The How and Why of Twitter

Why Twitter? This post is in three parts:

  1. Why should you do it? (And why am I advocating it here, since many of you are interested in this blog for speaking/personal communications.)
  2. Beginning and Intermediate Twitter. (That's me.)
  3. Advanced Twitter. (I'm not there, but will point you to who is, and ways to get there.)

So if you are already using Twitter, skip to points 2 and 3. But if not, here's why...

 1. Why Twitter in the first place. Who cares about "What are you doing now..." chats anyway?

  • I've been testing Twitter (I think I'll call it "T" for brevity) for the last five weeks for the ROI on time. It is worth it. And forget about the "What are you doing?" question - the Twitter folks should can that phrase. It's for kids chatting - not relationships and business.
  • T is about giving value and getting value, and thus building valuable relationships.
  • Through T I've connected with several key influencers that are important to my business, and many new friends who aren't. I've seen $10,000 raised in 48 hours just on T, and have already raised over $1,000 myself for The Salvation Army (my favorite cause.)
  • I've learned a lot by the references to blogs and other people I wouldn't have known - useful business info and interesting general info.
  • T (and other social media) is a big part of today's communication

    marketplace, and leads to the most powerful communication of all -


  • Because of T I tried to work out spending an extra 4 hours for dinner to meet with a new T friend (it didn't work out though, but surprised at the interest generated by T for the face-to-face connection.)
  • Because of T I connected with and filmed Nancy Duarte and had an interesting post.
  • Gained exposure on several radio/podcasts/blogs that wouldn't have happened.
  • Strengthened or renewed connections with friends and family.
  • I've been entertained. (And my wife has been very patient during the T learning curve.)

2. Beginning and Intermediate Twitter.

  • For the last 5 weeks I've been intensely Twittering. I have about 500 followers (friends or associates is a better word) and follow about 450. I'm not trying to build up thousands right away like many, but to find people of like minded interest and value. If you build it, they will come. Here's what I've found...
  • TweetDeck is an indispensable tool. It's a good interface generally, but it is essential to 'Group' your Friends. After a few hundred friends you can't effectively follow all their tweets, so don't try. Go into your Tweet Stream now and then, but group your best friends. I use A, B and C, with A being family and must see, B being interesting and valuable, and C being "Oh, that's a good Tweet, let's see if there are more where that came from."
  • T has no rules. Too many take advantage of this freedom and just blather too much. They create Tweet Clutter. So be valuable within the freedom of no rules.
  • Give information. Reference a blog post, or an interesting article, or an Alltop link. Be valuable. I try to have half my tweets as reference of value, and the rest a combination of comments (replies), ReTweets and maybe a quote or proverb. Now and then I'll throw in something interesting I'm doing, but maybe nobody is much interested so I don't do that too often. But within your value you do want to show personality.
  • I'm amazed at the number of T "Stars" who just blather - or spend too much time talking to their inner circle, or just keep telling us "What they are doing now." Who cares?
  • But you may not want to "unfollow" someone you know or respect just because they blather. All you have to do is to not put them in a group you regularly check. They can blather, but you don't have to listen.
  • Another great tool is FriendOrFollow - where you can find out quickly, and alphabetically, (this is very time consuming in the Twitter application), who is or is not following you.
  • Use Favorites to favorite a Tweet to save it and refer or retweet it later.
  • I do look at people who follow me, and follow most if they look interesting, have a website, and have pretty equal follows and followers. And I look for new interesting people to follow through links from the people on my A and B lists.
  • Other good tools that you can look at are Twitpic, Twitwall, SocialToo, TwitStats, and if you want to know how you are doing TwitterCounter. And there are many more you will find once you get started.
  • If you have an iPhone, (Correction 12/9 Twittelator Pro CAN ReTweet - I just needed to read the instructions (here). So Twittelator Pro goes to the top. I had said) "Tweetie is the best application ($2.99 at the App Store.) Twittelator Pro is good, but you can't automatically ReTweet. Tweetsville is great except it crashes to much for me, and Twitterfon is OK."

3. Advanced Twitter

Blogs, and Twitter, take time. So I'll stop now. But I hope you proceed to the next level in both.

