It's the almost universal response when people first hear about
Twitter, the micro-blogging social network that's the taking the Net
Even as the service nears signing up its 2 millionth user, many web
surfers aren't sure what exactly is the nature of the beast called
Twitter is a CONNECTOR
Where else can you engage in mini-conversations with famous, busy and
influential people? Catch their eye for a fleeting moment? Share a
short snippet or whisper a juicy tidbit into their ear?
Twitter is a CONTENT CHANNEL
When I first dabbled in Twitter, I considered many possibilities.
Using it to deliver content was one of them. Chris Webb had a similar
Recently, I fleshed the idea out into a 'TwitZine'. Seems like this
could evolve into an interesting e-publishing channel.
Twitter is a COFFEE ROOM
In a short blog post that's since been widely read and distributed, I
likened Twitter to a coffee room in the operating suite of a surgical
unit. A place where you hang out and chew the fat with a motley crowd
after the day's work is done - or take quick refreshing breaks in
between a long slog.
Twitter is a COMMUNITY
A nurturing, enriching and supportive group of caring people. Susan
Reynolds discovered this when her FROZEN PEA FUND initiative for
breast cancer awareness building took the Twitterverse by storm - with
everyone sporting PEAvatars in support of her fight.
Twitter is a CO-ORDINATOR
Users plan tweet-ups, impromptu get-togethers in various places,
meetings during live events and conferences, or even get opinion,
feedback, insight, advice and directions using Twitter.
Some collaborate on projects, provide status updates and log problems
needing attention. All help get the task done efficiently.
There's a whole lot more to Twitter. Much of it hasn't even been
explored yet. There's potential and possibility. And there's folks
who'll still say...
My Personal Twitter Experience...
Like everyone else, you probably have asked yourself this question...
if you've ever heard of Twitter.
What Is Twitter Good For?!
The anguished question rings out all too often on forums, in blog
comments, and wherever folks who explore social networks gather to
discuss their online lives.
And it's a VERY justified question. One I've asked myself too.
Let me tell you the story of how I got curious about Twitter, tried it
out, almost gave up on it, and then about what happened to change my
mind and use Twitter in a different way that's so much more effective.
It all started by...
Taking Twitter on a Test Drive
The first time I was curious and tried Twitter was in June 2007. Like
most beginners, I viewed the 'Public Timeline' with amazement and
astonishment... NOT of wonder and awe, but in near disgust!
What good is this nonsense? How could I possibly benefit from passing
glimpses of what X or Y or Z had for breakfast, or did last evening,
or thought was funny?
And the very natural next thought was this:
"TWITTER IS A WASTE OF TIME!"
And so I let my Twitter account idle away - until a month later...
I had just finished reading a little ebook by my friend (and fellow
Warrior), John Rhodes. It was a basic primer about Twitter, and how to
It showed me some potential uses - and taught me Twitter was NOT about
the 'Public Timeline' but about your own tribe within it. The
people you 'follow' and the people who 'follow' you.
And so, like every good Twitter newbie, I proceeded to build my
network. By following people, and in turn following everyone who
It grew my 'list' - but soon I was back in a rut.
My 'Too Much Twitter' Dilemma
With 200 people I was following, my Twitter home page was now crowded
by 'tweets' (it's what Twitter calls the short 140-character posts
users make) from all of them. And some were NOISY, tweeting several
times every day.
When I logged in to my Twitter account, it would take half an hour or
more just to scan through all those tweets - and even more time to
explore things of interest mentioned in them.
And all the while, I could see no possible or potential benefit from
Because (and this was my FIRST Twitter lesson) 'quantity' matters
very little as compared to 'quality' when it comes to the kind of
following you have on Twitter.
A 'big' list matters very little, a passionate and loyal list of
followers is GOLD.
But I'm getting ahead of my story.
How I Was Ready To Give Up!
To save time, I STOPPED reading others' tweets - and tested out some
advice I got from people using Twitter to drive more traffic to their
I became a 'link lobber'.
In every tweet, I would include a link. To my blog. Or sales page. Or
an affiliate link. Something self-serving.
What a waste of time!
Nothing much happened. Today, I know what was wrong with that approach
- but at the time, I didn't. I was just getting more and more
frustrated with Twitter.
I was ready to give up on Twitter.
(Maybe that's how you feel too?!)
The Big Twitter 'A-ha'
It was at this point that I got my first major Twitter insight. Acting
on it, I slashed my 'following'.
From following 200+ people, I cut right down to just FORTY. I picked
people whose tweets I found interesting, who shared links I found
worth exploring, and folks I wanted to get to know better.
And that decision completely altered my Twitter experience, made it
infinitely richer and more purposeful. I've since started calling it
my 'Rule of FORTY' and urge people who ask me about Twitter to
adopt it - at least until they get a good feel for the service.
Because I had only 40 people on my tweet-stream to follow, it took me
less time to browse their tweets. That left me with more time to
explore their recommended links, or interact with them through short
As a result, I developed STRONGER ties with my followers.
Then, something special happened. I got to know these people, care
about them, and that led to my behaving in a certain way on Twitter.
My followers noticed - and started clicking on any links I lobbed
them. And I was getting more TWITTER TRAFFIC.
Notice how it didn't happen when I was TRYING HARD to get traffic -
but came about almost incidentally when I started doing certain
And so, I kept doing the same things. And then, another strange thing
happened. My following GREW - and KEPT growing!
In March 2008, I had 300 followers. In April, I had 500. By early
July, I had crossed 1,000. And I now have 1,700+ followers.
Word had spread. And it happened because I had now found the 'magic
key' to Twitter success.
In one sentence, it distills down to this:
It's NOT about you, it's about THEM!
I was completely convinced of the value of my Twitter network.
But I still had no PROOF to convince other people about it. So I
deliberately set out to try an experiment. To do something almost
everybody was saying could NOT be done.
I decided to SELL ON TWITTER.
Yes, I would attempt to PROFIT ON TWITTER.
To some, this was sacrilege. Just like 'Blogging for Profits' was
something that turned the ire of the blogosphere on me way back in
2003, when many participants in the Blogathon 2003 event condemned me
for trying to use a blog to make money!
Oh well... that's history. Today, we have 6- and 7-figure blogging.
And soon, we'll have 6- and 7-figure TWEETING too!
Back to my experiment.
I decided to sell an ebook to my Twitter audience. And to avoid any
confusion about the source of sales, I made it a TWITTER-ONLY
I employed a strategy to do it - and within 48 hours, had made 19
sales of an ebook... that WAS NOT EVEN HALF-FINISHED!
That's a 1.6% sales conversion of ALL my Twitter followers.
NOW, I had proof.
Proof that Twitter could be used for selling.
Proof that Twitter could be used to extend one's reach.
Proof that Twitter could save time and effort.
And that you could use Twitter to PROFIT
* No, not just to drive more traffic.
* No, not just to build up a large list of 'followers'.
* No, not just to waste time chit-chatting on a hot, new service.
You can Twitter to PROFIT
Put cash in your bank account.
You decide if you want to do it.
I'm on Twitter as @drmani
Twitter Guide Part #1: What is Twitter? | Caroline Middlebrook
A Quick Introduction to Twitter for Bloggers | Performancing.com