Lately I’ve been having a lot of fun convincing non-techie, middle aged folks the value of Twitter. Well, first, what the heck it IS. Then it’s value. Watch for a Psychotherapy Networker article on Twitter I’m writing, coming before the March conference. I may also be doing more with Twitter during the conference and helping them build Twitter into their amazing new webinars and teleclasses they are offering to therapists. (Ie, live Twitter conversations a few days after a webinar to allow further engagement.)
For today, a therapist friend asked a great question: “What does innovation look like on Twitter?” It’s a big question but let me give a few easy to implement ideas in this blog post:
You can’t innovate if you don’t have people following you! And innovators don’t wait around for people to notice them.
Step Number One: Be more aggressive on Twitter, finding and following therapists. I have a therapist list on my @marriagekids account, and Twitter.com offers a great “follow suggestion” list that may give you other people to follow. I would stop if you’re several hundred people higher on following than followers….wait for the follower count to catch up. (If you run into a therapist who hasn’t tweeted in at least two months, you probably don’t want to follow them. Really, if they get back into Tweeting you’ll find them again anyway when they’re active.) You can also look at the follower or following list of any other therapist to grow your following list. The goal of course is they’ll follow you back, though they may very well not, which is why we go on to step 2 and three. But please remember, raw quantity has zero relationship to your innovation. My other account has 2500 followers and yes, I’ve done innovative work over there, but my newer, smaller Twitter account is night and day different in the quality of followers and engagement. In fact if you go into some Twitter people whose followers are 3,4,5,6,000 or more, you’ll find many pages of junk accounts that have nothing to do with the person.
Step Number Two: Don’t discriminate. By this I mean, with some exceptions for obvious spammers, follow people who follow you. If you’re not sure, Tweet them “Hey, curious why you want to follow me!” The real people will respond, the rest you can ignore and never follow back. You just NEVER know who or why people are following you that could lead to cool things. Speaking as someone who may appear to be a “little person”, I’ve actually got a huge amount of leverage with key people to make things happen in the real world. Just because someone doesn’t splash “Look at me and how cool and powerful I am!” doesn’t mean they should be ignored. In fact one of my favorite Twitter friends had NO idea I do website marketing until yesterday. Some business coaches make be shocked and horrified, but I think it’s proof that I’m building honest friendships with real people and leveraging the right part of me with the right people. (She knows about my premarital site and has agreed to do a cool Q&A for it, as that part of me is where I wanted to connect with her professionally.) I’m not a one-note kind of person, nor are you! Don’t box yourself in when you engage with people. You’re not just a therapist, but a fellow citizen, a hobbyist of something, an advocate for a variety of issues. On Twitter I’m a mom, Minnesotan, therapist-to-be, mental health advocate, marketing fan, entrepreneur, marriage advocate, health care and social media discussion fan, and more.
Step Number Three: OK, so now you’re authentically (such a tiresomely over used word, I apologize!) building followers and people to follow. Now you’ve got to start engaging! Compliment something they said or their website, express your shared passion, link to a cool article on their website, or even just respond to simple banter they Tweet about. The problem with Twitter is there are a lot of people talking which makes you think you should talk. But the best talkers are actually ENGAGING, not one-way talking. If you go to my Twitter account you’re very likely to see the great majority of my Tweets being engaging-with-others. What you then don’t necessarily see are the Direct Messaging, Facebook friending, emailing, etc that often goes on when people make a connection. My favorite marketing guy, @unmarketing, Tweeted 10,000 times before he ever self-promoted. The dream ratio in my mind is about 75% engaging with others to 25% sharing your own stuff. But be careful – if someone looks at your Tweets and see’s all RT @ they may wonder if you have your own voice. Remember a lot of us follow the same person, so RT too much and it just gets annoying to see the same Tweet 100 times a day.
I’ll stop here so you can digest the above and begin to Tweet the way I believe innovators Tweet. I could talk at length about the cool things that have come of my Twitter use, but at its core, it starts with the above three steps. You can’t skip those steps and be innovative. Real innovation is not always public, shouting aloud how cool you are, or even forcing everyone to know you are doing innovative stuff. I think of my innovative mind as more of a slithering, slow build, then pouncing on an idea and seeing where it takes me. I have a Twitter training I’m developing so please sign up for my mailing list to get first dibs on a great price when it comes out!