The Outward Gaze

Hands Aloft

Daily reminder: reply/retweet others for 5 mins. Nothing about u. Interact, engage, build.

@unmarketing (Scott Stratten)
Whenever this daily reminder from Scott (@unmarketing) appears in my twitterstream it makes me smile.  Scott’s new tagline is ‘Stop Marketing, Start Engaging’ and businesses and individuals would do well to take both this daily reminder and Scott’s tagline directive to heart.  While I completely accept that Twitter is open to be used by anyone in any way that they so choose, the simple fact is that the majority of twitter users would benefit from directing their gaze outwards rather than in.

When I’m informed of a new follower one of the first things that I do is to check their twitterstream.  Primarily, I’m checking out their content to see if I’m interested in what they have to say, but what I’m also very conscious of, and will often dictate whether I follow back, is their level of engagement with their community.  I’m scanning for altruism.

So how do you tweet in such a way that you engage with your followers?
  • Retweet often – If you discover a tweet that you think your followers will find interesting/relevant/funny/informative, don’t keep it to yourself. Pass it on!  Most twitter desktop clients provide a retweet function, but if you’re tweeting from the web, simply write RT @username before copying & pasting the tweet you want to share into the update.  A retweet should look like this: RT @btocher: Edinburgh Tweetup! Edinburgh Tweetup! Please RSVP here: However, you can also write out a retweet like this: How Friends are Born: Stranger > follow > @ > DM > FB > phone > meet > Friend (via @lisahickey).
  • Connect using @ – Twitter is, of course, a platform from which you can promote your blog, your business, your brand; however, if you ensure you take the time to send replies you’ll find that a lot more people are willing to listen.  Twitter isn’t a soapbox; it’s a space that facilitates communication, and as with all successful communication there has to be give & take. No one likes to talk to the person who is so focused on themselves that they refuse to engage with the other participants in the conversation.  In fact, it’s a surefire way to alienate yourself and block your message.
  • Answer questions – A frequent tweet that you’ll see often in the twittersphere is the  open question.  Twitter is a fantastic resources for information and others have claimed that the way in which it harnesses the knowledge of the crowd has the potential to compete with Google as a dynamic search engine.  Now I’m not looking for a discussion on the wisdom of the crowds – that’s a post in itself! However, there is value in responding to questions looking for feedback, information, news or opinion as it strengthens original connections and promotes new ones.
  • Attract attention for others – One of the most popular memes on Twitter currently is #followfriday.  You can find out all about it here, but all you really need to know is that it’s a way of promoting some of your favourite tweeple.  Now, there are as many ways to phrase your #followfriday tweet as there are ways to use Twitter itself, but the #followfriday tweets that I find the most effective are the kind where only one person is promoted, and it is accompanied with a few words explaining why others should follow that individual.  For me, this appeals more than the #followfriday tweet that includes a whole raft of Twitter usernames.  In fact, I prefer these kind of meme tweets so much that I’m going to be making a conscious attempt to only participate in #followfriday with those personalised tweets.  I’ll report back to let you know how it goes!
  • Become a connecter – If you’re anything like me, then you probably spend far too many hours surfing the net.  Turn this to the advantage of your Twitter community by sending links to content that you think will be of direct interest to your followers.  For example, if you are following someone who works in education and is interested in social media, send them a link to that post you just read about Twitter & Facebook in the classroom.  Another way of performing this role is by connecting twitter users  to each other.  Know two poets that have yet to find each other on Twitter? Introduce them!  By becoming a connecter you show others the value in connecting with you!
I’m sure these are just a few of the ways that we can turn our gaze outwards towards our online communities, and I would love to hear your thoughts on whether you think this is important/relevant to your use of Twitter & if it is, what tips can you offer to help others to engage and connect.

Blog Update – This is the first post of my new writing schedule – from now on I’ll be posting every Monday and Thursday.  I’m really looking forward to sharing more of my ideas about social media, but if there’s anything in particular that you would like me to cover, please do get in touch, either here or on Twitter: @amypalko

11 responses to “The Outward Gaze

  1. Great post, Amy, thank you!

    There are so many wonderful possibilities on twitter because of the ability to make connections and engage with each other. Like anywhere in life, we benefit more from gazing outwards … and you’re a great example, one I try to emulate! Your friendly welcome and encouragement when I first arrived on twitter made such a difference and it’s been a pleasure to follow you, ever since.

    Thank you! :o)

  2. Good post, as always with you! I too prefer the #followfriday with some reason as to why. I’m still getting a feeling for RT but I try to stay right on the replies. Keep up the good writing!

  3. Hi Amy
    Like you I always check the stream of a new follower before I decide to follow back. I love to see folks who are in full flow conversations – even if they make no sense on first look ( one of the challenges of introducing people to Twitter – what on earth does it all mean!).

    I would love a follow function which tells me why someone has decided to follow me – and so I could say why I followed ( I usually tweet to do this). And this would filter the mass follows too!

  4. Once again, I love the blog. You are my Twitter Mentor (Twittentor?)

  5. The only thing I’d add is… check the links before you retweeet someone else’s stuff – do you really know what you’re pointing your readers towards?

    Nice to see you back girl 🙂

  6. showingoffmyassets

    I have always enjoyed tweeting with you and am so glad to have connected to each other here. I think that all of the above are great reminders of things we should do as responsible tweeple.

  7. How funny that you’re writing on this because the other day I posted a question asking if you could analyse the ratio of people’s RTs/replies and ‘straight from the horses mouth tweets.

    I too tend to only follow those who have a reasonable ration of @s and RTs

    Must dash to RT your blog post!

  8. Welcome back, Amy!

    A great post that offers a really good insight into the Twitter world. I definitely agree with all you say here: And having been involved with Twitter a little while now, I have to say that it’s those people who lookout to their community that are the most interesting.

    In regards to the #followfriday, I think I’ll be giving it a try this week to add a few words as to why I recommend each person too. I’m one of those that thus far has simply given a list of @s. 🙂

    Looking forward to the new writing schedule!


  9. Ciao Amy! Greetings from sunny southern Italy! I just came across this post via a RT by @soultravelers3 on Twitter. I am new to Twitter, but I have been simply amazed already by how many interesting people I have met from around the world. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and experience with Twitter here. It was very helpful for me!

  10. What does the hash mark mean before names?

  11. That’s a hashtag which is used as a way of compiling tweets on any given subject. For example, if you send a tweet with #followfriday it’ll show up here:
    Hope that helps, Nicholas!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s