Twitter Sitters and Facebook Fiends

I’ve been talking a lot about Twitter lately. Not on Twitter, but In Real Life. The people I’ve been talking to are Facebook Fiends (and friends), but Twitter Sitters. Meaning they are constantly interacting on Facebook and they have a Twitter account, but just sit on it rather than participate.

I’ve been trying to explain the draw of Twitter and what they can get out of it. It wasn’t until I got around to reading an article by Jacob Weisberg on Twitter in the March issue of Vogue (with a sultry Adele on the cover) called FAST COMPANY that I finally understood what I wanted to really say: Facebook is an extension of your real life social circle, while Twitter can actually extend your online and real life social circle.

I first joined Facebook when I was leaving my previous place of employment and everyone kept asking how we would keep in touch, which was followed by, “Are you on Facebook?” So to keep a social circle that would have otherwise fallen by the wayside, I signed up and collected friends both past and present. But, I keep my privacy settings on high alert and I don’t friend anyone that I haven’t actually met face to face. I message through Facebook and have organized events and groups, all with people that I have personal connections with in the real world.

Twitter, ironically, is more of an open book than Facebook. It is a public forum where anyone can follow you and you can follow anyone, it doesn’t have to be a reciprocal relationship like Facebook friends (of course, I’m leaving out people who have protected tweets, they don’t count). The trick with Twitter is you need to be following the right people, many of whom you do not yet know and may never know. By following tweeps you are not asking to be their friend, you just want them to share something of interest.

At first, I had some trouble decoding tweets, I was confused by all the @’s, RT’s, MT’s #FF’s and all the other hashtags (funny, I thought it was a number sign). What did they mean? How did they work? I did my research, stuck with it and one day it became a second language. As I got comfortable and started interacting more I began to feel at home. I understood the humour in fake hashtags and enjoyed engaged in two way conversations with people known and unknown. But, I had to step outside my comfort zone and try some new things. I’ve certainly made mistakes and missteps on Twitter, but the tide of tweets just washes them away and I continue to learn and improve.

The Vogue article compared Facebook to a walled garden where anonymity and parody are not allowed by the powers that be, while “Twitter prides itself on openness and egalitarianism – innovation percolates up from users rather than being pushed out from headquarters.” In the world of Social Media, Facebook leans to the Social and Twitter smacks more of Media. While Facebook has been keeping me up to date on my friends and family, Twitter has been feeding me news about my community and interests at an amazing speed. Twitter users have filled me in on earthquakes, police investigations, fires, sales, community events and celebrity deaths (some prematurely announced) before traditional news sources can grab their press pass.

So, if you have all the friends and business connections you’ll ever need and you like getting your news a day late then be a Twitter Sitter and a Facebook Fiend, but if you want to expand your online world and be connected to your community then tweet away! As I look forward to my first Tweet Up (a meet up of local Twitter users) I’m excited to increase my social circle and maybe make a few more friends.

Thank God It's Follow Friday #TGIFF

So, you’ve jumped into Twitter feet first and are making a big splash. Right? Though Twitter has only been with us since 2006 it has developed a culture that some find difficult to decode. This could be part of the reason there are so many Twitter Quitters. The retention rate for Twitter is around 40% in the first month for new users, compared to 70% for Facebook. Another reason could be that the newbies just aren’t following the most appropriate handful of Tweeters out of the hundreds of millions of Twits.

While Twitter does an adequate job of suggesting people for you to follow, what better way than to get a personal recommendation from somebody you already “know”? Maybe we could choose a specific day of the week and make up a catchy name for it, something with alliteration. Oh, wait it’s already been taken care of:

That was back in 2009 and the trend has only become stronger. A hashtag (#) was added and the space removed to become #followfriday and now it is mostly shortened to #FF to save on precious characters.

To use best practices for Follow Friday, try to do a logical grouping that gives people a reason to understand why these Twitter accounts are worthy of a follow: “PR Pros”, “Funny Friends”, “Moms with Moxie”, “Sports Stars”, “Nose for News” or “Charming Charities” (alliteration is NOT required, but it doesn’t hurt!).

