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Twitter for Traffic and Talk: Who is Using Twitter and How?

TwitterTwitter is a social site based around the idea of 140 character messages, but it has grown to be much more than that.

My relationship with Twitter has mutated over time. My opinion of the service has ranged from true believer, skeptic, objective critic, right up to now which I would describe as “cautious optimist“.

It took a while for me to see any benefit in it but now I think it could be very useful to bloggers when used correctly.

Do you use Twitter? Let me know in the comments. Follow me on Twitter now.

If you are not using Twitter yet, there is a comprehensive guide here.

The service is still developing, both technologically (it is often down or unreliable) and in the way people use it. There are three great non-social uses for Twitter that I can see:

  1. Inside scoop – Follow the right industry insiders and you get the news before any other channel. I have gotten access to information and beta accounts this way, can be very useful.
  2. Traffic – Drop a link with a good intro and you can see click throughs and comments as a result.
  3. Networking – I have stated many times how important networking is for bloggers, Twitter is a growing venue for this.

Driving Traffic with Twitter

Twitter is more and more being used as both a social medium and also as a way to drive traffic. You can see this in action by observing users who do it so well, people like Tamar, Chris Pirillo, Scoble and Steve Rubel.

The key is to paste your link after a compelling headline. I find titles that either announce something intriguing or beg a response to work best, things people will have an opinion on. You can use Twitterfeed to post your RSS content to twitter automatically, or various plugins to Tweet as you post. Another traffic technique is to post Digg URLs to get your followers to vote!

It is no good thinking you can drive loads of traffic to your blog if you only have five followers, you have to get out there and make some friends. See “networking” below.

Twitter as a Back Channel

Originally when I signed up I did the usual thing of following my friends. Thing is, I talk to my friends anyway. What I missed out on was what I find really beneficial now, finding stuff out as it happens and getting insights that I would miss otherwise.

The key is to follow the right people. This can only be worked out through trial and error; follow people for a while and see what they produce.

On a basic level I have been able to follow the key points from conferences I would not have been able to access, but at best there have been quotes and links that have kept me informed better than following 1000 feeds.

Twitter Networking

You don’t just post and read on Twitter, you can discuss and make connections too.

Be careful that you do not follow more Twitter users than you can handle, this kind of thing can really leach on your time. The way I have gathered contacts is by gradually following other peoples conversations and following who they reference. You will find a lot will follow you in return or if you reply to one of their comments.

It is very important when replying to remember that your conversation is public, keep it interesting for those outside the conversation too by making it inclusive. Be clear in each “tweet” what it is you are talking about, don’t expect people to follow the whole thread, do not post too much in quick succession and don’t use shorthand or private jokes.

To reply to another Twitter user you just include their @name in your Tweet. To see who replied to you there is a “replies” link.

Who Uses Twitter and How?

I asked on Twitter if people find the service useful, here are a few replies:

  • @Marshall finds it sends a fair amount of traffic and has an excellent post on how Twitter helps pay his rent
  • @Sylvainbriant gets good blog traffic from Tweets (approximately 3%)
  • @Reese says she gets exposure but knows she doesn’t leverage it enough
  • @cmiddlebrook has seen a lot of traffic from Twitter, particularly since she posted her guide

Over to you, do you use twitter? How do you use it? What do you love or hate about it? I want to know your opinions, please share in the comments …

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Comments

  1. Great article, cheers. I use it for all of the above but also for hooking up with other like minded new media types.

    All i have to do when i get into a town is twitter my arrival and need for a beer and you will be amazed at who answers to the call. I have had more face to face networking and ‘buddy’ contact with twitter than any other social networking site.

    Then there is the ability to plug my podcast on doumentally and my blog on ournmaninside. But that goes without saying. I must say i am becoming a bit of a Twitterholic.. :)

  2. Great article, cheers. I use it for all of the above but also for hooking up with other like minded new media types.

    All i have to do when i get into a town is twitter my arrival and need for a beer and you will be amazed at who answers to the call. I have had more face to face networking and ‘buddy’ contact with twitter than any other social networking site.

