Bluefinch Creative Blog

What Twitter Has Taught Me About Community

July 22, 2013

It was early 2009 and I was hopped up on life. Fresh out of a self-improvement seminar, it all seemed so clear. I wanted to start my own business. Yeah, I was going to run my own company! I had the background. I had the skill-set. Like a horse out of the gates, I charged forward. I must tell the world of my new-found joy. Computer, check. Keyboard, check. Now, what’s that site that everyone’s talking about? Right, Twitter. I’ll build my empire on Twitter. I enthusiastically created a profile and chose a snazzy name. @bluefinch604 sounds good. I filled out all the right forms. “This is taking far too long,” I thought. I had no time to waste. I was ready to rock! Now, I must vigilantly compose my first tweet. “Hello? Is anyone out there? This is my first tweet!”

I’ve Learned So Much
It goes without saying, I’ve learned a lot since that first bushy-tailed tweet in 2009. And, believe me, I’ve seen some stuff along the way. Boy, have I ever seen some stuff. Some of it was inspiring, some of it made me a better person, some of it tested my patience and tact. And some of it was down-right dreadful. At the end of the day, though, Twitter has taught me tons about people and community. How do I sum up what I’ve learned over 4 years, 21,000 tweets, and 7,200 followers in a few words? I’ll try:

1. No one cares about your lunch (unless you’re sharing).
OK, I love food, but food-related tweets make me hungry! There’s a difference between, “Look how delicious MY lunch is (by the way, you can’t have any)” and “The Sandbar makes the best mussels–on special every Thursday.” Seriously, they make AMAZING mussels. The point is, if you’re doing well, make sure your followers reap the rewards too. Don’t be greedy.

2. People will have your back if you have theirs.
My followers have helped me out of more than a few jams. In short: I was swindled out of over $800 by an unscrupulous business owner. One of my followers introduced me to a CTV News reporter who pushed my story forward. The dodgy businessman caught wind of the potential bad PR. Then I received a full refund. Isn’t community amazing?

3. People will want to meet you in real-life.
There’s only so much connection that can be done online. At some point, your followers will want to meet you at a “tweet up” or over coffee (assuming that you’re pretty cool). Some of it will be business-related, and some of it just straight meeting people. I’ve connected with some pretty amazing folks via Twitter. There are plenty of savvy business people online. I’ve been lucky enough to engage with more than a few of them.

4. People will tell you if they don’t like your content. Loudly.
Or they’ll just unfollow. Buh-bye! If your followers don’t like something you’ve said, they’ll likely voice that displeasure (very) publicly. Hit pause. Take a few deep breaths. Don’t get defensive. Everyone’s entitled to their opinion. Make sure that you stay open to hearing people out, even when it’s painful. I’ve smoothed over more than a few sticky situations by keeping an open mind. Maybe you can learn a thing or two in the process.

5. Overly-salesy content doesn’t work. Period.
There’s a fine line between being promotional and being human. Don’t cross it. People want to get to know you, and hopefully eventually like you. Why not let your personality shine through? Why not be real? If you choose to tweet promotions often, be sure to offset this with good, engaging and helpful content. Always give more than you ask for. Always provide value.

Now, what have you done for your community lately?

About The Author
Content brought to you by Tanya Roberts, a Vancouver-based online marketing consultant that specializes in slick content strategy to rock your website traffic, build your brand, gain leads, and increase sales. Tanya is an experienced marketer, copywriter/editor, freelance writer, internet/online marketing consultant, and social media specialist. You can also find Tanya on Google Plus. Results matter; here are a few of .

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