I wrote yesterday about the power of retweets, and how they can help us to build a relationship on Twitter. Today I want to examine this more closely and throw at you a three step theory on how we can take this further and develop a relationship with someone over time.
This may seem naive, but I believe that we are seeing a shift in the way Twitter is used. Many ‘power users’ (y’know the guys that dominate the must-follow lists) it appears to me, are inundated with @’s and DM’s from users wanting to know more from them, and sometimes it all becomes a bit too much. This happens on successful blogs frequently where so many comments are left for the writer, that he or she cannot possibly take the time to respond to each one.
This has transferred to the Twittersphere and it is sometimes frustrating that a platform supposedly so open, can at the same time feel so closed because those big guys and girls won’t engage.
Now this is not supposed to be a ‘how to talk to celebs on Twitter’ guide. I hope that this will help us to rationally think about how to approach a stranger on Twitter that is someone we want to talk to. I say we because this applies as much to me as it does to you or your gran.
1) Use retweets
Retweeting is a simple way of making ourselves known to a fellow Twitter user. If we retweet someone’s tweet, it will appear in their mentions stream, or if they’re savvy and have a separate RT stream setup, they’ll see it even more clearly. This can bring us to the attention of person x.
There’s no need to go over board on this at all, and if we do it’ll seem like we’re obviously after attention. Just RT any content we genuinely think is useful to our network, and we should be fine. That’s why we want to engage with them after all isn’t it.
If they are a good Twitter user, they’ll thank people who retweet them. If they don’t, they may not be someone we want to engage with in the first place. If they thank us once or twice, we can begin to thin about engaging in a direct conversation with them.
2) Answer A Question
One of the many great things about Twitter is that people use it to crowdsource information; where are the best restaurants, who’s recently got the latest phone etc etc
This means that person x may from time to time be looking for some info around a certain topic and ask their Twittersphere. Why not, if we know the answer, let them know, and point them in the direction of some useful information by way of a link? Hopefully they’ll say thanks and we can start a conversation up as we share an interest (why else would we know the answer to their question?)
3) Ask Them A Question
If we’re at a point where we’ve been identified as adding value to person x’s Twitter stream we should know as they’ll have started following us. This gives us an opportunity to perhaps ask them a question about something they are knowledgeable about and to enter into conversation. If they are willing to answer or help you find out, we’re well on our way to getting to know person x (IRL/ITL rules applying natch).
At this point, hopefully we’ll be starting to think about following other members of their Twittersphere and trying to engage with them too. If we can follow this process with two or three of person x’s followers and start to appear in person x’s feed more frequently, that is essentially third party endorsement and another indication to our usefulness.
This is by no means a quick or perfect process, and of course it probably has many flaws which I hope you’ll all take pleasure in pointing out!
What I have tried to do is provide a simple way of making relationships easier to build and maintain for anyone who may be struggling.
I do expect flaming from the Twitterati, but from those guys I’d hope for some real insights :-)