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The Twitter Book, 2nd Edition by Sarah Milstein, Tim O'Reilly

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Chapter 3. Hold Great Conversations

A lot of people find Twitter and think, “This is the perfect place to tell the world about myself!” After all, the site asks you, “What’s happening?”

But it turns out that Twitter isn’t so much a broadcast medium as it is a discussion channel. Indeed, the crux of social media is that it’s not about you, your product or your story. It’s about how you can add value to the communities that happen to include you. If you want to make a positive impact, forget about what you can get out of social media and start thinking about what you can contribute. Funnily enough, the more value you create for the community, the more value it will create for you.

In this chapter and the next, we show you how great conversationalists succeed and add value to their communities on Twitter.

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Get great followers

If you want tons of followers on Twitter, you’re not alone. But here’s a secret: a small number of great followers is much more valuable than a herd of uninterested people. Think about it this way: if you’re an accountant tweeting about tax tips, what’s the point of having 1,000 followers if 999 of them are spam bots and war resistors who don’t file taxes?

As a very practical example, when U.C. Berkeley graduate student James Buck (@jamesbuck) was on a trip to Egypt in April 2008 and tweeted that he’d been arrested, he had just 48 followers. But among them were friends ...

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