While I know I should be much more involved with Twitter, given the fact that I spend so much time writing about SEO and Internet Marketing. However, I admit that I don’t really know nearly as much as I ought to know about how to make it work for me. That’s why I decided to start doing some research on what it would take to become of the Twitter power users we all read so much about.
I looked through several different articles on what makes for a Twitter Guru and have tried to distill the knowledge I’ve learned here. Whether it works or not – well ask me in a few months and we’ll see where I’m at in my Twitter experiment by then.

Remember – You Are Having A Conversation

Twitter, more so than most other social networks is all about having a conversation, almost in real time with people all over the world. I think that may well be why they limit it to 140 characters – the idea is to keep your answers short and snappy, almost as if you were chatting in an online chat room with people from all over the world.
If you think of Twitter in this way then you begin to understand exactly what it takes to be a success on Twitter – people are looking to have a real conversation and not simply to put some thought out there to have it live or die based on the herd. So instead of spending hours crafting a pithy tweet, just dive in and find people you find interesting. Then respond to the people you’ve found and try to engage them in conversation.

Remember -- Twitter is basically a conversation

Remember — Twitter is basically a conversation

Is it hard? Sure it is. Then again, it’s no different from working a room at a party where you want to get to know some new people. You strike up conversations with people you find there and try to see if you have something in common. The advantage of course is that here, you already know what their most recent thoughts actually are about.

Be a Content Creator

The other side of all of this is of course that if you are always commenting on what other people have to say, you’re unlikely to actually attract lots of followers. You do want to create plenty of original content but again, you want to keep it timely. Remember – Twitter is basically like a gigantic chat room filled with people from all over the world so you want to chat about things happening now, not what happened ten years ago.
You can do this by keeping an eye on various news feeds and seeing what’s happening in your particular area of interest. When you see a news item which you think would appeal to those whom you want to reach out, tweet about it. Don’t spend too long thinking about it. Again, think of Twitter as being kind of like a chat room instead of a place to share well thought out and crafted blog posts. It should be spontaneous and free.

Use a Tracking Service

There are any number of different Twitter tracking services available which will allow you to keep track of particular hash tags and or of trending topics. These things can give you up to the second information on what the Twitterverse is discussing right now so that you can comment on whatever is hot.
Of course, you also want to try to initiate conversations (which is why I said above that you want to initiate content) but you can definitely focus on what’s going on now in order to push out some tweets and get into interesting conversations.

Speaking of Outside Services…

When discussing such outside services by the way, it’s useful to remember that there are a great many of them that will allow you to schedule tweets to be sent out. While I don’t recommend that these kinds of tweets be your only original content on Twitter, they do have their place, especially if you are tweeting for your business.
In essence, you want to put together a series of tweets which have some useful content to them and which will appeal to the readers of your feed. This is the one and only time by the way when it does pay to take your time and think carefully about crafting the perfect pithy tweet and making sure that what you write will resonate with the Twitterverse.

Speaking of Thinking Carefully…

Okay, now that we’re on the subject of thinking carefully, while it does seem that Twitter is the sort of place where you want to get your thoughts out quickly and avoid the whole overthinking thing, a bit of thought can go a long way. There have been any number of different Twittergate scandals of late where someone famous tweeted something really stupid and then had to backtrack on what they said.

Dr. Phil Twitter Faux Pas

Found this one on If it’s real (I have my doubts), all I can say is wow — big fail Dr. Phil.

If you are about to say something that you know is likely to come across as controversial, maybe it’s time to take a step back and remember that nothing really disappears on the Internet. Ultimately, once you put it out there, even if you delete the tweet, it is likely that you will find it coming back to haunt you if you had an intemperate moment at some point. So don’t think too much but do put a bit of thought into what you’re writing before you say something you’ll regret later.

Be a Person

I’ve mentioned this more times than I care to count but it still bears repeating because people always seem to forget about it when they’re trying to create their online personalities, especially for a business. You need to be a person in any kind of social media, not a corporation. With all due respect to Mitt Romney, corporations are not people too and they shouldn’t be thought of as such.
This means that when responding to people, especially on Twitter (which as I said is kind of like a giant chat room) you should try to sound like you are responding as a real human being and not as a corporate giant trying to play at getting into the interwebs. In essence, this means that you make connections with individuals and actually pay attention to what they’re saying.
Or to put it another way, as I told an ex of mine who insisted on discussing anything but what I was talking about, talk to me, not at me.

Don’t Be Afraid to Follow People Back

I know that there is this thing on Twitter where you are only truly a “guru” if you have many more followers than people you are following. However, that doesn’t mean that you need to refrain from following people back who are interesting. Don’t feel you need to do it as a courtesy to anyone who happens to follow you – especially since there are still a great many bots on Twitter. However, do follow back real people who are trying to engage in a conversation with you.

Bottom Line

Act like you want other people to act towards you on Twitter and think of it as a giant, global conversation and you’ll find that before long you too can claim the mantle of being a Twitter Guru.