If you would like to expand your blog readership beyond your family members and a few old friends from high school, you should be on twitter.
Twitter is the single best thing I have done for my blog. I have met amazing people, connected with the authors of all of my favorite blogs and found all kinds of new opportunities for myself and my little blog. Who knew the voices to all of my favorite blogs were chatting with each other on a daily basis? And also? If you have a child with autism you need to be on twitter too because they are all there. Crazy, huh?
Now that that is out of the way and we all have twitter accounts, the first thing you must do is read this series by Nina Badzin on how to get started.
Next, get tweeting. But as you are floundering your way around there are a few things you should try to avoid:
1. Don’t be a stalker.
When you first begin on twitter you will start by following a few people. Those people will either:
a. already know you and therefore follow you back
b. follow you back because they follow everyone back
c. follow you because their friends follow you or your profile is interesting
d. feel bad for you because you are obviously new at this so follow you back.
Since you are starting with this small group, you will see every tweet they type. DO NOT respond to someone’s every tweet. They have ten to ten thousand more followers than you. They get responses from different people for different things they tweet. If you reply to each of their tweets you may appear a bit stalkerish and possibly scare them off, thus subtracting from, rather than adding to, your measly twitter following.
2. Don’t tweet anything you don’t want the world to read.
Anything you type has the potential to be viewed by many, many, many people, even if you only have a few followers. Let me give an example to illustrate this point:
You are pretty sure that all of your followers are right handed. You send out a tweet saying “I hate sitting next to my left handed brother at dinner.” Well follower #7 is ambidexterous. He is mildly offended and retweets your rant to all of his followers, all ten thousand of them. Many are lefties, offended by your post, and therefore retweet it to their followers. Next thing you know, you wake up to chants of “Left is Right” outside your bedroom window and a crowd of people holding signs of protest with their left hands.
You now have followers, just not the kind you were looking for.
3. You will never know what everyone else said.
Twitter is not like facebook. On facebook, someone says something, everyone and their brother responds and you can see everyone’s thoughts. Not the case on twitter. I had a hard time grasping this one. I would respond to a tweet and then think “That’s it? What did other people say? Am I the only one who thought that?”
On twitter you are sending your thoughts (in 140 characters or less) out into a black hole and hoping other people are in the same black hole or at least shining a flashlight into yours and relating to something you tweet. If they relate you will know, you will be included in strings of tweets on the subject. If they do not relate your tweet is floating along in that black hole but that is okay. The great thing about this black hole is that tweets move fast and no one will remember your uninteresting tweet in about 30 seconds. All you can do is try until your black hole starts lightening up a bit.
4. Know when to say when.
Twitter is all about little pieces of conversation. Say someone tweets “Wow, it is so hot here, almost 90 today.” so you tweet back, “I would kill for some sun, it’s snowing here.” And then crickets. Unless one of you has something else witty to say, the exchange is over. Don’t force it and try to squeeze a long, drawn out exchange out of this tweet because you are new and finally interacting with someone. Your twitter friend has most likely moved on to other tweets or gone to lay in the sun. You need to do the same, except for the sun part because it’s snowing at your house which you may have forgotten in your twitter-trance.
5. Don’t wrap it up.
When you are done tweeting it is not necessary to say, “It was good talking to you, have a good day, talk to you later, bye.” and hang at the computer until someone tweets a goodbye back. Twitter is easy like that. You just jump on and off when you feel like it. Once in a while, if you are tweeting with someone specifically, and can’t possibly keep your eyes open for one more response, you should probably just say, “off to bed, nice chatting with you.” But other than that, salutations are not necessary.
So there you have it, all of the things that I did wrong when I started tweeting.
Once you get the hang of it, twitter is easier, more casual and slightly more addicting that any other form of social interaction.
Forget the rules of conversation that are engrained in your typing fingers, relax and tweet.
And I almost forgot… you can find me @fourplusanangel or the fantastic Nina Badzin @ninabadzin on twitter of course.
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