You Gotta Talk the Talk: The Art of Conversation on Twitter

You’ve probably read the articles, heard the rumors, seen the propaganda:

Conversation is dead! Millennials have murdered the precious art that is social discussion. They hide behind their cell phones and computer screens. Those hooligan GenYers don’t know how to talk to one another. Society as we know it has crumbled.

Dramatic much? While it’s true that technology has created a barrier between face-to-face communications, social media has not killed the art of talk. In fact, conversation has grown to reach corners of the world and connect people that would never have had the opportunity. Which for business-minded folks is good news – mo’ people equals mo’ business, right?

There’s the first mistake.

All too often people treat Twitter as the 7-11 of social media, constantly using their 140-character allotment as an immediate business opportunity. Imagine being stuck in an elevator with a schmaltzy sales guy all day, every day while he tries to pitch his innovative outdoor leaf vacuum (wouldn’t that be nice)? Doesn’t sound too enticing does it? So what’s the difference between that scenario and Twitter?

The constant barrage of buy, buy, buy or ask, ask, ask and promote, promote, promote becomes white noise and a quick and easy way of getting yourself unfollowed. Ouch.

The best way to combat too much promotional messaging is to incorporate conversation. Inject some personality into your Twitter account by replying and responding to potentially relevant people and ongoing conversations.

And it always helps to take a page out of JFK’s book, and ask not what Tweeters can do for you but what you can do for your Tweeters.

Which leads us to the second mistake, and it’s one that happens online and in-person — not listening. To borrow from How to Win Friends and Influence People, “We take an interest in people who take an interest in us.” What’s the best way to do that? Listen. How do you listen? By searching for keywords relevant to your conversation (there’s that word again, must be important).

Conversation isn’t dead — it’s alive and thriving — it has just changed arenas. Gen Y is the most active voice of social media, so not only are they communicating, but they’re the loudest voice in the Twitter-sphere. Reach out to them by listening, responding, and relegating promotional messages, and you’ll quickly become an amazing (online) conversationalist.