I’ll freely admit that I was a long standing Twitter holdout. With profiles on Facebook, Myspace, Flickr, Behance, Buzznet, Live Journal and my personal blog already clogging my schedule, the motivation for adding another social networking site to my list of engagements was definitely lacking. Months of being preached to about the positive virtues of Twitter (hi, Star and others!) fell onto deaf ears.
The turning point came last week when I was staying with Gala Darling in New York City. She explained that for bloggers, Twitter is a worthwhile tool because it can be set up to notify followers of when you’ve updated your blog. Essentially, folks following you on Twitter are provided with a quick, on-the-go reminder of what you’re up to. And, in return, you can gain some steady traffic to your blog posts.
After one more deft attempt to escape the world of Twitter, Gala took over and signed me up on the spot (that girl means business)!
I entered the secret code and my life flashed before my eyes. There was no turning back!
Within three days, I had 60 ‘followers’. An instantaneous following is a pretty seductive thing. And, the rest is history; a Twitter fiend was born!
I personally find that Twitter informs and inspires my blogging. The interactions that I have, the conversations that I see others having, the questions that I’m asked and the answers that other users of Twitter and Plurk give me are constantly feeding me with ideas to blog about.
So, why should you join the masses of twittering addicts?
BENEFITS OF TWITTER
1. You Can Find Blogging Inspiration
If you’re stumped on what to write about, posting a quick ‘tweet’ (a post or status update) in the form of a question or poll to Twitter can provide a platform for your biggest fans to brainstorm and tell you what they really want. In a matter of minutes, it’s possible to have an abundance of clever ideas gathered on your screen via users from around the world!
2. It Reminds Followers to Check Out Blog Posts
It is possible to set up a feed that publishes your blog headlines directly to Twitter with a handy link. Some people just don’t have the time to keep up with RSS feeds and linking your article in this manner can be much more user friendly.
3. Your Readers May Make a More Personal Connection
Twitter has the ability to take on a more spontaneous, playful side of a blogger’s personality. Since tweets are often fired off multiple times a day (whereas a blog post from the same user may go live once a day or even less frequently) and posted on the spot with a maximum of 140 characters, they tend to be short and sweet and more to the point since space is limited. There’s not enough room to defend your views, to delve into a disclaimer, or to give a back story.
When blogging, many of us focus upon a niche topic (examples being music, street style, self improvement, D.I.Y. crafts) and may not want to clutter the front page of our blogs with random, off-topic personal tidbits such as, “I’m in line at the store and just saw Michael Jackson in a wheelchair” or perhaps “Courtney Love just passed me up in a shopping cart!” Yet, these present tense mumblings give those subscribed to your Twitter feed a way to bond with you as a real person going about your daily existence, not just the persona they encounter on your blog.
a. The site is very user friendly. It takes a max of five minutes to sign up and get a profile in place.
b. Unlike the social networking behemoths Myspace and Facebook, Twitter is free of advertising (for now). Sweet Relief!
c. Keeping track of your favorite posts is easy. If you see a tweet of value, click the star directly to the right of the message and effortlessly bookmark it for future viewing:
THE DOWNSIDES OF TWITTER
Of course, not everyone will agree that Twitter is the equivalent of the second coming of Christ. Some points of contention are:
1. Limited Comment Length
Since the number of characters on a Twitter post are limited to 140, it’s not always possible to reply in an intelligent, in-depth manner. Dave Allen’s take on its shortcomings is pretty accurate. He says that:
I still believe a good, well written blog is the place for conversation. Twitter, a micro-blog, is not. I use my Twitter account to drive traffic back to my blog where the conversation can really open up. After all, Twitter only allows 140 characters so truncated updates are the norm, which is fine. On both my blogs, the other being Pampelmoose, I enjoy reading comments that can often be longer than the original post – something that is impossible with Twitter.
2. The Distraction Factor
While firing off short and succinct messages may be fun, the time it takes to do so can add up quickly. Some people become so preoccupied with tweeting that their blog postings begin to dry up. In my view, Twitter is not a replacement for blogging but rather a tool that complements and reinforces blogging efforts.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Twitter is a free, easy to use social networking service that isn’t cluttered with ads and other unnecessary applications. If you’re an active blogger, Twitter has the ability to keep on-the-go readers informed and provide them a more personalized experience. If you use it with a purpose in mind, it’s a win-win situation for both you and your subscribers. I can’t believe that I stubbornly held out for so long!