Thursday, 2 February 2012

Five Lessons I've Learned About Twitter: Lesson #1

This week I've been sharing with you five lessons I've learned in my first three months or so as a Twitter user promoting my crime fiction novel, Blood Passage. Yesterday in Lesson #2 I explained how I discovered that it's better to spend the time on Twitter than to auto-tweet.

Today's lesson: My Top Ten Followers Include at Least Thirty People.

It’s tough to swing a proverbial dead cat these days without hitting someone anxious to tell you about the 80/20 rule as it applies to social media. Known as the Pareto Principle, the 80/20 rule states that for many events, 80% of effects come from 20% of causes. Applied to business, the rule states that 80% of your results (e.g., sales) come from 20% of your clients.

(For the purposes of this post I'm going to overlook the interpretation of the rule which states that 80% of your tweets/posts must provide personal value to your readers while 20% is devoted to self-promotion. Frankly, I'm not making the cut here and I'd rather not talk about it right now, if you don't mind.)

I recently read an interesting article about Effective Tweeting that suggested I should know who my Top Ten followers are. Understanding their characteristics and how they can help me will assist in growing my influence in Twitter. I could see right away that this idea was a kind of application of the Pareto Principle, in that my Top Ten would lead the 20% of followers who represent 80% of my payoff from Twitter participation.

I spent a few days mulling this one over. My Top Ten would be based not only on who retweeted me the most, but also who replied to my socializing tweets, who was fun to banter back and forth with, and who was just plain charming (yes, you know who you are!). I didn’t factor in Direct Messages because I’ve quickly discovered that most of my DMs are auto-messages. (Is it wrong of me to have stopped responding to most of these auto-DMs? I feel so guilty, but there you have it.)

Finally, I made a list of my top ten Twitter people. Here’s what I learned.

First of all, I’ve met a lot of people through Twitter in only three months who’ve made a very positive impression on me. People I’m pretty sure I’d like if I met them in person. That’s remarkable, even if very subjective and not verifiable, but I feel good about it just the same. Second, I’ve met several people willing to help me promote my book either in exchange for me helping them promote theirs, which is normal and fine, or simply because they’re really nice people and just want to help, which is weird and wonderful.

Third, I’ve discovered I’m one of the people in the second group. I retweet for people who are tweeting to promote their band, their hand-crafted jewelry, their paintings and photographs, whatever. It feels good. It’s cooperative. It taps right into that indie spirit I’ve been blogging about all along in this space.

So when I was finished listing my Top Ten followers, I had a list that was more than 30 people long. Everyone on that list has been helpful, kind, fun, interesting, cooperative. It's a good list.

What does it mean? Well, if I summarize what I've learned so far about Twitter, I can say that it's a medium that has helped me market Blood Passage and will definitely help market the rest of the series as I get better at using the medium effectively. It has plenty of potential and I'll learn more about that potential, the more research I do. It's an easy application for me to use, compared to other social media such as Facebook, and it's most effective for me when I sit down in the chair and invest a little personal time in it, rather than program auto-tweets and let the computer do all the work. It's better to tweet in person, I've learned, because then I get a chance to interact directly with all the great, fascinating, engaging people I've listed as my Top Thirty Twitter contacts, and many more that will soon join the list.

Like everything else, it's all about the people, folks. Another slice of the never-ending human experience.


  1. You sound like you've got this Twitter thing down pat. I'm still struggling with it. All the tweeting and retweeting and funny hash tags everywhere. Too much going on for me to process. Thanks for the great insight Micheal. These last few posts have been very informative for a apprentice like me!

  2. I certainly have an awful lot to learn about Twitter, Lan, but I feel I've made a good start with it and can make good use of it in the future. If you start slowly and keep it simple, as I've been doing, you'll see the patterns in what other people are doing and can choose which of them you want to use yourself.

    Good luck! Mike

  3. Hi Michael! Enjoyed reading your blog! I actually found it via Twitter. I myself have just recently been active on Twitter. I opened an account in July only to follow my sister. Then a couple weeks ago, I decided to create a profile and get started. I have a blog too that I've been writing for a few months and Facebook. I agree with you. I've been on Facebook for a couple years and I feel like closing my page! Especially now that they're changing the new layout to Timeline - I'm still on the old interface. I don't like it. I have been enjoying Twitter so much more. Thanks for the Twitter lessons learned!

  4. Hi Lynne, I'm glad you liked this series of posts on Twitter. I found your blog, The Basketmaker's Wife, at and I intend to follow it on a regular basis. It looks very interesting! I hope you can stop in to The Overnight Bestseller from time to time.

  5. Hi Michael, I just found you via Twitter. I'm new to the blogging, tweeting and Facebook activity too! Thanks for sharing your experience!

  6. Glad you found your way to The Overnight Bestseller, Sandra! Hope these Twitter-related posts will help.