Friday, December 26, 2008

Twitter - Friends or Business? Can it be for both?


I have only been on twitter since August, 2008. Our local Newspaper ran an article about it so I looked into it on the web to see what it was. I must admit that I went at it with the twitter original purpose intent. Just a place to let people know what I was doing at that moment in my life. I loved it!

I told one of my girlfriends what one or two of my twitterfriends were saying or doing and she thought I fell off the deep end of being addicted to "blogging" (that is what she called it because she didn't speak twitter termonology yet. We laugh about it, because she now has her own twitter group of friends that she keeps up with. They are nutty, goof-balls, and I say that with all kindness. It is really funny that we twitter in different circles.

Over a few weeks I developed some relationships with people I would have never met in a lifetime because of distance around the globe. It was fun to see what other people where doing and the aspect of being able to reach out to others in need and to pray or help was most rewarding. I found that the smaller your circle of friends the closer/more intimate your relationship developed.

A defining moment in my twitter life was when someone was sharing that they were eating hot apple pie and I twitted back telling her that I love cheddar cheese on my apple pie. I was blown away with joy (it kind of surprised me - the feeling I had) to know that my little twit comment influence another person to experience something new and she commented back that she tried melting a cheddar cheese slice on her apple pie for the first time in her life and she liked it! That experience in twittering was just pure fun!

During the election months twitter turned a political corner. People, including me, started to voice our political concerns. Honestly, it was what we were doing and thinking about, but lines were being drawn between the presidential candidate you supported. I felt it was important for me to keep people in my twitter circle that were not for my candidate... I did not only want to hear one voice, from people with the same thoughts.

This was one of the true gems in twitter! I could co-exist with people who had very differing point of views and learn how people felt that were passionate about life in ways that were not interpreted through my worldview. I really enjoy people! And I find it is a great asset to understanding people if you can listen to others speak and try to see life through their eyes, or walk in life. I treasure my "different opinion" twitter friends as much as I do those which I have a kindred spirit.

Shortly after November, Twitter began to make another major shift. Really this shift had been growing along with the election months (year!), but I was more interested in the election comments. When the political comments ended, the "social media networking" rose to the top. Twitter was being invaded and almost taken over by people who were trying to sell, and meet people to build a "social network". This was all brand new to me. I have been in multilevel marketing type companies but deplored the "making friends with the object of sharing the business plan" concept.

I remember a few years ago being in my first real pushy multilevel marketing company. We were taught how to view every person to person contact as a potential client and business contact. I could no longer just sit at the Y with my children and interact with them playing. I was scoping out the crowd looking for potential clients and business contacts. When I drove down my neighborhood street I thought about which neighbor I should drop by to share "the business". One Sunday I sat in church and found myself scanning the people in the pews to see who could "benefit" from joining the bandwagon of selling the product.

When the message was over and the altar call came I went to the front on knelt at the steps. I was overcome with selfishness and guilt. How could I look at people and think about them as potential customers/ business partners and not know their condition of their soul? How did God look at these precious people? He isn't trying to find people to improve His business. He was caring deeply about the person's heart and soul condition.

So many new twitters join trying to sell something...here is an example of some real bios:

  • If you have been looking for someone to help you with your acne problem it's high time that you should get help from the real professionals, or
  • Promises Made Promises Kept ReMax Realtor in Victoria with 35 Years Experience to Help You With Your Real Estate Needs, or
  • Marketing furniture and an antique obsession mean I see in shades of brown, or
  • Free obituary, funeral planning help and grief support forums/chat rooms.
I do not like to follow people who are just into twitter to hook me as their fish. It is like a bait and switch tactic. These people dangle a few lines on twitter hoping for a bite, as they try to follow as many people as allowed. The goal is not building a relationship but instead it is building their influence in a social media network for personal gain.

Another more subtle community developing is people who twitter to drive blog traffic. When I began twittering, I learned some twittering ideas from a pro blogger. He suggested way to increase readership. I must admit that I still like a lot of what I learned from him, and I do post on twitter when I finish a blog. But to me, this is more of a way to inform people that follow me what I am up to. If my blog or book-writing was all I twitted about, I wouldn't consider myself to be a real twitter.

