Would You Tweet With Me?

3 Types of People To Avoid On Twitter

You know, Twitter rocks, or at least I think so. But not everyone agrees. My interaction with thousands of people on Twitter has lead me to believe that it is a valuable tool for meeting new people, learning new things and expanding your circle of influence as an Indie Business owner. For example, Indie Business Network member Marla Bosworth of Back Porch Soap Company, who just started Tweeting a few months ago, says that Twitter accounts for 30% of visits to her website, and that she was booked to speak at a conference directly because of Twitter networking. You can't shake a stick at that!

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Let's face it, social media like Twitter is time consuming. And it is sometimes difficult and frustrating to deal with multiple personalities. This is especially true if, like me and most Indie Business owners, you are also managing a home and want to maintain some level of privacy. But the reality is that, marketing is time consuming, business is business and if you're home-based, you have to figure out how to connect everything in a way that works for you and your family. And with 75% of Americans on the Internet, this boils down to resisting the urge to maintain so much privacy that your business goes down the tubes.

The growth of Twitter and other forms of social media reminds me of rap music. Years ago, everyone said it was a fad, it wouldn't last and that no one would be paying attention in a few years. But love it or hate it, rap is an integral part of our culture. The same thing holds true for various form of online social media like Twitter.

That's why today, at The Nova Studio's Business Boot Camp, I am leading a workshop on using social media to "Become the News You Want to Be." I will have my laptop and projector, and so will the Boot Camp attendees. We will discuss e-commerce websites, online newsletters, Twitter, blogs, etc., and how all of them work together to help promote your brand and increase sales on the Internet. We'll launch a blog in the workshop so everyone can play around with being their own media outlet.

Back to Twitter

Whether or not to embrace Twitter, and to what extent, is a question you need to answer as an Indie Business owner. The answer will be different for everyone, but the important thing is that, you need to assess it on its merits vis a vis your own business.

Like everything else in business, making connections on Twitter has benefits and drawbacks. In my opinion, the benefits far outweigh the drawbacks. Having said that, I have concluded that certain types of people are more suited for online social networking, including Twitter, than others. In my experience, it's best to avoid 3 types of social networkers.

1. The High and the Mighty

I was talking with a newspaper reporter a while back. Like so many other staff reporters around the nation, she was recently laid off from her job at a major metropolitan daily. "Leanne" told me that she would never use social media to interact with other people because "real journalists" just don't do that.

Leanne has nothing to offer anyone on the social media circuit because, at least for now, she thinks she better than them. Even if she joins a space like Twitter, chances are she'll have 6,000 followers and she'll be following 2 people. Unless you're a presidential candidate or something similar, that alone indicates a person who views himself or herself as somehow more important than others. It also indicates an attitude of superiority. A self perceived "queen-ish-ness" that says, "I have something to teach you, but you have nothing to teach me."

I like to connect with people who feel they have as much to learn as they do to share. They are naturally friendly and giving and tend to have roughly the same number of followers as they do followees. Rather than coming to the party empty-handed and expecting people to bow and worship, they come bearing gifts. They come seeking to help and be helped.

If someone is too high and mighty to mingle with the masses, explore new things and find out how the world of online networking can benefit them, they'll get nothing out of it. The high and mighty should stay away from Twitter. And I tend to avoid the few I've come across.

Connect online with people who are down to earth, approachable and who appreciate the value you bring to the table.

2. The Rude and the Mean-Spirited

A few weeks ago, after enjoying one of my favorite online marketing newsletters, I asked the publisher what he thought about Twitter. His response was [not very freiendly toward me or Twitter. When I asked if he would share his marketing expertise in this area, his responses became more and more unfriendly, until finally, he just told me he didn't want me to email him about it anymore.]*

First of all, he's a "marketing expert" so I thought it was odd that he didn't have a substantive comment (even if negative) about Twitter. Second of all, I was taken aback by the way he treated me as one of his readers.

I must digress for a moment.

I never groan at my newsletter readers. I may not like what one of them says, and they may not like what I have to say, but groan at one of my readers? Not so much. My readers are part of the reason why I have a business! I care about their opinions. I seek them out, even when I disagree with them. Unless it is clearly in jest, you won't catch me groaning at anyone, much less one of my treasured and valuable newsletter readers.

OK, so back to the topic of convo.

