Time for some shameless self-promotion (sorry!), but after the Venture Village post that just came out about “The Top 100 Twitter Accounts You Need To Follow Now,” I wouldn’t have been awarded a place on the list without being the type to ride the wave of social media opportunity that they’ve just presented to me. I had no idea that people were being screened to be placed on such a list, and so I was pleasantly surprised when it’s publication was announced, and even more thrilled when I found myself on there (thanks again VV!).
But…I wonder… why me? What made me unique enough to get on there? Do I really do anything differently than anyone else? There are tons of Berliners I follow on Twitter who I would regard as way more interesting than me, with much larger presence on social media.
So, I decided to break down what I do into a blog post, and open it up to anyone who wants to give me feedback. What do you think about what I do, do you do it differently, and are there better ways? Here we go:
Be Yourself – But Know Who You Are
This one is the first and most important step, and also not an easy one, especially for someone (me!) who has broadly diverse interests. Unless you have the most interesting and amazing online 120-character-charisma in the world (not me!), with Twitter at least, you need to focus. People who don’t actually know you won’t follow you unless they are Spambots, perves, or you provide them with some kind of content-rich value.
The latter are your potential target audiences. And you cannot please all of them, so don’t be too diverse with your topics. Pick one or two things you love and stick to it – they will love you for it and keep coming back for more. In my case, I love the life and culture of Berlin first and foremost, and the startup scene here second. The two don’t always mix well, but I try to ensure enough of a balance that one or the other doesn’t overwhelm. If you want to do more than two topics, think about getting a second Twitter account and do it there.
This one also gets hard when you have awesome friends who do cool things with their lives like travel blogging, and you want to be supportive of their efforts, but if your focus is Berlin you cannot justify suddenly tweeting about Japan or Budapest for 5 days in a row. You can throw them a few bones, but don’t overdo it. If you feel bad about it, just talk to them. As social media marvels themselves, they will get it. And you can find other ways to help them out – as your own network builds, you will see that 3rd party communities, companies looking for guest bloggers, and advertisers start reaching out to you, and if it is not a fit for you then just swing them towards your friends.
Be A Conversationalist Even If It Pisses People Off
Like I said, you can’t please everybody. But unless you are some kind of news media entity (and even then I would argue), engagement is what it’s all about. On Twitter it is important to realize when you are crossing that line when you should have taken it into DM (guilty as charged), but better to over-engage and realize it for next time, than under-engage and be forgotten. Certain people will get irritated, but hey, that is what the “unfollow” button is for, as my good friend Gilly hilariously blogged.
The same goes for any network you are on: foursquare, EyeEm, SoundCloud, WordPress, Tumblr, Flickr, whatever – always try to answer people who talk to you, and seek out others who share content related to your focus area and engage them about your common topics. Enjoy it! You love it! Reblog, retweet, recognize! Aside from Twitter and Facebook I have a lot of work to do to improve on this one, but my intentions are there! ;D
Care About Your Un-Original Content
Handpick the content that you share which has been created by others because you really love what you read and see. Set up your feeds, and then one evening a week pour a glass of wine, kick back on the sofa and review the backlog of your favorite news for a couple hours. Then simply Buffer it as you go through it, so that it is not sent out in an overwhelming load of consecutive tweets. (Time for a Buffer plug – I adore it. It is awesome. Get it. Get it now. It does not make you impersonal and robotic as the naysayers will argue. It makes sense. For you and your audiences.) Sometimes I even Buffer responses to Tweets of others for a peak time when more people will see the start of the dialog so that I can help them get more visibility for their content at the same time.
Post what you enjoy reading yourself. Don’t just share because the headline is interesting without checking the links – that is not going to ensure that my audiences interested in Berlin are really going to get what they want – a view of the city through my own eyes and thoughts. There are many Berlin tweeters and bloggers that they can follow, and as an amateur promoter of “my” lovely city, the uniqueness I have to offer is my opinion and my personality.
Focus on good interesting links, with content that is high quality or at least thought provoking, and especially the precious tidbits that don’t otherwise get much visibility. And be proud that you are taking care of your little community of your fellow “focus topic” people. Co-opetition and collaboration over competition is the way… we can all help each other with backlinks and mutual promotion. There is more than enough fame and glory to go around, at least when it comes to Berlin!
Follow Rules About Who You Follow
Maybe this one is just a personal thing, but I got on Twitter because I was starved for English speaking friends around my age with similar interests, and initially I was too shy to just go trawling the streets and parks hunting them down. Not to mention that this approach would have taken much longer and presented far more awkward moments.
So I have a logic that defines who I will and will not follow, for Twitter at least:
- Tweeter must be Berlin-based and must tweet at least 50% in English
- If the Tweeter is Berlin-based but tweets in German, I need to have met them face-to-face, or they must be a Tweeter that a friend has recommended I follow
- If the Tweeter is not Berlin-based, they must be a Very Good Friend, or they must Tweet in English and have direct relevance to the Berlin startup community, or other important Berlin events/businesses
That doesn’t mean that I don’t think there are other interesting people out there in the world, there are zillions of topics I would love to follow and engage. But I also have to live my life a little bit too, and not just get sucked into following the lives of others, or I will get so far down the rabbit hole the wrong way that no one will even care to follow and engage with me.
Integrate Social Media Into Your Real Life
Anyway, that’s about it. I only got on Facebook a couple years ago, Twitter about a year and a half ago, and everything else after that. But what has changed for me is I use them with a purpose. Nearly every moment of downtime I have, no matter where I am, is an opportunity that I use to engage online. I am not just playing around to win badges or share an opinion. I am using them as a regular part of my daily life, as an enhancement to who I am, who I interact with and what I experience in Berlin, and as a result being on social media makes everything better. Thanks for reading. Ciao ciao.