It actually offends me how difficult it is to build a Twitter audience by using Twitter. Ridiculous.
Here’s a great example from this morning. I found an amazing quote from a Bruce Lee book on Reddit and tweeted it out. Here it is so you can see how fucking awesome it is.
Bruce had me up to three miles a day, really at a good pace. We’d run three miles in twenty-one or twenty-two minutes. Just under eight minutes a mile. […] So this morning he said to me “We’re going to do five.” I said, “Bruce, I’m a helluva lot older than you are, and I can’t do five.” He said, “When we get to three, we’ll shift gears and it’s only two more and you’ll do it.” I said “Okay, hell, I’ll go for it.” So we get to three, we go into the fourth mile and I’m okay for three or four minutes, and then I really begin to give out. I’m tired, my heart’s pounding, I can’t go on any more and so I say to him, “Bruce if I run any more,” –and we’re still running– “if I run any more I’m liable to have a heart attack and die.” He said, “Then die.” It made me so mad that I went the full five miles. Afterward I went to the shower and then I wanted to talk to him about it. I said, you know, “Why did you do that?” He said, “Because you might as well be dead. Seriously, if you always put limits on what you can do, physically or anything else, it’ll spread over into the rest of your life. It’ll spread into your work, into your morality, into your entire being. There are no limits. There are plateaus, but you must not stay there, you must go beyond them. If it kills you, it kills you. A man must constantly exceed his level.
Great quote right? I thought so, and so did Twitter. It got retweeted a bunch of times, and then RT’ed again by their followers, etc. Someone even said they printed it and pinned it to their wall. Good for them. But is anyone new following me as a result? Nope.
For me, the most effective way to get followed on Twitter is actually not to be on Twitter at all, but instead to be somewhere in person (conference etc.) and show your Twitter handle onscreen. Shoemoney recently told a story about this and how effective it is, which is worth reading. But the point is that if you point your audience from Twitter to a blog, they might subscribe, and from a blog, they might follow you on Twitter. But getting RT’ed is doesn’t build audience if it doesn’t go to your content.
This has a lot to do with incentive. I love quotes like these and finding them is awesome, but if I have no incentive to send it to my audience, then I’ll lose the will to do so. If I lose the will to do so, so will many others, which empoverishes the medium as a whole.
It follows that the reason blogs flourished is partially because of attribution and citation. The hyperlink says “follow this to go somewhere that’s really cool,” but the medium of the tweet is too ephemeral to even cause someone to do a simple follow unless they put considerable work into it— at which point you’ve put a ton of work into a platform you don’t even own, and can’t create link equity from. And let’s not forget the devaluation of the follow itself, and the fact that a follow 4 years ago was worth something, whereas most people currently do not even look at their own timeline (ask any power user about this, it’s true).
The reason this is important is because the web’s value is in its distribution of the power structure, and that you can build a powerful channel with much less cost than you previously ever could. So it only follows (heh) that the smart thing to do is send people from Twitter to your own content, at which point they go through the sales funnel (or subscription funnel, whatever), where they can turn into someone that actually pays attention. (Twitter’s design is actually interesting because it actualy encourages this jumping, incentivizing the reader but devaluing the publisher’s content.)
A lot of people in this space work with the idea that they should be on whatever platform is most popular, but that’s actually pretty stupid. The real value is in whichever platform gives you the most credibility and leverage. For some people, that’s Twitter, but for many others, it may not be… they need somewhere to send their audiences.
Is Twitter actually working for you?If so, I’d like to hear how.