The Blogger’s Guide to Social Media: Twitter

Of all the social media out there, my heart belongs to Twitter. I like its concise format – no giant walls of text to plow through. Twitter’s reach is better than Facebook’s. Anything you tweet will show up in the timelines of those who want it to. End of story. Here’s how to make Twitter work for you as a blogger.

This post isn’t so much about how to achieve a million followers. That part is easy. Follow 2 million people. Statistically speaking, about half of them will follow you back. There you go. This post is more about how to use Twitter to make connections and promote your blog.

For those who are completely new to Twitter, here’s how it works. Follow people, and then their tweets will show up in your feed. A blue check mark beside someone’s name means they are a verified famous person, though  I can’t guarantee you’ll have heard of them. You can use the Publicize feature on WordPress blogs to automatically send a tweet with a link each time you publish a post.

Don’t know whom to follow? Twitter can help. They offer suggestions based on those you have followed before and on the preferences of those followers. It’s pretty much the same algorithm Facebook uses. Sometimes it’s spot on, sometimes it’s not. I’d like to say the more you use it, the better it gets, but that would be wrong.  “You followed a field biologist? Here’s another one for you. And another! You could follow ALL of them! No? You want field biologist who study frogs, not beetles? TOO BAD! You like rock bands? Here’s a geologist for you.” It’s all kinds of fun. But once you get started, you’ll find some peeps.

When I am on the prowl for people to follow,  I look for:

An active feed. Sometimes people take a break from the internet. That’s no big deal. But if I look at someone’s feed and see that they seem to tweet only once every six months or so, I’m probably not going to give them a follow. On Twitter, I’m looking for the potential for interaction, so unless I know them personally, I’ll probably skip them.

Varied content. I read a formula somewhere that explained the ratio of original tweets to retweeted stuff. I then promptly forgot it because that’s what I do with formulas. But the general idea is this – a Twitter feed  should ideally be a mix of links to your blog posts, conversation with other Tweeters, and retweets (also known as RT) of other people’s stuff. A timeline that contains only tweets linking back to a blog doesn’t tell me much about the account holder. If they’re new to Twitter, I might follow them anyway. Someone who tweets only reviews of their books and the Amazon links to purchase them get skipped. I have definitely bought books (and music) from people I’ve discovered on Twitter, but that’s usually only after I get to know how they present themselves.

Use photos judiciously. Many people do not love pics on Twitter. (click to enlarge)

Use photos judiciously. Many people do not love pics on Twitter. (click to enlarge)

An interesting bio. Be personable. And humble. If you’ve published a book, say so, but don’t belabor it. I prefer it when a writer links me to their website, not to Amazon. If you tell me the title(s) or have images of your titles as part of your header, I can find your work. There’s a place to link your blog, too. Be sure to do so.

Conversation. I mentioned this under varied content, but it’s important enough to warrant a bullet of its own. Conversation tells me a few things. It shows that a tweeter is engaged on the site, and it gives me a clue how they interact with others.

Spelling. I don’t care if a tweeter makes spelling errors. We’ve all done it, and there’s no way to edit without deleting the tweet and starting over. I will not, however, follow someone whose tweets are composed entirely using text-speak. My preference is in no way universal. Lots of people don’t care. But using it too often will pretty clearly define your demographic for you and limit your reach.

A respectable number in the “following” column. Sometimes I come across accounts that have a number of people following, but not so many that are being followed. I like ratios that are fairly even, give or take twenty percent, unless they are a legitimate celebrity. Refusing to follow other people maybe means Twitter isn’t the best fit for them. Tweeps want at least a little interaction.

Twitter is a useful tool and a pretty fun place once you get the hang of it. It’s more like speed-dating than an engagement, so don’t feel too badly if you lose a follower here and there.

I wrote a post about Twitter a while back that contains some of my Twitter pet peeves. You can find it here.

What do you like to see in a Twitter timeline? I’m @becomingcliche over there.

I’ll be offline for a few days. I’m having minor hand surgery on the morrow, so I may not get to comments as quickly as I usually do. I’ll be reading them, but unless I can convince my husband to be my personal scribe, I’ll be quiet for a bit.



24 thoughts on “The Blogger’s Guide to Social Media: Twitter

  1. Pingback: Coming Out | Very Bangled

  2. Good advice! My secretary and I are still figuring out Twitter. We appreciate timelines that as you say, are varied (offering both original tweets and RTs) and that steer us to things we may have overlooked or not discovered (rather than just retweeting the same thing that’s already all over our timeline).

    Also: we love the mute button.

  3. I opened a twitter account solely to be able to follow people when filling out the Rafflecopters to get points for various giveaways. I received an e-mail that I won a steam mop this weekend! woohoo! It’s like the 21st century version when women in the ’50’s wrote little ditties to win soap and appliances, etc. I see the value in Twitter and it can be fun, but I can’t look at it at work as it is blocked, plus I have to be careful about my obsessions…..oh the stories..hehe good luck with your surgery and great critter pic! How fun to be there when it happens.

  4. Good tips! It took me awhile to figure out the allure of Twitter, but once I did it’s by far my favorite social media, although it usually either enrages me or delights me. I guess I prefer strong emotions.

  5. Well wishes for a speedy recovery! I love using lists to allow more focused browsing by subject matter or an escape when the home feed feels like it’s been hijacked by a topic or event or spammed by one person. Do tell — what and where is the mute button?

    • If you click the three dots to the right under someone’s tweet, one of the options on the little menu is “mute.” Then you won’t see them in your feed. You will see them in your @ mentions and direct messages. I use it if someone is participating in a “Twitter party” or something like that and they’re tweeting a lot on a very specific and very temporary topic. There are Twitter clients that allow you to mute for specific periods of time (like a day), but on the regular ol’ Twitter, you have to remember to unmute them.

  6. I’m certainly guilty of not tweeting enough, but I’m trying to remedy that!! I’m @NotBradCooper if you’re interested. I’m also looking for friends 🙂

  7. Somehow I fell into the wrong twitter crowd from the get go, and have been spending months trying to find somewhere I fit in better. But this is great. It gives me hope that there are like minded people out there who don’t only make jokes about boning and boozing… Good luck with your surgery!

  8. Hey, I didn’t realize you were so up on the Twitter speak. I’m one of those who tweet only once every six months or so…am I off your list now 😦

    BTW, when I read how you hated text speak, it made me think about a Weird Al Yankovic video I’m completely in love with right now called “Word Crimes”.

    Somehow, I think you can relate.

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