I was getting a client started on Twitter the other day, and we talked for a while about how important it is to get the “feel” of a place before jumping in there and yammering away.
Of course, this goes for any situation where conversation is the medium, doesn’t it?
On a recent episode of the excellent marketing podcast Marketing Over Coffee (iTunes link), Chris Brogan made the point that he hears a lot of people worrying about what to say on Twitter, and not enough people worrying about how to listen.
We tend to rely on the trusty old metaphor about how you wouldn’t walk in to a room and just start talking in a loud voice, to nobody in particular, about yourself, your company, or your products. Most of us are more skilled than that, and we know that a good conversation starts off with some version of “how are you?”
At an unfamiliar social event, the best move is often to say little and observe much, and the same goes for new social platforms that are unfamiliar. But you need to be disciplined about it, and learn to incorporate your new listening activities into your workflow on a consistent basis.
If you’re already checking your email first thing in the morning, why not add to this ritual a little module of listening to your stream on Twitter, to find out what they’re interested in, what they’d like to talk about, and what they might find of value?
- Install Tweetdeck on your desktop.
- Before opening up your email, open up Tweetdeck.
- Read down your stream until you find something that you think your customers, friends, or fans would find of interest.
- Retweet it, adding in a word or two of commentary, and/or
- Reply to the person who tweeted it, asking them a clarifying question, or responding in some helpful way.
- Repeat 5-7 times.
If you follow a stream of people who are active and regularly post good content, this should only take about 10-15 minutes each morning. It’s a great way to get your brain moving first thing, and to take the temperature of the world outside your office before burrowing down into your own workday.
If you don’t follow a stream of people who are active and provide good links, questions, and observations, think about expanding your circle of friends on Twitter. You’re as interesting as the company you keep.
With this simple addition of a short, manageable, and enriching daily ritual into your workday, you’ve figured out how to get started on Twitter. Listen, respond, and retweet. Pay attention to your Self-Serving Ratio — for every time you promote yourself, your business, or your products, promote, praise, or republish someone else’s genius.
It doesn’t have to be in the morning. Me — I’m an insomniac, so I do most of my retweeting and great-content-discovering at 2 and 3 in the morning. Do what works for you.
What works for you?