Last spring I started hearing about this thing called Twitter. When I inquired, I was told that it is micro-blogging. Basically, you have 140 characters to answer the question, What are you doing now?
My reaction was similar to my reaction when I first discovered blogs. Who on earth cares what I’m doing right now?
So I blew it off as a time suck that I had a) no interest in and b) no desire to figure out.
Months went by and I kept hearing more about Twitter and I kept ignoring it. Finally I read this post by Karla at Looking Towards Heaven and I was convinced to give it a try. I’ve never looked back.
Twitter is a touted as a great way to promote your blog. This turns a lot of people off because people blog for different reasons, and some aren’t as interested in self-promotion as others. But I’m here to tell you that Twitter is NOT just about self promotion.
While it IS a great way to promote your blog, the reason I love Twitter is that it’s a never-ending blog party. It’s a place to socialize and yuck it up, it’s a place to throw out a question and get a helpful response, it’s a place to find new friends and new blogs to read, and yes it is a place to promote your blog(s).
If you aren’t on Twitter, you don’t know what you’re missing.
For me, one of the most surprising benefits has been finding new friends. When I started out on Twitter, I followed everyone I recognized (like Facebook, Twitter connects with your email provider and gives you a list of everyone in your email address book that has a Twitter account) and I soon discovered new friends that I had never really connected with reading their blogs.
Another benefit to Twitter is finding posts that I wouldn’t find otherwise. I often follow the links that others throw out there. While too much self-promotion gets old, if you balance promoting your blog(s) with your social interaction, it’s a great way to gain new followers and find new blogs to read.
If you Twitter, you absolutely MUST use Twhirl or something like it. In Karla’s words,
I found myself going to my Twitter page throughout the day, and found it distracting and disruptive. I’d often check it only to see that there wasn’t much conversation going on at that time. Twhirl has been time saver. Not only can you reply and send direct messages without having to type @_________ , but it also pops up a message each time a Twitter is posted from someone you are following. It’s a nice subtle message in the lower right side of your screen. So no more popping on and off Twitter all day. Some may find this distracting — but I find it to be less disruptive than completely stopping what I am doing to check.
I love my Twhirl. Unlike Twitter, that you have to refresh when you want to see the new tweets, Twhirl is a pop-up box that you keep it open at all times, and it automatically refreshes when a new “tweet” comes through. (Tweet = a comment on twitter.) You can turn if off when you don’t want the distraction, but I love it because I feel like I’m constantly connected with the outside world.
And now I’ll be Twittering on the go because I have downloaded Twitterberry to my new Blackberry, and I can Twitter when I’m waiting to pick up a kid at school or waiting for an appointment in the doctor’s office. LOVE THAT!
In a nutshell, if you aren’t Twittering, if you think you don’t have time or interest, GIVE IT A TRY! I’m willing to bet you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
One piece of advice — use a handle (username) that is recognizable and relates to your blog. Mine is dcrmom which is a throwback to my earlier blogging days when I didn’t share my real name. For the record, I use dcrmom as my handle everywhere. DCR are my 3 kids’ first initials and then MOM, because I am their mom, after all!
If you do decide to start Twittering (or if you’re already a Twitter addict), be sure to follow me at http://twitter.com/dcrmom!