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Today’s conversation is with John Sparks, the author of 365 Ideas To Go From Good To Great On TWITTER! and an expert on the use of Social Media as a promotion tool. I learned several things when consulting with him that this article shares with you.

Hello John. Thanks for coming. Let’s start with a question I could put in a tweet: What do you do?

johnsparksHello hello Janna! I wear so many hats sometimes it’s tough knowing where to start. I’m a nationally recognized social media power influencer, best-selling author, keynote speaker, and a social media coach and consultant. I’m CEO of a social media coaching and consulting company called Online ImageWorks. With my company, I work with just about anyone you can think of helping them to build buzz about their brand and reach their business goals by using the power of social media. Finally, I am a teacher and professor. I have taught college level courses as an adjunct professor in advertising, journalism, and online journalism.

Tell us more about your coaching.

I truly have a passion for people. I don’t believe in a cookie cutter; one size fits all approach to my social media coaching. Everyone has different needs and learning styles. I customize the way I do my coaching to specifically meet the needs, learning styles, and challenges of those I work with. Although my specialty is Twitter and I’ve been called the “Twitter Go-To Guy”, I also do coaching and consulting on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and just about any social media channel you can think of. I work with newbies, intermediate users, and advanced users. I not only teach my clients and those I work with how to use social media, but I also teach them strategies on how to be more productive at using social media and get a greater return on the time they are spending online.

Who is your ideal client?

Anyone who has an interest in social media and learning more about it!

Why do you focus on Twitter?

Glad we have more than 140 characters to flush this one out! Whenever I’m speaking with groups, one of the first things I hear over and over again is that people don’t understand Twitter! The funny part is, up until 4 years ago I didn’t either.

I signed up for Facebook in ‘07, LinkedIn in ‘08, and Twitter in ’09, but my main focus for being on social media was for professional networking. I always thought LinkedIn was best for professional networking because this is how LinkedIn brands themselves. So I was all about LinkedIn. Fast forward to 2012, I was going through a career change and was checking out profiles on LinkedIn. I came across the page of someone who’s now a good friend of mine who stated they were a “Forbes Top 50 Social Media Influencer”. Wow, I thought to myself, that would be a nice title to have and if I could make a living at doing it, it would be even better. So I started looking into people who were social media influencers and found where they had hundreds and thousands of followers on Twitter, Sparks had less than 800 and if I wanted to have that title I needed to do something about Twitter. So I started looking deep into the purpose of each of the social media networks and learning what they were about and how to use them effectively.

During this process, what I learned about Twitter was that:

Unlike the traditional ways of connecting with others on Facebook and LinkedIn where you have to send a request to someone and they have to accept it in order to communicate, with Twitter, you can get your message out to people and you don’t necessarily have to be following them and they don’t have to be following you for them to receive that message.

  1. Where Linkedin’s User Agreement specifically states you’re only supposed to send LinkedIn connection requests to people you know…and Facebook was designed for friends connecting with friends through a “Friend Request” …the follower/following relationship on Twitter makes it the better platform for connecting with people you don’t know.
  2. Twitter can be great for SEO because Twitter and Google have a strong relationship.
  3. Studies show that almost ¾ of one’s followers will amplify content for free by Retweeting it, and almost half plan to make multiple purchases from the small and medium sized-businesses they follow on Twitter, making it a terrific platform for both personal brands and businesses.

These are just a couple of the reasons I focus on Twitter!

What do you focus on when creating a brand?

Always focus on the people behind the brand first. Brands are only as strong as the people who represent them and make up the brand.

How do you select people to follow?

It’s a tricky process. I select people to follow with the intention of forming a direct relationship with them, the people they follow, or the people who are following them. That being said, I’m also a strong believer in doing unto others. If I follow someone and they don’t follow me back, then after a certain period of time I will typically unfollow them. After I unfollow them, If I am still interested in that person’s content, I will add them to a Twitter list where I can monitor their feeds and don’t have to follow them. I don’t believe in following others for the sake of adding followers to someone’s follower count. I do it with the purpose of building relationships and relationships are a two-way street.

What was the inspiration for your book 365 Ideas To Go From Good To Great On TWITTER!

I wanted a tool to share with others how I went from less than 800 followers to where I’m at now. I wanted it to be something that was easy to understand and that people could pick up, put down, take with them, and refer back to.

At one level the book is about Twitter, but at another level the book is about so much 365-ideasmore! Many of the principles and tips in the book can be applied and used on the other social media platforms as well. Get the book on Amazon and you’ll see!

 Where can people find out more about you?

 Janna, I’m a true believer in authentic, one-on-one relationships! Anyone interested in finding out more about me can contact me directly at IAmJohnSparks@gmail.com and I will reply back. They can also reach out to me on Twitter @IAmJohnSparks and find me on most of the other social media channels by doing a search for IAmJohnSparks . For those that are interested in reading more about my background they can Google IAmJohnSparks or go to my website at IAmJohnSparks.com.

 Thanks for visiting. It was a pleasure and I’m sure our readers will find your tips valuable.