When I first joined Twitter five years ago, it was solely to follow 50 Cent’s unfiltered stream of consciousness. Little did I know that it would soon become one of the most valuable social networks in my life, serving as a platform to connect with amazing individuals. Initially skeptical, I was under the impression that Twitter was a toxic environment dominated by trolls, where everything revolved around politics, sports, or pop culture. How wrong I was! It took me a while to grasp the true potential hiding behind those 280 characters. Now, let me share why Twitter is, indeed, one of the best places to make friends.
Why should you use Twitter? What sets it apart?
Believe it or not, around half of the new people I meet are first discovered on Twitter. I make it a habit to have coffee or a meal with someone new from Twitter every week. Moreover, Twitter has become my go-to source for finding captivating reads. What distinguishes Twitter from other social networks is that you don’t bring along your existing connections. As a result, Twitter focuses more on people’s ideas rather than personal life updates from friends. This uniqueness makes it an ideal platform for finding like-minded individuals, and it turns the traditional process of building friendships on its head.
Usually, making friends follows this pattern:
- We cross paths in the same physical space.
- Through conversations, we discover shared interests.
- We continue interacting, leading to a friendship.
On Twitter, however, you first engage with people through their tweets, identifying mutual interests. From there, you participate in online conversations and banter, eventually culminating in meeting offline. This approach makes it easier to connect with individuals who share your passions, even if it occasionally raises eyebrows when you reveal that you met on Twitter. Additionally, Twitter facilitates relationships across geographical boundaries and social statuses. As a fresh graduate, I was able to engage with a general partner at a respected fund and receive a response to my questions. Such interactions would have been challenging to initiate elsewhere. Twitter provides direct access to people we admire, offering a genuine chance for conversation.
At its core, Twitter’s real value lies in meaningful conversations. While most people perceive Twitter as a platform for news consumption and staying up-to-date, investing time in engaging with others is where the true magic happens. Allow me to share some helpful “dos” and “don’ts” that have enriched my Twitter experience:
DO: Engage in conversations and express your opinions
Above all else, prioritize conversations on the platform. Twitter derives its value from the meaningful exchanges you have. Don’t hesitate to get involved, regardless of whether you know the people or not. Share your interesting thoughts and opinions. After all, at the beginning, people will discover your content through your replies to them.
DON’T: Follow non-person accounts
One common mistake to avoid is following brands, publications, firms, and similar entities. Remember, Twitter is all about conversations, and brands don’t converse. You don’t need to see every article or update released by these accounts. Relevant information will naturally reach your feed through the people you follow.
DO: Prioritize engaging accounts with smaller followings
Finding valuable accounts to follow may be challenging, but here are some metrics to consider:
- Engaging: Check their tweets and replies. If a person rarely responds to tweets, they might not be interested in conversing. Aim for accounts with a healthy balance of tweets and replies.
- Under the radar: Smaller accounts often exhibit more engagement, humility, and a willingness to express opinions.
- Mutual followers: Pay attention to accounts followed by people you already follow. This “followers you know” metric indicates account quality and serves as a great method for discovering new follows. Simply visit an account you appreciate, click on “following,” and explore some of those accounts.
DON’T: Auto-tweet, use excessive hashtags, or chase retweets
You might come across tweets that consist of obvious lists, repeated pithy quotes, or an abundance of hashtags and tagged accounts. While these tactics may attract retweets, they violate the principle that quality followers are more valuable than quantity. Such tactics reveal a self-promotional motive rather than a desire for genuine discussions. Avoid employing these techniques and refrain from following those who do.
DO: Unfollow accounts when necessary
Unlike other social networks, regularly following and unfollowing on Twitter is perfectly normal. If someone no longer shares content aligned with your interests, don’t hesitate to unfollow them. Keeping your feed and social graph pruned to reflect your current interests is beneficial.
DON’T: Get involved in “outrage Twitter”
Twitter is infamous for its users’ loud voices and lack of civil discourse. Participating in the shouting match that is “outrage Twitter” benefits no one. Engaging in such discussions will only exhaust you, leaving you feeling as though you’re unheard in the void.
DO: Utilize lists and mute words
While slightly more advanced tactics, creating lists and muting words significantly enhance your Twitter experience. The mute function is your ally, enabling you to avoid outrage-driven topics or any other subjects you have no interest in. By going to Settings & Privacy > Muted Words, you can establish a list of words associated with topics you wish to avoid. Additionally, lists serve as a fantastic organizational tool. Group accounts together based on the topics they frequently discuss. This allows for seamless navigation between subjects of interest, especially with the help of tools like Tweetdeck. Lists can even serve as a source for discovering new follows. Browse the lists of accounts you enjoy to find similar ones.
DON’T: Fear being wrong
Expect others to challenge you when you’re mistaken; this is how we learn. Imagine how long it would take to realize your errors if you never shared your thoughts. Be confident and informed in your opinions, but remain open to change when presented with new information.
DO: Engage via direct messages (DMs)
DMs present an excellent opportunity to transition from online interactions to real-life encounters. Messaging someone on Twitter feels less like cold outreach compared to platforms like LinkedIn, as you likely already have some rapport with the person you’re contacting. Many of my closest friendships began with a simple Twitter DM.
DON’T: Be a monotonous account
Avoid falling into the trap of being a boring follow. Merely sharing links with generic comments like “great read” or excessively praising other accounts won’t captivate your audience. Be authentic and contribute meaningful content.
DO: Discover your own style and what resonates with you
All the suggestions mentioned above are just that – suggestions. Ultimately, you should strive to find a Twitter style that suits you best. I, for instance, make memes, discuss healthcare often, and thread tweets. Experiment until you find your voice and style.
DON’T: Give up! It’s a gradual process
Success on Twitter doesn’t happen overnight, but persistence is key. Over time, you’ll discover friends, receive advice, and access valuable news that make the time invested worthwhile. Keep at it, and I promise you won’t regret it.
Note: This article was adapted from the presentation “Why Twitter is Dope and How to Use It.”
So, what are you waiting for? Embrace the vibrant Twitter community, connect with fascinating individuals, and unlock a world of meaningful discussions. Join us on Twitter and experience firsthand the wonders of forging new friendships in the digital age.
To explore more tips and tricks for Twitter, check out Mr Reviews.