by Adam Jackson


This is an unedited excerpt from my upcoming book project that is still unnamed. You can follow the book’s progress at 140

Twitter is an awesome conversational tool. Twitter is not a replacement to e-mail, instant messaging or a phone call and this is what makes Twitter so ideal for making connections. However, if you don’t master how to interact over the service, then you’re missing out on a huge opportunity.

Twitter has helped individuals in a few ways:

- Solve a problem or answer a question.
- Get ideas for where to go for dinner
- Helpful info about where the party is
- Finding a new job
- Helping a customer who is having problems

There are so many ways that Twitter can benefit people but most of these things happen through a conversation. Learning to master this will help you tremendously. There are a few things that we’ve already gone over but I will highlight them again:

- Don’t treat twitter like a chatroom
- Make each post, whether it be a thought or reply, unique and meaningful
- Bring up the people that are new to Twitter
- Remember the ratio  and don’t post more replies than unique posts
- Don’t be afraid to take the conversation to direct message or Email

In order to master the conversation, you must be able to come to a resolution in no less than 4 tweets. Tweet #1 is the original post.  #2 is a person’s reply and #3 / #4 is one more back and forth. After that, you’re putting things in the timeline that will cause you both to lose followers and the conversation really should be taken to direct message or another medium. If I see someone’s updates coming to my phone that are always replies to a conversation I’m not involved with, I will un-follow that person. If two people in the timeline are going back and forth for half an hour, I usually do a quick tweet in a joking manner asking them to take it to email or DM (direct message).

You must be unique and meaningful. If you’re not, people won’t care what you have to say and a conversation will never occur. Here are some examples of posts that will never receive a reply no matter how many people are following you.

- My computer just froze up
- Traffic sucks today
- Hmm it’s raining
- I’ve never liked country music or jazz.
- Who’s using the new iPod software?

Let’s look at those same posts reworded a bit and it will spark a thought in your mind and a reply.

- 2nd time this week my computer froze up. Maybe it’s the latest software update.
- Anyone heading north on 280 into SF that’s stuck in traffic *raises hand*
- First time all month that it rained and I don’t have an umbrella!
- Why does this club insist on playing music that I just don’t like? Country music is great but not for me.
- A new iPod software update came out last week. Anyone having problems?

Let’s say you post the third example regarding rain and 4 people reply. You can’t reply to all of these so, instead a reply to one of them with something witty and follow that with a tweet that recognizes the replies you did receive.

Here are replies that you get following the post #3:

- Amitchell: totally, that happens all of the time. I always have an extra shirt.
- Mross: I haven’t seen rain in a month either
- Surferdude: it’s been raining every day here in SoCal.
- Larrygee: You’re dumb for not having an umbrella. I hate your posts.

First of all, there’s an old saying, “don’t feed the trolls” and this is extremely important. Trolls are individuals who are constantly cruising various websites with an opportunity to comment on something off topic or something damaging. Ignore them and that’s the only rule you need. By replying to larrygee, you’re bringing attention to him and only fueling what will be a reply war back and forth. Simply ignore it in your mind or open his profile and click “block” next to his name so he’ll never show up again.

Of the other 3 replies I’d do a single reply to one of these individuals by saying, “@amitchell Totally! The extra shirt is a good idea so I won’t always be lugging around an umbrella.” The next part is completely optional. It’s up to you whether to ignore the other two posts or post a message that says, “looks like I’m not the only one with rain comments. It looks like @mross and @surferdude are too.” Now you’ve ignored the trolls, made a reply and posted something unique that gets them some linkage and possibly some more followers but it also shows them that you saw their message and didn’t just ignore it. It’s like writing a letter and never getting a response.

Oh but wait. Now, Amithcell is responding back to you again. Now is a time to cut it off. If the response is captivating enough that you want to continue the conversation, send them a direct message but don’t keep the conversation going. Talking back and forth about the rain is going to bore everyone that’s following you or Amithcell. It would be nice for Twitter to have a chat feature but they don’t so you’re forced to use direct messages.

You can find more about 140 Characters on my website, via Twitter and my personal Twitter account.

About the Author:

Adam Jackson


    no imageAdrian Eden (Who am I?)13 January 2009 11:46 am

    Nice post, I try to use all 140 characters for every time I Tweet, why not eh? All the best in 2009!

    Rate this:
    3.3 (1 person)
    no imagelakelady (Who am I?)13 January 2009 12:53 pm

    well done and you’ve given me more to think about…it’s that the whole point :)

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    no imagenemrut (Who am I?)13 January 2009 1:12 pm

    You have some good ideas here to spur conversation. Twitter is still evolving and is being used in many different ways. Time will tell whether people use it more to chat or as a replacement for other forms of electronic communication.

    We shouldnt proclaim just what Twitter is and is not…

    Rate this:
    2.8 (1 person)
    no imageJoe (Who am I?)21 January 2009 11:14 am

    So, like do I get a prize for more followers? Does someone send money? Why the heck is it about followers, is this just a place for people to re-live high school? Is there an equivalent for grownups?

    Rate this:
    3.1 (2 people)
    no imageGabriella (Who am I?)21 January 2009 11:16 am

    I couldn’t agree with you more. However, I have several Twitter accounts. One for personal fun stuff, one for business, and a few for clients. Sometimes I catch myself using it as a testing ground. What I have not been able to master is where am I getting followers from. It seems when I post something about what we are doing we may get a hand full of followers. However it’s my personal account that is getting the most followers and I have noticed it is only when I post music that I get followers. Basically use your twitter with a goal in mind. Great post thanks

    Rate this:
    3.8 (2 people)