A while back I wrote that social networks like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn are great ways to get people to visit your writing website and online portfolio. Today I took my own advice and signed up with a Twitter account.
Twitter is like a cross between a blog and an instant messenger, what the “tweeters” call a “micro-blog”. Twitter lets you post short, 140-character text updates to a public website, which people can follow and respond to if they feel like it.
At first glance, Twitter seems like just a bunch of people writing messages about nothing.
“I’m at the airport!”
“Politics is stupid.”
“Spilled an entire coffee in the back seat of my car. Starting the day off right.”
Sound pointless? That’s what I thought at first. But after a couple days of using Twitter, I am starting to see its purpose, especially for writers like me.
Publicize Your Website and Writing Portfolio
Like all social networks, Twitter lets you have a profile where you can add a link to your website. While this is great in itself, Twitter takes this a step further by letting you post a message whenever you’ve made a change to your website or blog. Write a tweet whenever you’ve published an article and post a link to Twitter.
What I like about it is how posts are automatically tweeted out everyday, even if I didn’t do it manually, and even if I didn’t write the post myself. Anything on my RSS Feed is sent out over my Twitter Feed.
Freelance writer Robin Shreeves also uses Twitter to get feedback on her website:
It’s a good way to promote my writing – especially my blogs that thrive on page views. It’s also a good place to go when a post isn’t doing so well to ask people to trade a stumble or a digg.
Network With Other Writers and Make New Friends
This is undoubtedly the best thing about Twitter. Deborah Ng has used it to amass quite a following:
I started out with one follower and now have about 1200. I met new people, did some business, swapped ideas and stories, and received breaking news. Because Twitter is 140 characters or less, I’m not committed to some deep conversation.
In fact, this 140-character limit completely changes the face of conventional “networking” by embracing the small details of life. These may seem trivial at first, but as social media strategist David Griner argues, these trivialities let you get to know people in a more “three-dimensional way” than ever before:
…if all you do is post little tidbits like this, it’s true that you’ll probably never get much of a following. But if they’re sprinkled in with thoughts from your professional life, the result will be a well-rounded expression of who you are. (You might also find someone else to get coffee with in the same airport, or some suggestions for better places to buy scones.)
Need to interview someone for a story? Twitter is full of useful subjects. Robert Janelle follows people in the sector he covers, which often leads to insights that can lead to a story:
From the tweets I follow, I can see who likes or dislikes a certain product, who holds certain views on a subject and well, almost anything folks are willing to share with their followers.
Learn From Writers Like You
If you’re an aspiring writer, why not follow other writers and see what they Twitter about? As writer Stacie Connerty points out, you may learn a thing or two:
I also follow a lot of people on Twitter who I find interesting or seem to do the type of work that I would like to do. I learn a lot that way.
If you having trouble finding writers to follow, check out this list of UK journalists on Twitter for a start.
Show Interest In Others and They Will Show Interest In You
This is the golden rule of Twitter. Like all social media platforms, Twitter is a community and you’ll get as much out of it as you put in. What you put in may seem trivial at first, but those details will actually help people get to know you on a more personal level. That way, when you do post something work-related, people in your community will notice.
But don’t take it from me – I’ve only been using Twitter for less than a day. What do other writers have to say about it?
Building a network went slowly at first, but the more followers you have the more you’ll get. I now get a few new followers each day, and about once a week I actively go looking for followers.
I absolutely love Twitter. I have gotten some great leads and some fabulous ideas. Twitter really works and I think that I am developing an addiction but it sure is fun!!
Are you on Twitter?
Let us know, and don’t forget to follow me @MonicaShaw.