Monday, February 15, 2010

This Is Me, Taking Back All Of That Stuff I Said About Twitter

Pin It (This is part of a new series I'm doing called Sometimes on Wednesdays I Like To Talk About Blogging.)

I was dragged into Twitter kicking and screaming.  KICKING AND SCREAMING, y'all.

(When I'm kicking and screaming I'm from Texas.)

I protested that it was a waste of time.

I was already doing too much online.

And besides it was {{stage whisper}} - Just Kind Of Dumb.

I emailed back and forth with a fellow Twitter hater, saying "it's nothing more than name dropping and virtual social climbing."  "140 characters of insipid nothing."


After about a month-and-a-half of ACTIVE participation I now have to admit that I was wrong.

Not just wrong, but OH SO VERY WRONG.

(Somewhere out in internet land Azucar is smirking, because SHE TOLD ME SO.)

I'm here to tell you that if you are trying to grow a platform because you're an aspiring author or life coach or a singer or dinosaur trainer or WHATEVER, or (probably far more likely) if you're a blogger who is serious about blogging and growing your readership - you might want to check into Twitter.

(If you're above things like traffic and readership then feel free to happily ignore me.)

Here is why you need Twitter...

Twitter is a great way to get to know other bloggers
This is the beauty of Twitter - you get a chance to talk to folks who are not already in your blogging circle (and who might not even be on your radar), and it can help you to get better acquainted with bloggers who you already know and love. I'd never read Natalie or Loralee until I met them on Twitter (tragic oversights in both cases), but now they are both must reads.  I read Kristy's blog for years, but had never had an actual conversation with her until I found her on Twitter and we bonded over babies and blog conferences. And where else can I have random conversations with Finslippy about easter candy and hero worship?


Twitter can help drive traffic to your blog
After only a month or two of active participation, Twitter is now my fourth highest source of blog traffic.  Kind of remarkable when you consider that I've been blogging since 2007.

Of course, you won't get traffic if you just sign up and lurk around.  You have to actually SAY STUFF and TALK TO PEOPLE and you have to have followers - because followers are the people who will click on the bright shiny links you post and who might share those links with others.

So how do you get followers?


Here are a few tried and true methods (and by tried and true I mean that over the ginormous period of time I've been on Twitter these methods appear to be working well enough):
  • Friend of a Friend: People notice when someone they follow has a fun conversation with you.  Of course, since they aren't following you yet, they can only see half of the conversation.  Sometimes they'll take the leap and decide to follow you so that they can read the whole thing. (Twitter is eavesdropping HEAVEN.)
  • Retweets: If you post a link to your fantastically clever blog post, one of your tweeps (twitter friends) might retweet it (basically reposting it for THEIR followers).  If some of those folks find it useful/funny/interesting, they might follow you.
  • Introducing Yourself: You can have a conversation with someone you don't know.  If they enjoy the conversation, they might follow you.
  • The Power of Suggestion: On Follow Friday (#ff) your existing tweeps might suggest that others follow you. 
  • Following: If you follow someone, they just might follow you back. Or they might not.  Don't be offended either way, some people (AHEM) are just a little scattered and forgetful. 
    The end result is that more people have a chance to get to know you, and to get to know your writing and your blog.  All good stuff.

    Twitter gives you access to information you won't get anywhere else
    Twitter is all about information - whether it's information you read on a link someone tweets, or information gained just by BEING IN THE ROOM when people are busy planning/plotting/organizing/befriending.

    A few things to keep in mind:

    YES, Twitter can be a massive waste of time
    Just like blogging, Twitter CAN BE a massive time suck. You have to find a balance that works for you. I tend to keep a twitter window open while I'm working in the mornings, and will tweet sporadically throughout the morning - especially if someone like Beck or Stephanie is online. But when I'm done working, I usually try to TURN OFF THE LAPTOP and leave Twitter (and blogging) behind until my kids are in bed.

    Twitter can be confusing at first
    You log on and look around and think - um, what in the what what?  Nobody you know is automatically there.  It's just a list of strangers saying really bizarre things.


