Everyone seems to start off their Twitter experiences the same way, we join and start following celebrities thinking that it is pretty cool. Then you start clicking around and you tweet exciting things like “is this on” or “I am at the dry cleaners.” Wondering what the heck everyone is so excited about, a lot of people quit at this point. But lucky ones make a friend! Yes, I said a friend. Finally someone to tweet! The luckiest folks find savvy friends that can teach them the ropes about tweeting, direct messages and hashtags. Everything is like a foreign language at first but click by click, you realize, hey this is fun! Someone is reading my tweets and responding.
Your brain begins to react to the connections being made by producing dopamine. Dopamine responds very quickly to the lust of 140 characters. The anticipation of what to tweet and who to tweet it followed by what will they think, this gets all the pistons firing. Then begins the loop of tweeting activity. The loop is the draw and the hook! Ever wondered if you have any direct messages or @ mentions waiting for you while you have other crucial tasks to complete?
A huge source of validation is acquiring comrades who: #1 understand why you are on Twitter so much now and #2 people to share the experience with and make it more fun. As you get more into the meat of it, things like Klout and Hashable come into play. And you realize, that you need allies if you will grow in the social web that you are weaving. Building friendships with people on Twitter may be a challenge at first but once you take the plunge, it is worth the risk for the reward.
Klout started a new +K program last week giving users +K points to give to their chosen ones based on the topics that they are influential in, this added another layer of gamification. Twitter was abuzz with the +K , tweets started flying with I gave you a +K point. Everyone needs validation of some sort, social validation proves to be a powerful afrodiasiac. The nectar of the +K points is quite the current shiny object! Great for some but others must not have anyone giving them the happy buzz of a +K point.
Hashable is another Twitter activity that had a huge kickoff recently with its Hashable Power Users program. This program is built on tracking your relationships and activities on Twitter and off line. Meet a friend for lunch, send a tweet saying #lunch with Suzy and you have earned yourself some Hash cred. Again, having a base of friends helps advance in this program and it lets you see who your friends are meeting as well as share contact information with your inner circle. The tie in to a closed Facebook group led to many new relationships being formed. Very intriguing.
To me one of the biggest benefit of Twitter friends is the shared resources. Stuck on WordPress, have a question about Hashable? Throw it out to your followers or @ mention your friends to send out an SOS. Not once have I been disappointed by the strength of my Twitter tribe and their knowledge. This past week preparing for an important presentation, my artwork would not insert into PowerPoint. One SOS Skype call later, my presentation was completed and looks great. Could not have done that alone. (hat tip Paul Biedermann)
And let's face it, if your friends aren't going to retweet you, who is? Be generous with tweets and retweets: they are all free to give. Folks notice the tweeters who do not respond, share the love with others or only tweet their own content.
Instant gratification is a very strong motivator for behavior. But be urged to reach beyond the thrill of the high Klout score and really take time to build meaningful friendships with like minded people that will help you grow and expand as a person. And if you are my friend on Twitter, know that you are appreciated.