Twitter making you Bitter? Suck it up, Buttercup

I joined the Twitter community about six months ago and am still figuring it out. I’ve had the opportunity to chat with several people about this ‘Twitter thing’ and noted some interesting sentiments:

“Why bother.”
“No one really cares about anyone else.”
“People have sixty billion followers so how am I supposed to get their attention.” (60 billion? c’mon)
“I mention. I retweet.”
“I follow them – but they don’t follow me back.”
“No one notices.”

Some bitter, disgruntled folks out there … they got me thinking about Taoism.

I want to learn more about how my connections and contributions can have more meaning so I picked up The Tao of Twitter by Mark Schaefer. Mark put together a thoughtful and honest account to help us get to know the Tao and the How of Twitter. He shares his experiences and offers fantastic guides to ‘do this & don’t that’. I would definitely recommend reading this – I know I learned from it.

Mark defines Tao as ‘the Way’ (which is the literal translation) and as “the primordial essence or fundamental aspect of the universe”. I might take it a step further and suggest, as Lao-tse’s teachings illustrate, that these fundamental aspects are part of the natural balance governed by universal laws and the more we interfere, the further we are pushed from harmony. Forcing = Big Troubles. The most basic Taoist principle is that there is an optimal way of learning from, appreciating, and working with whatever happens in day-to-day life. One of the most ubiquitous symbols of Taoism is the willow tree that bends in the strong wind (its anti-thesis is the oak, which snaps in half). It’s the constant flow of gentle water that smooths the stone.

Before anyone pulls a hamstring trying to get into lotus here … what does this have to do with Twitter? That’s what I was thinking about, too.

Authenticity is awesome (heard that somewhere before? Me, too). It’s true and it works. Whether you’re speaking for a company or for yourself, ensure it’s a real voice coming through. Corporately, you’ll no doubt have a strategy to attend to; regardless, that voice must be authentic.

Reciprocity rocks – and rocks harder without the expectation of return. Combine authenticity with reciprocity and you have a killer cocktail. Let it happen organically. When you (or your organization) actually cares about what you’re putting out there, people will start to notice and will start giving back. It takes time, dedication, and patience (like the current on that stone).
Trying to Force any relationship is sure to bring (pop quiz) … ________?

In the Twitter universe, I am definitely not a Rock Star; actually, I’m the microbe on the head of the pin held by one of Horton’s Whos. To really learn, check out the folks on my Blogroll – serious guidance to be found.
But that doesn’t mean my contributions aren’t worthwhile. Yours are, too. Everything means something to someone, somewhere.

Why you are wading into these waters? Are you looking for new business? Are you trying to generate some for a client? Are you looking for your fifteen minutes? What is your Why?

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21 Responses to Twitter making you Bitter? Suck it up, Buttercup

  1. This is great Tobey. You’re a talented writer and I’m honored to be featured on your post. It sounds as though you learned a few things from The Tao of Twitter and you’re on your way. And I think it’s fine that your’re not a rockstar : ) I think being humble and contiuous student works best! Thanks for the great post!

    • tobeydeys says:

      Thank you for writing your book, Mark. I learned more than a ‘few things’. I appreciated that you took the time to walk me through the process – that it doesn’t happen overnight. It takes perseverance and patience (and overcoming a bit of frustration) to achieve. I think more people need to know that – and I offer your book as a guide to everyone who may be ‘bitter’. Tao of Twitter offers a sweet taste of how Twitter can work!

      Thank you so much for reading and for your thoughts! πŸ™‚

  2. Marcus Schaller says:

    “Reciprocity rocks – and rocks harder without the expectation of return.” I love that!

    I’m in the same boat as you, Tobey. As long as we keep on giving and sharing, everything else is secondary.

    • tobeydeys says:

      Thank you, Marcus! It’s a bit cliche but I do believe that ‘givers gain’. There’s tons of ‘self-promo’ out there (and I think it’s important to do when you want to build your business) but, as Mark points out in his book, sharing is definitely FTW!

      Thanks for reading and for sharing – I appreciate it!

  3. Aaron says:

    “Everything means something to someone, somewhere.”

    I agree with this completely, a tweet can change someone, its like a smile that we give when we pass someone. The relationship that we build on twitter is very real. Even a wish good morning on twitter can change someone. Last week I found out my friend on twitter had cancer, I saw her posting a tweet saying about her health so I asked “how are you” and we talked about it via DM’s. Guess that is where most people doesn’t spend time on.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this one, I agree with Mark, you’re a talented an amazing writer.

    • tobeydeys says:

      You’re absolutely right, Aaron, that the simple act of saying hello can change the tone of someone’s day (I know it brightens mine!). I’ve realized that because we all can contribute in significant ways – by helping to solve problems or by being there to listen & commiserate – Twitter is much more than just a ‘marketing tool’.
      I’m sorry to hear of your friend’s illness and hope they are doing well. It’s wonderful that you can be there for them.

