Don’t you just love the feeling of doing something nice for someone else? Whether we can actually be altruistic or we’re just hardwired to do things for others so we’ll get something back in return, it’s nice to be nice!
And that’s as true on Twitter as it is anywhere else. Some of the tweeters I admire most are those who strive to help others in one way or another. They pay it forward, and – from what I’ve seen – they reap plenty of rewards for doing so.
The concept of “paying it forward” is explained pretty clearly in the 2000 Kevin Spacey and Helen Hunt feel-good flick of the same name, where a young boy tries to make the world a better place by doing good deeds for others.
The idea is simple: rather than paying back someone who has done you a favor, you pay that favor forward to someone else (or to multiple people, as per the premise of the movie). So if your pal buys you a beer, you don’t simply buy him one next time you see him – instead, you buy that lonely looking guy at the end of the bar a beer, and maybe brighten his day just a little bit.
And paying it forward has its place on Twitter, too.
Offering to help others without expecting something in return is one of the best strategies I’ve seen across social media. Whether you’re a business looking to market your product or an individual looking to meet like-minded people, try paying it forward.
Retweet good content just because it’s good content not because you want to get on someone’s radar. Answer people’s questions just to share your knowledge not to get credit. Tweet great and helpful ideas because you genuinely want to help your followers not because you want to be known for your big ideas.
Not only does this generally produce good karma and make the world a better place, but you’ll see a positive impact on your personal or business brand thanks to this strategy. You will be seen as a genuine, helpful, insightful, nice, friendly, and overall great tweeter – all because you paid it forward.
For a great example of this strategy in action, take a look at one of my favorite Twitter accounts: @TweetSmarter. Dave and Sarah are the husband and wife team behind this powerhouse of an account, and their entire Twitter philosophy can be summed up by the concept of “paying it forward”. For seven years, they’ve been using @TweetSmarter to seek out and answer people’s questions about Twitter – helping newbies get used to URL shorteners, pointing folks to Twitter’s rules, and generally making Twitter a better place.
They actively spend their time on Twitter helping others, without asking for anything in return.
Now in their seventh year of embracing this strategy, they’ve accumulated just under 400,000 followers, and are well-known as one of the most helpful Twitter accounts out there.
The goodwill that they’ve accumulated is apparent if you sift through their @mentions – dozens of tweeters shout out their thanks and appreciation for such a giving approach to Twitter.
So take a page from @TweetSmarter’s book and try your own version of paying it forward. Whether you try to help just one stranger with a burning 140-character question a day, or you revamp your entire approach to Twitter, you’ll thank yourself (and so will plenty of strangers!).
(Giving image via Shutterstock)
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