I've been direct messaging a lot recently with Theresa Antell as she makes her initial exploration of Twitter and the peculiarities of trying to create engagement. She was nice enough to provide some advice and a bit of a "pep tweet" for me the other day when I was bemoaning a frustrated acquaintance who'd emailed me complaining about a blog post.

In the midst of our DM discussion, Theresa mentioned she'd put together some thoughts on what it's like for new Twitter users. As she described her experience, I assured her that even experienced users get frustrated by the absence of listening, engagement, and real dialogue on Twitter. Theresa's insights on engagement are a great reminder for all of us...on Twitter, or in real life as well:

As a relatively new member of the Twitter family, I tread lightly with my opinion as so not offend the Twitter Veterans.

But I must say that I think my Twitter doesn't fit.

I don't know what I expected, really. So I can't say what part of it doesn't feel like it fits. I did all the things I was "supposed" to do as a new Twitter-er.

I searched my interests, I followed, I read, I learned, I helped, I retweeted, I recommended, I replied, I shared...all the standard pleasantries one would, and should, expect a new Twitter user to do.

But the ENGAGEMENT part of Twitter is, for me, less than stellar. When someone asks for help with something - whether it be a simple retweet, an answer to a question, a sample of something they can’t find online, a recommendation of a local hotel, etc. I help. It's just what I feel is the right thing to do.

But when I asked for help. <Cue the crickets>

Nothing. Nada. Zilch. Zero.

I experimented a few times with asking for help from some designers I follow about how THEY project manage. No replies.

I asked some others about how I can get the "buy in" from the more "seasoned" employees at work with regard to using Social Media. Nothing.

I asked anyone to explain what Twitter Chat was. Nada.

I asked some Excel "experts" for help with a spreadsheet I was working with. Crickets.

I have since deleted most of my requests for assistance since it was (in a weird way) embarrassing to have them “out there” as unanswered lonely “tweets to nowhere.”

Twitter is great if you like being talked TO. But if you (like I mistakenly did) expect to talk WITH someone or have any kind of engagement, then it isn't the right forum perhaps. (Of course there are some exceptions – like you, Mike. And another user – Nate, that I follow.)

Like I said, I don't know what I really expected from it, or if my expectations were even reasonable, but I guess I thought of Twitter more as a forum to discuss and share: "A Community of Experts" if you will - all willing to discuss ideas and keep the information flowing.

And while there is some really great information launched at you (well, me) I find it impossible to engage in a discussion or Q&A with anyone about it.

It’s sad for me, because I really liked that part about Social Media.

You know... the SOCIAL part of it.

So, while I think my Twitter doesn’t fit the way I thought it was intended to, just like my favorite pair of jeans from college – I guess I’ll keep it around for the heck of it and try it on for size every now and again. - Theresa Antell