My dear friend Cat, who teaches at a local acting school (and runs Biz Books), recently did a giveaway of one of my books to her students. The contest was, they had to get on twitter, and one of them had to convince me that they deserved the book.
I got tons of “bribery” type tweets, but this is the one I chose:
Why? He actually took the time to look at my profile, and then attempted to engage me by asking me a question based on that.
Then it occurred to me: Twitter is just like online dating!
We’re visual creatures: I insist that it’s best practices to have a photo of yourself as your profile picture on Twitter. Lots of people are shy, or they want to protect their privacy, so they’ll have a photo of a flower, or a close-up of their eye or something. I feel like this is a bit of a grey area. Like with online dating, I’m not saying that you can’t fake a photo or steal one from someone else. But for me, the profiles that feature nice, smiley, approachable-looking photos are the ones I’ll be more inclined to trust as “someone real” as opposed to “spambot.” Oh, and, as in online dating, please avoid ‘the bathroom mirror selfie.’
Your profile should contain specific, interesting things about you: You like walks on the beach and to snuggle? Really??? So does everyone. I realize that you’re constrained by 160 characters in your bio, but try to make them count. If your profile is really generic, or claims you can make me millions, I’m passing on by. If your profile contains an interesting mix of business and professional, maybe something quirky and interesting, I’m going to follow you back.
Make attempts to engage: I try to look at every single new follower I get. Based on their profile, I’ll follow them back (or not). But if you attempt to engage me with an @mention, especially if that @mention is about something I do, that shows you’ve actually read my stuff, that’s an automatic follow. If you attempt to engage me in a spammy way, by trying to sell me something, that’s a huge turnoff. It works well on Twitter, as well as online dating: give to get. Try to ask lots of questions of the other person, and don’t make it all about you.
Move it from online to offline: There are few things I love more than meeting peeps IRL that I met on Twitter. And there are so many great examples! Kate Foy. Amanda Lynn Ballard. Heck, speaking of online dating, my friend Janice actually met her husband on Twitter! Social media is great–but do try, at some point, to take the relationships you’ve formed online into the real world at some point.
Keep it positive, and avoid TMI: I was at a conference the other day, and there was one person who was tweeting from the conference (although her handle had the word “bitchy” in it, so that should have been a tip-off) that was so negative! Every tweet was picking holes in something one of the speakers had said. Negativity is a huge turn-off in general. Try to keep your tweets relatively positive, don’t slam anyone (unless they really deserve it) and don’t talk about poop.
Don’t take it too seriously, and don’t give up: Twitter is an incredibly forgiving platform. If you screw up, admit it, come clean, and move on. And keep trying.