And I'm at @BertDecker! I'd like to follow you...

22 thoughts on “The How and Why of Twitter
  1. Nice stages and points you have here Bert. I think this is brilliantly well said and has some great advice for newbies and veterans. I just love the twitterworld and hope to see some many succcess from it. Cheers

  2. Bert,
    Great post. Thanks for including me the “advanced” list and hopefully I’m not on your “blather” list.
    I marvel at all the new relationships I now have because of Twitter, both personal and professional. I read your blog for several months before you and I connected on Twitter. And now we have the opportunity to talk and share.
    The greatest thing is that very smart people are willing to help you if you just ask. Twitter has become an indispensable part of my day.

  3. Ed and Sandra,
    Thanks for the correction. Maybe I misjudged because of the banter I’ve read in the last couple of days. Sorry – too little info and too quick an opinion. One of my problems. I’ll follow Chris more closely – I do love his information. Just don’t know him.

  4. Hi Bert,
    Thanks for the overview. I’ve just recently gotten into Facebook and see people using it in some similar ways to Twitter. Which do you think is a better vehicle for the business professional?
    Dana Bristol-Smith

  5. Twitter is more focused, Facebook is more organic. I prefer Twitter for business. But I haven’t immersed into Facebook like Twitter. Guy Kawasaki says Twitter 100-1 over Facebook (but then he has Alltop.)

  6. Regarding your including Jim Connelly’s post – the thing he forgets to mention is that it’s not about the number of people in your Twitter network it’s the relationship you develop with them.
    Just browse through the people he is connecting to and you’ll see that many have small networks and are not exactly influencers as he suggests they might be.

  7. Regarding your including Jim Connelly’s post – the thing he forgets to mention is that it’s not about the number of people in your Twitter network it’s the relationship you develop with them.
    Just browse through the people he is connecting to and you’ll see that many have small networks and are not exactly influencers as he suggests they might be.

  8. Actually Lyn, those people who have small networks are just starting out, probably. Many, including me, will follow a beginner in hopes that we can help, and they may grow bigger. And Jim has more connections with the big and small people than anyone I know.

  9. Hello Bert.
    Great guide! I met Bert through twitter and ended up meeting face-to-face as well. Not many ways that would have happened outside without a tool like Twitter.
    Anyhow, I wanted to add to your comprehensive guide a little bit on using for beginners to find people to follow.
    For example, if they care about the 49ers then a query like “49ers near:sf” will help them link with like-minded tweeple.
    In addition, there are services that monitor the twitterstream for words that you’re interested it and email you a digest. I use tweetlater and have “cause marketing” among other queries emailed to me.
    I hope this was helpful!

  10. Hi Bert!
    Glad you listed this again on Twitter, I missed it before. Great post for one of us newbies! I love Twitter, and need to spend more time there, not less — it’s amazing to me how many people say they don’t “get it.”
    I think Twitter gives you much more opportunity to really form relationships than Facebook does — real conversations happen on Twitter, useful information is exchanged, and you can get a better sense of the person. Plus, people seem to do their own Twittering, while assistants often keep up Facebook accounts.
    Your writing is so thoughtful. I’m glad I met you on Twitter!

  11. Hi Bert,
    thanks for the great article! I too have read your blog for some weeks before I started following you on twitter. Besides everything you’ve already said Twitter might be a start into blogging – giving it a start by microblogging. Over the last two years I’ve often thought about starting a blog – and never had the time (due to a very time consuming job schedule). Twitter gives me the chance to find out what of my knowledge and interests might be interesting for others, too, and it gives me a first impression on how much time it will really need.
    Thanks again for all your wonderful input and best regards from Berlin (Germany).

  12. Good post. Thank you. Many great points.
    I am leary of the “get 9000 followers in 90 days” sort of thing. So many people on Twitter have this obsession about numbers. High numbers are great–if the followers are right for you. One can have many followers but very few listeners. In the end, which counts more?
    Blessings, Bert. Thanks again for putting all this together. (And yes, I came here because I saw the link on Twitter. 🙂
    ~ @Brandilyn

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