What In The World is Twitter?

I will be honest and admit that I am completely behind the times on networking through the internet. I find a lot of these social networks to be more maintenance and more bothersome than they are worth.

When my husband suggested that I join Twitter (eons ago), I went into a speech about how I was out living my life while people sat around and twittered about it. I rolled my eyes at people who were glued to their computer screens reading one simple answer to one simple question, “What are you doing?” What am I doing? What am I doing? Um, let’s see… yeah doing stuff.

Finally, I decided to really devote some time into discovering what Twitter was and if it would truly be beneficial to me. Reading people’s updates about drinking coffee, heading to the movies, drinking wine, blah, blah, blah- that did not sound like fun reading material. What I wanted to see was one thing and one thing alone. Will this improve my site?

Now that you know the attitude that I went into it with, you might be shocked to find out that I am absolutely loving Twitter. No, not for the ho-hum everyday details of people’s lives, but I am loving it from a networking standpoint and what it is doing for my business.

First, if you do not understand how Twitter works, I would HIGHLY recommend this video that I am posting here. It breaks down exactly how it works in a way that is very easy and basic to understand. Simply sign up for an account, find your friends (or find a really good friend who is well-networked and then look at all of his/her friends) and then click, “Follow.” Now you can post updates to the people who begin to follow you and you can post a quick update (140 characters or less) on what you are doing throughout the day.

Here are some of the positive things that have happened for me since joining Twitter:

Networked With Other Bloggers- Twitter is an amazing networking tool. Do big-time bloggers not know about you? Do you want to connect more with bloggers in your own category? This is the place to do it. Following people requires one click and then you can begin building relationships with others. You might think, how could that possibly help me? Well, within the first week I was able to see how great it really was.

Is a blogger going away on vacation and in need of some bloggers to do guest posts? That blogger will post this on Twitter and you can scoop up a guest post on other blogs in your genre. Is a blogger looking for an article on a particular subject that you just so happened to have written on? That blogger will post that article request on Twitter and you can send them a message to let them know that you have the perfect article ready to go for them.

Not only does it help you network with other bloggers from those superficial standpoints, but it also helps you connect on a deeper level and build friendships with people in your blogging community. You know if a blogger is having a really bad day and can send them a quick message to cheer them up. You also know if someone is having a great day and can be their cheerleader. These deeper connections with other bloggers are what you need to grow your blog.

Pointed People to My Posts- Want people to read what you have written? Point them to your posts! Because of the limited character space, you will want to make a smaller url to point them to, but you can link right up to your blog when you have an update. Let people know about your contests, drive traffic to posts, and get people to read what you are talking about. Many of the people that I follow were not bloggers that I was familiar with, but when I saw that they had posted about something I was interested in reading, I headed over and left them a comment. Guess what? They headed over to my site and then left me a comment in return. You have to love that!

I could see from my web statistics that traffic did increase from direct hits through my Twitter links, but it was not a substantial amount. What did increase though was the awareness of other bloggers who found me and then added me as a link on their page or included me in a post. In an indirect way, my traffic then increased more through that and then the added benefit from the direct links in. Roughly, we had an increase this past month of about 100 hits, which I think is pretty good for just telling people what I am up to. Those 100 hits might lead to many more, when accessed by the right blogger or media outlet.

Got Questions Answered Quickly- The fact that Twitter is in “real time” really helps to get answers quick when you are struggling as a blogger. You will often see questions like, “Can you see this page in IE?” or “Can someone please tell me if my comments are working?” When you have a question, it is hard to wait for a delayed response especially if you are trying to check if things are loading properly and if people can access the information they need. Hopping on Twitter gives you hundreds of people who are not only willing to help… they also can give you valuable feedback right away on what is or is not working for your blog. It is probably one of the best things about Twitter.

I Can Network with PR Folks- If you are reviewing products for your blog, Twitter helps PR people track what you are up to and also find bloggers who are doing reviews. You can add another dimension to your relationships with PR people. By joining the Twitter community, I have gotten some really great products to review for our site and have been able to offer giveaways that would have not come to me otherwise. Twitter updates also immediately notifies the PR folks that a review has been posted and they can pass that info on to their client. I still email them directly, but I also post the link through Twitter as an added bonus. If you don’t do product reviews, this might not appeal to you, but this is great for bloggers who do the reviews.

I Don’t Need to Twitter All Day & It Still Works For Me- Part of my issue was the fact that I didn’t want to have to maintain one more thing on the web. I am already overwhelmed and spending more time than I would like on the computer so why would I join another program that I had to keep up with? The beauty of Twitter though is that you can check in as frequently or as infrequently as you need to. Some days are too busy to log on, other days are slow and I feel like chatting and bouncing ideas around with people. It is that kind of freedom that really appeals to me and that there are no expectations. Low expectations make it easier for me to check in when I need to, and stay off it when I don’t. Yes, it can be addictive to read, but I try to keep it low-key.

Best Part, You Already Have Your First (Or Millionth Friend)- Need to follow your first person? I can be her! Just sign up for an account and follow me!

I hope that this helps explain Twitter a little better and please watch the video for a fun visual explanation for how it works.

Need some more blogging help? Here are a few more posts to help you on your way!

The Player Scores & Silence
Five Commandments for Blogging
How Do I Track My Traffic?
Gaining a Readership (The Frugal Way)
How Do I Work From Home?

Sound Off: What social networks have helped you to network and build your traffic? Do you use Twitter and what has been your experience with it?

Published July 15, 2008 by:

Amy Allen Clark is the founder of MomAdvice.com. You can read all about her here.

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