In response to my query, the marketing expert said, among other things, that he did not want to think about Twitter any more than he wanted to [do some other things which I can't repeat here.]*

I responded that I thought my blog readers would be interested in knowing the perspective of a marketing expert on a topic that is so relevant to online success, so I asked if I could interview him on the topic. The reply was biting, along the lines of: (1) I took his comments out of context; (2) don't share his comments publicly; and (3) don't email him anymore.

Wop! Bam! Boom! Wouldn't you say? Hmmm, I hope I get a newsletter this week …

So, the moral of the story is that if you can't generally play well with others, and be tolerant of their opinions, Twitter is not the place for you. On Twitter, most people are about sharing. Sometimes, they share too much about themselves but at the end of the day, if someone makes you nuts with self-promotion or "too much information," guess what? Unfollow! How easy is that??! You can wipe them out of your life just as quickly as you invited them in.

Connect online with people who are respectful, professional and who play well with others.

3. The Sweet and the Softy

I got an email a while back from a person who said she was quitting Twitter and maybe even her business because some people had said something mean and insensitive directly to her on Twitter. And to make matters worse, people started unfollowing her because of the exchange that resulted.

Amazing how cruel people can be in 140 characters or less.

Anyway, this business owner was hurt and disappointed, perhaps rightfully so. That may be true, but let's be real here. In order to be in business today, you have to have some pretty thick skin. Potential sales fall through for reasons that are unfair. People say mean and untrue things about you and/or your products online. Everyone's a critic and everyone has opinions. Not everyone is going to like what you have to say, how you look, that you eat animals or that you vote Republican or Democrat. That's life!

If you can't take the heat, get out of the Tweets. (I made that up.) For maximum business success, however, I suggest resisting the urge to throw the baby out with the bath water. There will always be mean-spirited critics, but no matter what, other people at Twitter and elsewhere will be in your corner cheering you on and helping you along the way. Seek them out. When you find each other, your life will be enriched both personally and professionally.

I think Indie Business owners are in the best position if they budget some time to communicate about themselves and their business online. Twitter is a great place to do that, but not if you don't have a bit of thick skin to deflect some of the comments that might otherwise be hurtful, even devastating.

Try to avoid Tweeting with these people. Try to avoid becoming like these people.

Connect online with people from all walks of life to increase your sphere of influence and expand your world view, but be careful of connecting with people who bruise easily in business. There are other ways to connect with such people, and social media may just not be one of them. And try not to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

What do you think?

What are your opinions about Twitter, and social media in general? Love it? Hate it? Hate me for telling you about it??! Post your experiences here and help others decide whether Twitter and social media in general is or is not for them.

Update 9/25/208: It has come to my attention that a person referred to anonymously in this blog post has voluntarily and on her own identified herself to others, and misrepresented that she is or was a client of mine. She has also inferred that she came to me "in confidence" to discuss the occurrence that gave rise to this post, specifically, a political Tweet of hers that offended so many of her Twitter followers that they Tweeted back a response and quickly "unfollowed" her. This person has not now nor has she ever been my client, nor did she come to me in confidence. Instead, she emailed me to malign me for getting her mixed up in Twitter and expressed her opinion that, now that so many people unfollowed her, she had concluded that the "soaping community" was not supportive in general. I told her that I disagreed with her on that count, and generally suggested that she not throw the baby out with the bath water. That is precisely what I said in this post, so I did not say anything here that I did not tell her first. She was a member of the Indie Beauty Network, and at her request, I terminated her membership this week, and refunded her dues on a pro rata basis. My intention was not to hurt her feelings, and I am sorry that I did. My intention was to educate others based on the anonymous experience of another person. That's how we learn. Her choice to publicly announce her identity is fine. Her choice to spread untruths about what really happened is not. I wish her continued success and all the best in her life and her business.

Related Posts

It Takes a Global Twitter Village
Ahhh, the Tweet Life
Who to Follow on Twitter
Tweet With Me

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* The portions of this post that are italicized are not original text. The marketing expert accused me of violating his copyright so I edited the post to remove direct quotes, but still convey the gist of our conversation and the points I would like to share with you.

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About Donna Maria Coles Johnson

Donna Maria is an author, podcaster, attorney, and the founder and CEO of the Indie Business Network, providing affordable product liability insurance and mentoring. Donna Maria teaches Makers and Creative Entrepreneurs how to use technology and community to build a profitable, sustainable business.