      Thank you for the compliment; I’m honoured.

  4. billy says:

    I did enjoy this comment a lot.
    Having just been through the book by Mark I can feel this post.
    There are a lot of us little folks, maybe we can get together!

    • tobeydeys says:

      Hey Billy, one of the things that I started to do was to join in on chats – #blogchat, #leadershipchat, #speakchat, #usguys and many more … it’s a great way to learn from folks who know what they’re doing here πŸ˜‰ and to meet like-minded people. I’ve found that everyone is warm and welcoming! I highly recommend them – hope to see at one soon.

      Thanks tons for reading πŸ™‚ I appreciate your time!

  5. Also digging on the reciprocity line, but for me the standout is “Forcing = Big Troubles.” Amen. I repay kindness with professional courtesy, it’s natural to thank for a RT, to see a clever headline left via a comment in a post.. click, read, comment in return. Just did a rant on the forced ‘tweet to download’ plugin, same thing. Trying to force it just brings me closer to that ‘unfollow’ button. Oh and Twitter taking time and hard work, WORD. FWIW.

    • tobeydeys says:

      Davina – first off – I love that you said WORD (I’m teased a bit about my ‘urban-speak’ ;-)) Totally agree that ‘tweet to download’ flies in the face of what (I think) social media is about. I like to RT with a ‘standout’ from the post or article. Shows that I’ve actually read it, gleaned something from it, and think it’s worth sharing. My hope is to build trust with my followers that I’m considering their time and not just RT’ing rockstars. (Rockstars are, however, generally worth the RT ;-))

      Props on your thoughts – and thank you so much for taking the time to read & comment!

  6. John Bottom says:

    Great review and a philosophy I heartily subscribe to. Authenticity. Reciprocity. Killer cocktail. So true.

    • tobeydeys says:

      Hey John – sometimes it’s a tough philosophy to stick to but I agree that, in the end, it definitely serves us well.

      Thanks so much for reading and for your thoughts πŸ™‚

  7. Kneale Mann says:

    Great piece, Tobey and we both agree that Mark rocks!

    The online world is not unlike “Lord of the Flies”. There are no rules but someone has grabbed the conch and written some. We actually like structure and despite many who claim otherwise, we do watch the numbers.

    It’s difficult not to compare yourself to others and to measure the effectiveness of the social web to your bottom line. When I speak with prospects, they almost to a person, ask me if it will make them more money. Most don’t want to hear about the time investment or the tiny increments of positive momentum that occurs daily. Relationships take time and authenticity is not something you can create, that comes from inside.

    • tobeydeys says:

      Great points, Kneale, and you’re right; numbers do matter. As many have said, ‘measure what matters’; having 60 billion followers doesn’t mean much if it isn’t going to make you more money. And as you’ve said to me, this is not a silver bullet!
      “Relationships take time and authenticity is not something you can create, that comes from inside.” ( <- I can't put it any better than that!)

      Thank you so much for reading and for your insight, Kneale!
      (and can I be Ralph? ;-))

  8. you got me at “suck it up buttercup” Tobey.
    been stumbling thru this twitter thing. Look forward to Mark’s book and will stay tuned.

    • tobeydeys says:

      Hi Callahan,

      Thanks – it’s kind of funny because originally I thought it was a bit harsh πŸ˜‰ Stumbling is a great way to put it – I feel you! But it is a lot of fun to build relationships and learn from all the smart people out there. Being real & kind is rewarded! Definitely read Mark’s book – it helped me very much!

      Thanks for reading and taking time to comment πŸ™‚

  9. Peggy says:


    I loved this post, so thought provoking. I haven’t picked up Mark’s book yet but it is on my list so once I read we shall have a full Skype chat to discuss.

    The phrase that sticks with me is “the gentle water that smooths the stone.” This makes me think of the path of least resistance. Water will always take the path of least resistance going around or over the stone but it does change the stone but making it smooth over time. If you correlate this to humans, people often take the easier path of least resistance or confrontation. Does this smooth the stone/person that you go around? I am not sure. But your post has got me thinking and I appreciate that. Waiting for the next post… ❀

    • tobeydeys says:

      Hey Peggy – great point. The path of least resistance is an interesting perspective. I was thinking more in terms of ‘not trying to force’ but now you have me thinking … is the easy path to sit and wait for it all to happen? (That makes me picture someone getting dressed to the nines and waiting for the phone to ring … yet they’ve never left their house to meet anyone ;-))

      For many, putting yourself out there, engaging, and hoping someone notices you is ‘the road less traveled’. Results aren’t immediate but with perseverance and genuine interest in others, the path becomes smoother. That’s what I loved in Mark’s book – he starts from his beginning on Twitter and tells us how, slowly but surely, the way opened up.

      Look forward to chatting soon! And to our book club! Thanks tons for your support, Peggy πŸ™‚

  10. albertharperblogger says:

    What we have here is a failure to communicate.

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