Isn’t it odd that back in January of this year I wondered about the usefulness of Twitter, and my ability to use it to promote this little blog of mine? Now I can’t imagine my blog without it, thanks to some auto-tweet WordPress plugins that help me keep my Twitter stream updated.
However, even though I’m using Twitter for this blog officially, I fully admit to still being a Twitter newb, even after managing several Twitter accounts for my various sites. I know I’m nowhere close to being as adept with social media as some of my fellow bloggers. But I have learned a few unspoken rules of the Twitter community, which I think have incredible value for us bloggers.
#1: Follow People, and You Will Be Followed
We all like to receive praise for our work, as I referred to in my comments article last week. Following another person’s Twitter is a digital pat on the back for them, and it may lead to them following you back if they find your blog (and its Twitter feed) interesting.
Now, when I say “follow people,” I don’t mean just follow random people willy-nilly. Follow fellow bloggers, people who are doing what you’re doing, as well as other websites that cover the same basic topic(s) as your blog does. (For instance, my Crooked Glasses Twitter follows Twitter accounts that cover all of the various subject matters I write about, as well as several fellow bloggers.) This is part of building a Twitter following that’s legitimate and networked together–once you follow them and they potentially follow you, you have a connection you can build on.
I didn’t realize this for myself until I began my work with the Save City of Heroes movement on Twitter, and began to follow a bunch of people with my City of Heroes site account (@skiesoveratlas). When I first began using the @skiesoveratlas account, I had thought, “Well, if people like my site, they’ll just follow, right?” WRONG! I had to get my name out there first, had to follow people and let them know I was there. Once I started following the people who were active in the #SaveCoH movement, lo and behold, I began to see people following me, too, and liking what I had to say.
But just following other people is the first step. There’s another step, too:
#2: Retweeting = A Necessary and Helpful Courtesy for Fellow Bloggers
I’ll admit, this is something I don’t do well on my Crooked Glasses Twitter account, because I cannot have constant access to Twitter (dialup internet at home, and no money for a smartphone). But a strong retweeting presence on your own Twitter stream can help your blogging cause in two ways:
#1: Gets the retweeted party’s name out to your followers, giving them more site traffic
#2: Builds your connection with them and gets them interested in what you’re doing, too
As I said before, we all like getting praised for our efforts, and retweeting is another form of digital praise. (I know I get warm fuzzies from seeing that someone has liked something of mine well enough to retweet it, anyway. :P) When you retweet, you are saying, in effect, “I like what you said so much that I’m sharing it to my followers, too.” With that simple click, you show your solidarity of opinion with them, and you connect to them more effectively.
Retweeting blog posts and articles by fellow bloggers can also boost their popularity. I know I can credit retweets as the biggest reason I have any followers on Twitter–I certainly haven’t done my part to retweet anybody else on my Crooked Glasses account, but other people have liked what I’ve said enough to retweet what I’m doing. Thanks to other people being more on-the-ball with social media, I’m doing well, too. That’s part of how Twitter works for bloggers–we all build each other up, just with a click of the “Retweet” button.
With that realization, which has just come to me over the past two weeks, I think it’s well past time to start retweeting and giving back to the community which has helped me so much…even if I have to battle 15-minute load times on Twitter (which is a sad reality)!
One important thing to remember about retweeting, though: it’s not just about retweeting everything the people you follow say, as you’ll see below:
#3: Your Twitter Feed is a Curated Topic List for Your Users
A personal Twitter account is very different from a website/blog’s Twitter. On a personal Twitter, you can pretty much retweet at will; on a site’s Twitter, you must be more circumspect, more selective.
For instance, my blog’s Twitter has attracted a large number of Christian websites and blogs because I write weekly about reading Scripture and otherwise living a Christian life. If I were to suddenly retweet a whole bunch of anti-Christian sentiments, tweets riddled with curse words and offensive opinions, etc., how Christian would that seem? I’d lose those followers in a heartbeat, and for good reason: my Christianity would be in doubt.
We as bloggers have to remember our site’s image, its “brand,” if you will, when we retweet. Our site’s Twitter feed functions as not only promotion for our work, but official endorsements for other people’s work through retweeting. If we retweet something that doesn’t work with our “brand,” people lose confidence in us, and we begin to lose community interest, like in my example above. So, when we retweet, we need to make sure that what we’ve retweeted is in line with what our site’s about. That way, we don’t confuse our followers.
And, by retweeting selectively, we also create a “curated” Twitter feed and build trust in our credibility. When I retweet something through my blog’s Twitter, I want people to think, “Wow, if Crooked Glasses retweeted it, it MUST be good!” Not only do I want to build a strong community through my retweets, but I also want to draw people’s attention to what is legitimately wonderful content that ought to be enjoyed. I will be a much better advertiser for someone else’s work (as well as my own) if I’m seen as a keen judge of worth and reliability.
Through following other bloggers and retweeting especially great content they’ve made, you can actually build a strong, legitimate Twitter following for yourself. Once you connect with other bloggers and website owners through social media, showing interest in what they’re doing, they will likely be interested in what you’re doing, too, and the cycle of positive influence will continue!