The SMS service of the internet…short bursts of unsequential information…chirps from a bird!”
“Twitter” has got a lot of meanings.
For us bloggers, Twitter = traffic. But also, interestingly, Twitter is microblogging.
I’ll show you how to do that a bit further down…
In this post, I’ll offer a little bit for everyone, beginners to advanced. As usual, post a comment with your 2c.
Twitter officially began…
Twitter became a reality in March 2006, when Jack Dorsey (@jack) wrote the very first tweet. “Just setting up my twttr” he tweeted to his small development team at New York University.
By April 2007 Twitter was it’s own company, and it was in a South by Southwest Interactive conference that the application blew up. By placing screens around the conference rooms with live tweets from prominent attendees, Twitter staff allowed everyone was able to keep up on what folks were doing. This inspired signups, and boosted tweets to about 60,000 a day. Bloggers at the conference spread the word like wildfire.
People seemed to like brevity; the Twitter team won a handful of awards but even more so entered the global stage. People knew about Twitter.
By February 2010 Twitter users were sending 50 million tweets per day. In the 2010 NBA finals and World Cup, the site hit over 3000 tweets per second.
Who knows where future growth lies. Some say it’s Twitters new video app Vine, which I have yet to use. Anyone?
How to Use Twitter
There are 3 core components of using Twitter and I’ll break them down here.
Now I’ll admit, I’m no Twitter expert guru sensei. I don’t have 1 million plus followers or even 100k. What I do have are 1 thousand awesome followers and a strategy for long-term niche growth.
Twitter contributes the 3rd most traffic to my blog, behind Google organic traffic and the elusive (direct)/(none) source of traffic. So I take it seriously. Moreover, my followers rock. Just look at that pages/visit stat above. They make this fun.
Just for fun, here’s what my followers have been saying:
@gregnarayan Awesome bio. Awesome blog. Awesome writing style! I like you.
— Tarryn Scales (@TarrynScales) March 6, 2013
Thanks Tarryn, like you too!
@gregnarayan You are unbelievable. Wow 150 tweets/coffee. Teach me how Master 🙂
— Nancy Avila (@NAvila408) March 6, 2013
I know I know, Nancy 😉 Well, I can start here!
@gregnarayan Thx for the follow,Greg! I'll check out your dearblogger site. I've never heard of it before!
— Danielle Chan (@_DanielleChan) February 20, 2013
Welcome, Danielle, glad you found us!
@gregnarayan Thanks for the follow. I'm new to this & appreciate your advice.
— Stacy (@ManagingMemLane) February 19, 2013
Anytime, Stacy! Hope I deliver!
And here I joined Twitter under 1 year ago thinking I’d be lonely. These awesome responses are sometimes just what you need to keep on blogging.
Thanks guys (gals rather).
Now let’s look how to get setup, branded, and traffic-overloaded on Twitter. Think of this as your Twitter-to-do checklist.
And don’t tell me you’ve already done this all!
First, make your profile pop with a…
You have 160 characters to describe yourself in your Twitter bio. While many users jam as many acheivements into this blox as possible, I say go simple. Take a look at what highly successful tweeter put here, and I bet you it’s brief. Try writing one succinct sentence that describes how you want Tweeters to see you.
This small photo should definitely show your face. You can set it to align perfectly with your header (oops was going to put @copyblogger here but he changed it up) or just pic a cool photo.
A header is optional but it’s a background to your photo. You can conveniently drag this around to your liking. Without one your header space will be black, which looks okay to me.
Your name can be whatever you want, while your @name is subject to availability and cannot change. For best results, and so people can remember you, you may want to make your name and your @name the same.
In the sky, behind my laptop, outer space, on the court, New York, get creative here.
It is really smart to just put one link on your profile. That is, if you want clicks. Two or more links can confuse people. Put that link here and make it sync with what your bio says. You want your link to make sense, based on who you are on Twitter.
You can choose a pre-made theme for your background with a cute leaf or some nice colorful swirls if you want. Not necessary. but fun.
Nowadays you can make a custom background (see example @markosaric) or your can just choose a color. I like plain white.
Select a link color that vibes with your profile design and with your blog (don’t have one yet? get one here)
Now, Engage and connect with..
When you follow a someone on Twitter, two things happen. You see their tweets in your homepage stream, and they are usually notified of your follow via email. Following is oftentimes the best way to get someones attention, say hey, and get a follow in return.
When you unfollow a user they don’t find out, unless they have an application to tell them this. You’ll see one less in your following count and won’t see their tweets anymore.
Trends are denoted by the # symbol. One your Twitter homescreen you’ll see trends in the lower left. So, start hashtagging words and see if you can get them in the trends section!
l. The @ symbol
The @ symbol is used to denote the subject, or recipient, of your tweet. You can “at someone” in any part of a tweet, and they’ll receive a notification once you hit send.
m. The # symbol
Used to mark trends. Useful for getting your tweets found, so use the hashtag on common words your tweet (like the word ‘blog’ or ‘love’ or ‘hilarious’).
Posting tweets can be hard at first. What exactly do you say? You can @ folks in your niche to start discussions, or you can just send your thoughts to the Twitterverse. If you said something new, clever, or particularly relevant, folks will @ respond or retweet (RT) you.
Retweets are a restatement of your tweet. It’s like a Facebook share in that it pitches your original tweet to the followers of the re-tweeter. Folks will often thank you for retweeting them, as everyone loves a retweet.
Favorite a tweet if you want to remember it, find it funny, or plan to use it for whatever reason (say embed it in a blog post like I did above) later on.
If you have a ton of followers or just like staying organized, you can add certain Twitter users to lists you create.
Messages on Twitter are not very effective. Direct messaging used to be a good networking tool, but these have long since become a spammy tool use to just get clicks on questionable links. Avoid messages.
Lastly, get found…
s. Target audiences
You target audience finds you Twitter, and you find them. The best way to find a target audience is to find a major noise maker in your niche, and follow their followers. Or, search for common words in someone’s profile like “blogging” or “cooking”.
t. Twitter button
The twitter follow button can be added to a website in a number of ways. It’s available as a stand alone button, within a WordPress plugin and more. This lets users follow you without actually visiting your Twitter profile.
u. Social proofing
Once you have a decent following going (over 1K is a good reference) it’s time to let folks know. Post your follower count and show off your social prowess.
How to MicroBlog on Twitter
As usual with social networks there are the mainstream ways of using them, and the other, perhaps more interesting ways.
On Twitter, micro-blogging can be used to draw significant hype to a post before and after it’s published.
The best way to do this, is to post tweets about a post. I like asking questions. Before I publish this post, I might tweet “Think you know how Twitter began? Think again. #Newpost on it’s way.” Doing so generates hype.
Or, something like “The last post on #socialmedia was such a hit that I wrote another at the #blog. Publishing soon…”
After the post is up, I might tweet whole sentences from this post. That’s legal, after all, right? Of course that tweet will include a link to the post itself 🙂
I’d argue that both micro-blogging a post before and after it’s moment of publishing are equally important, but what do you think?
Once you’re found, you’re unstoppable
Twitter is a tool that produces if not rapid, at least dependable growth. Your Twitter followers probably aren’t going anywhere, especially if you keep tweeting interesting, relevant content.
So get on Twitter, grab some followers, and teach them your very best. Twitter is in many ways the best tool for an average joe to become a total celeb.
Good luck, now tell us what’s up in the comments!