Somewhere in 2008, I decided to give twitter a try. Like most people I was curious – what is so special about this thing anyway? So I signed up, which wasn’t hard at all. Then I sat there twiddling my thumbs and wondering – hmm.
And I did nothing further.
And I logged out.
Number of tweets – Zero. 140 characters be damned.
My dilemma, like many people, I do not have any friends on twitter. What can I say, we are weird this way, a bunch of overexcited workaholics who hardly ever get on to facebook. We are not the really out-there social types.
My a-ha moment came sometime last month. Give twitter another try, only this time, do it for social networking with likeminded souls, not necessarily friends. YAY. I don’t need a life to go on twitter. I can follow random people.
Twitter is an (amazing) tool for information and marketing. Listen and engage.
#1 Twitter is not like facebook – you don’t need friends on twitter
If you are hesitant to give twitter a try, then consider this, on facebook you only have people who you know – known as your friends. On twitter, you can follow anyone who catches your interest. You don’t have to know them and vice versa. Say you are interested in collecting old books, you will find people on twitter who do the same. You are big on watercolour painting, well there are tons of artists on twitter you can network with. Bet you wanna try searching for interests now. Search #keyword. ( # helps people categorize messages.)
#2 Twitter is not like instant messenger – you are not bound
If you are like most people, you don’t have time to go on online and have chats with people you hardly know. Well, that’s the beauty of twitter, you don’t have to.
Twitter is about ‘ambient intimacy’. You maintain a meaningful connection with people without having to respond to anything. It’s still good to, but you don’t have to.
Imagine going outside for a walk. You see people walking past talking to each other. It’s a bit like eavesdropping on them AS YOU PASS THEM. You might say something to people ahead of you (if they are listening to you – as in following you), and you could hear things people are saying if you are following them.
It can be loads of fun – if these people mean something to you. Say you find out your favourite blogger is getting married and you decide to pop over and say congrats. You hear somebody has launched an ebook you might be tempted to check it out. Oooh, you coud overhear people saying nice things about you. That would probably make your day.
I have started to follow all bloggers I have subscribed to, writers, minimalists, social media people, booklovers etc etc. At one time I might get on and find Darren Rowse of Problogger posting something – which he does a lot by the way – he is a prolific tweeter. I might tweet mentioning somebody’s name (Add @nameofperson ) and they will see it, and so will others. So it’s a very public way of showing affection or ill feelings for that matter.
Going back to our twitter walk, you go there when it suits you and respond or post if you want to. Tweets are not connected to each other and you are not required to keep track of all the tweets, no one can. People following thousand’s of people will have a continuos flow of tweets appearing in their timeline (the main window, where new tweets appear in real time).
You can also tell others what you heard – as in retweet the original message (RT message)
#3 Twitter keeps you in the know
You get to hear all sorts of news that now sometimes break on twitter first. You get to hear news from your favourite bloggers, writers, celebrities and the like. Twitter can be your instant service for the latest news, happening before your eyes.
#4 Twitter is good for your blog
Twitter is good for business, or for broadening your circle of hobby –ers. If you want to bounce off ideas for your new business you want to set up, you will find likeminded people to talk to. It also helps to spread word about your blog – and that’s NEVER a bad thing.
Are you on twitter? Do you like it? Hate it? Want to give it a go? Here is what you can do
- Go on to twitter and make yourself a username. Fill your profile as it will help people decide if you want to follow you back.
- Have you got friends or colleagues on twitter? That’s good, start following them.
- Do you follow blogs? Start following them. Start following me @WritingH. I usually tweet about all things OTHER than blogging. 🙂
- Do you like any particular celebrities, sports people, tv and media personalities, journalists, etc etc. Find them and follow them.
- Spend 5 minutes at a time following what people are saying. Soon, you will start to get an idea of what to respond to, what to retweet and so on. You can start tweeting from the beginning. The more you tweet, the more people will follow you.
So, what is your twitter id? Let me know and I would be happy to follow you!
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ExpatOnTheGo Says :
I like the approach you took to writing about Twitter. Feel free to follow me @NatsCR. What is your Twitter name?
Marya Says :
Thanks for your kind words. I will be following you for sure – still seems a bit stalk-ish to me heheh. My is is @WritingH
Marya Says :
Testing CommentLuv …Hurray
Grace Says :
I agree. It is stalkerish. I’m trying to do Twitter, but I feel more comfortable on Facebook. I have about 120 friends on Facebook, but I only have about 17 followers on Twitter. But your article on Twitter is very positive, as is your writing. 🙂
Marya Says :
Hi Grace, good to see you comment! I am Glad you found this post useful. See you again soon. 🙂
dari mohamed Says :
Marya Says :
Thank you! 🙂
joymcdee Says :
Thank you Marya – I have been feeling like you – not sure if twitter was worth the time. You’ve convinced me. I will find time this week. Love your blog.
