Ever thought of Twitter as a virtual water cooler? You know the place in the office where people gather over water, coffee, or soda for brief conversations. Some of those are casual conversations where people connect, chit-chat, and get to know one another. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. However, in many cases, those conversations also are rich exchanges of ideas and insights that lead to breakthroughs on projects or partnerships. Those are the ones that really interest me.
I’ve come to view Twitter as such a place with an added bonus, Twitter conversations occur on a global scale. With 140 million active users on Twitter and 340 million tweets per day that’s a big water cooler and a lot of conversations – most of which don’t interest me.
How do you cut through the clutter and noise to find those Twitterers who are tweeting on topics that interest you? That’s where the law of attraction comes into play.
Remember, all social media networks build on the law of attraction, the concept that like attracts like. The people on Twitter that you know, respect, and follow probably have other people in their networks (follows and followers) that you’d also have find interesting and beneficial as contacts.
If your new to Twitter or haven’t spent much time on it, here’s how to get started.
Create your Twitter profile and make it beneficial.
Build your initial network by following people you know and respect in your professional field or an area of personal interest.
Find people’s Twitter handles (e.g. @kevin_monroe) on their other social media sites (LinkedIn, Facebook, etc.) or from their email signatures. You may want to connect your Twitter account to your other social media tools to make this easier.
Explore the Twitter profiles of people you know to see who they follow and who follows them.
Consider the recommendations of people to follow that Twitter provides.
If you’re like me, you want to discover those interesting tweeps you don’t yet know tweeting about things that interest you. But who are they and what water coolers are they gathering around?
A hashtag is the “#” symbol (hashtag) plus a relevant keyword or phrase. The purpose of hashtags is to aggregate all the messages on a common theme by their hashtag and allow them to be easily collected, followed, or searched. Here’s a list of 30 super useful nonprofit hashtags.
Hashtags are extremely useful, but wait there’s more.
Here’s the winning combination that unlocked Twitter for me:
Hashtags + Twitter Lists + Tweetdeck = Twitter Magic
Hashtags serve as the code to sort and make sense of Twitter. However, for me, the real magic began when I discovered Twitter lists and added those lists and hashtags into my Tweetdeck account.
That's when I struck Twitter gold.
Now I have the power of the Twitterverse displayed on one screen and sorted into columns that I can easily follow and sort. WOW!
Here are a few of the lists that I’ve developed based on my interests in the nonprofit world:
NPO Groups and Funders is a list of national nonprofits, foundations, funders, or groups that serve them.
NP Associations is a group of state, national, or international associations that I’m interested in.
Nonprofit Board Gurus is a select group of people I regard as thought leaders on the subject of nonprofit governance (none of them would call themselves gurus, but I can).
NPO Thought Leaders is a list of people I regard as thought leaders shaping the world and work of the social sector.
These are public lists that you can subscribe to if any interest you, or you can create your own.
Finally a word about Tweetchats – water cooler conversations on steroids. My favorite is #NPCons (NonProfit Consultants) a global gathering of consultants on the 3rd Tuesdays of each month at 4:00 ET for a rich and robust dialogue with other like-minded people from around the world to share ideas, insights, and experiences on topics of mutual interest 140 characters at a time. All tweets are tagged with the #NPCons hashtag and you can follow along on Twitter or one of the management tools like Tweetdeck. You can learn more here or search the archives.
#NPCons is a refreshing hour each month at the global water cooler; if you’re a consultant I invite you to join us. However, there are lots of other great Tweetchats that may interest you, here’s a list.
A word of warning, don’t get crazy with hashtags. I’ve seen hashtags like the message below but don’t want to embarrass others, so I made one up.
Twitter recommends limiting your use of hashtags to two per tweet.
I hope this helps you find your winning combination on Twitter. Please add your comment below or tweet me @kevin_monroe to meet you at the water cooler for a conversation.