To tweet or not to tweet, that is the question.

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To tweet or not to tweet.

With apologies to the bard.

It is a very difficult question.

One with many good answers, some poor ones and some that might be right some of the time, most of the time, none of the time, for some people, not for others, for some content, not for other types.

That is just for starters.

On 29 May, I published a post about whether less is better when sending emails to a list of subscribers “What’s better, a daily quickie or a weekly big one?

It seems the question is as relevant, or perhaps even more so, to twitter. Most of the comments have been in favour of less, emails. As I wrote elsewhere, the most common reason for subscribers unsubscribing to my email lists is “too many emails”. That is exactly the same reason I have for unsubscribing to email newsletters that I get.

What made me think about the relevance to twitter, was a conversation with Seamus, a small business owner,  yesterday. He is in a totally different business to mine, landscaping, garden maintenance and snow removal  (he was not overworked here in SW Ontario last winter). He could be a potential client at some time in the future. Seamus had been following me on twitter, yesterday, he apologised for un-following me. I have no problem with people un-following me for a few reasons:

  • I have a thick skin – very necessary for a contrarian and toughened by a good diet of hate mail in response to some of  my comments in the media.
  • I regularly un-follow, un-friend and abandon people in social media as easily as I unsubscribe from email lists.
  • It’s all part of growing up, it happens, it’s not worth worrying about.

What is far more important than Seamus un-following me is why he did so.

Too many tweets.

My twitter strategy is to send out a steady stream of inspirational messages and quotations alternating with commercial tweets which include links to affiliate products, my own book and programmes which I promote. I also use buffer to curate stuff that I think may be of interest to my followers and I interact with other people, re-tweeting, thanking others for re-tweets or mentions. All told I probably average 40 tweets a day.

That strategy has grown my twitter following organically ( I have not purchased or deliberately set out to follow large numbers of followers) to 9800 in 3 years or so. Every week I gain between 30 and 60 new followers and lose between 10 and 30, giving me a net growth of around 30 or 40 a week.

As a strategy for increasing my followers, it works well. As a strategy for retaining and staying engaged with existing and prospective customers it may not be so good.

Back to why Seamus un-followed me.

He uses twitter in three distinctly different ways:

  • To get local and international news – CNN and others.
  • To read interesting and amusing tweets from a small number of tweeters.
  • To advertise his business.

Seamus only follows a small number of twitter accounts and has few followers himself. By following me with my 40 or more tweets a day, all he was seeing in his stream was my tweets, not the one or two a day from his other contacts. His comment was that he enjoyed my tweets and would continue to do so if they only arrived once or twice a day.

Someone who has been an inspiration to me, and a brilliant marketer herself, Irene Kimmel of Archetype Marketing, commented in a discussion on Google+ that the use of twitter lists could help streamline twitter. True it could and I use lists myself , they are great for seeing what a specific group of followers are tweeting. But Seamus is a busy person, he does not want to have to think about lists. He is out of his office most of the day using his smart phone a few minutes at a time to see what is in his twitter stream.

Like many people, I do have a second twitter account. A somewhat neglected account where I follow and am followed by,  people with a connection to horses. Partly because I have been a horse owner almost all my life, and partly because it is a niche that interests me, I keep it ticking over with one or two tweets a day. Despite the neglect, it has attracted a few hundred followers.

The best twitter strategy may well be a different twitter account, with a unique personality and strategy for each type of follower. Not differentiated by niche, market segment or product, but by type of twitter user. 

How to define types of twitter users? Large or small number of  followers / following, active tweeting many times a day or not very active tweeting once a week. Engaged tweeter or passive reader, most common type of tweets, conversational, inspirational, entertaining, informative, commercial, re-tweets.

Could get complicated.

What do you think? Leave a comment or start a debate on Google+.

Wishing you success in all your endeavours.


Peter Wright





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