Five Things Your Mother Never Told You about Twitter


Unless you’ve been stranded on a remote island for the past three years (hey, it could happen!), you’ve heard of Twitter, the free “micro-blogging” service where users send and receive 140-character messages called “Tweets.” What you might not know is that business “tweeple” are using this platform as a major product promotion tool. And you can use it get the word out about your blog.

  1. Twitter can be trained. Your mother may have told you that Twitter is a waste of time, and, well, it can be if you let it off the leash. But a bit of management can make you the beast’s master, not the slave. It’s nice to know who is following you, especially if it’s a sleezy person (yes, they’re out there) or a spammer. You’ll want to block the riff-raff. When you get an email notification that you have a new follower, it’s tempting to halt your production, click over to Twitter, and view their profile. You may read a few of their tweets to see what kind of person they are, check out their friends, and then decide whether or not to follow them. This process can tick 10 minutes off the clock if you’re not careful, which wouldn’t be so bad if it didn’t happen a dozen or more times throughout the day. Suggestion: Use an email filter or tagging system to send incoming Twitter notifications directly into a folder away from your in-box and only check it at scheduled times, perhaps once or twice a day. It’s okay — you’ll survive!
  2. Twitter can be a tool, not just a toy. If your mother thinks Twitter is a toy to be put away in the toy box, promise her you’ll use it productively. Twitterers have come up with some innovative uses to increase sales, promote products, and launch careers. One example, an author invited followers to read her book and the group conducted an Twitter-based “reading group,” where members shared their reactions to each chapter as they read through the book. Twitter is also a powerful research resource. Using Twitter’s Trending Topics and search tool, journalists and bloggers can see in real time what’s on the world’s mind.
  3. Twitter is more than a bunch of pointless babble. Most moms are more apt to say, “Stop talking at the table and eat your supper.” Twitter does “talk” non-stop (well, except during an occasional system overload), but there’s actually a lot of depth to most of the Tweets. Major corporations use Twitter to enhance customer relations and even notification of tech support issues. It’s also one of the fastest news-reporting avenues out there. But more importantly for writers is the conciseness of the tweets. How much do you have to cut out of your message to fit it into the 140-character broadcast box? Think of tweeting as an exercise in editing.
  4. Twitter can be Organized. More than likely, your mother said, “Just look at that mess of Tweets — you’ll never clean it up!” I’m sure this is a spin-off from the “clean your room or you’ll be grounded for a month” parenting scare tactic. Actually, it is possible to clear up the clutter you can encounter on Twitter. Tools such as TweetDeck and others let you create groups, allowing you to wade through the sea of twitterdom and salvage only the messages that are most important to you. This is another way to tame the wild beast part of Twitter (see item number 1 on this list).
  5. Twitter is a great place to make new friends. I’m not sure about your mom, but most moms would say, “You don’t even know those people!” (Yes, she also probably said, “A stranger is a friend you just haven’t met yet.” — Parents!) A good way to transition from followers to friends is to become better acquainted with your Twitter tribe. Tweets are actually an intimate form of conversation. Psychologists who have studied thought processes know that our brains operate with short, random bursts of information. So, Twitter is one way to get into another person’s head, which is a great way to get to know them. You can strengthen your relationship with new followers by sending them a direct message to say thanks for the follow. There are even applications that create Twitter greeting cards.

Do you have any other Twitter tips to share? Please use the comments area or start a new topic in the Forum.

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#1 Tina Dee on 10.11.09 at 10:34 am

Great info–thanks for sharing the tips.

#2 Teresa Slack on 10.12.09 at 4:36 pm

I tweet a lot and try to make it relevant. Most tweets are a waste of time. Please diciper: jim@millerbakery lloyd@fishery under belly beast

Say what?

But I keep tweeting and hope to figure it out someday.

#3 Linda Fulkerson on 10.12.09 at 4:45 pm

Thanks Tina & Teresa for stopping by!

@Teresa — You’re right. Some tweets make no sense, but Twitter is currently the hottest online marketing tool, so we’ll spend quite a bit of time on this site discussing the how-tos & whys of it. I may sneak in another Twitter post before the next Marketing Monday session. In fact, I’m working up a post called “Taming the Twitter Beast in 20 minutes a Day.”

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