Are you one of the Twitterati? Twitter is a social media site where members can “follow” each other and issue periodic updates on what they are doing at any point in time. Your first reaction may be like mine: Sounds like a colossal waste of time. Although it can be a less-than-productive way to spend your day, I have discovered several benefits of Twitter in the month or so I have used it that make the small amount of time I spend on Twitter worthwhile. (You can learn more and see what I am up to at http://www.Twitter.com/CathyStucker.)
Lots of bloggers are finding Twitter to be a good way to promote their blogs, find new material, and build more one-on-one relationships with their readers. Darren Rowse at ProBlogger.net posts about the value of Twitter here.
Here are the benefits I have discovered in 37 days of Twittering . . .Twitter keeps me connected to people in a way that email and reading their blogs doesn’t do. Some of what gets Twittered is the minutia of people’s lives: where they went to dinner and with whom, what the weather is like where they are, what they are working on, what music they are listening to, which movie they just saw, etc. Maybe I don’t care what you had for breakfast, but finding out that an acquaintance across the country is taking kickboxing lessons was, well, a kick. (Sorry.) I believe that learning some of the little things about people I care about but do not get to spend a lot of time with helps us to be closer, even though we are geographically separated.
Seeing what other people are talking about lets me know about news and events I might have missed. A link to a blog post, a new video, or news about new technology keeps me up on what is new.
Twitter also helps me to reach my audience in new ways, and create more personal relationships. Twitter is not only about broadcasting your thoughts, activities and recent blog posts. You can also exchange private and “semi-private” messages with other Twitterers. And you can not beat the immediacy.
It is also a good way to reach a new audience. I have discovered new blogs and web sites, and been discovered, through Twitter.
So what is the time commitment? Whatever you want it to be. Some users only log in to Twitter once a week or even less often. I log in every day, and try to post something at least once or twice a day. I scan postings by others several times a day, most of the time, but this only takes a few seconds to a minute or two.
There are people who tweet (post) multiple times a day, almost every day. Although that is certainly not necessary, it does not have to take a lot of time. Tweeting can be as simple as sending a text message from your mobile phone.
Even better, you can post automatically. I am using TwitterFeed to create an entry whenever I post to this blog. Twitterfeed checks for new blog posts, then sends the title, a short description and a link to the full post to Twitter.
You may find Twitter the coolest thing ever or the stupidest thing you have ever seen. Why not give it a try and see what you think? Go to http://www.Twitter.com/, register for a free account and fill out your profile. Then start following people. You can start with me. Go to http://www.Twitter.com/CathyStucker and click on the “follow” button under my picture. Follow more people by searching for people you may know on Twitter or clicking some of the avatars on my page or others. See someone who looks interesting? Follow them. You can always stop following them later.
When you follow someone, they get a notification and some of them may start following you. Because you can see who everyone is following, it helps to expand your network. New people will find you when they start following someone who is following you. (Does that seem confusing? It really isn’t. It will make sense when you see it in action.)
Once you are set up, post your first message. It does not have to be earth-shattering news. Just say what you are doing, where you are going, what book you are reading, or anything going through your mind.
After trying Twitter, let me know what you think: Super-cool social meeting tool, or total waste of time? You make the call.