Twitter engagementJust about every social media guru tout “engagement” as a critical factor in establishing and maintaining a meaningful and rewarding Twitter presence. But with endless back and forth and a barrage of #hashtag-enabled Twitter chats dominating your Twitter stream, how much engagement is too much?

This question borders on sacrilege coming from an avid social media user and evangelizer. To be sure, I enjoy and recommend engaging on Twitter, but “engagement” advice should probably be broken down into personal vs. business and the purpose for each.

Engagement defined

Before going any further I should define want I mean by “engagement.” Some view any interaction – retweeting, clicking on a link, favoriting, and replying – as a form of engagement. Like this post from QuickSprout: How to Increase Your Twitter Engagement by 324% – which is more about how to gain traffic to your site than engaging on Twitter. 324 percent! For this discussion, engagement is defined the old fashion way: a conversation – a back and forth between two or more Twitterers.

Twitter as Text Messaging

To those who have little or no strategic use, like the kids who are leaving Facebook and flocking to Twitter and messaging apps: engage away – you’ll find a community of like minded individuals and probably create meaningful relationships.

Thing is, many of us are also active on Facebook and already do the bulk of engagement – conversation – on there. (Hey, there’s a reason why Facebook’s “unfollow this post,” or as it’s now called, “stop notifications,” is one of its more useful features.)

Strategic use

The rest of us have more narrowly defined reasons for being on Twitter – like forging relationships with industry folks, monitoring a product or topic, or sharing and getting breaking news, useful links and information. For us, over-sharing not only becomes noisy very quickly, drowning out the stuff we’re interested in, it’s potentially a huge time suck if we choose to participate fully. I’m grateful for the many wonderful relationships formed on Twitter but have no desire to spend more time on there than I already do.

A happy medium

A happy medium can be achieved by adding a comment or two and disengaging when it drags on. Of course, there are narcissists or extreme conversationalists who relish Twitter’s open forum and have the time to engage. These account are good candidates for unfollowing.

A couple of years ago, I created a private list of verbose accounts since I also found them occasionally interesting and wanted to keep up without diluting my Twitter stream. After a few weeks of rarely accessing it I realized I wasn’t missing much and deleted the list and accounts. I contacted one attorney whose thoughts I appreciated but whose 100K+ tweets were suffocating my stream to let him know that I was unfollowing and why. He totally got it and was gracious.

What’s a meaningful Twitter experience?

Determining what’s a meaningful experience is unique to each person and business. For the many that use Twitter to form strategic professional relationships, too much Twitter chatter can get in the way. These are the folks that often tweet and retweet useful links and information, adding value.

For those that feel a close connection to someone and want to further a personal relationship, try taking a public message private after a couple of replies. Or, try something truly revolutionary like calling or making plans to meet up when the opportunity arises. And, for brands, be aware that social listening can be just as important as chatting.

What are your thoughts? Unfettered conversations or a more tempered engagement?

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