Marya Says :
Thank you Joy – your comments alwas brighten MY day. Have a good one! 🙂
Cathy | Treatment Talk Says :
I like twitter as well. In many ways, it seems easier than Facebook. I’m still learning the finer points of responding to mentions and using it to communicate with someone. Do you respond to in a message to people that follow you, and if so what type of message do you send?
Marya Says :
Hi Cathy – you don’t HAVE to. If you want to, you can click on reply button that appears when you hover over the tweet. Or you can send them a message b putting @theirname in the tweet. In both cases, others will see our tweets as well. Hope that helps! Cheers 🙂
Sandra Bell Kirchman Says :
Very helpful post. I have been a twitter member for a number of years but only started using it regularly this year. It reinforced my idea that there was SOMETHING to it.
My twitter id is @raya01
Marya Says :
I am on it Sandra. Thanks 🙂
I tried twitter last year and couldn’t get it. The point of it. But if ‘you’ are a blogger I can see the value to it especially if you are monetizing your blog. Its another tool. When my blog is up and running and I’ve gotten that steep learning curve behind me, I guess, with some prompting and rereading this blog, I could give it another shot.
Marya Says :
Hi Catherine, you are not alone. I didn’t get it either hence the post. 🙂 You could try searching for people with same interests before you get your blog thing going, and build up some connections. This will go you a nice base to annouce your blog to. Just my opinion. 🙂
Steven Says :
Hey Marya, glad to see you discovered the usefulness of Twitter! I’ve been on there for almost a couple years now. 9,7000 tweets later – I’m definitely there to stay! As you mention in your post, it’s a great way to get updated on new information and what people are doing. It’s also nice that you can follow people without them ever following you back (like celebrities or A-list bloggers).
I think the walking analogy works really well. Twitter is constantly in motion. If you follow a lot of people, there is a constant stream of updates passing you by – walk away from your computer and you’ll miss it. Get on at the right time and you may find a cool tweet to respond to. It’s very “in the moment” – I like that about it.
Marya Says :
Hi Steven. I think one of the biggest reasons that keep people away from twitter is, they don’t have friends on twitter so they are not sure what to do. Second, they feel overwhelmed with the number of people on there and assume they have to spend huge amounts of time on it. When I realized, both are not true, I decided to give it a shot. Still quite new at it but beginning to see what the fuss is about. Many thanks for your thoughts. 🙂
Sarah O Says :
Hi Marya, thanks for the great Twitter pep talk. I too joined in 2008, but hardly ever use it. Since I’ve been working on building an online business and getting ready to launch a new blog I keep meaning to get in there and start tweeting. But two things keep stopping me:
**What should I tweet about? My new blog’s not up yet, so tweeting in that niche might not make much sense.
**I have a variety of interests and i follow quite a few people and organizations. So when I look at my Twitter feed it’s kind of overwhelming with all those Tweets, Retweets, etc. Do you use lists to separate categories? That’s what I’m considering. I’d like to start following bloggers and writers, but I’m afraid their tweets will be lost unless I’m obsessively checking every half hour (something I don’t have the time to do.
In any event thanks for the kick in the butt! Nice post
Marya Says :
Thanks very much for dropping by Sarah. Follow bloggers by all means – you are not supposed to read all their tweets anyway. Just catch up when you are online, when it suits you. This way you can tweet your updates as well – about other things and you will slowly build up followers as well. This is how I am doing it. Twitter is about networking, so take time to follow people. I got all excited, but you can actually say hi to people when you add them. I am thinking that, although I might have been following them for a while.
Mehmudah Says :
Marya, first of all congrats on the website. I’ve been following you for a while now and whilst I don’t think I’m going to join twitter (although admittedly this post had me thnking!) I will surely check out your blog every time my email tells me to… which means I am one of your ‘lovely’ subscribers hehe!
But I do have a question. What is the purpose behind writing? What is the purpose of having as many followers as possible? Ego rush? Feels good? Fame? Name? Or what?
As a writer I like to debate things, and before anyone else, I am questioning myself. No offence meant. All the best.
Marya Says :
Thanks Mehmudah. Its still under construction, working on the look now. I am technically challenged so it was a big nightmare moving to my own site. So proud I did it though.
I want to have more subscribers, because I’d like more readers – simple. 🙂 I am establishing my online writing business and this is the start so naturally I’d like many people to join me. It’s my writer’s platform.
Good to know you are a subscriber. Many thanks 🙂
Mehmudah Says :
Hey Marya! I’ve written a post to counter yours.. lol admittedly it was your post that seriously got me thinking even…
loved that one where you talk about free critique on the blog. Is it too late to ask for one now, and are you too busy to give me one? I like how you constantly innovate. I’m sure the writing business will be very successful.
Checking that out now…
Sorry, I forgot about the critique thing. Firstly I wanna ask you, what is your purpose of writing this blog? Are you writing it for family and friends? Do you want larger audiences? Do you want to monetize your blog later at some point – make money from your writing etc?
If you want to do it for personal reasons then it is fine the way it is. The people who read probably know who you are and that’s alright.