So, that is the BIG question, what is a real twitter? Officially this is how twitter began "Jack Dorsey had grown interested in the simple idea of being able to know what his friends were doing. Specifically, Jack wondered if there might be an opportunity to build something compelling around this simple status concept. When he brought the idea up to his colleagues, it was decided that a prototype should be built."
(quoted from about us on www.twitter.com)

Now even the twitter originators admit that the scope of twitter has changed from 'being able to know what friends are doing' to "In countries all around the world, people follow the sources most relevant to them and access information via Twitter as it happens—from breaking world news to updates from friends."
(quoted from www.twitter.com about us)

I know people will continue to use (and I do mean USE) twitters wonderful networking ability to grow their own businesses, egos, website/blogs, and support for a specific cause. But from my personal experience, and it may be because I am a people person, I still like to read as many twits as I can each day and comment back to people about what is going on in their life. This is what drew me to twitter to begin with and it is the only reason I stay. I enjoy my new community of friends around the world. It is so interesting to see what people do and to find out what is happening in their life.

To me, this will always be what real twitters are about. Real twitters are interested in building and maintaining relationships, by sharing with people what they really are doing.

How has twitter impacted you? What is your purpose for twittering? What do you feel about social marketing/networking for business?

8 comments:

  1. Hello,

    I read this post and had to pause and think why I twitter. Although I don't twitter a lot, I do mostly post business type events. I just wasn't sure if I should add personal things in there, so I usually don't. I have found myself commenting on some of my twitter friends tweets. Thanks for the post, gives me something to think about.

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  2. LindyLou, thanks. Very thoughtful post. I agree with what you've said here. I am a marketer, but I'm a Christian first. Twitter IS about relationships. It's really not much different from the old way of networking through, say, Rotary Club. As I've noted on my own blog, when someone in insurance joined Rotary, he/she didn't go around sticking out a hand and saying, "I'm so-and-so--buy insurance from me." It was about establishing trust within the community. Once that trust was established, Rotary members in need of insurance might well buy from that member.

    BTW, I found this post through your tweet on Twitter. I'll retweet it for you.

    Blessings,

    ~ Brandilyn

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  3. Hey LindyLou,
    Thanks for this post, which Brandilyn's retweeted. I have struggled with the same thing: friends or business or both. I like what you said about posting to tell people what you've written. Yet I've learned a lot from people who seem to only post business stuff.
    Me? It's business with a relational focus. If I hadn't tried twitter to learn from fellow writers and tell others about my books/ministry, I would not have met you, LindyLou.
    And this would have been my loss.
    Thanks again. : )

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  4. Hey, from me, too! I ab-so-lute-ly agree with what you've written. I hate the selling-thing and will not follow anyone if it appears their only reason for twittering. I have come to deeply appreciate and hold with honor the friendships I have made on Twitter...and that includes you!

    Blessings...Lynn

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  5. How do I say Thank you to people who are so kind? I knew twitter was a special place. Thank you so much for enjoying my twitter friendship. I thank God for opening my circle of friends.

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  6. great article. I am new and this helped me to establish my goals for twitter more clearly. Tried to respond to your tweet abt your son. can so relate with DS-8 who has SPD. really affected our family, hlth,etc. better now. u can eml me at sophiadare@comcast.net
    thanks!

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  7. I like Twitter because I can find people with the same interests and values to share things with. I have found some great blogs to follow, Some great Christian websites (CWTR), I have been introduced, and learned about new things. I don't follow anyone whose Twitters are strictly business minded. I don't get offended if someone shares about their job, or business, as long as they don't push the advertising angle. I enjoy authors mentioning their new books, or articles they have written. And of course you don't have to follow anyone you don't care for and you can block people from following you.

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  8. The idea of looking at friends as a potential client never appealed to me.

    If I can help someone, that's great, but when friends invited us to dinner only to sell their products my husband and I were disappointed. We wanted relationship more than stuff. And don't we all?

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