Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Know Your Social Media: Twitter

I am not a huge fan of social media though over the years I have created accounts on different platforms. I have a Facebook account, a Pinterest account, a LinkedIn profile and a Twitter account. Of all of these the most useful to me are Twitter and LinkedIn each for different reasons. In this post, I want to highlight some of the things I have learned about Twitter including its pros and cons and how to make it a more useful tool.

The first thing you have to decide is how you plan to use Twitter. Are you using it to keep in touch with other people or is it more informational? Personally, I use it primarily as a news feed. I find it's an easy way to keep track of things I am interested in. My feed is a great way to keep track of news and other events.

It also allows me to keep up with writers that I enjoy reading. I don't have to keep track of their blogs or websites if I know that they will send a tweet out with a link to their latest piece.

Second, you have to decide who to follow. By clicking on a person's profile you can see all their tweets. Since I am mostly concerned with news links I tend to weed out folks that use as many (if not more) of their tweets in conversation than publishing links to other stories. That's because I have limited opportunities to check my feed (see below for more on that) and conversations are sometimes more difficult to follow.

As noted above, you also need to determine how often you'll have an opportunity to check your feed. The blessing (and curse) of Twitter is there is always something new to be posted. It will quickly feed the sense of   missing something if you're not checking your feed a hundred times a day. The number of times you are going to be able to check your feed will also influence how many people you will follow and they types of folks you follow (do they tweet numerous times a day or only occasionally?).

You will likely develop a completely separate circle of influence apart from your other social networks. For example, most of my followers are people I don't know personally. But it one way or another we probably share a common interest. So it allows me to share ideas with people I would not normally have an opportunity to speak to.

Also, Twitter has a useful tool that allows you to link to your Facebook page so that whenever you send out a new tweet it will also post to your Facebook timeline. This is great because then you don't have to worry about posting the link yourself. It also allows whatever you share to be circulated among your friends (who are more than likely going to be a separate and distinct group from other social media followers).

Finally, you need to know that brevity is both its biggest asset and its biggest liability. Yes, the 140 character limit forces you to be pithy in your commentary (apologies to Bill O'Reilly). But it's also hard to flesh out a complicated idea one tweet at a time. This is why Twitter works so well as an aggregator because it allows you drive traffic to other sites. It also (naturally) limits the amount of personal information to as much or as little as you want to share.

One more side note: if you have a blog you need to be on Twitter for no other reason than to drive traffic to your blog. And if you utilize hashtags properly you can open up to a wider audience than just your own followers.

Of all the social media platforms I use, Twitter is by far my favorite for the reasons above. Give it a try if you haven't already. And make sure to follow me @Daddypundit.

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