    That's why you have to find people to follow. 

    Then Twitter looks more like this:


    There are lots of free applications that can help you to make sense of what's going on. 

    I like HootSuite. There's a column on the left where I can see what all of the people who I follow are saying, a column in the middle where I can see what people are saying to or about ME, and a third column for private (direct) messages 'specially for me.   


    So there you have it.

    Mea culpa Twitter.

    Please to forgive.

    Next week, unless I forget/get too tired/run off and join the circus, I'll post my suggestions for how to get started on Twitter without making a fool of yourself (LEARN FROM MY MISTAKES, PEOPLE. LEARN FROM MY MISTAKES).

    Now get out there and tweet your brains out.

    You can find me on Twitter at @suelikestoblog, overusing capital letters and emoticons.



    1. This is awesome!


      SO glad I got to know you on Twitter. It is teh awesome.

      Cannot wait to meet you. :)

    2. Sue, you have NO IDEA how helpful this is. I've been twittering for quite awhile, but I've been using it on my blog as a way for me to make little comments that aren't blog worthy. But just last week I took the plunge and started following a friend, and it's been kind of fun.

      My fear has been that I'll have lots of weird, meaningless stuff streaming onto my blog and I don't want that (not that I'm not weird and meaningless myself), but so far that hasn't happened.

      I may have to push out after this post of yours.... But I'm wondering---did Twitter pay you to write that?! (Cause it was really good and they probably should.)

    3. See, I've been dabbling in Twitter, although it is ridiculously hard for me to try to say ANYTHING in 140 characters. But I don't really get traffic from Twitter. Maybe because I don't do something right? Maybe because I'm JUST NOT THAT INTERESTING?

      I don't know. I no longer actively hate Twitter but I'm still not really convinced. Except that it's a time suck. I really needed another one.

    4. PS: I came here from a Tweet.

      PPS: But I would have come anyway.

    5. I love Twitter. It is sometimes the only adult conversations I have. Also, I love it as a way to deepen blog relationships with real time talking. I just wish all the west coast people didn't start getting online at about my east coast bed time.

    6. I got off twitter. It was just another way for me to waste time on the internet!

    7. Amen and amen. I'm not that great at Twitter, but it's sure fun. :)

    8. Jennifer Jo - I WISH. :)

    9. Twitter has really changed my blog readership, and my ability to quickly and easily make new friends. I've been blogging since 2002 (8 years of TIME SUCK) but didn't have a big spike in readership till I became active on Twitter. And then when I started getting into the Utah Twitter scene? My followers jumped from 250 to 800 within a month.

      I love to get in on the eavesdropping. I love the freebie food offerings that are posted on Twitter. I love the new friends I've made. I love being able to find an interesting new person to eat lunch with within seconds. But mostly, I like to use Twitter as a means of guilt tripping (a la banana bread)

    10. Next thing I know, you are going to be starting a Twilight Fan Club!!

      This still doesn't convince me to Twitter. :) Maybe one day, my friend. One day.

    11. I was going to mention I'm going to breakfast with Stephanie Hansen tomorrow morning, and she is a massive Twit, and then I saw she is one of the people talking about you.

      She will probably do another intervention on me.

    12. 1)I popped over from twitter
      2) I used to read your blog long ago and am SO HAPPY to have found you again
      3) I completely agree. Twitter is HARD {think: "President-ing is Hard" by Will Ferrell}, but then you get the hang of it and love it. I think. I'm still getting the hang of it, but I'm trying.

    13. LOVED this! Thank you! I'm new to Twitter - and it has always made me a tad, er, nervous. 140 characters? Are you kidding? And for a while, it made me insecure - not validating enough - I found Facebook so interactive. Put I've kept at it, and now it's one more thing I spend too much time doing. Thanks for clearing up what #FF means. I thought it might be something dirty. :)


    14. I'm getting more into first I was a bit freaked about it when I was getting really freaky followers, but I've learned how easy it is to just block them and not feel so violated....because some of them were!

