How to Connect on Twitter Without Selling Out Your Community

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This is part of a series of guest posts on the There Are No Rules blog. If you’d like to join the party, pitch a guest blog post idea to robert.brewer@fwcommunity.com with the subject line: Guest Post Idea for No Rules. Simple as that, and we’ll get working on it together. Today’s guest post comes from DMG Byrnes, who shares her views on the best way how to connect on Twitter.

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Social Media, in its many forms, is an extremely powerful tool. It can be used in so many different ways it’s astounding. While growing my community, I’ve added what sites I use (some I never wanted to *cough, Twitter, cough*), but I have and will concede that it’s a wonderful way to connect with people all over the world to share thoughts, moments, and ideas.

There is one thing about sites like Twitter (where this seems to be far more rampant) that can be particularly irksome, and that is the Direct Message sales pitch/demand. This is a private message where someone you have just “followed” on Twitter, sends you a sales pitch. This often comes in the form of “thanks for the follow, here’s my book!” (Actually they’re much longer and often cheesier than this but I don’t have time to think of that babble), or some other buy link, or similar way that you could just as easily access yourself by clicking on their profile. The point is: it’s a sales pitch masquerading as a thank you and a paltry attempt at connection.

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Thank You for Following: Buy My Book!

Here are things that go through my mind when I get one of these:

  • I instantly have the urge to unfollow them because I have a good idea what to expect of their tweets (which is now why I am more selective of who I follow from the start)
  • I want to tell them that I’m more than capable of seeking out my interests on my own, especially since there is room for website links and info on a profile page
  • I want to tell them that I already assume that they will post about their books in the future, and that sending me a personal message with only the intent to sell (and never again for any other reason by the way), I find exasperating and a little diminishing.

To me, it’s saying that I’m only a number, only some vague entity that is to be sold to….pitches like this are one of the quickest ways to get a polite smile, laugh and a solemn oath to myself not to bother with whatever is attempting to be sold to me….ever. Later, if and only if *I* have the interest, will I take a look, but it usually takes a while. I try not to be spiteful in this life, though part of me wants to never buy their book just because they showed me how little connecting with me means to them.

There are plenty of people who probably dismiss these messages or don’t care. A handful or more may click or even purchase what is being offered or sold. Many, however that unfollow these selling fiends immediately, others send messages selling back as response. The reactions are as varied as people are. Honestly though, I know there are many who would appreciate it if people generally stopped using this tactic entirely. Who is really going to miss it?

A New Approach

Perhaps it’s just a matter of not knowing how to connect? I’ll admit, I’m winging it here and doing what feels right, but I’m happy with the progress I’ve made and the community I’ve built so far as it steadily continues to grow.

Here are a few suggestions of ways you could connect with people on Twitter, instead of selling to them:

  • Take a look at their profile page and see what they post, comment on something they’re working on, waiting for, or are excited about. Give encouragement, always, you can’t go wrong. I know you can’t do this forever and everyone, but personalize it when you can and at least spend time liking a couple of their posts if you smiled or agreed.
  • Retweets are a great way to show that support and to spread other people’s work. It’s also a great way for people to see yours, if someone RT’s you, but focus on others. If you agreed with a personal thought or like a quote someone posted, RT it. Not much effort, but can go a long way in building a community.
  • Share your own thoughts occasionally. A witty one-liner or two, or a remark about your day or a situation. Things like this are how you connect with people, they show you’re interesting, and human (presumably). Admit it, you’re more willing to listen to someone that’s entertained you for a moment than someone that walks up to you with their hand out and a sales pitch.
  • Participating in events like #2bitTues, #1lineWed, or #FF (follow Friday), and others are ways to easily reach out to an audience looking to do the same thing you are, connect with other people with similar interests. Easy, fun, challenging way to grow your community

Another important thing to remember is that not everyone who follows you is necessarily your market or wants to be, but they follow you because they are supporting another writer like themselves. I will happily support and share links, even if I’m not interested, because others might be. However, in my experience the people who have a wall of buy links to their own work rarely support or share others, or interact past selling. I have no patience for this, personally.

DMG Byrnes

DMG Byrnes

But far be it for me to tell anyone how to handle themselves online, run their business, build their platform or brand. Everyone can and will continue to do as they wish on the internet. I guess the question is whether you care more about community or sales? I’ll take community, thanks.

What do you think? How do you deal with these messages?

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DMG Byrnes is an author with a reading addiction. She blogs every Wednesday at dmgbyrnes.com and also reviews books. Currently she’s working on short stories, other writings and publishing her first thriller/suspense novel entitled The Foretelling Spark.

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