Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
December 10, 200710:25 PM

Ten Simple Steps To Build Your Twitter Community

Have you tried Twitter or any of the other Micro-Blogging platforms like Jaiku? They are little Blog feeds that empower an individual to answer the question, "What are you doing?" in 140 characters or less. You can add people to "follow" and those that you "follow" can choose if they want to reciprocate.

It's been an interesting year as I learn more and more about how this channel is maturing. I got in on the Twitter action fairly early, and while I'm not constantly posting updates related to what I am doing, I do post a few times a day - depending on whether or not I feel like I have something worth saying. Currently, I am following 487 people and there are 701 people following me. I get many email notifications per day that someone new is now following me. Here's the tough part: I head over to check out their Twitter feed and it's usually either empty (they're just getting started) or it's full of tweets (Twitter posts) that don't resonate for me. I tend not to add them (hence the dramatic difference of who's following me and who I am following).

It's an interesting situation. Those who are new to Twitter need to tread carefully. If you add someone you don't really know too early, they may not reciprocate. If you don't state clearly who you are (and don't include a link to your Blog or Website), again, the link might not be reciprocated. I think the stakes are higher. Fewer and fewer people will just add anyone to their community. I also think that Marketers may have a real challenge breaking into a channel like Twitter.

Twitter is easy to use, but it's becoming increasingly more challenging to build a substantial community - which is what makes it most valuable. I'm fearful that we're entering an era where there are lots of people on Twitter, but not that many connected to one another. Twitter is useless if you don't build a community, and it's hard to build that community unless you've already provided value in your feed.

It's tough to get started but not impossible.

Here are ten simple steps to building your Twitter community:

1. Choose a user name that is as close to your real name (or your Blog's title) as possible.

2. Add a link to your Blog or Website in your Twitter profile.

3. Choose a picture of yourself that you have used in other online social networks, so you are recognizable.

4. Update your Twitter with value. Leaving it empty or having it full of lines like, "going for lunch." is not going to get you added.

5. Start with just your real friends - people who you know (and who know you).

6. If you add someone you respect, it might be wise to notify them through email or a message on their Blog so they know who it is.

7. Remember, everyone's time (and attention) is valuable. Don't waste any characters.

8. Be yourself - give them a reason to add you as a "friend."

9. If I don't know you and you are following a lot of people but few are following you, I might consider you a spammer. Don't just add everyone all at once.

10. Create original content. Just sending people to recent Blog postings or Web links it boring. For you... and for your community.

By Mitch Joel