Tweet Here Tweet Now

I think it’s fair to say that I spend too much time on Twitter. I have been a fairly recent convert, only really focussing on it this year but my tweet rate is above and beyond the call of duty.

I’ve been guilty of spending too much time trying to score points. Everyone loves a retweet and, at times, that’s been an aim of mine. Generating content good enough for one or more of your followers to share feels good. It’s a reward in itself. Below that, getting mentions is good. Make a salient point in a high level conversation and you might get a bunch of @s. It’s all great for getting your name and your content out there.

What dawned on me yesterday was that retweets and mentions are not important.

Yes, it gets you noticed. Yes it helps you grow your follower list. Yes your Klout increases. But what about your relationships?

I spend a lot of time reminding people that social media is not a broadcast platform. If you are simply shouting out headlines then there are much better ways, bigger audiences. I tell them, instead, that it’s an engagement platform. It’s where you can listen to what your audience is saying and join in. That’s where the work gets done, I tell them, that’s why it’s time-consuming and difficult, that’s why it’s not the free option you think it is.

So I tell people this, but do I practice what I preach?

Well, I do to an extent. I like to engage with people, but what I am guilty of is “all conversations are equal but some conversations are more equal that others.” In short, if I think it’s going to get me extra exposure or drive some traffic to my blog then I’ll focus on it and put myself into what I say as best i can. If it’s an idle joke about Nick Clegg though, I don’t concentrate. Sometimes I don’t answer questions, not because I’m aloof but because I can’t think of something mind-blowing to say in response. That attitude is wrong. You have no idea who is listening, you also have no idea how important even the smallest thing might be to the person you’re conversing with.

Networking is about building relationships, not ivory towers. Just as in real life, these relationships are built from shared connections in the mundane as well as in the “important.” And it’s relationships you’re really looking to win with your social media efforts, not followers, not conversations and not retweets.

So, my advice to myself, and to you. Focus on this conversion, the one you are in right now. It’s the only one that’s important.

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