To Tweet or Not to Tweet?

In this week’s Community Pool, we noticed lots of you asking about how to grow traffic to your blogs. Participating in the Community Pool is a great first step, along with commenting on others’ blogs. Another way is letting your social networks know what you’re writing about, which lets you do easily with Publicize.

Elizabeth is going to be taking a wide-angle look at promoting your blog on social networks tomorrow, so today we thought we’d focus on one platform that seems to confound many people: Twitter. To tweet or not to tweet?

I often talk to bloggers who are reluctant to join the Twitterverse:

“I don’t have time to keep up with another thing.”

“I don’t care what people are having for lunch.”

“It seems like a giant waste of time.”

On one hand, these are legitimate complaints. It is yet another password to remember, there are lots of people talking about their lunches, and you can get sucked in and end up wondering where those three hours of your life went.

(Hint: you were probably following the #famousmoviesrenamedforcandy hashtag.)

(Like “Zero Dark Chocolate Thirty.”)

On the other, it can be a really effective and efficient way to make connections that you wouldn’t otherwise make. You can follow — and converse — with bigwigs in your field, along with lots of other folks dedicated to the same things you are. You’ll read posts and find links to information that will inform and inspire, and can stay on the pulse of your issues.

Here are some considerations for helping you decide whether to join the fray:

Twitter Bird

  • It’s a medium for conversation, not just broadcasting. Yes, you can and should let people know about new posts on your blog via Twitter. But if that’s all you’re doing, you’re not going to get very far. Twitter is a place to extend the conversation, not just ply people with “Hey, Read Me!” links. If you’re not tweeting original content and engaging with others (through dialogue or by re-tweeting them), don’t bother.
  • It takes time. It can be a worthwhile investment, and it doesn’t have to take a lot of time, but it does require some. You’ll need to figure out who to follow, and then make sure to interact. This doesn’t mean you need to keep your Twitter feed open on your computer all day long, but it does mean you’ll want to check in periodically to see what’s going on. No one bothers following a person who posts once every two months.
  • It’s not the same as Facebook. Or Tumblr, or LinkedIn. Elizabeth will fill you in tomorrow on how these sites differ and how they’re most useful; suffice it to say that your Twitter content should be unique. If all you’re doing is auto-tweeting your Facebook status updates, you’re not really being an engaged twitizen.

The bottom line is that Twitter can be (1) a lot of fun, (2) a great place to connect with people in your areas of interest, and (3) a way to sow your blogular seeds among a larger audience. But if you’re not prepared to invest a little time, you might be better off letting it go.

Are you on Twitter? Has it been useful for growing your blog, in your career, or in another way entirely?

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  1. I am a huge fan of Twitter (@andreabadgley) – I’m so glad to see this post. I love Twitter for reading other writers, following editors and journals, and even connecting with authors I love. I wrote a post about Eleanor Brown’s “The Weird Sisters,” tweeted the link to her, and she wrote back, “This is among the loveliest things I’ve ever read about my book – thank you!” I felt like I had just gotten a celebrity’s autograph. I floated high on that Tweet for at least a week!


  2. Twitter has been good for me bringing sales and book bloggers to my book and blog. However, I’ve put little effort in and keep meaning to engage more but i remain a little baffled with the difference between mentions, favourites, lists etc … am i alone?


    1. No, you’re not alone. It’s a bit confusing to me too. But I’m rarely on it. I have my Facebook connected to it, but I rarely post content on it. I guess I need to get to checking it out.


  3. I’m on and so far, it’s in the way; I go days without remembering even to check it.
    However, I’ll be reading tomorrow. I’d love to learn how to make something that big worthwhile. There’s gotta be a way!


  4. It may not be useful for anything, but I (@DNGSITSPKaren) I find it lots of fun. It’s really good for firing off one liners, and it can keep you up on moment by moment topics/trends that are so ephemeral they never make it outside the Twitterverse, but still provide great fodder. And man oh man does it make you precise with your language (140 characters, people!)


  5. I really love Twitter and have gradually filtered out those comments about lunch, etc. It’s an incredibly useful tool for promoting one’s blog, if done in the right way. What I find also helps is that I do a lot of retweeting of articles and other blog posts if they are well written. And favoriting. I support my “tweeps” this way and in turn they tend to support me more. Getting lots of retweets is so important!!


    1. This is the way I’m using Twitter, I feel if you’re able to tweet or re-tweet something you found special, you not only have a reference to it (for future reference) but you’ve also given kudos to the writer.


  6. I could not agree more. I have made many far-reaching professional connections via Twitter and am now using it to reach a broader audience for my personal/professional hybrid blog. It’s daunting at first but technology is designed to make our lives easier.


  7. I am fairly new to Twitter as I am to writing. I am just completing my first book which is a memoire of my life dealing with alcohol and drugs. I hope to publish within the next 30 days. The writing of this book, although very emotional, has awakened in me a passion for writing until now unrealized. I know that promoting my book is key. Exactly how does Twitter work in this endeavour.


  8. I have had some of my customers tweet about my product when they receive it. From this I have received others following my blog who didn’t even know about me. Love it


  9. I love twitter and was at first extremely reluctant to join. I’ve used it mainly to spread social good awareness on current topics but have also used it for photos of my travels and blog posts. The readership is completely different than my blog but it is a great tool if used correctly.


