Are YOU on Twitter?

I’ve recently met a wonderful lady, Amelia, from Australia, who runs her own business. She’s part of a small network of trainers, several of whom I’ve known for years. Because of my association with them, we’re slowly but surely connecting on the social media scene. I think I’m connected to several on Linked In and Facebook, and one of them on Twitter.

The other night, Amelia finds me on Facebook and friends me. Cool enough. Of course, after accepting her invitation, one of the next things I do is head on over to twitter to try and find her there as well. I find her account, easily enough, but its a protected account, so I request to follow her. Last night, I get the following message from her on Facebook:

Hi Chris got your tweet invite but I don’t tweet just got onto facebook through brenda…..

At this point I’m going to pick on Amelia just a little bit here, and ask that she recognize that I’m absolutely NOT blasting her personally, its just that she’s convenient fodder for this situation that I’ve seen play out time and again. In fact I do recognize that she, along with a lot of other people, are just starting to figure out these tools and I commend them for at least playing around with them. I’d also like to point out at this point that since lots of people ARE figuring things out right now, that it has started to turn into a race to see who gets there first.

Anyway, after I had mustered up a good head of false indignation and misplaced ire, I got ready to answer her directly, when I realized two things:

  • 1. it didn’t matter how she answered my next question, my responses would all be pretty similar
  • 2. this would make a good post that could help more people than just her.

So, now its a blog post, and I’ll just send her and the other trainers a link to it.

So, anyway, my next question to her would have been this:

What is your competition doing on Twitter?

There are only 3 basic responses to that question; nothing, I don’t know, and something.

My responses to each of those are:

Nothing

You mean that there’s a space on the internet, the fastest growing in all of history, and NO ONE from your industry is there, and the first one in basically OWNS that space?”

I don’t know

“You mean that there’s a space on the internet, the fastest growing in all of history, and you have NO IDEA if your competition is there, what they’re doing, or how they are using it?”

Something

“You mean that there’s a space on the internet, the fastest growing in all of history, and whether they’re actually doing it right or not, you are letting your competition exist there UNCHALLENGED?”

Now, about her account being ‘protected’, my personal feelings on that are that you might as well not be on the network as far as branding and promotion go if your account is protected. Since she hasn’t really used Twitter, I understand that its kind of locked up until she gets there. Also, there are plenty of reasons to have a protected account, but a protected account shouldn’t be the account that you use to connect to your potential clients, your professional community and your fans. Keep the protected accounts for personal or ‘top secret’ uses only. If your account is open, you are FAR more likely to attract new followers, be indexed on Google, retweeted, and linked to than if your account is locked.

The best part of all of this is, that between all of the trainers, they already have a very solid foundation for a community. They are not a single person standing alone in the twittersphere, they are a ready-made network, able to share information freely among themselves about interesting topics in their industry, ready to set themselves up as leaders, poised to grow, and available to help and answer questions, even if their original followers are simply their students.

My advice to the trainers would be this. Each trainer opens their own Twitter account. Next, start a Twibe over on http://twibes.com, which basically creates a twitter community that allows someone to join their community and automatically linked to EVERYONE in that community. Also, people can come and go, and there’s no work on the part of any community member to keep track of who is where, since its all updated automatically. Third, set a schedule so that on busy days, they know someone will take the time to stop by and check on the twibe conversations, answer questions, greet new members, etc. The trainers are staggered through the globe, in Europe, the US, Australia and China. If everyone just logged in on their lunch break, they would have more than enough coverage in any given day. Finally, any of the trainers who blog (another topic altogether) should either manually tweet when a new post is published, or download a plugin for their blog that will do that automatically. I currently use WordTwit from Brave New Code.

Bob and I start talking about Twitter in episode 303 of Creative Independence which will drop this weekend. We cover setting up your account, branding, account options and the like. In episode 305 we’re going to go over some of the more interesting ways to leverage Twitter in your business. We also need to jump onto using Facebook soon, since it seems to be where everyone is starting.

I’m dying to let you know who these people are, but until I know who is where, and more importantly, whether or not their competition really is using these tools, I’d hate to tip off the competition that they can basically get in there unchallenged at this point.