Twitter is shaking the world of media and communications to the core. Facebook has recently overtaken Google as the most-visited domain on the Internet, and Google is scrabbling for a foothold in social with their new +1 button. The biggest Social media entities are guaranteed a place in the mainstream news headlines every day. So how can a blogger use Twitter to their advantage?
Setting up your Twitter account & profile
First, pick a good relevant username. It is much easier for people to identify you as someone they should be in touch with if part of your username, photo or bio identifies your niche in your industry. Using your real name or part of it is also a good idea and makes your profile much more personable, friendly and trustworthy.
Upload a nice picture of yourself, and also replace the default profile background with something personal or vaguely related to your niche-this looks more professional than a default Twitter background.
Building your Twitter network
Now you have your profile set up, get out there and network. The best way to build your network is to selectively follow influential and interesting people in your industry, other people you admire or are interested in, and your existing contacts and friends. As long as you don’t follow or message too many new people each day, you should get just enough people following you back to keep a good social balance.
Balance is the key here-if you just whizz around the net following every single person you find, your profile looks (and is!) unnatural – and your efforts will not be as well rewarded. On a practical level it’s impossible to stay in touch with them all. Always add your Twitter profile link to your guest blogs, post it on any other social media site you use and any personal profile you can, to encourage people to follow you. Whenever someone takes the time to direct message you or gives you a mention in their tweet, return the favor. Twitter tools can help you spot these important events.
Taming your Twitter feed
After a few weeks or months of this you will probably be drowning in tweets, followers and people. How on earth is anyone supposed to keep track of it all? There are several great Twitter tools that are designed to help you deal with this. Probably the best of the bunch is Tweetdeck, recently acquired by Twitter themselves. It allows you to split your feed into columns, run multiple Twitter accounts from the same interface, and has loads of great filtering & streamlining functions. Play with the settings, get Tweetdeck set up right, and you will never miss the important things in your feed.
Promoting your content with Twitter
Now you are a social media superstar networked with a bunch of important Twitterers, all tooled up with Tweetdeck and have your feed well under control… don’t be a chicken!
This is how it works; Google measures your influence and ‘realness’ in many ways, including paying attention to the world of Twitter. Followers, good communication, clicks on your tweeted links, and those all-important re-tweets all contribute to your status in the world of social media. All these ‘social signals’ ultimately affect your blogs search rankings and the power of your overall web presence.
Blast the world with short summaries of your new content using #hashtags to highlight key phrases and trending topics. Whenever you publish a new post on your blog or elsewhere as a guest, tweet about it. Re-tweet friends’ posts; help promote the websites and blogs that interest you through Twitter and your other social media channels. When you help out your network by re-tweeting and replying to their tweets in a constructive, intelligent way, they ar emore likely to do the same for you.
Look for the sweet-spot in terms of how often you tweet-too many and your followers will feel spammed-too few and they may be bored or wonder why they bothered. Either way people will un-follow you, so pay attention and see what works.
Twitter can be useful in many other ways, and probably some new ones you will discover for yourself. Twitter, especially used in conjunction with other social media platforms like LinkedIn and Facebook is a great tool for networking with blog owners and negotiating guest blogs. You can take your time, getting to know people and what content they like to write about or publish, while they are getting to know you. When you do eventually direct message someone with an offer or request, it has a much higher chance than most ‘cold calls’ or emails out of the blue.
Twitter and trending topics
Finally, you can use Twitter to identify travel-related news stories, niche trends and buzzes etc just before they hit. By paying attention to Twitter trends, and moving fast to write tailored content and distribute it with the help of your network, you can even beat established industry bloggers and mainstream news organisations to the top spot in Google.
Go forth and tweet!
Gez Hebburn is a writer, musician and SEO blogger based in south east England. Gez is currently expploring the crossovers between search engine optimisation and social networking, and where it may take us in the near future.