If someone includes YOU in a Follow Friday tweet, it’s always nice to tweet back a thank you, since it is a form of compliment. If you get multiple #FF mentions, nicely done! You can do one tweet thanking your supporters all together.

See, it’s easy to be part of the “in” crowd. So make sure to give a shout out to people who fill your Twitter feed with goodness that is worth sharing. Along the way, you might pick up some shiny new people to follow and adore. It’s not hard, it’s already on your calendar!

Make a Splash in the Twitter Stream

Afraid to dip your toe into the Twitterverse, let alone dive right in? There’s really nothing to fear unless you plan on trying to drink in everything that comes at you. Twitter is the online equivalent of the storied water cooler. It’s a virtual place you can stop by, refresh your beverage and fill up on the latest buzz and then move on with your life. You can connect with people and brands around the world and keep it short and sweet.

The best part about tweeting is the speed and immediacy it can offer. Recent examples that impressed this upon me include a fire in Chilliwack, that put the power out for some of my co-workers, and an earthquake, that shook parts of Vancouver Island and that I felt in Maple Ridge. Before Google or Facebook could give me answers, the Twits were on the case. I had photos of the fire and updates when it was out and when power was back on. Before I could get friends on the phone in Victoria I had reports from all over the Island and the Lower Mainland about where the quake had been felt.

It’s all about who you follow. On Facebook, I only “friend” people that I would actually cross the street for if I saw them in real life. I am sharing photos and updates that are personal in nature and I have my privacy levels at maximum. On Twitter, I get great updates on my varied interests and I even have two Twitter accounts to keep the flow of information more organized. As @juliaaustine, I follow people that share common interests and will keep me up to date on Technology, Public Relations, Social Media and my community while I try to return the favour. I have a separate account for my cooking blog that is food, baking, restaurants and more food.

Twitter can be a little intimidating, as there are written and unwritten rules of netiquette that seem to change at a moment’s notice. I’ll try to guide you through the ebbs and flows as I learn them myself, but I encourage you to come on in and test the waters for yourself.

Feel the Klout

Have you ever wondered about your Klout? If you want to quantify your influence on Twitter and/or Facebook then head over to their website. They will give you a score from zero to one hundred on the ability you have to impact and drive your followers to action. It then gets further broken down into True Reach, Amplification Network.

I checked out the results for my very new Twitter account @juliaaustine and expected to get a zero. But, a new feature of Klout.com is that you can link your Facebook as well. So, with my three year old Facebook account added in, I got bumped up to a whopping 5!  My other Twitter account, for my food blog, also and rated a 5, but that must be more heavily dependant on my Twitter activity, as I only use that Facebook account to interact with Twitter. So, I’m a solid 5. What does that mean? Well, I’m in the 10th percentile, so it means I’m just starting out. I already knew that, but it’s nice to know that I have a solid base to start from and that I can only go up from here.

If I want to increase my score I need to start by tweeting new and engaging content, reacting and interacting with my fellow Twits and gain followers who will be interested in my viewpoint and what I have to share with them.

I also checked in on @SweetTartelette, the Twitter handle of Helene Dujardin of the blog Tartelette, to see how she fared with her Twitter following of over seven thousand. She scored an impressive 47, which puts her in the 80th percentile (which means she has more Klout than 80% of the accounts on Twitter). Helene has been blogging since 2007 and generates gorgeously mouth-watering content of her culinary creations that she styles and photographs herself. She has over twelve THOUSAND tweets, compared to my ten, and is at the top of her game.

I am definitely influenced by her recipes, her styling and her photography. My food blog is not in the same style as hers, but I hope that one day she might click a link to my blog and be intrigued by what she sees or reads, and maybe, just maybe, she might tweet about me.

October 18, 2010 Update: My Klout has increased to 12, I moved up to the 20th percentile. I am on my way up the Social Media ladder!

November 14, 2010 Update: I’ve climbed one more rung, so I’m now up to a 13 on Klout. Look out world.

February 17, 2012 Update: It took a while, but I’ve soared up to 40 on the Klout scale. Look out universe!

April 3, 2012 Update: I must be doing something right (according to Klout anyway), I’m up to 47.