A question that I often hear from blogger is “How does Twitter work?” I think this is a valid question because it was certainly something that I was confused with in the beginning. To me it seemed like a different language all together and appeared to be a gigantic black hole of useless status updates. After all, do I really care that you are driving to the dentist, running by the grocery store, or looking for an 100% Egyptian cotton sweater for your long-haired chihuahua?
That being said, as a blogger anytime an online communication tool has enormous popularity it causes you to step up and take notice. There are thousands of people on Twitter that are following their interests and passions. I am going to take a moment and try to define some of this for you.
The easiest way to define a tweet is that it is like a status update on Facebook (and that is all that it is). Tweets are a collection of short comments by lots and lots of different people. To watch the main feed of these short conversations can be mind numbing. Another way to look at tweets is that it is just like texting on a cell phone. You are only allowed 140 characters and you have to get your statement to fit in those amount of characters.
A “re-tweet” is when you see a tweet that you like and decided to spread it or recycle it so that many more others can see it. This can get the comment noticed by your followers. Using our facebook analogy you could view re-tweets to be similar to the “like” or “share” button. It can be a pretty awesome thing when other people our “re-tweeting” your comments as a blogger (especially if there are links pointing back to your blog).
You can choose to follow anyone on Twitter. They do not have to “accept” you for you to be able to follow their tweets (conversations). What has made Twitter so popular is that it is an easy way for celebrities to communicate to their fans. This can also work in your favor as a blogger. Promote your Twitter account on your blog and people will begin to “follow” you. This allows for you to have an on-going dialog with them.
While not used as much (in my opinion), there are messages that can be sent in Twitter. This is much like email or private messages in Facebook for the most part.
This is something that maybe you have seen on Twitter that was a bit confusing. It is just a way to create “groupings” on Twitter. It can provide more context to a certain topic. It also allows for you to be able to see what many different people have to say about one particular topic.
How can this benefit bloggers?
If you do it right, you can increase exposure to your blog as other people either read your tweets or they spread your message on Twitter for you. I would encourage you to develop two systems when it comes to Twitter.
First, engage people in relevant conversations about your niche. You can do a general topic search on Twitter and as you see other people who are commenting in your niche reply to their tweet with some helpful, value-added conversation. Many will end up following you and your blog.
Second, install a plugin like Tweet Old Post that allows you to have an automated way of communicating your message on Twitter. I will probably write a separate post about this plugin in the future, but for now just understand that it will automatically and randomly send your old blog posts to Twitter.
Question: If you are a blogger, how have you personally benefited from using Twitter?