Sometimes tweeting can feel distinctly like standing on the edge of the Grand Canyon and shouting 140 characters into nothing. You're lucky if crickets sound some sort of answer. I used to feel that way a lot about tweeting. And it's not like I didn't understand how to use it. I understand engagement. I understand conversation. I don't just get onto Twitter and push out a one-sided conversation (mainly thanks to the advice of the below quoted Twitter super-user).
"Your engagement has to be heartfelt, or it won't work," says entrepreneur/angel investor/Twitter fiend/author Gary Vaynerchuk in the social media bible, The Thank You Economy.
But the way Twitter was built, it makes it difficult for me to engage in a way that easily fits in with my life. Sure, I could scroll through tweets or use "Discover" to search topics that are appealing to me. Then I might find some tweets that look interesting, go to whatever link or picture was included and then go back and tweet a reply or comment to that person. That's definitely a way to use Twitter as a discovery tool -- but not as a tool to engage in topics that I am passionate about. And passion and heartfelt conversation is what makes social media powerful.
On the flip side, when I am passionate about something I have read or discovered online, I can send out a tweet and hope that I hashtag it correctly, or that it is witty enough or engaging enough to catch someone's eye. That's a gamble that pays off once in a blue moon for someone like me that has about 1,100 Twitter followers.
That's neither engaging nor fun.
So last year a new Twitter tool launched. It's called Embedle, and it allows you to drag a button to your toolbar, and then when you are on any webpage at all, view all the tweets that went out referencing that page. What could be an easier way to engage with people than when surfing the web and pages that are interesting to you?
If you had Embedle on your toolbar -- you could click it now, now and see how many tweets went out on this blog post whether they were directly tweeted from this page or someone cut and pasted the link into a Twitter post, or shortened it on bit.ly or however they posted it. Then you could also find the person with the most followers, or the person with the most interesting tweet about this article and reply to them. Maybe you think this post is genius and witty and fun, and you ask one of the people who tweeted about it if they have downloaded Embedle and what they think of it. Maybe you ask them what other Twitter tools they like.
You have just moved commenting on a webpage from that page -- out into the world of social media -- and more importantly, you have engaged in a way that is heartfelt and real.
So I decided to do a little experiment and see how Embedle could help me better engage with other Twitter users. With an average of just seven Tweets a day for two weeks, I was able to raise my Klout Score by six points. That's pretty amazing.
How did it work exactly? Whenever I surfed the web to read the blogs on my blogroll, or an article on HuffPost, CNN, or any of the other sites that I follow I would hit the Embedle button on my browser toolbar and immediately on the left side of the screen every tweet about that page would pop up. So I could read and connect with all of the people who shared my interests and reactions on anything I was reading about. Instead of commenting on the webpage itself I was able to comment via social media vastly increasing the number of people I was reaching.
What would I say? Any comment I wanted to make about that article. Anything I was thinking to myself as I read it I could pick any of the people who had deemed the article important enough to Tweet about and make that comment to them. Or ask a question of them. And you know what? Most of them engaged me back. And suddenly, it didn't feel like I was on Twitter alone. People replied to me, and re-tweeted me, and even 'favorited' some of my tweets. A few people even discovered my start-up site and tweeted about it to their followers! My bonus reward? My Klout score rose by six points in two weeks, and I was hardly even trying.