It’s hard to believe but my three year Twitter anniversary is approaching so I’ve been reflecting on this channel and what it has meant to me.

I know this may sound bold but it’s undeniable that Twitter has changed my life.  I’ve learned so much and discovered wonderful people who have become great friends, collaborators and business partners.

So in a celebratory toast to this incredible little tool, here are five indispensable lessons for success on Twitter:

1) Numbers matter … sort of.  It’s not politically correct to tout the number of followers you have, but the fact of the matter is you need to have at least a critical mass of followers for Twitter to be fun and meaningful.  In my classes, I emphasize the need to be systematic and mindful about who you follow. If you don’t surround yourself with people who care about you and enlighten you, you’re probably wasting your time.  If you’re just starting out, work on finding at least 200 interesting people to follow. Why 200? Less than that, Twitter is boring and you’ll quit. We don’t want that! Don’t worry about how many followers people have, don’t worry about their Klout score … just find interesting people you want to befriend and engage with them.

2) Content is power.  Think about this. For the first time in history, you can gain a measure of influence completely based on the content you create and personally share. You don’t have to be a star athlete, a powerful politician, or a beautiful movie star to create a niche of power and success.  Take a hard look at some of the Twitterati. Most of them are pretty humble and modest people. Twitter and the social web allows anybody to carve out a niche of fame if you concentrate on providing exceedingly interesting and helpful content.

3) Bury the sale.  I generally don’t buy into a lot of the hype-myths on the social web (i.e. “it’s all about the conversation” … gag me) but the one that really does ring true is “don’t sell.”  People are sick of being advertised to, sold to, marketed to. Social media is about building relationships, not expecting people to buy your cars or real estate based on your tweets.

4) Re-frame the experience.  Is Twitter for everybody?  Here’s a rule of thumb that seems to work. If you and your business can benefit from live networking meetings, you can probably benefit from Twitter.  Twitter is personal networking on steroids, connecting you to important contacts you never would have had a chance to meet otherwise. And, it allows you to connect with them every day if you like. Think about Twitter as an opportunity for business networking and I think you will have more success.

5) Show up, don’t show off.  To experience business success on Twitter, you can’t be a stalker. You have to take responsibility for your own success by showing up consistently. Just like in real life, you might have to engage with people 4-5 times before you get on their radar screen. Twitter is not a passive sport. You need make an effort to connect, engage, create value for people in your tribe.

But wait!  There’s more!  Just because you’ve been so kind and read this far in my post, I’m providing a bonus idea especially for Twitter newcomers.

Once you get above 200 folks, the “noise” from your stream can be overwhelming. Separate your followers by creating Twitter lists. For example, you might have lists for local friends, customers, thought leaders, and business prospects. These lists can follow you around on your smartphone, iPad and computer, so you can always be in touch, even on the go. Try a free platform like Tweetdeck, Seesemic, or HootSuite for more useful ways to view and manage lists.

So what is YOUR favorite indispensable Twitter lesson?


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