    Then there is the ability to plug my podcast on doumentally and my blog on ournmaninside. But that goes without saying. I must say i am becoming a bit of a Twitterholic.. :)

  3. Yeah I can see how it would be good for finding people to meet when traveling, especially when hooked up to your phone :)

  4. Yeah I can see how it would be good for finding people to meet when traveling, especially when hooked up to your phone :)

  5. Thanks for the plug Chris. I think Twitter is great but they have a lot of technical issues to sort out. The reliability is poor and there are a lot of features that they could add – such as the ability to sort followers into groups, or at least tag them. That way we could tweet different to our buddies & family than we do to business contacts for example.

    However, the fact that they have an OpenAPI is what is keeping them afloat in my opinion. If it wasn’t for all the great clients, tools, mashups and fun little applications, the raw Twitter application wouldn’t be quite so appealing.

    It will be interesting to see what happens in the coming months now that Google has bought Jaiku.

  6. Thanks for the plug Chris. I think Twitter is great but they have a lot of technical issues to sort out. The reliability is poor and there are a lot of features that they could add – such as the ability to sort followers into groups, or at least tag them. That way we could tweet different to our buddies & family than we do to business contacts for example.

    However, the fact that they have an OpenAPI is what is keeping them afloat in my opinion. If it wasn’t for all the great clients, tools, mashups and fun little applications, the raw Twitter application wouldn’t be quite so appealing.

    It will be interesting to see what happens in the coming months now that Google has bought Jaiku.

  7. Agreed Caroline, I said similar in my post over here. I listed some things I would like Twitter to change or add. Right now I use the web site rather than third party tool so I can control when I use it and not be distracted :)

  8. Agreed Caroline, I said similar in my post over here. I listed some things I would like Twitter to change or add. Right now I use the web site rather than third party tool so I can control when I use it and not be distracted :)

  9. I’m finding Twitter increasingly useful, though I’ve only been seriously using it again in the last couple of months. Finding the right people to follow is definitely key. I’m reading quite a few “in jokes” and personal conversations that I just don’t “get”, but the people involved tweet enough useful stuff to put up with that.

    I’m aware that not everyone is happy with “auto tweets” pulled from feeds, but then, everyone seems to have their own idea of what’s acceptable or not on Twitter. I suppose the best policy for each person is to find a reasonably consistent style of tweeting, then at least people know roughly what to expect and can decide whether they want to follow that person or not.

    I’m working on it.

  10. I’m finding Twitter increasingly useful, though I’ve only been seriously using it again in the last couple of months. Finding the right people to follow is definitely key. I’m reading quite a few “in jokes” and personal conversations that I just don’t “get”, but the people involved tweet enough useful stuff to put up with that.

    I’m aware that not everyone is happy with “auto tweets” pulled from feeds, but then, everyone seems to have their own idea of what’s acceptable or not on Twitter. I suppose the best policy for each person is to find a reasonably consistent style of tweeting, then at least people know roughly what to expect and can decide whether they want to follow that person or not.

    I’m working on it.

  11. I am enjoying your Tweets Andy, your style works for me, keep up the good work :)

  12. I am enjoying your Tweets Andy, your style works for me, keep up the good work :)

  13. I am torn on Twitter. I use it, but I don’t find it to be the next best thing.

    Another use of Twitter is to help get your articles indexed very quickly. My articles get indexed into Google very quickly when Tweet them.

    I have left my twitter profile in the link above. Please follow me and I will do the same.

  14. I am torn on Twitter. I use it, but I don’t find it to be the next best thing.

    Another use of Twitter is to help get your articles indexed very quickly. My articles get indexed into Google very quickly when Tweet them.

    I have left my twitter profile in the link above. Please follow me and I will do the same.

