and for all that we had no intellect to begin with, and the world would be much better off without our tripe littered across its magazines, books and websites.
Then we drink another cup of coffee and realize we have writer’s block, get over ourselves, and crank out another article, blog post, page of copy and yes, a few hundred tweets.
If you’re having a tough time knowing what to say to the wee white box, that’s twitter-block. And you can beat it.
Much like writer’s block, twitter-block can discourage you from sharing your story. Fortunately, also like writer’s block, it can also be overcome. You just have to know the formula. Get comfortable with the formula, and eventually you’ll always know just what to tweet and when.
My formula is nothing terribly scientific and in fact, I thought of it while blow drying my hair or feeding the kids or something like that.
Just remember to “pOST” and you can’t go wrong (and no, that’s NOT a typo):
p – Promote your wares. Let’s not kid ourselves. While it gives us all a warm fuzzy to reach out and tweep someone, social media is the raging success it is today because it helps the bottom line. Whether you’re promoting an idea, a pair of shoes, a brand or all of the above, it doesn’t matter. What matters is that you sandwich self-promotion between tons of other juicy tweets that give, give and give some more; thus the lower case “p” in the pOST acronym. Just a little “p” is all you need.
For example, you might post 50 tweets about everything BUT what you sell or write about or whatever before you post just 1 or 2 tweets sharing the latest and greatest thing on your website. Bonus Tip: Always finesse your promotional tweets should be less a slap in the face and more a tap on the shoulder. Skip the all caps and multiple exclamation marks, okay?
O – Offer to help. Newsflash: if you’re not a very generous person, twitter probably isn’t for you. In fact, you might want to ditch the whole social networking thing completely. People who aren’t helpful are dead weight in the twitterverse. They just blab on and on about what they do, who bit the dust on American Idol and how much they miss their dead goldfish.
So get over yourself and get into what your tweeps are doing. Someone always needs help somewhere with something. Chances are, someone in your target demographic needs just the kind of tip or advice only you can give. And if you’re quick on the draw, all the better. (i.e. don’t respond to a 3-day old tweet for help. That’s just lame.)
Bonus Tip: If you use twhirl or Seesmic Desktop twitter applications, you can enter keywords into the search utility so that whenever someone types them into their tweet you will be notified. Talk about instant gratification for everyone.
S – Share good things. This relates closely to “O” except now you’re not so much demonstrating your super human ability to rescue tweeps in need as you are demonstrating your super human ability to discover greatness in others. That is, when you uncover something useful, interesting or downright entertaining on the web, tweet the link. People will retweet these golden nuggets. And-to borrow a page from Thomas the Train’s playbook-that makes you look like a really useful engine.
Bonus Tip: When posting a link to twitter, briefly describe whatever it is you’re sharing. This not only encourages retweets but clickthroughs as well. That’s good twitter karma.
T – Talk it up. “Talking” on twitter is where most tweeps mess up, so it’s important to find your groove and get it right. It will take practice. Some days you won’t feel like small talk. And if you’re just getting started, get okay with the fact that every twitter newbie reads like a lost idiot for at least the first 100 tweets. That’s normal and we’ll forgive you.
Just keep at it. No one is born knowing how to spark titillating conversation every time they open their mouth. Nor will you always have something mind blowing to tweet about. We just want to know you’re human and you have a personality behind the pixels.
Now, do you feel a little more confident in your ability to “pOST” like a twitter pro?
Winning at social media is a confidence game, and, like most things in life, to get it you got to give it. So, next time you feel like you “don’t get this twitter thing,” consider all the ideas, information and old fashioned goodness you already have in your head and on your computer screen. It’s all good stuff. Most of it is even worth tweeting about.
What other tips or formulas might be helpful in overcoming twitter-block?
Karri Flatla is the principal of snap! web marketing, an online consulting firm specializing in web marketing and copywriting for entrepreneurs. Well known across the web for her take-no-prisoners writing style, Karri’s articles and tips have been featured at Search Engine Guide, the VAnetworking Blog, Fuel Net and TwiTip.
Karri resides in Lethbridge, Alberta with her husband Jason, another entrepreneur, and her two young boys.