The Karmic Way: Rules of the Twitterverse

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I recently finished reading The Tao of Twitter by Mark W. Schaefer. I was so happy that someone finally put words to what I’ve always felt people who haven’t truly immersed themselves in Twitter have trouble understanding – the reciprocal nature and “genuine authenticity,” as Schaefer calls it, of the twitterverse.

It’s true. Twitter is almost an anomaly. It’s both a platform and a publisher. It’s about both creation and consumption. But probably the biggest complexity I’ve found (and warmly embraced) about the Twitter world is the simultaneous one-to-one and one-to-many nature of conversations.

This is why it’s hard to get started. At the same time you’re conversing with someone you’ve just met in a twitter chat or on a #FF (Follow Friday) you’re also sharing this content with all of your followers and anyone who checks out your stream (unless it’s via DM). To some it’s a bit daunting – all of this, well, openness.

But if you can get past your initial privacy concerns and dive in, you’ll find Twitter to be one of the most rewarding outlets for not only your content, but also for networking and developing true relationships.

Some argue that these relationships are only skin deep because Twitter encourages competition – it seems as if everyone’s racing to get the most followers. But, as Mark mentions in the book and I’ve discovered over the years, it’s not actually very helpful to have a bunch of followers. What’s beneficial is having “targeted followers” – followers who you’re interested in reading content from and who are equally as interested in your content. If you can remember this, you really will be able to build relationships with your followers.

Once you become an avid tweeter, you’ll also understand the “rule of reciprocity” that is inherent in following someone. Usually if you follow someone with similar interests, they’ll follow you back. If someone shares one of your blog posts, or retweets you, somewhere down the line, you’ll return the favor for them.

Twitter is, then, a platform that’s run on sharing with and actually caring about your followers – who’d a thunk? It embraces quid pro quo (tweet for tweet) in the most authentic and friendly sense.

That’s why I’ve always felt as though Twitter was a micro-world based on karma. I thought: “It’ll just give you good karma to RT this post or follow that guy who just followed you. It’s the way of the world.” But I could never find a great way to describe this karmic sentiment until Mark referred to it as the Tao, or the way, of Twitter.

Mark mentions a few other facets that make Twitter a friendly, helpful, and ultimately golden resource for everyone in his book and so I highly recommend picking it up and giving it a read. It may not be 140 characters, but it’s short and sweet all the same. No matter what, though, I hope this has been the spoonful of sugar you needed to keep you on track with your twitter regiment.

How do you use Twitter for business?