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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….