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My regular readers I suspect must be puzzled by my increasing fascination with Twitter. Am I falling out of love with my blog and shacking up with social media heartthrob that is Twitter?
Am I turning into an internet fop? Others may perhaps suggest another term: social media whore. Oh boy, am I becoming a streetwalker in Twitterverse? Sheesh. Of course not.
Tapping Into the Power of Twitter and Other Social Media
Frankly my dear, internet conversation is not taking place in the confines of a blog anymore. It has left in a huff and set up camp in Twitter. Or Facebook. What’s a blog author got to do?
Well, put on your party dress and let’s go to Twitter. There’s the party. Others dismiss Twitter as the new office water cooler that will soon outlive the buzz it is currently generating. Yeah, right – you wish it were so. It’s your right to be in a state of denial. Guess what, Twitter is where the movers and shakers in every field gather. It’s where conversations are taking place. It’s a nice place to be seen and develop friendships and alliances.
It used to be you write a post and encourage reader interaction by asking questions, by keeping your writing conversational, by keeping them a little incomplete so readers will be encouraged to comment. And of course the old tactic of commenting on high traffic sites, article writing, and guest posting.
And they still work. And I still do it – except guest posting and article writing – because they are effective tools in getting readers for your blog. But there’s another way of doing it and it is where Twitter comes in.
Twitter is the new power tool – the coolest contraption among the social media giants.
And yet there are still some misgivings about Twitter of course. Let me address some of them.
1. Twitter is so random – an endless stream of tweets going nowhere. You’re following the wrong people. If your interest is in writing like I do it’s best you follow fellow writers, or journalists, or people in the performing arts. Even bloggers from other niches who you hold in high esteem can help you to be a well rounded blog author. Those are the right people to connect to. Doing so makes the stream of tweets you see very relevant to your interest.
And nobody can spam you if you don’t allow it. Just unfollow people who rub you the wrong way. Or block them as the case maybe.
Personally, I cast a wider net. Because I need to build up a wide base of followers who can hear what I have to say. But I’m not obsessed with numbers. I’m trimming my list as I add people to it. This evening, I’m axing a guy who tweets nothing but tips on how to get on the good side of women. I’m not a prude or anything, but I find it extremely vexing to hear all these ruses to get into a woman’s pants. Every single frigging day. Is he a bot or something? Or an unimaginative paid hack?
2. It’s not driving traffic to my site. Complete waste of time. Come on – you may have been tweeting nothing but links to your latest blog post. That guarantees you’d be ignored and written off as a spammer in no time. Take time to develop relationships first. Know who you follow and your followers as well. Be useful first. What expertise can you share that will help your own followers? Even a helpful link that points to a probable solution to their problem can help develop trust and likability in Twitter.
Likability delivers result. As it is in your blog, so it is in Twitter and in the other social media. Maybe your ideas are not outstanding. In fact they maybe average, but if you’re helpful and take the time to develop friendships first then you have a better chance at getting noticed.
People have to like you first before you get yourself heard. Just like in a party. In no time, you will find yourself followers who tweet links to your post as soon as you hit the publish button. Because they like you and what you’re doing.
Helping your fellow users do not literally mean having a hand in actually solving their problems. It can be as simple as retweeting another person’s concerns. He needs work or a part-time job – by all means, spread the word. Retweet it among your followers. Here’s a guide to RT or retweeting.
A fellow blogger needs a favorable review for his latest masterpiece and he sends you a DM (direct message) in Twitter. Reply immediately and see what you can do. Maybe you’re pressed for time and can’t write a proper review. But you can always give the post a simple thumbs up or a snappy but encouraging comment in his blog.
3. I’m not getting noticed. I have no use for it. Review your recent tweets. What are they about? Is it generally about what you’re eating at the moment? Or a partial inventory of what constitutes your boring day at the office?
I say you’re being too literal. The homepage of Twitter encourages you to say “what you are doing?” in 140 letters, but you’re not limited to that. Be creative. Relax. Share what’s on your mind with candor. And joke a little, for Pete’s sake. It shows you’re a likable fellow.
Here’s @linksmonkey: Intermission: “Off to attend a funeral. Expecting a 10 minute eulogy followed by 30 minutes of rebuttal.”
And here’s @dooce: Me: “Leta, you finished your cereal, and I didn’t even have to threaten you!” Leta: “It’s because I’m five now. It’s what we do.”
Unless you’re Oscar Wilde personified don’t limit yourself to tweeting about quotations and proverbs. If I’m really interested I’d go straight to the site in question and not bother with what you’ve dug up. Don’t be afraid to be original because it’s your passport to getting noticed.
Last night, I retweeted a particularly lovely quote. A lady named @jansimpson sent me a tweet debunking the quote and explained why. I was floored, but not offended. And we exchanged tweets about the subject. In the end, I accepted her version of the quote because I felt she improved upon it.
@jansimpson says: Hopefulness doesn’t need a lamp with a bulb to burn out-hopefulness has an internal heater.
Of course, I retweeted her revised version. That to me is meaningful conversation. Not every tweet is about you, your post, or the particular brand or product you’re selling. It’s about making human connection with another fellow we like. In real life, we go to the market to buy say fish or meat. We don’t go about this mundane task by buying from the first person that we notice. We go straight to the fish vendor who we personally know and trust. And so it is with Twitter. Both of us maybe coming from opposite ends of the hemisphere but if I have a personal connection with you remarkable things can happen afterward. Maybe I gain a reader to my blog. Or better yet – a friend. Or future creative collaboration may not be a little far off.
4. I’m a serious blogger – would rather trust Google and other resource-rich sites to give heft and substance to my writing. I have no beef against Google. I find it still relevant. All I’m saying is Twitter is fast coming up as the best alternative search engine. Google’s powerful machines are still churning out relevant search results, but I’m increasingly getting seduced by Twitter’s potentiality as a search engine. Top users in every field, the geeks, and virtually all the leading lights in every profession are in Twitter and this collective wealth of personal recommendations I’m lusting after.
Say for example, I need to come up with video blogging to spice up my blog. Who do I trust more? Google’s algorithm? I’d rather hear out first Robert Scoble/@sobleizer and other known video bloggers who are all in Twitter.
I’m in a serious dilemma with my writing. Do I ask the impersonal Google? No, I’d hear out what Brian Clark has to say first. If he’s caught up with something else at the moment, then I go to @joannayoung who I have a personal connection with in Twitter.
The benefit of this is I get a real shot at following up on my concerns in real time. In Google and other traditional search engines,you may find the results relevant, but nothing beats a personal recommendation from a person you trust and respect.
5. Why waste time and ideas on a site you do not own. Post it on your blog where there’s a likelihood that it will make you a tidy sum. I use Twitter as a listening post, a tool that amplifies my presence and voice. My activities there – holding virtual pow-wows with like-minded persons, helping people with retweets and links to precious resources I found in the internet, bonding with friends and developing relationships with other people – are but an extension of my blog. It’s my five senses all right, but not necessarily all of me.
It’s not a waste of time expending nuggets of wisdom or a germ of a wonderful idea in 140 letters. I can always take them home with me to this blog and snip off the ragged edges and hone them till they shine. Twitter is a good sounding board, but it is in your blog where the real work takes place. It’s wasted on you, of course, if you’re just kicking around useful ideas like pebbles in twitterverse road and then go out to complain it has been a waste of time.
This may be a hosted blog, but in it still resides my bloody entrails and my soul. Twitter is a party I go to, but this blog is my home and where I go to touch base with what is essentially me.
Recommended reading: Why It’s Worth Sticking with Twitter