If you want more readers, you have to pick a niche and you have to come out. You need to have a proper -as in reveal yourself- about me page where you tell people who you are, what your blog is about, your story etc. You need to have well thought-out categories. You need a plan basically. Have a think … hope this helps for now Mehmudah. 🙂 Keep in touch.
Mehmudah Says :
Thanks very much Marya, I really appreciate your response. Now to come to your questions. My blog is basically a place where I post the work already published (the purpose of which is originally to create some kind of positive difference).
I think the fact that I’m a really private person is what prevents me from having a proper about me page… you’re so right though. I am impressed – your critique was excellent.
Perhaps I will follow the advice… Yes we must stay in touch!
Mehmudah Says :
Updated my About – take a look!
Such interesting reason.I have recently used Twitter and I think that It’s a good social network webite for me to share my posts.Thanks
Hi, glad you found it interesting. Do you use twitter?
Thanks for dropping by. Cheers
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Susan May Says :
This is a great post. I did the same about three years ago. Had a look at Twitter & thought, ‘How boring following famous people like Ashton Kutcher(he was trying to get to the first million followers at the time and was tweeting every 3 seconds about himself and Demi).
Recently, having started a blog, I thought, like you, I’d better give it another look. So, different now. I took the time to learn about Twitter and read some blog posts on using it. No Ashton Kutcher’s this time. Although, I still follow him but notice he doesn’t tweet much anymore since the marriage trouble rumours.
Now I follow bloggers (you included Marya), writers, editors and movie reviewers and it is a whole new circle of friends and they are the type of people who find and follow me. I feel like I have my finger on the pulse of the publishing industry, which is so important if you want to join it.
Initially, I thought I would use twitter to advertise my blog but somewhere along the way I became friends with others in the Twittersphere and I don’t care if they visit my blog. I love just hopping on and seeing who is around & how they are going. Many do still visit my blog but I just consider that a bonus.
Twitter is like dropping into a coffee shop with people who all have something in common and just hanging. In the lonely, solitary world of writing, it is wonderful to no longer be alone.
My suggestion is to give it a serious go and follow a lot of people who sound like you (I like to follow Mums who are trying to write-can really identify with them or writers starting out. If you fit this bill or even if you don’t fit this bill but know what I am saying, I am @susanmaywriter).
Also, say hello when you follow someone or they follow you. Start a conversation. Even the people with tens of thousands of followers, oscar screenwriter winners, big editors, famous writers, sometimes comment back if you say something of interest about their post.
One thing I don’t like is the people who constantly promote their books or blogs (only 99cents @ Amazon, my book, the best you will read-Yuk). The tweeters I enjoy, tweet something of themselves, their feelings, their lives and tweet back when I comment. These are the people I feel are my twitter friends. We are building a relationship. If they occasionally tell me to read their blog or that they have a new book out, I am more likely to have a look at it, than if they are constantly bombarding me.
Twitter is like diving down Alice’s rabbit hole into a whole new exciting world. The idea of six degrees of separation is officially dead. Now we have twitter-degrees of separation = 0.
What a great comment! I was away from my computer for a few days and when I logged in today, I saw your amazing response. It’s a mini guest post in its own right – thanks so much for taking the time to write that. 🙂
I totally hear you when you say, you might start out on twitter hoping to attract some traffic to your blog, but once you start spending some time there to really listen and connect woth people, it really becomes a great networking tool. I love twitter for the fact that it helps me ‘meet’ such amazing people, people that I would have never met otherwise. None of my friends really ‘get’ blogging and I don’t have any real life friends on twitter either, but that’s okay. I am making new friends here and its fantastic.
Many thanks. 🙂
Susan May Says :
Hi Marya, I had to laugh. It is like a guest blog post. I didn’t realise I’d written so much but I had been thinking about my experience on twitter and your post caused me to put down my thoughts. Now I know where my yesterday morning went. I was wondering why I hadn’t got much done. Now, I know I’d been writing long rambling posts. LOL. Keep up the good work. Susan
Nichole J. Mitchell Says :
This post was extremely helpful! I have been blogging for about 6 months now. I am spending my summer upgrading my blog and reading up on all the social networks. Twitter was the next network I wanted to focus on. I too have had a twitter account for a while but just didn’t quite know how to make it work to my benefit. I will definitely take some of your tips! By the way, my twitter handle is #nicholeknows. Thanks!
Thanks Nicole. I find twitter to be really easy to use and heaps of fun, too. The best thing is, it is the least overwhelming medium. And you can choose to participate as much or little as you like. Glad you enjoyed the post. Cheers, Marya
Sean Ammirati Says :
Ah, I just created a twitter page myself to see how it would go. After a few days searching around and seeing people with…I don’t know…a million followers, it was sort of like “give up now buddy.” heh. liked this post, though, gave me some new ideas about the site i’ve hated for years.
Marya Jan Says :
Thanks, Sean. Twitter is a bit of a hit or miss for me – still. There are days where I couldn’t be bothered and then there are some when it just works. Too many links to share and finding mentions and what not .. give it a try. Have you tried Pinterest? I have a feeling that might be your style …