  10. Your timing couldn’t be better! I just signed up on Twitter two days ago and I’m embarassed to say I have no idea what I’m doing. I was going to buy a book, however I’m sure I’ll get much more insight from the blogging community and real-life examples on self-promotion and promoting others. Looking forward to delving in…..


  11. I love twitter – I’m (@debrabroughton) — it’s a really good way to keep up with new posts by other bloggers. I use Tweetdeck to organise the people I follow so I can keep an eye on my fave writers and photographers, as well as getting updates on everything from the weather to tech news.


  12. It took me a while to work twitter out. I followed a bunch of people that had similar interests, normally through their blogs. Then I logged on and read the tweets and tried to have conversations with people. It took me ages to work out that most people aren’t really there on twitter and just launch ‘buy my book’ – ‘read my blog’ tweets though an app.

    Then I discovered a couple of hash tags where there are actually people talking about things. I joined in the conversation but found it difficult as you can either watch the hash tag or the replies to your monika but not both. Again a period of confusion until someone suggested Tweetdeck – one of many apps that allows you to look at a number of things at the same time.

    I think I now have it sorted. I log on engage in conversations, reply to people who tweeted me and any direct messages and retweet my friends. I can schedule tweets – and re tweets – so that I am not bombarding twitter and to cover times when I am not awake. I like it because I can follow tags such as #Charente (where I live) #Jazz #MYWANA and other places where people I have things in common with hang out. I also have the feed from my blog to twitter that tweets my latest blog post. Sometimes I feel I spend too long on twitter but I do like to chat.

    I am looking forward to hearing more about it to see if there are things I am missing or indeed if I do things that put other people off.


  13. I’m on Twitter (@alex_brovn) and I find it *very* useful for driving traffic to my blog. If you ask someone with a lot of followers for a “re-tweet” (ie they share it with their followers), that can produce a lot of hits. Be selective about who you pick, though – your post should be relevant to their (followers’) interests, and you have to ask nicely. Give them a reason why they should share your post.

    You have to know when to tweet as well – ie, when your followers are online; in my case that’s typically the start of the work day, lunch time and especially the early evening “prime time”.

    Getting on “lists” is also very useful as that increases the number of people seeing your tweets – that’s something you can ask people for, too.

    Twitter is also quite good for starting conversations about your blog – comment sections can be clunky if someone just wants to say “that’s good”.


      1. Watch and learn. Make an account, follow a few people – either from the suggestions list, or by searching for a key term, or even by recommendations from online articles.

        Then it’s good ol’-fashioned trial and error.

        (oh btw I had a typo in my handle, it’s actually @alex_brovvn)


  14. I think Twitter has huge potential – and on the whole, I have found twitizens tend to follow a pretty etiquette of following back, responding etc. There are also those who fail to interact, who require permission for you to follow back (even though they followed you first!) and whose reasons for joining Twitter in the first place remain a mystery !
    There are an increasing number of ways too in which Twitter can be used, whether for interacting or promoting – without appearing spammy; (no doubt these will be covered in tomorrow’s post); I also hear news faster on Twitter than elsewhere.and when enough Twitter ‘chums’ are online together it can be both stimulating and hilarious ….



  15. I have been everywhere in the Internet world, just to try it out. I did Twitter and few years ago. I even let my cats have their own Twitter site and they were twitting with other cats. Looking back on it all, I do not bother any more. Don’t get me wrong. I find WordPress one of the best sites for bloggers, but Internet is a dangerous world and I am careful where my blogs are placed. some of the Daily Prompts are a bit personal sometimes. I just avoid that by writing a fiction story, or let my cats get on with it in their feline way. I used to cross post to my Facebook account, but do not any more. I am very happy with the public I have now on WorldPress and for this reason do not want to branch out in other social networking sites. Not everyone is as honest as they should be.


    1. For some time, I used to do the cross posting to FB too. That was sort of a double-edged sword, as I got lots of comments, but they never went to my blog!


  16. I’m thinking about going on twitter, but can’t think of a username! (Yes, possibly the worst excuse ever). My wordpress username is ihaveumpalumpaonmyhead, but that’s too long for twitter! Anyone got any ideas?


  17. I love Twitter. It can be an effective tool to sharpen writing skills, too. Making a point in 140 characters or less is not easy.

    I do agree that it’s about conversation. I never follow folks who JUST use it to share their blog because I like to see at a glance what they are about, and that isn’t possible through just blog links.

    I tell people to add the Twitter widget to their blog ASAP if they haven’t already. I subscribe to a LOT of blogs. While I may not have time to add one more subscription to my feed, I’ll add someone I like to Twitter in a skinny minute. If I see a blog post in my Twitter feed, I am pretty likely to click it. And maybe even share!


  18. Just found this discussion while searching for possible blog platforms. I’ve been tweeting for a former employer for the past year. Love it! It took a year of tweeting and some reading to figure out the dynamics and etiquette of Twitter. I have a personal Twitter handle where I only have conversations about media and politics. The other one is about to be established with my favorite hobby in mind. Is it, um, legal to have more than one Twitter handle?


    1. I even have two passports, so I don’t see a problem with two or three Twitter accounts,
      If you want to see if Twitter allows it, you have to check their terms and conditions. But even if you violate those, the worst thing that will happen is that your account will be closed.


  19. I am on Twitter (@SuzanMcEvoy) but am never sure if I’m using it effectively – but suddenly I’ll get a retweet or reply and think ‘wow’. And this weekend somebody thanked me for retweeting their post so I guess it’s getting noticed. Definitely need to get tweeting daily – working on it! – Suzan –