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Home » Random

How to make a difference using Twitter

Screen shot 2010-02-08 at 12.17.46 AM
Creative Commons License photo credit: jonathansin

From time to time we feature guest posts from cool people changing the world one step at a time. At the the end of January we announced that writer Ben Lumley would be taking a regular slot here on the last Friday of each month with a series on How to Make A Difference.

If you don’t already know Ben, you can learn more about him over at his site, and why not connect with him on Twitter @6aliens or if you liked this article then why not subscribe to his RSS Feed?

In the first of Ben’s regular articles, he looks at How to Make A Difference Using Twitter, over to you Ben:

If you’re running a business, whether an online or offline one or you’re trying to promote a website or blog then Twitter is a big deal. The social media phenomenon has been around for a while now but if you’re not used it or even heard of it before then don’t worry. Twitter is simply a way of communicating to a massive (worldwide) audience by the medium of status updates of no more the 140 characters.

Twitter is used by a lot of people in a variety of different ways. Some people are there for personal reasons letting anyone from anywhere around the world follow what they’re up to. Others are using it to promote their business or website/blog by providing people with links to their own web pages. Some people even use Twitter to help them to become President of the United States.

There are a few important things that you should do to make a difference when using twitter whether you’re using it for personal or professional reasons.

Have a conversation

Twitter was originally created for one simple reason; to allow people to update each other with what they were doing and to let them have a simple conversation online. The funny thing about a conversation is that it is two-way. You need to be both talking and listening in order to have one.

Strike up a conversation with your followers. Ask them how they are? Respond to something that they’ve said. Respond to a question that they have asked you (this is a really big one by the way).

Whatever you do, engage with your followers and the people you follow. Start a conversation.

Be personal but not too personal

So you’re happily tweeting away and feeling like you’re having great conversations. You start to wish that you could come up with great random updates like the ones you see from some of those really cool users you follow. That’s great! Going off on a tangent is a good thing from time to time. It keeps people on their toes and the ears pricked up.

But that doesn’t mean you should get too personal. Seriously, no one wants to know about that embarrassing operation you just had or the fact that you bodily functions are in order. They don’t want to know your extremist views on things and they especially aren’t interested in how your cat looks like Hitler.

Bear in mind with Twitter you’re building a brand. That may be a personal brand or it could be a business brand. Either way you need to rein in those tweets that give us all way too much information.

Would you like to receive spam?

There’s a pizza place up from where I live that’s constantly sticking menus through my door. Now I love pizza, just thinking about it now is making me hungry but honestly the pizza at this place is the WORST I’ve ever eaten. Yet even though I never go in their shop anymore they still spam my letter box with stuff I’m not interested in and have already read once. It’s beyond annoying.

We all hate spam. So how do you think people feel when you repeatedly ram the same message out in to their Twitter feeds ever hour? There’s no need. That kind of forcible advertising doesn’t get you anywhere. You’ll put off more people than you bring in via Twitter if that’s your approach.

Remember everything in moderation.

Add value

If you really want to make a difference on Twitter go past the normal “I’m on a train to X, the man next to me smells” tweet and begin to add value. Let people know about that great blog post that you just read which completely blew your mind. Share to your followers some insightful quotes or thoughts on a particular topic in your niche. Confess to a recent mistake you made even if it only effected a small group of people.

The Twitter users out there that are really good, not necessarily popular like some of the celebrities are, but are good neither the less are the ones who add value. They share the things that they know will make people sit there and go “wow!” You can do the same you just have to put a bit of thought in to what you doing and try and rise above the masses.


Twitter is such a massive phenomenon. If you’re looking to build up any kind of brand, Twitter is definitely somewhere that you should be doing it. But you need to be conscious when using it. You can make a difference on Twitter to a lot of different from all around the world, you just need to think about how you personally can do that. Until next time….


  • ami said:

    great twitter tips. and I love the idea of a regular post on how to make a difference, thanks for putting this together.
    .-= ami´s last blog ..Joy + passion = energy (for you and everyone around you) =-.

  • Ben said:

    Thanks Ami

    Glad you enjoyed it
    .-= Ben´s last blog ..Demotivation: the curse of success? The choice is yours. =-.

  • Farouk said:

    i agree with you that conversations is a must but are you referring to twitter’s inbox? its too crowded to notice spam from normal messages

  • Ben said:

    You’re right the main feed is ridiculously busy. I personally use lists but I know other people use things like groups in Tweetdeck.

    How ever you do it – once you’ve filter out the unnecessary its becomes easier to have a conversation
    .-= Ben´s last blog ..Demotivation: the curse of success? The choice is yours. =-.

  • John Paul Aguiar said:

    All great tips to fight thru the madness that is twitter.
    .-= John Paul Aguiar´s last blog ..Want To Make Money Blogging? Then Stop Using Entrecard =-.

  • Ben said:

    Thanks John – glad you liked it
    .-= Ben´s last blog ..Demotivation: the curse of success? The choice is yours. =-.

  • Ralph said:

    I start off thinking about what on Twitter adds value to me and try to use that to get some idea about what I should be doing. The only problem is that nothing on Twitter adds value to me. That’s what hangs me up.

