Papercut’s *ahem* “Social Media Strategy” – Part 2

In this series of posts, I’m talking about how I got my company started with social media, and the decisions I’ve made that have helped me develop a great network of people. In the last post, I told you I had chosen Twitter as my primary platform. I had identified my primary target, but what should I say to them?

Decision 3. I decided off the bat that nobody wants to hear about me.

When I started using Twitter, I saw people using it in all kinds of different ways. For the most part, I found people’s tweets fell into certain groups, based on how I reacted to them.

Kind of Tweets Following My Reaction
Some people frequently tweeted about other people, linking to their posts or referring to their Twitter IDs. They were very externally focussed, and often had nice things to say. They Twitter pages tended to be very interactive. Generally quite large. I liked what they were saying and wanted to follow too.
Some people tweeted a lot about themselves, constantly promoting their own websites and own material. Sometimes they had good things to say. Generally small to medium sized While these people weren’t always emptily tweeting, I found I eventually started unconsciously tuning them out. It was the same message over and over, and after the first few tweets, I wasn’t getting anything out of it.
Some people tweeted a lot but weren’t really saying anything. They would talk about their day, or talk to their friends. Generally relatively small Because tweets were either irrelevant to me or appeared to be part of a more personal conversation, I couldn’t relate to them.
Some people only had negative things to say, and it was clearly negative–not meant to be funny. Generally small I didn’t follow these people. They weren’t very nice.

That led me to the decision not to promote myself. With the rare exception if I did something neat or cool I thought I should share, for the most part, I decided to promote other people. What I hoped that might do was indirectly promote myself as someone who pays attention and offers value to other people. After all, nobody knows who I am. I have no credibility because nobody’s talking about me.

I chose carefully. I didn’t just promote everyone, I watched for those people who had really interesting things to say on Twitter, or on their blogs, and I started tweeting their links, and saying nice things about them.

Results

The results were immediate and exciting. When you say nice things about people, you win two ways:

1) The people who you endorse love it because you’re of course endorsing them. Everybody likes that. So they’re very inclined to watch you and say nice things in return. It doesn’t always work, but this doesn’t appear to be a medium where you do things expecting “payment” in whatever form. Just do nice things, and 8 times out of 10, you get a positive response as a bonus.

Nobody loves me2) The people who follow you like it too! When you endorse quality stuff, you’re basically handing away access to resources people may not otherwise have known about. A common way to thank people for that is by retweeting them. And let me tell you, getting retweeted is like doing crack cocaine! Someone you don’t even know is giving you a tacit endorsement by saying, “hey everybody! Check out what this guy said!”

It’s led me to the point where almost 75% of my tweets are retweets or endorsements of other people’s material. And with that, I got a pretty rapid increase in followers. When I look at other people touting pyramid schemes to get more followers, all I can say is, “but you don’t need to fake it…you can do it legitimately for hardly any effort, and it feels good!”

Okay great, so I’m building a following, tons of people are responding to me favourable, but since I’m not promoting myself, how do I let these people know what I do?

More to come!

I’m a professor of project management at the college where I work. My students continually amaze me with their insights, passion and all-around awesomeness. I figure they deserve access to more answers than I can give them by myself. This site is for them.
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My name is Geoff. I write about project management pretty regularly. From time to time, I also make tools and templates to give away.

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