Last week I did an interview with The Tennessean, our local paper here in Nashville, about my use of Twitter. Naomi Snyder, the reporter, asked me to respond to a few of the common objections people have to using Twitter.
After the interview, I realized that there actually are a finite number of objections. I have heard most of them. If you use Twitter, you probably have, too.
Regardless, the first thing I did was “crowd source” my followers on Twitter. I had a list of five objections before I did this. I honestly thought I had captured all of them, but I wanted to make sure. I Twittered this:
Surprisingly, I got seven more objections for a total of twelve.
I then created a poll in SurveyMonkey.com, blogged about it, and then asked my Twitter followers and blog readers to vote for the top three reasons their friends tell them they aren’t Twittering. More than 700 people took the poll.
Unfortunately, I somehow failed to include what I think is the number one thing that most of us hear from our friends. I have listed this one first, because I think it is probably the most prevalent. I have followed this with the other nine.
- “That sounds silly.” This is precisely what I said to my friend, Randy Elrod, when he introduced the service to me. He wisely said, “You won’t really understand Twitter until you try it?” I still think that’s right. Therefore, I challenge people to read my post, “12 Reasons to Start Twittering” and then try Twittering for two weeks. If they don’t like it after two weeks, fine. At least they will know first-hand why it didn’t work for them.
- “I don’t understand how to do it.”I get this a lot. People may not want to admit it, but they don’t understand how to do it. No problem, that is precisely why I wrote “The Beginner’s Guide to Twitter.” It assumes that they know nothing and walks them through the basics. One of the best things you can do for your friends when they are just starting out is to send them the link to this post.
- “It think it would take too much time.” I get this objection frequently, too. In fact, at one point, I heard this objection so many times that I wrote another blog post, documenting how much time I spent on Twitter a day. It’s entitled, “How Much Time Does Twittering Really Take?” As it turns out for me, less than 30 minutes a day—if that.
- “It is too narcissistic or self-centered.” Twitter is one of those things that merely amplifies what you already are. If you are narcissistic, then Twitter will give you a way to become even more narcissistic. But you won’t attract many followers. The key to that is being genuinely other-centered and generous. In fact, that is precisely the thing that gets other people’s attention and is rewarded on Twitter. To be successful with Twitter, it can’t be about you. It must be about your followers.
- “I prefer Facebook or some other social media service.” Honestly, I am not a big fan of Facebook, but there is no point in arguing it. Different strokes for different folks. However, why chose? You can have your cake and eat it, too. In this post, “How to Update Your Facebook Status with Twitter,” I show you how to kill two birds with one stone. (I think I mixed three different metaphors in one paragraph!)
- “It is a poor substitute for real relationships.” That’s what I thought at the beginning. I already have a rich social life. Why do I need more superficial relationships? However, with the exception of one of my daughters, my entire family started Twittering at the same time. This allowed us to stay connected in ways we could never dream of before. Plus, I have met some amazing people on Twitter who eventually became real friends and business associates. I met with one of them yesterday morning.
- “I don’t have anything interesting to say.” Don’t sell yourself short. Your life is more interesting than you think. Why do you think reality television is so popular? People crave transparency and authenticity. They long to connect with real people living real lives. It gives them perspective and helps them see that their lives are more normal than they thought.
- “I am concerned about my privacy.” I wrote the book on this—literally. In 2001, my book Invasion of Privacy: How to Protect Yourself in the Digital Age. was published by Regnery. Since that time, I have done a one-eighty. For all practical purposes, privacy is dead: get over it. Via Google, people can find out more about you in ten minutes than was possible in a lifetime ten years ago. You might as well intelligently feed the Google search engines with what you want people to know about you. You need to be smart about it, but you are in control.
- “I don’t see how it could help my business.” I know so many people now who have almost completely given up traditional marketing. They are doing most of their promotion on Twitter and seeing huge success. Why? Because they have a loyal following of people who trust them—a tribe, to use Seth Godin’s term. At Thomas Nelson, we are seeing some significant success with social media. Twitter is at the heart of our strategy,
- “I don’t know how to get started.” This is the easy part. Twitter is profoundly simple. You can sign up for an account and get started in 60 seconds. All you have to do is answer a simple question, “What are you doing?” in 140 charters or less. An even better question is this, “What has your attention right now? You can post an update or two and start following your family or friends. The rest will take care of itself. Trust me on this.