I have over 10,000 Twitter followers now - What does this really mean?
I remember getting invited to check out Twitter about 2 years ago. Next, I remember thinking that it seemed useless. Months passed....I got emails that said things like, "@delicioushair is now following you on Twitter". WHAT?!? Why?
The notion of someone following me used to strike me as both odd and off-putting. I guess it sounds catchier than saying that someone is "paying attention to you on Twitter", but that's basically exactly what this means. I prefer to think of my subscribers, friends, contacts, and followers as part of my online audience. The better you are at building an audience, the more likely you are to convert this to actual business growth, in my opinion.
Over time, I got the hang of it, and I finally jumped in with both feet just over a year ago, and I'm thankful that I did.
As of a couple of days ago, I have over 10,000 people paying attention to me on Twitter. What's the significance of this? Well, by itself, not much. I had a brief conversation on Twitter with Derek Overbey (@doverbey) after crossing this milestone. He mentioned that quality is more important than quantity, and I agree wholeheartedly. I think having BOTH is pretty nice, too. :)
I consistently see Twitter users with 20,000 or even 50,000 followers who have really only built a very big house of cards for themselves. They never converse with anyone, and they are still trying to use Twitter like a traditional marketing channel, by broadcasting information rather than hanging out and listening.
A few nights ago, I was happy to be able to attend a local "tweetup" (Twitter-based meetup) with author Shel Israel. I even got to sit next to him at dinner, which made my day. Shel is the author of the newly released book "Twitterville" and co-author with Robert Scoble of one of the seminal books on blogging, "Naked Conversations". During dinner, we had an interesting discussion with my local friend Mike Chapman about the fact that no politician has truly utilized social media yet, including President Obama. Obama's campaign certainly did a very effective job of using the tools to broadcast their message, but that's not the same thing as listening and joining the conversation. Shel noted that it would be newsworthy (and bookworthy) for a candidate to do this.
As with the candidates who jump on the bandwagon to appear hip, the same thing goes for anyone attempting to use Twitter to build his/her business. You must listen! Sending links from your blog posts, or just having a profile is not enough. What if someone responds to your post but you aren't even there to see it? In much the same way, having a giant number of followers means nothing if they are all spambots, or if you are never around to speak with them. Raw numbers are not the important part - engagement is.
I am happy to hit this new plateau, but I also recognize that the key to success in any social medium is being consistent.
Over the past 24 hours, I had two of my agents contact me, excited about new prospects that they have. One of them is looking to spend up to $3 million for a waterfront home (fully pre-screened - it's his friend's fiancee), and the other is considering homes priced in the $1 million range. If they both close, I would stand to make $22,500 or more for our company. Why am I bothering to tell you this? Because I met BOTH of these agents on Twitter. It's a phenomenal recruiting tool if handled correctly.
P.S. Just a quick tip: If you want to get serious about using Twitter to build relationships and your business, I would highly recommend using TweetDeck, Seesmic Desktop, or something similar. It makes it easier to pay attention to the people you care about and form bonds with them.