  15. Interesting you say that Fred as I didn’t think links were counted seeing as they are converted to tiny urls?

  16. Interesting you say that Fred as I didn’t think links were counted seeing as they are converted to tiny urls?

  17. I’m just finding my feet on twitter. Very interesting idea though.

    We are getting very close to being wired in real time to the internet though.

    You won’t be able to sneaze soon without somebody twitting it, then following up with a lengthy opinion blog piece followed up by a podcast interviewing prominent sneazers about how your sneaze takes the sneaze industry forward into the 21st century. :)

  18. I’m just finding my feet on twitter. Very interesting idea though.

    We are getting very close to being wired in real time to the internet though.

    You won’t be able to sneaze soon without somebody twitting it, then following up with a lengthy opinion blog piece followed up by a podcast interviewing prominent sneazers about how your sneaze takes the sneaze industry forward into the 21st century. :)

  19. Yesterday I posted a tweet where I compared it to coffee. When we a little kids or have never had it it can be bitter and yucky and make no sense but now I find it hard to start my day without Twitter. I know that may sound trite and silly to some but I add that to my newsreader, e-mail program and iTunes for retrieving Podcasts for the day. In the “old days” it was going to the foot of the driveway and getting the morning paper or watching the news on TV.

    I have an interesting combination of local friends, big time Internet “A-List” types and even people in my local press on on my Twitter list.

    I find out things on Twitter before I see them on blogs, podcasts or the local news plus I find out things about local people I would have never known.

    The one thing that bothers me about Twitter is that is yet another application I have to run to get my information. As much as I find value in newsreader applications I took me a bit to adopt it because it was something else I had to run and the same holds true for Twitter and similar apps.

    I know we all hate bloat but I wish we could creatively combine e-mail, messaging, micro-blogging, regular blogging, etc. in one place. I know they may be some things out there. I can personally deal with the extra apps myself but when trying to get newbies on the bandwagon it’s more difficult.

    I’m using Twitter now as that is one of the places where the conversation is. Who knows in the future it may be something different.

    Some people disagree with broadcasting feeds in Twitter but I love it. I know some people who not even find out about my blogs, flickr photos, etc. if I didn’t run them through Twitterfeed.com. Of course I don’t broadcast all my blog feeds or every Flickr photo.

    Twitter also helps me practice writing concisely. As you can see in this comment I can be quite wordy! ;)

    If anyone does want to follow me on Twitter my user name is linkerjpatrick.

  20. Yesterday I posted a tweet where I compared it to coffee. When we a little kids or have never had it it can be bitter and yucky and make no sense but now I find it hard to start my day without Twitter. I know that may sound trite and silly to some but I add that to my newsreader, e-mail program and iTunes for retrieving Podcasts for the day. In the “old days” it was going to the foot of the driveway and getting the morning paper or watching the news on TV.

    I have an interesting combination of local friends, big time Internet “A-List” types and even people in my local press on on my Twitter list.

    I find out things on Twitter before I see them on blogs, podcasts or the local news plus I find out things about local people I would have never known.

    The one thing that bothers me about Twitter is that is yet another application I have to run to get my information. As much as I find value in newsreader applications I took me a bit to adopt it because it was something else I had to run and the same holds true for Twitter and similar apps.

    I know we all hate bloat but I wish we could creatively combine e-mail, messaging, micro-blogging, regular blogging, etc. in one place. I know they may be some things out there. I can personally deal with the extra apps myself but when trying to get newbies on the bandwagon it’s more difficult.

    I’m using Twitter now as that is one of the places where the conversation is. Who knows in the future it may be something different.

    Some people disagree with broadcasting feeds in Twitter but I love it. I know some people who not even find out about my blogs, flickr photos, etc. if I didn’t run them through Twitterfeed.com. Of course I don’t broadcast all my blog feeds or every Flickr photo.

    Twitter also helps me practice writing concisely. As you can see in this comment I can be quite wordy! ;)

    If anyone does want to follow me on Twitter my user name is linkerjpatrick.

