One thing we're all experiencing is the increased speed of online communications. With the ability to publish information faster, our expectations have changed. Instant gratification is often the order of the day. But just because social media tools allow us to connect faster and share more broadly across networks that often expand overnight, doesn't mean the depth of relationships required to do business has changed.
Speed doesn't always help. Anyone who has experienced speed dating can tell you that what comes across in five minutes isn't necessarily representative of the traits it takes to build a long-term relationship. What's concerning is that many people believe that a few Tweets entitle them to close the deal. Don't be tempted to jump the gun.
Instead, consider how these 3 traits of speed dating can be used to increase effectiveness on Twitter:
1. Initial Impressions. When someone follows you on Twitter, what do you do? If you're about more than growing followers, it's likely that you look at their profile. First, you check out their personal information and their picture and maybe even click on a link they've shared. Next, you scroll down through about a dozen Tweets looking for something of interest that indicates you want to follow them. This takes about 10 to 15 seconds. That's how fast we evaluate people in social media. Not so different than we would do in person as we move to the next candidate in a speed dating experience.
Things to do:
- Make sure your profile is interesting to the followers you want to attract. Use a custom background.
- Include a link - website, blog, LinkedIn profile, etc.
- Add a location - it may be cute to say "digital nomad" but think about what a location can add to that initial impression.
- Use your picture as your avatar. People build relationships with people. If you're Tweeting as a company, put the names of the people who participate in your profile.
2. Surface Relationships. In speed dating we want to impress the other person. We want them to want to spend more time with us. We know that if they do, they'll see how truly wonderful we are. It's like getting to the next step in a sales process. On Twitter, it's hard to develop a deeper relationship without moving beyond 140 characters. We need to think about how we can get our followers to agree to spend more time with us (our company, our ideas, etc.).
Tips for Extensions:
- Include links back to content your followers will value - website, blog, other people's great content.
- Direct Message a follower and ask if you can email them because you'd like to share "something" they will find interesting.
- Include contact information on your Twitter profile.
- Tweet about webinars your company is hosting with a link to register.
- Hold a Tweet Chat (http://tweetchat.com/) on a subject of interest and promote it with a hashtag (#keyword) like you would an event. You can even promote this event via an email invitation to the segment of your database who'd be interested. No reason why you shouldn't mix social with traditional...is there?
3. Hit and Miss. Just as we won't mesh with all of the candidates during a speed dating event, it's highly unlikely that we'll find affinity with all the people we chose to follow on Twitter or who choose to follow us. What's interesting about Twitter is that there are a lot of people who may be much more than they appear to be according to their Twitter profiles. You can see this unfold if you monitor them over a span of time. There's also the flip side. That's why it's important to watch and listen before you jump in with both feet and pursue a dialogue.
How to Hit More Than You Miss:
- Listen to learn what interests people you want to engage and respond accordingly.
- All followers are not for you. Pick and choose to maximize your time based on the objective you have for being on Twitter. It's not a popularity contest based on numbers.
- Use Friend or Follow (http://friendorfollow.com/) to find out who you're following that's not following you. This is helpful for either cleaning up your follower list or for learning if you're attracting the followers you'd like to have.
The speed of Twitter and other real-time online tools can often make us forget about the importance of building relationships over time. We need to focus on the objective that each tool can help us accomplish and combine them to create the overall outcomes we need. Speed dating has its place, but not at the expense of trust, credibility and value delivery.