Why bloggers should tweet

Welcome to part nine of our “Introduction to blogging” guide for Liberal Democrat bloggers or would-be bloggers. It’s appearing each Saturday between now and Christmas, with all the posts available via this page. The series will then be revised and collated into an e-book, so please do post up your comments as the series progresses. Today it’s the turn of Charlotte Gore.

So you’ve picked your blogging platform, created your blog-roll, found your niche and worked out your style – you’re blogging! But is it enough to rely on libdemblogs.co.uk to bring you new readers and win you new friends?

Sadly not. At least, not since the rise of Twitter. Oh no, you’re thinking. Not Twitter! Oh yes, Twitter. If you want to make the most of your blog, you’re going to want to join the “Twitterati” too.

So what is it? At its heart it’s a really simple, accessible and easy way for people to communicate with each other. That’s it! You follow other people on Twitter, and they follow you back, and you ‘Tweet’ at each other, sharing ideas, opinions and links to interesting things on the internet.

You’re limited to 140 characters per ‘Tweet’, so reading and writing a ‘Tweet’ rarely takes up much of your precious time. There’s other bonuses too: If you want to learn how to write in a punchy and to the point way, Twitter is a sort of extreme boot camp for turning the linguistically flabby into lean, mean terse machines.

But you’re a blogger, right? You want to write thoughtful, considered articles and stimulate debate, not spend your time announcing to the world that you’ve run out of toilet roll, right? Why do you need to worry about Twitter at all?

For bloggers, the real power – and value – of Twitter is that it helps you get noticed and build a readership.

So what do you do? Start by signing up for Twitter, of course. If you’re a Lib Dem, get yourself added to the Lib Dem Twitterers list (http://www.libdemblogs.co.uk/tweets/), which also gives you a handy way to find some interesting people to follow to get you going.

Next you’ll want to put a Twitter widget into your blog. This tells the world that you’re on Twitter and makes it easy for them to follow you.

If you’re using a WordPress.com blog, you can add a Twitter widget to your sidebar by going into your dashboard, selecting ‘Appearance’ and going into ‘Widgets’. If you’re using Blogger, you can add a Twitter gadget by selecting ‘Layout’ then, “Add a Gadget” and searching for Twitter.

So you’ve signed up to Twitter, put your widget onto your blog and people have started following you. What next?

Building a readership with Twitter is easy: Whenever you write a blog post, simply write a ‘tweet’ that contains a link to your post and a few words hinting at the content. It might feel strange or awkward to be advertising yourself at first, but people on Twitter are used to bloggers doing this – in fact, they’re probably following you because they want to know when you’ve written something new! By letting them know, you’ll keep them coming back, and that’s exactly how you build a readership – that an giving your audience something compelling to read when they arrive!

Getting noticed on Twitter is a little harder and requires a bit more imagination, but it’s still possible for almost anyone to become a Twitter star thanks to ‘retweeting’. Retweeting is where another person on Twitter copies your Tweet and sends it onto their followers. If you’re very, very lucky (or just especially witty, funny or saying something people passionately agree with) you’ll be ‘retweeted’ a lot, winning you new followers, friends and readers for your blog.

But Twitter isn’t just for promoting your blog. It’s a way of discovering what people are thinking, what they’re concerned with and finding out what’s going on – often as things are happening. You can ask questions and provide answers. It can also be a source of inspiration for subjects to write about and a superb way of finding new and interesting blogs to read.

The only danger is having rather too much fun on Twitter and forgetting to write blog posts!

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This entry was posted in Blogging guide.
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6 Comments

  • Apostate………………………………………………..

  • You’re absolutely right, Charlotte, that twitter is brilliant at getting people to cut out the crap. It’s eye-opening how much can be cut out of a sentence and it still makes perfect sense. It should be compulsory for all Focus editors 🙂

  • Andrew Suffield 6th Dec '09 - 3:07pm

    On the other side, twitter is also very good at getting people to cut the content and thought. Very few issues can be adequately expressed in a headline, and that’s the only mode of communication that twitter can handle.

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