Friday, November 12, 2010

What Twitter Can Do For Your Blog

I admit I was a little slow to get on the Twitter bandwagon.  As a technology lover I usually jump all over new things, but I just didn't feel an urge to join Twitter.  Maybe it was because Twitter was so popular and was everywhere in the media, or maybe it was because I just didn't get the point.  But now that I started blogging, I am starting to understand the power of Twitter.  I am also starting to understand that Twitter has a bit of a learning curve.  Click the read link to find out what Twitter can do for your blog.

Quick Lesson On The Taxonomy

Twitter has its own simple language to make use of the limited number of characters a person has per tweet.  I have listed them below with a simple explanation of what they are:

  • @username - This one can be used in two different ways:
    • Placing this at the beginning of your tweet is a direct message to that user
    • Placing it anywhere in your tweet expect for the beginning is a mention of that user.  It will go out to everyone, but that user will get a notice that they have been mentioned in your tweet.
  • #string - This is called a Hashtag and is the equivalent of tagging a topic in your tweet.  By using a Hashtag you allow all users to easily search for all tweets on a specific topic.  So for example if my tweet was about Apple I would use #Apple.
  • RT - This stands for Retweet.  Twitter has a Retweet functionality built in, but all it does is repost the original tweet on your feed.  A lot of users now Retweet by putting RT @username in front of their tweet so it is their own tweet, but they are still giving the original tweeter credit.
  • - This is a shrunken URL.  Since you have a limit of 160 characters per tweet, TinyURL invented a method to shrink URLs so the link doesn't take up all of your available characters.  Though there are now many ways to shrink URLs besides TinyURL.

What I Have Learned Using Twitter

After using Twitter for a bit, I have learned a few things which I think can be summed up in three main points.

  • Great way to get info out about your posts, just don't expect a lot of blog hits initially
Whenever I have a new post I make sure I send out a tweet to notify the Twitter-verse.  Now, when you are new to Twitter you probably do not have a lot of followers, so to get the widest reach I recommend you implement Hastags in your tweet tagging relevant topics in your post.  This will give you a wider audience besides just your followers.  

There is also a bit of an art to sending out tweets about your posts.  You do not want to spam everyone with repeated tweets, but you can craft creative tweets that make reference to your posts and also do not just copy the post notification you have previously sent out.  I do get some hits using this method, but do not expect a lot until you build up a bigger following.
  • Easy way to network with the major bloggers
The great thing about a tweet being limited to 160 characters is that they are quick to write and even quicker to read.  I have had much greater success getting some of the major bloggers out there to respond to my tweets then I have my emails.  If you have a post or info that you think a major blogger would be interested in, just add a mention of them in your tweet, most of the time you will get some kind of response back.
  • A new method for ongoing conversations
When you first start using Twitter it is easy to think that each tweet is just a single message conversation. But by using Hastags and mentions each tweet is just a comment in a continuing conversation that anybody can join at any time.  There are even chat Hashtags people use to hold chat sessions.  One of the ones I participate in is #blogchat which takes place on Sundays at 9 pm EST.

What I Still Need To Learn

I would say the one thing I need to learn is how to get meaningful followers.  When you first join Twitter you will get a lot of followers from people who have programs that auto-follow people.  Most of these folks are just trying to sell some kind of marketing or online media service and will usually un-follow you in a few days if you do not follow them back.  The irony with getting followers on Twitter is that its seems the best methods are not on Twitter.  I have added a follow me Twitter button on my blog, and its kind of working, but I think it will work better as my reader numbers grow.

Overall Twitter is a great tool for bloggers, and there are a lot of creative things you can do with it.  If you have any tips or lessons learned feel free to leave them in the comments below.

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