  21. Up until the other day I thought Twitter was a total waste of time. After reading Caroline’s Twitter Guide the other day I’m not ready to give up on it yet. I’m going to follow Caroline’s guide and see how I do in 30 days. I just wrote a post about this in my blog. You can check it out in the link I used for this comment. Caroline’s Twitter Guide just might have changed my mind. We’ll see. :-)

    Great post, Chris.

    Shana

  22. Up until the other day I thought Twitter was a total waste of time. After reading Caroline’s Twitter Guide the other day I’m not ready to give up on it yet. I’m going to follow Caroline’s guide and see how I do in 30 days. I just wrote a post about this in my blog. You can check it out in the link I used for this comment. Caroline’s Twitter Guide just might have changed my mind. We’ll see. :-)

    Great post, Chris.

    Shana

  23. @Jack – Yeah I can see a future where people have cameras and microphones in their glasses and just broadcast their entire lives :)

    @linkerjpatrick – It’s a nice analogy, I sat here this morning with both a coffee and twitter so it works for me :) I agree with you that something has to give, yet another demand for our attention is not quite what we need :)

    @Shana – I think the reason I am not 100% on it is the same I am not 100% about any social tool, you can be sucked into wasting time or find productive uses, each user is unique and variable because they are people and that is what people are like :)

  24. @Jack – Yeah I can see a future where people have cameras and microphones in their glasses and just broadcast their entire lives :)

    @linkerjpatrick – It’s a nice analogy, I sat here this morning with both a coffee and twitter so it works for me :) I agree with you that something has to give, yet another demand for our attention is not quite what we need :)

    @Shana – I think the reason I am not 100% on it is the same I am not 100% about any social tool, you can be sucked into wasting time or find productive uses, each user is unique and variable because they are people and that is what people are like :)

  25. When twitter came out, I was wasting too much time with other social networking sites to give it try. My first thought was:

    “Not another thing to try, I am too busy as it is…”

    I may give it a try one day, but quite frankly it’s hard enough to find time for the things I already do. I get inundated with requests to try out new monetization systems, to read this ebook or try this new social networking gadget, that I just can’t possibly do it all. What I need is a site that will make clones of me. Then one of my clones can try out twitter ;)

  26. When twitter came out, I was wasting too much time with other social networking sites to give it try. My first thought was:

    “Not another thing to try, I am too busy as it is…”

    I may give it a try one day, but quite frankly it’s hard enough to find time for the things I already do. I get inundated with requests to try out new monetization systems, to read this ebook or try this new social networking gadget, that I just can’t possibly do it all. What I need is a site that will make clones of me. Then one of my clones can try out twitter ;)

  27. A very timely article for me. In my blog Classrooms Without Borders(84chesterave.spaces.live.com) I asked why people Twitter. I honestly don’t understand the appeal of this product, but I want to learn.

    I started to Twitter and think it may help my blog. My blog, in addition to helping people learn English as a Second Language (mainly through writing) also contains many of my thoughts about whatever is of interest to me. Twittering allows me to post short thoughts that are not developed enough for a blog post but interesting enough to read.

    I’m also writing a short story about a character that uses Twitter and will share it on my blog when it is ready. Hmmm, maybe if you are a spy you can use Twitter to transmit messages that seem harmless but if you know the code, conveys important information. Guess I’m in my James Bond mindset. :)

  28. A very timely article for me. In my blog Classrooms Without Borders(84chesterave.spaces.live.com) I asked why people Twitter. I honestly don’t understand the appeal of this product, but I want to learn.

    I started to Twitter and think it may help my blog. My blog, in addition to helping people learn English as a Second Language (mainly through writing) also contains many of my thoughts about whatever is of interest to me. Twittering allows me to post short thoughts that are not developed enough for a blog post but interesting enough to read.

    I’m also writing a short story about a character that uses Twitter and will share it on my blog when it is ready. Hmmm, maybe if you are a spy you can use Twitter to transmit messages that seem harmless but if you know the code, conveys important information. Guess I’m in my James Bond mindset. :)

  29. I shot you a twit, but I’ll say it again here: I do get traffic to my blog from Twitter. I tend to get more traffic from Facebook, though (in fact, Facebook is second only to Google from sending me new traffic).

