Once Upon A Time – A Good Twitter Lesson

Once upon a time – most good stories start this way and so does mine. I learned a good Twitter lesson not too long ago while trying to get the word out on my blog series about persuading people based on personality type. Beyond just sending some “tweets” about my articles I directly asked a number of people if they would help me. When using Twitter you can send a direct message (DM) to people who follow you. To ask for help I sent direct messages to about two dozen people who I’d had some contact with beyond simply following them. In each case I’d had some direct messaging with every person and many of them had “retweeted” my stuff. A “retweet” (RT) is simply where someone on Twitter tells all their followers about something you did or wrote. I have close to 1200 followers who can see my messages. Imagine if 24 followers each have about that many people following them and if they retweet, meaning all their follower can see a message, then all of a sudden instead of just 1200 getting the word potentially 28,000 have a chance to see what I wrote. As that example shows, Twitter can be a very powerful approach to communication. Some of the trouble with social media is that it’s so new and there are many unwritten rules. The approach I took when I directly asked people if they’d help me out by retweeting my posts bothered one of my followers so he posted the following message to his 400+ followers: @BrianAhearn Please don’t DM me articles and then ask me to RT them. #tacky #unfollow As you might imagine, #tacky was telling people what I did was tacky and the #unfollow was telling anyone who followed me that they shouldn’t any longer. Ouch! He followed his own advice and stopped following me so I couldn’t send him a direct message to work it out. My choices were 1) let it go, 2) contact him by email or phone, or 3) work it out in the public space. I chose the third option but before I did I called a friend whose opinions on social media I really respect. Not only did Paul Hebert give me good advice, it allowed me to get my emotions in check. I put the following message in the public arena: @jml_bryant I was looking for help from folks who’d RT posts in the past. Wasn’t trying to be tacky. You could have contacted to discuss? (Meaning = why didn’t you send me a direct message rather than air it in public) Shortly I saw the follow on Twitter’s public space: @BrianAhearn I’m of the school of thought that folks will RT what they think is interesting. Put the info out there & we’ll find/spread it. I thought, fair enough but I didn’t think I violated a rule by simply asking for help. I figure if anyone doesn’t like my stuff they don’t have to pass it along for further consumption. So I responded one more time: @jml_bryant Appreciate the response. Please accept apology. I’m learning as I go like many others, didn’t mean to offend. All good? Now I was taking my own medicine. When you want to influence someone a good way to do so is by engaging the principle of authority. One aspect of authority is admitting weakness or a mistake to gain trust. I was hoping my apology would open a door and it did because here’s what I saw next: @BrianAhearn Aren’t we all still learning?! Your explanation helped me to understand your methods. Thanks for following up. Then not too long after that tweet I noticed Justin was once again following me and he posted this message online:

Kudos to @BrianAhearn for communicating with me this morning when I didn’t understand or appreciate his Twitter method. In my eyes that last message in the public space was a classy move. Now that he was a follower again I sent him a direct message and invited him to coffee on me next time he was in Columbus. It so happened he had plans to be in town the following afternoon so we got together for a beer. We talked about the exchange and he said he’s never done anything like that – public message over disagreement – before and I think we both learned a good lesson. Personally, I felt good about not giving in to my initial emotional reaction which was anger and because I found a way to make things right. Even better, I made a friend. Justin Bryant turned out to be a really nice guy and we had much in common. He owns Think Design Studio where he does brand development. I told him we essentially did the same thing but in a different medium. I try to influence people primarily through words and he does so through design and marketing. He wants to start blogging so I shared some of my experience and invited him to write a guest post some time. You can find Justin on Twitter and LinkedIn. I encourage you to give him a look. I think you can see it turned out well so I’ll close the way most good stories usually do – And all’s well that ends well. The EndBrian
Helping You Learn to Hear “Yes”.

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