  • Ben said:

    Ah there is some good value out there Ralph.

    If there’s anything you’re looking for in particular, give me a shout and I’ll see if I know of any good people to follow who add value.
    .-= Ben´s last blog ..Think big – Start small! =-.

  • Eleanor Edwards said:

    Great advice Ben. Can we send it 15 times in the next 2 minutes to all those folks with the teeth whitening ads? πŸ˜‰

    Seriously though, this is good, practical advice. It’s just a shame that in regard to the spam issue, you’re probably preacing to the converted.

    How do you use DMs? Do you have an auto DM? Just recently I’ve started replying to folks who send me an autoDM when I follow them to see if they’re keen to engage in conversation. Most of the time I just get ignored but I did hear a great knock knock joke via DM the other day.
    .-= Eleanor Edwards´s last blog ..1 Minute Motivator: Life is like a box of chocolates =-.

  • Ben said:

    I only use DMs to send private messages.

    I used to have an auto-follow message but managed to get rid of it after moving my account recently
    .-= Ben´s last blog ..Think big – Start small! =-.

  • Ben said:

    I only use DMs for private message that I don’t want others to see.

    I used to have an auto-follow message but managed to get rid of it when I changed my accounts over recently

    Glad you enjoyed the post Eleanor
    .-= Ben´s last blog ..Think big – Start small! =-.

  • Justin Matthews said:

    hey Ben! Congrats on the recurring gig! this post was great, too many people think that twitter is just for posting “picking my nose now” updates. I am reading a lov4ely conversation right now that reminds me of the old BBS chat boards (pre internet I AM a geek)
    Good job man, look forward to next month!
    .-= Justin Matthews´s last blog ..What Do You Mean? I Have Kids? =-.

  • Ben said:

    Hey buddy.

    Glad you enjoyed it. Of to write an “I’m picking my nose” tweet.
    .-= Ben´s last blog ..Think big – Start small! =-.

  • Ben said:


    Hey buddy.

    Glad you enjoyed it. Of to write an “I’m picking my nose” tweet.
    .-= Ben´s last blog ..Think big – Start small! =-.

  • Stefan Martens said:

    Just stumbled upon this blog post on Twitter. When I read “how to make a difference” I thought I’d get to read something about social media for social change or something similar.

    I have to admit, that I’m not just disappointed by the fact that it’s not about what I’ve expected. It’s the content of the actual post.

    You find 1000s of posts like these on the internet. There’s an incredible redundancy.

    This is really annoying.

    This is not meant as an offence to the author – it’s just what I think about these kinda posts in general.

  • Ben said:

    Hey Stefan

    Really sorry that this post didn’t live up to expectations.

    The aim for this particular was for the community here at The Big Red Tomato Company who might be just starting out with Twitter or who may not have been using Twitter well.

    I appreciate that there was a different way I could have gone with this post and I’m sorry to have disappointed you.

  • uberVU - social comments said:

    Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by 6aliens: RT @Bigredtomato How to make a difference using Twitter a guest post by @6aliens…

  • Jazz Salinger said:

    Hi Ben,

    I really enjoyed your post. I personally enjoy Twitter but I’m not using it in the way you suggest.

    I tend to use it to re-tweet stuff that I find interesting. I practically never use it to have a conversation with anyone. I tend to use Facebook for that.

    I’ll give your suggestions a go, though. It might make me love Twitter more.
    .-= Jazz Salinger´s last blog ..Change Your Thinking Change Your Life =-.

  • Ben said:

    Hey Jazz.

    I heard Gary Vaynerchuk once describe Twitter as a Cocktail party. You wouldn’t go to a cocktail party and shout at everyone from the front of the room. Instead you’d mingle and strike up interesting conversations with new people. You wouldn’t talk to everyone but you’d talk to some interesting new people.

    Hope you fall in love with Twitter.
    .-= Ben´s last blog ..Think big – Start small! =-.

  • Matthew Needham said:

    That’s a good point Ben. I think it’s a fine balance communicating useful stuff and spamming. I prefer to try and strike a balance. Hopefully I’m not out of balance very often! Great post Ben and some great comments too!

  • Paul said:


    I’ve just dropped in here for the first time; it’s great to see you have a regular slot here. Well done!

    The Twitter tricks and tips are great, thank you for sharing them.

    I’ll watch out for next month’s post.



  • Ben said:

    Hey Paul

    Thanks for dropping by – looking forward to seeing you here again
    .-= Ben´s last blog ..An interview with a Life Coach – Christine Livingston =-.

  • Eric said:

    Twitter, like any other tool out there (though not probably comparable to) if used wisely can do wonders. It really can. If you engage with your follows on Twitter than amazing things can and will start happening.

    Just get out there and show people who you are. Being shy obviously won’t work.
    .-= Eric´s last blog ..Build Your Blog With Fire In Mind =-.

  • Ben said:

    Yeah completely right Eric.

    Thanks for stopping by
    .-= Ben´s last blog ..Happiness =-.

  • Butterfly said:

    You have to admit this guy knows what he is taking about.

  • Ben said:

    Aw thank you πŸ™‚
    .-= Ben´s last blog ..Know Your Worth by Finding Centered Truth =-.