My newest “meandering” has done it’s job well and distracted me from my current three part series on Feelings from a Thinker’s Perspective. I’ll get back to it… soon.
Twitter used to boggle my brain. It seemed like a weak extension of Facebook. Why in the world would I want to constantly be updating my status with things people didn’t care about? Especially when I could already do that on Facebook? I opened an account to see what the hoopla was. I didn’t get it.
Then I began a job as a Social Media Community Manager. I read the book “The Twitter Job Search Guide” by Susan Whitcomb, Chandlee Bryan, and Deb Dib. I obviously wasn’t looking for a job, but the book was so influential on my understanding the purpose and strategy of Twitter. I am pursuing a career as a writer. I began to take their ideas and apply it toward my goal of publishing. (The writing style of the book follows the example of Twitter: succinct and to the point.) Read it.
I dove in to the Twitter world and started having a blast. I realized that Twitter is much more than just posting status updates that no one wants to read. Instead, it opens up a HUGE door of access to people and ideas that I normally don’t have access to. In my case, this means Literary Agents, Editors, Publishers, and other really great and successful authors. With a little bit of strategy, I’ve been able to seek them out and “follow” them, in essence, getting into their heads. I love understanding what their workloads are like (their tiresome dedication astounds me!), remembering that they are “real-life” people behind the mailing address, and joining in their successes and failures. This gives me so much insight in improving my own writing skill, knowing what’s being sought, and getting my name visible and familiar in the very close-knit writing world.
However, the more I’ve played with this fun “new” toy of mine, the more I’ve been challenged with the 140 character count for tweets. Not because I have more to say. I want depth. I want more than surface-level-tweet-based acquaintanceships. I want relationship.
It struck me that while I am able to follow people who are generally out of reach for me… unless they follow me in return, they will likely never see a word I say (unless I reply to their tweets). However, I have come across random moments when I have an opportunity to be heard by one of these folks.
My one shot. To be heard. In 140 characters or less.
The difference between myself and many others is my purpose in being heard. It’s not to be a kiss-up or flatterer. It’s not to be “cool” because so-n-so read my comment and responded. My sole genuine purpose in being heard? To encourage. (Familiarizing my name and networking has become a side-perk ). Seriously. This may sound strange. But my deepest desire, after spending so much time in their heads (via tweet), is to encourage them. I’ve heard their discouragement. I’ve seen the things they value and prize. I can imagine with great empathy the struggles of being so well-known or famous. Real people living real life… very publicly. I long to reach in and touch those places with love and a healing word.
So how can I encourage someone in 140 characters and not appear like every other “fan” simply trying to get an “in”?
I’ve come to the conclusion that relationship is the key to this kind of being heard. Okay.
So how do I build a relationship with 140 characters or less?
I found one great site in my search for what seemed impossible: Twitter Relationship Building in 140 Characters by Kay Hebbourn. She says
“On Twitter, it is about asking questions, trying to ascertain the context, checking out links, responding to messages, and perhaps inviting people to speak using other platforms where you can use unlimited characters… If you are keen to hang on to your followers, it might be that you will want to communicate with them instead of running a show and tell campaign.”
That is one of my favorite things about Twitter. It’s really all about THEM. To “succeed” (having a strong follower-base) you must be others-minded. If you simply use it to promote yourself… you’ll lose ‘em. People want to follow people who help others: people who offer great tips, read and respond to other’s blogs, thank them for re-tweeting or following. Kindness is key. A selfish tweep will be a solo tweep.
So how to build that relationship. How to use your one shot (possibly) at encouraging an out-of-reach person and not sound like every other fanatic? (This is not to say that I’m the only non-fanatic following out-of-reach people- only that we seem to be a minority). I don’t have it figured out. This is my journey. So far, I’m simply following the people I want to, offering them encouragement when I can (even if they never see it because they have 200,000 followers and mine get’s lost in the mess of “will you marry me?s and “I love you!”s). Congratulating success, offering words of hope for those who are struggling, inspiring courage for the despairing, and being grateful for every kind word that I receive in return. Perhaps, if this remains my focus, then one of those 140-character tweets will reach the heart of someone I normally have no access to (or perhaps even those I do!) and my goal will be achieved…
To live the serendipitous moments of God’s divine intentions as He pours out His love and encouragement on His creation… one 140-count tweet at a time!
Other related sites that I found on the topic of relationship-building and character count:
- Twitter Basics: How Virtual Small Talk Can Build Relationships By Andrea J. Stenberg
- How To Successfully Use Twitter For Relationship Marketing
(You can find me on Twitter: @marcypusey)