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Twitter: value-added conversation is more important than broadcasts, rts

I have been using Twitter for over three years and have been through a long learning curve. Besides having to get my head around how to use the tool effectively, I have received constant advice from the community on how I should conduct myself on the platform so as not to upset anyone out there. All advice revolves around how to tweet and what to tweet. This is categorised into three areas, namely broadcasting, retweets and having conversations.


Broadcasting is a one way stream of information, utilised mainly by the marketers out there using Twitter with a Marketing 1.0 mentality. This equates with the likes of TV, billboards, magazine ads and leaflets. As a Twitter user, if you broadcast too much, those following you will lose interest UNLESS the content you are sharing is value-adding, interesting, useful and is not repetitive. If you are providing original content, you can get away with this. If you look at the likes of Harvard Business Review, they are a content originator and attract thousands of followers.


Retweeting is important, especially if you want to generate online relationships with specific individuals. If you are retweeting a specific person with the intent of generating some form of an online relationship, do not expect immediate reciprocity. If, however, you continue to retweet their content and you are getting nothing back in return, move on. Do not retweet a content originator that has thousands of followers and expect anything in return. In most cases, this will not happen, unless they see specific value in it. Do not spend too much time retweeting well know content originators because in most cases, like-minded individuals are following and consuming their content already.

Having proper conversations

This is the real differentiator for those that want to use Twitter as an effective tool because this is what Twitter was originally designed for. This is the element that also takes up the most time and effort because you have to go out and find people to talk to and initiate conversations. Seasoned twitter users that actually have real conversations on an ongoing basis have racked up a tweet count in the tens of thousands. Check out Roos van Vugt (@roosvanvugt) of Deloitte in The Netherlands. Her tweet count is over 67 000, most of which is real conversation, not broadcasts and retweets. These individuals make the real connections and build proper relationships on Twitter.

Keep the balance right

Some people use Twitter purely for conversation. Others represent a company and want to promote themselves, their company, products, services and solutions. You can do this but in limited doses. It is best to provide value-adding content which can assist people in making decisions or solve problems. If you are perceived as a guru or thought leader, people will eventually look at your website or blog and consume the product-related information you have there. Just don’t push it down their throats. Ensure a healthy mix between broadcasts, retweets and conversation. If you can get this right, you will achieve all your objectives, namely:

  • Building sustainable online relations on Twitter
  • Getting support from fellow Twitter users
  • Gaining visibility and attracting followers
  • Promoting yourself and your company’s products, services and solutions

In conclusion

This is my take on using Twitter effectively. I do not believe I have got it right yet but I will endeavour to improve on an ongoing basis. Have you anything to add to this? I will appreciate any input, advice and points of views.

Author | David Graham

David Graham
David Graham's passion is business-to-business digital marketing with a specific focus on value networking and inbound marketing. He consults on business-to-business digital marketing strategy and execution, with an emphasis on building sales pipelines and generating new prospects More
  • Well said, getting the balance right is what is important. Providing value adding content on a long term basis is a challenge. Find a niche without sounding like a stuck record and stay on message. Take the long term approach, a marathon, not a sprint.

  • Thank you for your comment. I definitely agree with the “long term approach” because, quite simply, relationships do take a while to develop. If you want to be a thought leader, it takes time for a person to see you as a trusted adviser.

  • spot on @twitter-67603734:disqus regarding “having proper conversations”. The best way to turn develop real relationships through social media is by engaging in social conversations. Using twitter in such a matter as you outlined can bring real results. There is also room for conversations on blogs posts, Google+, LinkedIn and other social media networks. One way to help you to stay on top of all these is using Engagio which focuses on the conversation part of your stream. I am bit biased toward Engagio because of my involvement with them :) but it is worth checking out.

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