Do you feel like every time you sign in to Twitter all you see is bots and spam? Where are the conversations? Where is the social in social media?

A Lesson from Indiana Jones

In Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, our hero finds himself in a strangely quiet neighborhood.

It looks like people are in the houses watching TV and the kids are playing outside. Upon further investigation they’re only posed mannequins.

For the sake of argument, let’s run with Scott Stratten‘s analogy that “automating tweets is like sending a mannequin to a networking event.”  That premise accepted, it is my belief that Twitter is in danger of becoming a nuclear test site.

Why? It’s simple. There’s a whole lot of tweets, but not a whole lot of conversation.

Where Are the Conversations?

The point of Twitter is to build relationships. In order to do that you have to engage in small talk, which builds relationships. You can’t succeed on social media without being social.

I’ve noticed in the past six months or so that while scrolling through the home feed, it’s difficult to find tweets that are good enough for a response.

You can maintain Twitter in just five minutes a day. If you spend the time, you will see the benefit. The benefit is not just a social presence, but actual conversations.

Spend time replying instead of just pushing the retweet button. The retweet button (without the comment retweet) stops the conversation.

Easy for You Isn’t Interesting to Your Audience

If you want to be interesting, be interesting or retweetable. I am no stranger to telling people to stop auto posting from other social networks.

People are using cross-posting as a way to make social easy.

I tweeted to a local car dealership two weeks ago. No response. Not surprisingly, their tweets were “posted” from Facebook.

At best “tweeting from Facebook” is bad form. But if you never come back to Twitter to see if anyone responded, then why are you even on Twitter? Keeping up an appearance with no engagement is like living a lie.

Facebook isn’t the only culprit by any stretch of the imagination.  We all tweet with some degree of frequency our Swarm and Yelp checkins, Instagram photos, and Pinterest posts.

Be Intentional With Social Posting on Twitter

Be intentional with your content on Twitter. Choose which Instagram shot you want to share with your following. Post some (not all) of your check-ins and make them count. Tweet out a link to your new Pinterest board. Mix it up. Be interesting.

Be Present. Spend more time reading and responding to tweets from your home feed than posting about yourself.

Just like the fake neighborhood in Indiana Jones, the infrastructure is there for our habitation and enjoyment. Whether or not we use it to build community, is up to us.

(Originally published January 24, 2013. Updated October 11, 2019.)

8 Comments

  1. Carol Stephen (@Carol_Stephen) on January 24, 2013 at 9:52 pm

    Sounds like very “Zen” advice. Just as people are walking around and are not really “all there,” people are “on” social media, but don’t occupy their profiles — if that’s not stretching the metaphor too much.

    • Bridget Willard on January 24, 2013 at 10:01 pm

      You’re right. It’s weird you have to remind each other to be a person.

  2. Brian Nowak on January 25, 2013 at 9:47 am

    Great write up! It reminds me of a post I made a while back regarding the other side of the spectrum.

    http://getouttamyhead.com/2012/05/16/whos-really-not-being-social/

  3. Robyn Hazen (@surplusrobyn) on September 27, 2013 at 10:56 am

    Thank you so much for pointing this out! It’s good to know I wasn’t the only one seeing it. The point of social media is to be social. IMO, it makes companies look like they’re lazy at marketing.

    I also don’t understand the trend toward following back only 1% of your Twitter audience. You know the type – they have 30k followers but only follow 300 people. I assume companies do this because they only want to read through a handful of tweets? Again, this makes them look lazy. Just create a Twitter list for the 300 or so feeds that you do want to keep up with and read regularly. I’m too logical, I know.

  4. John Locke on October 12, 2019 at 1:44 am

    Yes, this is why Twitter has been my social network of choice for so long…because of the ability to have conversations. Some people are very approachable, others are not, but you have the ability to connect. That remains one of the greatest upsides of Twitter. Glad to see you update this post.

    • Bridget Willard on October 12, 2019 at 7:54 am

      That’s true, John. Being approachable is a strength of being on Twitter.

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