Last week, I was fortunate enough to attend the 140 Characters Conference sponsored by the amazing and big-hearted Jeff Pulver (@jeffpulver). Thanks to Jeff's generous scholarship (I tweeted to compete for a free ticket and Jeff was kind enough to help a gal with a meager budget), I was able the hear and meet some of the social media industry's most interesting characters.
For two days, panels and people preached about the golden rules of Twitter: be authentic, provide value, connect, and engage. Whether you're an individual, or tweeting on behalf of a business, Twitter is all about community. The speakers had great analogies such as: Twitter is word of mouth with a megaphone, if Twitter was the phone company it'd be a partyline, and Twitter is a cocktail party. This all makes perfect sense and it's how I see Twitter today, however it made me reflect back on my first few weeks of tweeting.
When I worked at the Los Angeles Times, there was a gal who sent daily email blasts about what was happening in the media space. It was great because she sifted through all the industry news on the internet and compiled it for us with links. When I got on Twitter earlier this year, I thought I'd do something similar. I tweeted facts and stats from articles and thought I was providing a valuable service. I didn't send people @replies, I didn't write anything personal, I didn't participate in the amazing Twitter community. People probably thought I was a bot! Looking back, it's a bit embarrassing.
If you're just starting out on Twitter, don't make the mistake I made. Join the conversation. You're not interrupting, you're not being rude, you are contributing. The people who "get" Twitter will respond in kind—and maybe even become some of your closest friends and connections.
Today, I'm fully immersed in the Twittersphere and appreciate all that it offers. Like most things, Twitter is what you make of it. So tweet, connect, engage, be real, and promote others more than you promote yourself. And, most importantly, remember that Twitter is not a spectator's sport.
Thank you again to the kind Jeff Pulver for allowing me to attend his wonderful conference. I appreciate your generosity, Jeff, and promise to pay it forward.
* If you want to read a great account of what the conference was like for a first-timer, I suggest you read the beautifully-written blog post by the amazing Jeff Rago (@jeffrago). And, if you weren't able to attend #140conf, check out the RealPlayer SP Channel on YouTube to see some of the great presentations and panels.