Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Twitter for Fun and Profit

(This started out as a reply to a comment at http://www.mostlyblogging.com/death-of-the-blog/#more-15006 . Rumors of the death of the blog have been greatly exaggerated. It's true that some of the great blogs have "died" as individual bloggers have retired, died, or taken higher-paying jobs with traditional publishers, but that merely opens up room for improvement for small, underrated blogs like this one. Anyway, here's what I've learned about Twitter for bloggers:

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I'm not the expert on Twitter marketing (actually only joined Twitter for car-pool purposes) but have learned a few things about making Twitter fun and useful:

1. Customize your content. If you search the whole Twitterverse, especially the "trending hashtags," you'll see a lot of flamewars among little kids who still get a big thrill out of typing nasty words. This has caused some careless visitors to assume that Twitter is just a place for kids to act bratty. Actually, Twitter is what you make it. If you want to read about major world news, follow news media (all the big ones are on Twitter). If you want to stay on top of events in your industry sector, follow the relevant business accounts. Family, favorite entertainers, elected officials, political issues, breaking news about disasters, whatever...be selective about whom you follow, and every time you open Twitter you'll see a stream of tweets about what interests you. I hardly ever see any of the flamewars.

I use Twitter primarily as a digest of news headlines, following mostly newspapers, news broadcasts, magazines, and elected officials, plus a few writers and e-friends. Now that many major newspapers limit the number of articles we can read online at no charge, Twitter helps me keep track of which stories I most want to read on each news site.

2. Read other people's tweets. Retweet the ones that your connections are likely to enjoy...the funniest jokes, the freshest haiku, the cutest pictures, from what you find. Nobody is ever going to see everything that's on Twitter. Nobody expects you to do that. If you open Twitter only once a week, it's still there. (I opted to receive e-mail notifications when anyone tweets or replies to me, though, and read those messages as soon as feasible.)

3. Tweet links to your and your friends' best blog posts. Tweet one-line jokes or pictures if you've come up with good ones.

Avoid tweeting a lot of personal content, like your age and "relationship status." If you want to publicize these things online, they belong at your blog--they might be "too much information" on Twitter. If your image suggests that you are or even might become an attractive, available female, that virtually guarantees a lot of the worst kind of followers, the "bottom feeders" whose scams are sometimes called "catfishing."

4. You should pick up a follower or two almost every day. Be cautious. Some of these people may become real friends, and some will be spammers and scammers. I'm a little old lady who manifests in cyberspace as a cat. Some "Real Twits," especially the ones who buy cheap cell phones to let web sites "verify" that they have a real phone number somewhere, are criminals who may manifest in cyberspace as cute kids or nice grandparent types.

5. Isn't it cool when (a) lots more people than you follow are following you, or (b) celebrities follow you back, or (c) multiple celebrities follow you back? I would hate to see the competition about this kind of thing become serious, because I have to admit it's fun. You probably guessed that most celebrities hire "social media consultants" rather than actually Twittering, but you never know when a Tweet that's supportive, clever, or witty enough to interest a consultant may actually be seen by your favorite movie star.
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[Disclaimer: This Amazon link is provided because this is an Amazon Affiliate site. I've not read the book myself.]