Guest Post- Twitter- To Converse or to Broadcast-THAT is the Question

Keith BurtisThe following is a guest post from Mr. Keith Burtis, woodworker, media maker, and PodCamp veteran.

Do you Blurt messages on twitter? Do you look at Twitter as your personal soapbox to spew forth your marketing and advertising messages? If so and I see you in my twitter stream, you will quickly find yourself in the trash bin right next to the other spammers, blurters, product pushers and shouters. My name is Keith Burtis, I am a woodturner and artist from just outside the Buffalo NY area. I’m also a web 2.0 enthusiast blogger, podcaster and twitter user. I am not what you would call a traditional marketer, or brand specialist but like many others in business I am creating an online presence that requires both branding and marketing.

For the past year and a half I have been using a service many of you use called Twitter. Twitter is a Micro-blogging platform that folks like Leo Laporte have been calling a micro-messaging service. I think micro-messaging is a better term, but for all intensive purposes Twitter is a great place to not only provide information about your brand, but for networking, creating connections, brand monitoring, research, and crowd sourcing. As many of you know Chris Brogan has turned crowd sourcing and networking on twitter into a fine art.

Yesterday, as I perused my twitter feed I noticed a timely tweet that Chris had made talking about how he was going to write a blog post about twitter accounts that merely “blurted” their message. Many of these account holders which are often tied to popular brands use twitter as a broadcast medium rather than engaging in any real value adding conversation. At the time of seeing this tweet I was trying to contact a popular online company that prides itself in it’s use of web 2.0 technologies. At the writing of this post I have still not heard back from them and may cancel my account there. Email hadn’t worked, I couldn’t find a phone number, and their twitter account was actively blurting, but not engaging with any of their followers.

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What is Blurting?

Well, the way to answer this is easy really. When you post to your twitter feed is it all about YOU? Is your reason for being on twitter solely to generate traffic to your website or Blog? Do you just post links to YOUR content? If you have answered yes to any of these questions you “Blurt!” However, chances are pretty good that if you are reading this and you are a regular reader of this blog, that you are not one who blurts.

So what is the difference between sharing, promoting, and blurting?

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I was once asked by a twitter newbie if she was allowed to post links to her blog using twitter or if she would be banned and blacklisted by the community. My answer to her was simple. Add value, join the conversation and you will gain the respect of other twitter users. Furthermore, people looking for information on the topics that you are writing about will be glad that they have direct and easy access to the author of the content. Lesson being, if you have content that is valuable to a community of people, even if you perceive that community to be miniscule, share it on Twitter. Twitter is networking on steroids and one of the easiest ways to find like-minded individuals. Sharing and promoting your passion as well as linking to other relevant content is not blurting.

The Power of a network can be abused and Ultimately Lost!

Are you a popular brand like Nike, or Apple, or Barack Obama? You should be on twitter! Right? Well this is widely debated among the twitter community and it seems that if you are popular enough that the answer is YES you should be on twitter. A built in community of raving fans will follow your every move and hang on your every tweet and probably check out every link you post. Unfortunately for these brands, especially the individuals it is almost impossible to scale. If Barack Obama was truly engaging in community conversation via twitter he would have time for nothing else. Will Barack continue to use twitter after the election? That remains to be seen.

But what about the average user? If I were to create a twitter account and just sent post after post of my offerings would you follow me? Well, if you are a fan of woodturned art maybe you would, but I’m betting my self centered blurting would wear thin after a while and you would inevitably hit the un-follow button. So I try to add value to the community by engaging in conversation and by answering any questions that I can.

Don’t be a Blurter!

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Have you ever gone to a party and stood in a circle of people having a discussion and just randomly threw in plugs about your business or yourself? How about going to a wedding and leaving your business cards at every assigned seat? I would hope not. You would find yourself alone really fast. Well Twitter works the same way! Spend all day throwing in messages about yourself with no value add to the community and you’ll find the only other people following you are other blurters! Blurting at each other all day in a digital microcosm where neither party is listening to the other.

So what is your definition of Blurting? Do you follow those that blurt? Let us know!

Keith Burtis is a professional Woodturner and Artist, his work and Ideas can be found at his Magic Woodworks Blog. Keith is also a speaker who teaches other artists and arts organizations effective ways to communicate through the web and interactive media. Feel free to contact keith@magicwoodworks.com

Photo credit, Keith Burtis

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