Last weekend I went to a charity event sponsored by a national television show. As I watched the sponsors get up in front of everyone and say, “We think it is better to connect with you this way than through Twitter or Facebook.” I immediately took offense. I thought, “How dare they insult my precious Twitter!” Then I quickly realized they didn’t mean to be offensive, they just simply don’t get it.
When confronted with a situation like that, what do you do? I have met so many amazing people on Twitter. I’ve built solid relationships, I’ve even gained clients and I now get to write for this awesome site because of Twitter. I’ve met people on Twitter than I’m closer to than people outside Twitter. All of this is because I signed up for a Twitter account and made a decision to give it my best shot.
But when the average person thinks the purpose of Twitter is to tweet what you had for breakfast, how do you explain the real deal? When the morning news still states, “Beware of social networking sites because they can disconnect you from real life,” it is hard to stay positive about what the outside world thinks of Twitter. Are your Twitter friends “REAL”? Of course they are!
So, here are 5 tips I’ve come up with to help us explain Twitter to people who don’t get Twitter:
1. Remember that just because Twitter is special to you doesn’t mean it’s going to be special to everyone you talk to about it. Save yourself a lot of frustration by accepting that and moving on! Explaining Twitter is different from converting someone over to it. Everyone has to come to Twitter on their own terms. You cannot want it more for them than they want it for themselves.
2. Explain Twitter by describing it as sending short emails that lots of people can see. I’ve found that most people can understand that. The next question out of their mouths is usually, “Why do you want to tell strangers what you are doing?” I answer that by saying, “That is a very small, yet important personal aspect of Twitter. I like to share information and links related to my business, and I follow people that have the same interests, and I learn from them. It is about much more than tweeting what we had for breakfast, but because we do tweet what we had for breakfast, there is a very personal aspect that is light-hearted and fun.”
3. Next, I explain that if they are going to get on Twitter, they will probably want to plan to devote at least 15-30 minutes each day to it, otherwise it’s tough to build those new relationships. Why is that? Because Twitter is REAL LIFE and you cannot build real life relationships by always doing the “tweet and run”. Ask any person that is active on Twitter, they will tell you that it is about engaging. If you answer an @ reply three days later, that does not count as being engaging.
4. People always want to know what’s in it for them, right? There is a wealth of information on Twitter. Even if someone starts following just a small core of about 50 key people, they will be in the middle of all the action! The twitter experience is really all about who you follow. If you are not careful about it, you will pollute your stream with spam and worthless information. If you are careful about it, you will find a pot of gold! so explain that it’s all about who you follow!
5. Last but not least, explain that Twitter is fun. It is all about fun. At the end of the day, Twitter is a fun distraction that does not ask for a lot in return. Sit back, relax and have a good time on Twitter. Take it as slow or as fast as you want. It is never a competition. Just be yourself and have fun.