Twitter: Ur Doin It Rong.

I am not a social media expert. I did not major in marketing. I didn’t even have an account on LinkedIn until just a couple weeks ago. However, I do use Twitter. I know what I like. Like everybody else on the internet, I think my opinion is more important than yours. Seeing as how you people keep trying to woo me (and everyone else on Twitter), I’ll do you a favor and tell you why it’s not working.

Social media had good intentions. All of the socially awkward programmers and web dorks could pretend to have social skills by setting up accounts on MySpace and Facebook filling out surveys about whether or not “they’ve ever…”

Twitter, at its best, can be wonderful, random and comedic. Complete strangers tell me hilarious things all day long, and I get to filter out people who bore me. Famous people can give their fans what fans have wanted since the dawn of fandom: a direct link. I’m never going to hang out with anybody from Fall Out Boy, but it’s bizarrely interesting that, even if you’re famous, everything boils down to whether the waitress at Chili’s Too remembers to bring your extra mayo. It’s like there’s a party where everybody’s got a blindfold on, but people can still mingle and talk without the threat of someone getting drunk and having awkward booze sex.

Well, sort of. Drunken, regretted-in-the-morning Twittering is quickly becoming a rite of passage.

The problem is that Twitter has become “the next big thing.” Companies assume that joining Twitter will be some kind of short cut, allowing them to stop buying advertising and thinking about being in the first page of results on Google. What they’re not getting is that, for Twitter to work, you have to Tweet something that someone would actually WANT to read. Showing up at a party solely to hand out your business card is considered douchey, so why haven’t people realized that the rule applies to Twitter?

“Hey, how are you?”
“Have you seen my business’s website?”
“No, dude. Really. What’s going on?”
“Have you seen my business’s website?”

Businesses, let me break this down for you: if you add me, prompting me to look at your profile, and I see that the only thing you ever say is “here’s my company…here’s my company again…” I’m not going to add you. I’m going to leave the virtual party and let you sit alone in your living room, showing virtual vacation slides.

So, what works?

Amuse me. Tell me something fun. Talk about something other than your company’s products. If you can’t do this, hire somebody who can. Find someone who seems to embody what you company is, then hire them. (PS: if you don’t know what kind of person would embody your company’s tone and image, your Twitter is NOT your biggest problem.)

For example, the guy who does Clandestine Industries’ Twitter (@jensenclan88) mainly makes snarky comments about sports figures and pop culture. I know who he works for, I looked at the site and I even know the name of his art gallery and what it’s showing right now. Only 10% of his posts are about his businesses, but I know the names of them because I’ve stuck around long enough, and I stuck around because he’s hilarious. The trick is to be a real person, with something real, random or amusing to say. It’s a leap of faith to say “represent us, but be yourself.” Most businesses usually go for the “no, really, we CAN please all of the people all of the time” strategy. As a result, they end up afraid to say anything interesting. A knife that isn’t sharp is just a piece of metal. You have to have an edge to get anything done. Is JensenClan88 a happy accident or a brilliant marketing plan? I don’t know, but I suspect it’s working.

Have some balls. Say something worthwhile. If you don’t, nobody’s going to listen to you anyway.