      Do we really have to wait until next week to learn from your mistakes? That's a whole 7 days of me possibly continuing to screw up! ;)

    15. After this I want to join up. And I ALREADY have. Crazy.

    16. Debbie9:59 AM

      OK, you convinced me. I'm going to try it 1 more time.

    17. I'v been a twitter snob, I don't tweet. Tweeting is for the birds. Then there is not wanting to look like a big fool... looking forward to you next post. This has been very helpful.

    18. I go on and off the Twitter thing all the time. (Is that similar to going on and off Diet Coke? Like trying to break a bad habit? Hmmm...) I prefer TweetDeck for keeping track of all convos, friends, DMs and also my lists. I love my Utah list where I've put everyone who lives and tweets in Utah. So fun to watch that one throughout the day!

      And thank you for including me in your post as one of your new Twitter friends. That made my day! I may just have to do a little more tweeting. Looking forward to more of your tips now that you've repented.

    19. I am so pleased to be mentioned in your Twitter time wasting section... wait... um... Well I am still thrilled and love you desparately and want to take you to Chick Fil A and slather you with polynesian sauce and feed you delicious chicken.

    20. Twitter overwhelms me at times. I get on to lurk, eavesdrop on a few conversations, then get off.

      Maybe next time, I'll stay chat a while.

      P.S. LOVED this post! If I didn't know better, I'd think you were employed by!

    21. I still struggle with Twitter and knowing how to use it and not feeling like a giant boob when I'm on it, but I sure have loved getting to know you!

      (And thanks for the link! Favor repaid in three, two, one . . )

    22. Anonymous1:41 PM

      My blog was genuinely imaginary for at least a couple of years, and I had to be nagged and wheedled for months before I joined Facebook, long after all my eight siblings were already on, so I guess you could say I'm a late adopter. My excuse with Twitter has been that it's too perfectly designed for someone like me who likes to talk about every. little. thing. that. passes. through. my. brain, so I've been staying in the same way you'd avoid alcohol if you knew you'd be a raging alcoholic. But in the last few weeks ago I've decided to surrender to my destiny and join Twitter. Which doesn't mean I've actually acted on that decision yet. Late and slow, that's me.

      The 140 character thing will probably kill me since even Facebook is always telling me my status updates are too long for the 420 character limit, and I end up posting the last third as a reply to my own status. That makes, what, about four Tweets per thought to cross my mind?

    23. Anonymous1:43 PM

      So I signed up (after agonizing over which of my six-or-so email addresses I should use). But the Find People feature isn't working so I guess I'm not doing anything with it today. Just as well.

    24. AND besides also, your Twitter profile always makes me want pudding. So there's that.

    25. My head hurts. I am old and not in touch with technology. I may have to pay you to come counsel me one-on-one. I hope you take cookies as payment.

      Now, I need to find someone who makes palatable cookies...

    26. HOW DID YOU KNOW I was smirking?

      Because I totally was.


    27. Anonymous6:27 PM

      Is the Find People feature *always* down?

    28. Yep brings me at least 20% of my traffic. Has put me in touch with huge PR agents and led to helping me make money with my businesses. Twitter when done the right way HUGE. I wrote a nice "how to" twitter for Tip Junkie about a year ago.

    29. Anonymous3:35 AM

      Hi, guess where I found you? Yeah, Twitter!

      A few weeks ago I wrote this angsty post about how I was so disenchanted with the blogosphere and WAH WAH WAH. Then I quit feeling sorry for myself and did something about it. I went onto Schmutzie's followers and went thru them and followed people that sounded interesting. (Yes, you!) And for every 100 people I've followed, I have found about a half dozen that like me back. Yay for new friends!

      P.S. I use Seesmic so I can see both Twitter and Facebook feeds in one timeline.

      P.P.S. @thepioneerwoman just at-ted me and I think I can die happy now!

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    31. Hey lady! Love your post about Twitter...couldn't be more true! I too was joined by gunpoint but now it's as second nature as using toilet's not that exciting but a necessity indeed. Thanks for you comment at POM, I am your newest follower!

    32. I am sufficiently repentant.

    33. I've always wondered what Follow Friday was...I'm a twitter dork.