Twitter Best Practices for Bloggers

Are you using Twitter in a way that it’s a clear value to you? Or, like many others, are you REALLY not sure how to use it yet? I’m going to share with you how I’ve come to use Twitter so that it brings value to me and, I trust, my followers.

In the early days of Twitter, many people jumped on the bandwagon thinking this was the thing to do to be “in.”  If you weren’t Tweeting and getting followers you simply weren’t one of the cool kids.  This only got worse when Ashton Kutcher jumped in followed by many celebrities.  Unfortunately, once you signed up you were hit with the “What now?” moment. There’s no how to use Twitter correctly manual so most people are simply lost.

Is it a new chat thingy like AOL Instant Messenger? Is it a simple Facebook?

Why only 140 characters?  Do people really care what I’m doing right now?

Tweets like this became all too common and, obviously, still are:

[blackbirdpie url=”!/_StardustMonkey/status/72545478306299904″]

People got bored and never used Twitter again. Others, like me, wondered out loud, “WTF? I don’t care what you’re doing right now!

After I got over my initial, gut reaction, I began to think about how I could use Twitter with my blogging.  It really did seem to be a neat tool. Millions of people were hooked up to a system that allowed anyone’s Tweet to be viewed by everyone on the system. That’s got to be valuable. After all, trying to do the same thing on TV or Radio would cost huge money. Here’s a way to do it for free!

My analysis of Twitter began trying to understand what it is really doing. I realized that it facilitates communication from one person to many or what’s called a point to multipoint communication.  It’s free, quick and easy.

In this way, Twitter is just an updated version of email or the CB radio where one person is free to send out information to many others. The others can interact with the sender by simply tweeting back just like they could reply by email or CB radio. However, with Twitter, the number of people who could see the information is much bigger than with a simple email list of CB radio band.

In addition to this ability to get a piece of information out from one source to many, Twitter facilitates communication back from a consumer of that information thereby creating at least a two way sharing of information or even a full-blown conversation between what could be complete strangers.

The obvious benefit to this is leveraging the collective knowledge of the Twitter universe much like we do with search engines. Theoretically, a tweet asking for the best sushi restaurant in Houston would result in a collective response that has a high probability of being correct and up to date.  So, Twitter functions as an access point to the collective knowledge of millions of people. Very cool!

So there’s no question Twitter is a fascinating tool and one that can be very useful.  Unfortunately, this tool is dulled by so many that just don’t know how to use it. Unlike Twitter’s own motto, “What are you doing right now?“, people really don’t want to know the answer to that question. So don’t add to the noise pollution being generated by millions upon millions of useless tweets.  Instead, focus on how you, a blogger, can best use Twitter so that it becomes valuable to you and to those that follow you?

Best Practices:

  1. It’s not all about the number of followers you have. Yes, it may make you feel good by stroking your ego but there’s always someone else that has more than you. And, you know what, if you’re not providing value to those followers, they don’t mean much.  Don’t focus on the number of followers but on how valuable you are to them and they are to you.
  2. Minimize the noise! If you are following more than 50 people, it becomes almost impossible to follow your main Twitter feed. When I started, I began following every blogger I came across, all my friends, my friend’s friends and so on.  Some of them started following me and my numbers grew. Cool! But, I quickly realized that there was no way for me to see what any one person was posting because of the sheer number of Tweets I was receiving.  I resorted to unfollow those people that I had not had any communication with and group/move to separate lists those that I needed to follow for a specific reason. This one move made me oh so much more efficient. I could now read my Twitter feeds without drowning in them.
  3. Lists are your friends. Love them. Twitter allows you to group the people you follow into lists. This organization allows you to cut out the noise.  I created a list of my family and close friends. Another contains those daddy bloggers that I’ve interacted with and follow (email me if you want me to follow you).  Yet another list is for mommy bloggers and another for news aggregators. You get the idea.
  4. Go mobile. Disconnecting from the computer for me is hard. However, I do force myself to do it and I encourage you to do it too. We both have a life and we should live it.  I focus on being a husband and dad. Going mobile allows me to do those things while being able to whip out my iPhone and checking my Twitter feeds.  The best app I’ve found so far, and I’ve tried quite a few, is Tweetbot. It’s very easy to switch between lists (called timelines) and it is chock full of other cutting edge features. I highly encourage you to consider it.
  5. Chat, sparingly. Twitter is not an instant messenger chat system. Yes, I know it can be used that way with the use of hash tags. It’s just not an elegant solution for chatting. Who talks in 140 character increments?  There are much better systems out there for chats.
  6. Research. As a blogger, you need to stay on the pulse of what’s happening and what’s interesting to people. Following trending topics and using the myriad services out there that analyze tweets to see what people are talking about, you can really do a lot of research on any topic you’re interested in. Give it a try next time you’re researching something for your blog. I’m sure you’ll get a lot of information.
  7. Talk to a stranger. Always imagine that you are tweeting to a complete stranger. This stranger isn’t going to care what you put in your latte or that you just woke up. Remember, unless you’ve checked some boxes, your tweets are public and will be on the web forever.  Do you really want someone doing some research on you in the future and seeing your tweet about that bathroom incident??? Hmm?

I hope I’ve given you something to think about with Twitter and that I’ve won you over to the converted- those that find value and give value through Twitter.  I hope it makes you more efficient and, by result, a better blogger.

If you care to, you can follow me @adadslife. I promise to follow the above.

All the best




I Don’t Care if You Read This Article

The Internet measures everything. And I am a slave to those measurements. After so many years of pushing much of my life through this screen, I’ve started measuring my experiences and my sense of self-worth using the same metrics as the Internet uses to measure success. I check my stats relentlessly. The sad truth is that I spend more time measuring than I spend doing.

via Tweetage Wasteland : I Don’t Care if You Read This Article. Hat tip to Shawn Blanc.

I really enjoyed this post by Dave Pell. It strikes close to home. I’ve stopped trying to measure myself by Internet numbers and am trying to measure myself by whether you, dear reader, find my ramblings and thoughts valuable.  If you have some time, some day, please let me know.