The Value of Listening on Twitter

A lot of virtual ink has been spilled on topics like how to get more Twitter followers, the value of having a large following, how having a lot of followers can enable you to establish a personal brand faster or market your products and services, etc.

But relatively little seems to have been written about how incredibly valuable the people you follow are to your social networking efforts. Yet I often find that the people I follow provide me with a lot of really valuable benefits that I simply would not receive otherwise.

  • The first that comes to mind is simply the ton of awesome ideas I've gained by reading the links I get on the many tweets that I see each day. Since I've been on Twitter, my Digg file of bookmarked sites has started bulging because I am constantly being exposed to ideas that I never would have seen otherwise.
  • The second gain I get is that I am able to build relationships with mutual follows. I have received and given comments to various people that have led to full-blown conversations (both online and offline). In some cases, we have even done a little friendly, humorous bantering that has cemented an online friendship. I have long been amazed at how friendships can form online, but Twitter seems to accelerate this process.
  • I confess to being something of a lurker online. I will at times just read the tweets as they scroll by. What I get from this is a real sense of what people are thinking as a large group. I'm not sure if this will ever add to my wallet, but that is not the point. I am better informed and that makes me better able to write to a larger audience.
  • Fourth, I find that the people who follow me look a lot like the list of people I follow (another reason to avoid those "black hat" methods that involve following and unfollowing large numbers of people). Of course a high percentage of the people I follow will also follow me in turn. But because I tend to retweet some of the things I learn from them or I write about similar topics, the people who follow me often share common interests.

    There is an advantage to having a certain level of homogeneity on Twitter (although I would not want to have all my Twitter conversations be on the same topic). It makes little sense to send out tweets if the people getting them have no iuterest in the topics you tweet about.

I guess what I am saying holds true for other social media platforms as well as Twitter, but I personally use Twitter more often than all the others combined, and the ways I have benefited have therefore been most strongly noticed via Twitter.

The point is, of course, that all social media is about two-way communications. Old style broadcast methods were all about sending messages (aka "shouting"). Social media is about sending, receiving, responding and engaging.

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COPYRIGHT © 2009, Charles Brown
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April 14, 2009 at 6:28 PM Anonymous said...

Great post, I agree. I find it tiresome that many people focus on the number of followers instead of focusing on the overall quality of the two way communication that takes place.
This frustration led to my post today:

on growing your follower list quickly.

Keep up the great writing and remember that the quality of our interactions outweigh the quantity of followers. If you both add and receive value to the overall community, the quantity will follow.