Everyone in the Entire World is Using Twitter Wrong

Twitter stock is at an all time low and it’s breaking my heart.  Not because I own stock in the company but because I don’t feel that it’s full potential has been reached or that it’s user base is using the platform correctly.  There are exceptions to this but the vast majority of people and businesses don’t understand that every social platform shouldn’t be treated the same or be used as a vehicle to promote their product, brand, themselves or their genius snarky 140 character tweets.  I’m not saying you shouldn’t link to your personal website or company site in your profile, but every tweet you make doesn’t have to directly benefit you.

It’s Partially Facebook’s Fault

People don’t realize that you can’t use Twitter the same way you use Facebook.  People have been conditioned on FB that when you post an update to your friends, you get immediate engagement and interaction with not a lot of effort.  People are emotionally invested in you and have a personal connection which is why you get that instant gratification.   Twitter forces you to work for that gratification.  That’s the key distinction between the two and why most people stick with FB and abandon Twitter.


On Twitter, your friends are now your followers from all over the globe.  It’s not limited to a small circle anymore.  It’s a big transition and most people just can’t wrap their head around it.  I feel like Twitter loses a lot of users because the average person makes one tweet, nobody hears it or cares, there’s zero interaction and they give up.  Why?  Mainly because they weren’t educated on how to use the platform properly.  Had they known to search for a topic of interest and started engaging in the conversation, they would have felt that interaction they were looking for.  I would imagine that if you posted 5-6 updates on FB and got zero likes or comments, you’d probably lose interest in that platform too. 

They didn’t do that though.  They did what they were conditioned to do on FB.  They make a tweet to the empty world and don’t feel validated or that anyone cares because they get zero engagement.  My question to you is, why should anyone care?  Why should anyone care what you have to say if you haven’t earned it.  Get over yourself because you are not entitled to any followers.  Work to earn respect from your following not by starting the conversation, but contributing to it.

The Death of the Auto DM

Much like Jay-Z called for the death of auto-tune, I’m pleading with the world to stop the auto DM.  Automating anything on social will be the death of you before you even begin to navigate the waters and connect.  First impressions are everything and social is no exception.  The second you robotically auto DM a new connection you’re telling them that you have zero interest in getting to know them and that it’s all about you, your product or your services.

Can you imagine a complete stranger approaching you in public and saying “Hi, I’m John, if you happen to need lawn care services in your area email me at Johnslawncare@gmail.com.”  You would feel a couple ways about it.  First, you’d be confused why a complete stranger just pitched you out of the blue.  Second, you’d be annoyed that someone took up your personal time to push their agenda when you didn’t ask for it.  Confusion and anger are two emotions that I continually get when I see auto DMs.  It’s the single biggest turn off on Twitter when connecting with new folks.  You are much better off saying nothing at all in this particular situation.  Why is social treated differently than real life?  The better route would be to genuinely thank them for the follow with no pitch at the end.  To go a step further, you could do some research on the individual you are contacting and link them to a post (not on your website) that provides some value to their company or interests based on what you can gather from their tweets and profile description.

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I can promise you that if you can take 20 seconds to provide value to a stranger they will remember you forever because hardly anyone does it.  Just because you’re communicating on a social media platform, doesn’t give you the license to treat people differently than you would in real life situations.  It’s all the same and it’s all connected. Engage without trying to convert.  Stop being a robot and start being a human.

Listen First, Engage Second

This my friends is what Twitter is all about:

Twitter Search

The search function is the most underutilized, overlooked and underappreciated aspect on Twitter.  Want more followers?  We all do, but your quotes about succeeding in life and pictures of cats with mustaches just aren’t resonating.  Start seeking out the conversation about topics you’re interested in and engage.  That is the secret sauce to gaining popularity on Twitter and winning people over.  It’s not about being the wittiest person in the world.  Listen, then engage.

This 1:40s clip from Gary V. hits the nail on the head:

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I used to experiment with the search function a lot when I first started.  I would search “help me with SEO” or “I need a web designer” and found people asking the universe for help.  I would then offer them free advice and link them to a few helpful articles.  The byproducts of that helpful act were more followers and traffic to my website.  Now it was all making sense to me.  Deliver value to earn respect.

How Businesses Can Provide Value

If I was a company like Sit ‘n Sleep I would be searching “I can’t sleep” and tweeting users links to articles related to falling asleep faster in real time:


If I was a weight loss supplement company I would be searching “I need to go on a diet” and tweeting users links to articles that help with losing weight:



I could even see Churches utilizing twitter by searching “please god help me” and sending passages from the bible to users needing inspiration:


The obvious one is to jump in on popular hastags and contribute to what is currently trending:

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Last year when the Oscars were on I jumped in on a hashtag about Leo and got some attention:

Sure, it doesn’t instantly increase sales for your product but this isn’t about conversions.  We are playing the long game in social and that is why it’s so routinely overlooked and undervalued.  Businesses want instant gratification just like people.  It’s hard for them to see the long term value in social because it’s nearly impossible to measure the ROI.  Everyone wants everything yesterday.  You don’t need the patience of a Tibetan Monk and the work ethic of the US President to win but you will have to work consistently for a long period of time to gain real popularity.

Going Above and Beyond

Screen Shot 2016-01-25 at 11.57.47 AMI hesitated on sharing this story because it’s personal to me but I think it’s important to show a real life example of using Twitter to go above and beyond.  I had a potential client contact me for SEO services and he told me a few horror stories of working with different companies and getting ripped off.  Part of what makes my job so great is that I’m one of the few that actually provides real value.  Companies call me that have been ripped off, overpaying and getting no results, then I turn around and do in 2-3 months what other companies haven’t done in 1-2 years.  My heart went out to him because I’ve been there and I know what it’s like to feel taken advantage of.  I did a free site audit for him and showed him where his holes were and how things could be improved moving forward.  He told me that we’d be in touch but we never talked again.  Instead of trying to follow up and close him I went a different route.  At this point I didn’t care if he wanted to become a client or not, I just wanted to be a good human being to someone that invested in my industry and got taken advantage of.  It’s the least I could do.  I started looking through his Twitter feed to see what he’s interested in and eventually found a tweet about Kobe Bryant and the Lakers.  The light bulb went off!  I immediately started looking for memorabilia and found a framed Sports Illustrated autographed by Kobe himself.  It was perfect.  I shipped it to his office around Christmas time and two weeks later I got this email from him:

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A little love goes a long way my friends.  It’s not about closing, it’s about connecting.


About the Author

Ryan Bartlett

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Ryan Bartlett

Ryan Bartlett


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