The other day I got an email from another freelancer. He’s not a writer, but our respective freelancing professions have a lot in common.
Recently, he started up a website with a blog. What he couldn’t quite iron out what that he has thousands of friends on Twitter but he still doesn’t get much traffic to his website. He said he must be doing something wrong because everywhere he reads about how powerful social media is, and how he should be using Twitter to drive traffic to his website.
Twitter Has No Power
There is a disconnect between what is written about the power of Twitter and Tweets and massive following lists, and the reality of Twitter and social networking in general. This disconnect stems largely from not understanding a fundamental principal of most organizations, whether they are networks, companies, virtual, or based in the physical world. That understanding is that the value, power, and influence of specific PEOPLE, do not specifically correlate to the value, power, and influence of the ORGANIZATION.
Before there was such a thing as Twitter, or Facebook, or LinkedIn, or Digg, or any of these other so-called social networks or social media sites, there were plenty of books and speakers proclaiming the power of networking. In fact, many of those books are all-time business best sellers.
Inside of these books one would find compelling stories and examples of the power of networking. Certain organizations would inevitably be mentioned, Rotary Club, Toastmasters, Lions Club, and, of course, the local Chamber of Commerce. Joining these organizations and networking within them would be a source of infinite leads, new clients, big sales, high earnings, and the ticket to the corner office. There was only one problem. It didn’t work for 99% of people.
It isn’t that networking has no value, just like it isn’t that Twitter has no value. It is just that the people who get multi-million dollar deals based on a relationship they built at Rotary are not the norm, they are the exception. But, that one super amazing deal sells a million copies of another networking book.
The difference between the guy for whom the power of networking works, and the vast majority for whom it does not is time and effort. Every week at a Lions Club meeting, or Rotary Meeting, or whatever meeting you can think of, there is a guy who is attending his first meeting. He is shaking everyone’s hand, passing out business cards like candy on Halloween, and saying things like, “If there is ever anything I can do for you…”
The regulars politely smile and take his business card and then wager on how many meetings the new guy makes it to before dropping out. The over/under is around 2.
After a few meetings, the guy, who is not actually passionate about the group or its mission, starts finding better things to do and comes less and less frequently to the various events until he drops out altogether. That is, until the time he reads a book or article about the power of marketing.
Twitter Is Online Rotary (Only Less)
Twitter is the online world’s version of Rotary Club. Stories abound about its power and numerous writers point either to themselves or to other better known Twitter power users and tell you just how valuable Twitter can be.
Twitter can be powerful, but if you are the guy handing out business cards, so to speak, you can expect the same results as the Rotary Club guy. That is, if you setup a Twitter account, start following everyone you can find, and encourage everyone you can find to follow you and then Tweet constantly with links to your content, you’ll get very little out of Twitter.
Now, if you build up a reputation as someone with useful or fun stuff to say, whose links are worth clicking on and develop a large following, then, and only then, can you get any real benefit from Twitter. The question is, is that the best way to spend your time and effort, or would other tacks provide better returns?
For most people, I would wager that other avenues of effort would be better routes. In the meantime, create a Twitter account and make fun, insightful, and useful tweets. In the end, you might get the best of both worlds, a devoted Twitter following, and the rewards of your other efforts. Just don’t put all your eggs in the Twitter basket.