There have been tens of thousands of blog posts and articles written about Twitter, and because of this, I have hesitated writing one myself. I have decided to write a short post because of something I overhead at a recent conference I attended. Here is what I overhead, “I’ll start posting on Twitter once I get a lot of followers.”
Well, if you know anything at all about Twitter, waiting for followers before you begin to Tweet is a path to failure. Just the opposite is true. If you want a lot of Twitter followers, you must first begin to Tweet, and if you offer interesting and useful content, then followers will find you.
If you have not joined the SQL Server Twitter community yet, but are considering doing so, the the first question you need to ask yourself is if joining the SQL Server Twitter community is right for you. While people Tweet for many different reasons, here is why I started Tweeting:
1) I wanted to keep followers, such as my friends and family, posted on my travel. As most of you know, I travel a lot, and using Twitter to let people know where I am, and what I am doing, is an efficient way to communicate this information.
2) I write a lot, and I wanted a way to share my writing with people who are interesting in reading what I have to say. So whenever I write a blog post, or release a new book, I share this using Twitter.
3) Besides wanting to share what I write, I also like to use Twitter to share information that I have learned. Often, a topic is better covered in a Tweet than it is in a blog post.
4) Over the past 10 years, I have met a lot of DBAs and other IT professionals around the world, and Twitter makes it easier for me to keep in touch with them.
5) By following many other people in the SQL Server community, I am better able to keep up with news and information that is relevant to me. In many ways, it acts as a type of RSS feed.
6) While forums are a great way to ask questions, if I have a short question, and if I want a quick and simple answer, Twitter allows me to quickly ask questions and get answers. In addition, if I see a question on Twitter I can answer, then I do so.
7) While a lot of people use Twitter to socialize, this is probably the least common reason I use Twitter. This is just a personal quirk, as I prefer to socialize in person, not virtually.
Obviously, this is not a complete list of the reasons why you might want to participate in Twitter, but these are my reasons. Your reasons may be very different.
As I have already mentioned, if you want to become a part of the SQL Server Twitter community, and gain a following, the first step is to begin Tweeting. The second step is to begin following people who you find interesting. Here are some of the ways that I find people to follow on Twitter:
1) I seek out and add people I know that are on Twitter so I can keep up with what they are doing and saying. I often do this by searching for people I know in Twitter Search. I also pay close attention to bloggers or speakers that I respect, checking out if they have a Twitter name, and following them.
2) Another way I identify people to follow is to watch the various Tweets that are being made, especially Retweets, looking for Tweeters others are talking about. Often, these are good people to follow.
3) What if you are new to the SQL Server community and you don’t know who to follow? If that is the case, check out http://wefollow.com/twitter/sqlserver. This website lists the most influential Tweeters in the SQL Server community, and adding all of these people is a great place to get started. Once you add some followers, you can use www.mrtweet.com to help you identify even more people you may want to follow. I have used both of these tools to find new people to follow.
Once you have begin Tweeting and following others, the next step, finally, is to seek out people to follow you. In most cases, people will find you on their own. For example, if you follow someone, they will get an e-mail that you are now following them, and they will often follow you back. Or, if you Tweet a lot, and you get Retweeted or mentioned in other Tweets, you can be more easily be found. I also add my Twitter name to my blog, e-mail tag-line, and even on my PowerPoint slides, so that people know that I am on Twitter.
Over time, as you continue to Tweet and follow others, more and more people will begin to follow you, assuming that you provide useful Tweets, and don’t get too annoying by Tweeting about things of little or no interest to anyone else but you. On many different occasions, I have begun to follow someone, only later to unfollow them because they produce more “noise” than useful content.
If you want to get serious about using Twitter, check out this website, www.squidoo.com/twitterapps, which provides a large list of tools you can use to better manage your Twitter presence. I also recommend that you get a free Twitter application, such as TweetDeck, which will make creating and reading Tweets much easier. There is a lot more to using Twitter than what I have mentioned in this short blog post, but if you are new to Twitter, this is enough information to get you off to a good start.