Making a Case for Personalized Curation on Twitter

by on May 10, 2010 | posted in Marketing

I recently started following Umair Haque on Twitter. Haque is an economist, and mostly is known for his blogging at Harvard Business Review, although he has his own blog, Bubble Generation.

After having Haque uploaded into my Twitter stream for about a month, I’ve come to realize something about the way he disseminates links to the web.

It’s perfect.

Haque’s style is pretty much unlike 99% of link streams I see on Twitter. When Haque supplies a link to his followers, he does so not by offering up the title of the post. Instead, he supplies real, cogent commentary about whatever the article is about. 100% of the time.

Upon realizing that Haque’s style is exactly how we should all be executing our social marketing campaigns, I adopted it as well.  At the time of this writing, almost a week after having begun, I’m still in love. I know there are strengths and weaknesses to the style, but for those whose main intention is to promote real, worthwhile thought, this method is by far superior.

The Pros:

  • Informative. Instead of just offering a link, you supply a mini-Yelp review of the article, in real time. The standard title tag/shortened-URL does little to offer real information about the article, besides the fact that you are willing to retweet it.
  • It builds your personal brand. Twitter has a fondness for authenticity, and the users there enjoy seeing a person be themselves with some frequency. The opposite, though, is that they don’t want you delving too much, revealing inconsequentials, or promoting too much of your own stuff. Through this methodology, you interject your own personality in almost every tweet without conflicting with any of the aforementioned negatives.
  • It proves you read the article. I would love to see some research on what percentage of tweets with links are actually completely read by the person disseminating them. My approximation is slightly below 50%. Those who comprehensively read the article? Below 10.
  • It grabs more mind share. When people in your stream interject personality into their tweets, you are way more likely to pay attention. If you offer “This is freaking amazing” in addition to the URL, there’s a better chance I’m clicking through to that link. If you do it every time, though, I won’t. I’m looking at you, Chris Brogan. I don’t think that’s neat. But if you’re offering something more insightful than just a title tag, the chance you click through is way higher, even if the chance you retweet it is way lower. More than just a clickthrough, these little pulses of personality are more likely to make you memorable, and someone I am willing to pay more attention to in the future.

The Cons:

  • It makes the content difficult to retweet/market. If you’re using this style, there’s a higher chance your release won’t get retweeted, for two reasons. First, commentary with a link just doesn’t fly like “5 Ways to Become a Super Blogger” does. Second, Twitter is limited to 140 characters as it is, so you’re very likely to exhaust that given a more long-winded, conversationalist style. This makes the entire retweet function pretty irritating and difficult to pull off. If your intention isn’t to be a funnel for someone else’s monetary gains, though, it works just fine. For your own articles, I suggest using your own title, and not interjecting any extra commentary. After all, you did the commentary in the post, right?
  • It’s more time consuming. Yes, original thought does take time, and so does reading an article to the extent that you actually want to drop 140 characters on it. However, if you want to change Twitter from a content garbage bin to something of value, this change is a good step to take.
  • Your “commentary” is limited to 140 characters. It’s tough getting in a complete thought in 140 characters, so sometimes your opinion/statement on the piece may become misconstrued or won’t be as comprehensive as you’d like. There are definitely some dilemmas to this, but how do you want to live your life: completely silent, or limited to 140 characters?

The Conclusion

If you’re a consistent user of Twitter and have the desire to promote and create intelligent conversation on the blue bird, this technique is a must. If your aim on Twitter is to automate your feed and drive 300 hits to some throwaway content, it’s probably not for you.

My personal goal is to enrich and be enriched. I like dark chocolate. And good Twitter streams. If you aren’t already, please adopt this methodology – it’ll help my heart.

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