Getting to know you on Twitter

Back in June 2007 I started using Twitter (wonderwebby). I only knew about two people using Twitter at the time and – I admit it – I just didn’t get it. It took me a while to understand what Twitter was, let alone what it could do. But now I find myself tweeting away to enhance connections with mentors, friends and family, participate in conferences, search, discover information and even to make a difference in the world.

So, I have been exploring, connecting and tinkering with different ways of using Twitter. At one stage I thought I would only follow around 150 people, but now (only because of the grouping function on TweetDeck) I am following many more. Just as well, because it makes a difference when I manage to attend a conference and I recognise people! There also seems to be more and more brands coming aboard. Certainly Twitter is becoming more ‘mainstream’ with lots of mentions of Twitter on TV and Radio chat shows here in Australia. Sometimes I appreciate brands creating a presence on Twitter. Sometimes a ‘brand’ (note:  brand are not always  ‘people’ on Twitter) will follow me and many times I won’t reciprocate – like the hair loss company that followed me last week  (huh? something you’re not telling me?)

Personally I prefer to know who I am connecting with (in most cases, apart from some news ‘feeds’) I enjoy the social nature of Twitter. As I mentioned at a recent conference, it’s like those ‘ head popping over the partition (cubicle) moments- and who wants a faceless placard to pop up promoting brand X soft drink?’

As you may have seen, Nielson reported a growth in Twitter usage of 1382% between February 2008 and February 2009!  These days you can even find a blog dedicated to tips for tweeting, called TwiTip by ProBlogger Darren Rowse.

So how do you go about putting a brand on Twitter? For starters, in this video CC Chapman (one of my fellow Age of Conversation 2 co-authors) asks whether or not your brand should be on Twitter at all – and some of the problems with mass Twitter marketing tactics, like nasty little automatic direct messages that read “thanks for the follow now check out my rooly kool website” .

Another  blog post by Kai Turner lists some tips for getting your brand on Twitterpeople want an authentic conversation with brands that speak as we would expect them to. People don’t want brands to be their friends, or to be overly familiar with them, but they do want a dialogue with brands whose products or services they enjoy using.” Oh, and if you want to get your brand on Twitter, it would be well worth engaging Social Media Consultant to get it right before you damage your brand :)

And what about the rest of us? Well, while you might have to be careful to spot Twitter Follower Manipulators, People Pretending to be Brands and Brands That Don’t Care, there are still some great personal and business reasons to use Twitter. As Shane says, Twitter is easy to use and ” humans are inherently social creatures who in most cases enjoy and in fact need to interact with other people. Thus, Twitter is fulfilling one of the basic needs of people everywhere.”

What about you? How has your Twitter experience changed since you started using it? How do you think should brands go about creating a Twitter presence?