  30. I shot you a twit, but I’ll say it again here: I do get traffic to my blog from Twitter. I tend to get more traffic from Facebook, though (in fact, Facebook is second only to Google from sending me new traffic).

  31. Thanks for the info Chris and the link to Caroline’s blog, very helpful. I signed up for Twitter about 6 months ago and really forgot about it. I’ve gotten a couple people to follow me recently so I’ve decided to revisit it. Work’s been so hectic, I’ve not had much time to pay due diligence to most of my own personal social networks which I realize I need to get back on track. Being an internet marketer myself, helping others utilize social networks is part of my job, so I need to start being better at leading by example!

    Thanks again.

  32. Thanks for the info Chris and the link to Caroline’s blog, very helpful. I signed up for Twitter about 6 months ago and really forgot about it. I’ve gotten a couple people to follow me recently so I’ve decided to revisit it. Work’s been so hectic, I’ve not had much time to pay due diligence to most of my own personal social networks which I realize I need to get back on track. Being an internet marketer myself, helping others utilize social networks is part of my job, so I need to start being better at leading by example!

    Thanks again.

  33. This is a great introduction to a new (to me) media channel. I have been invited to join Twitter by a few people, but said no because like many comments above, I didn’t need another time waster. But I can see the non-social aspects you’ve presented as being very benefitial, Chris. Christian’s application of this technology is interesting as well. I want to take the time to read Caroline’s guide; sounds like it’s helped a lot of people!

    How much time do you think one must spend with Twitter to have it be a worthwhile source of both information for you and traffic for your blog?

  34. This is a great introduction to a new (to me) media channel. I have been invited to join Twitter by a few people, but said no because like many comments above, I didn’t need another time waster. But I can see the non-social aspects you’ve presented as being very benefitial, Chris. Christian’s application of this technology is interesting as well. I want to take the time to read Caroline’s guide; sounds like it’s helped a lot of people!

    How much time do you think one must spend with Twitter to have it be a worthwhile source of both information for you and traffic for your blog?

  35. Chris,

    I just finished reading Caroline’s guide and now I have joining twitter on my clones todo list ;)

    I can see the value in it. Long term, I will probably have to choose between it and other social sites I am currently active on, but I can see how twitter might win out over others.

  36. Chris,

    I just finished reading Caroline’s guide and now I have joining twitter on my clones todo list ;)

    I can see the value in it. Long term, I will probably have to choose between it and other social sites I am currently active on, but I can see how twitter might win out over others.

  37. I use twitter to post updates on things I bookmark, stumble and post to my blog. Traffic from it seems to be varied but it is something that I like for now. http://www.twitter.com/mjesales

  38. I use twitter to post updates on things I bookmark, stumble and post to my blog. Traffic from it seems to be varied but it is something that I like for now. http://www.twitter.com/mjesales

  39. I use the WordPress plugin Twitter Tools. Each time I post to my blog it shows up as a tweet on Twitter with a link to the post. I’ve gotten a few visitors from it. Nothing to get too excited about. But I don’t have many followers either…just had a thought to put my twitter profile link on my site. Might get more followers that way. I think I will check that out.

  40. I use the WordPress plugin Twitter Tools. Each time I post to my blog it shows up as a tweet on Twitter with a link to the post. I’ve gotten a few visitors from it. Nothing to get too excited about. But I don’t have many followers either…just had a thought to put my twitter profile link on my site. Might get more followers that way. I think I will check that out.

  41. @George – Oh if only we could duplicate ourselves :) Actually, no, I would end up arguing with myself ;)

    @Alan – People are finding many innovative ways to make 140 characters work, interesting ideas you have there

    @Adam – As yet I have not really noticed any referrers from Facebook but I know I can get one or two comments when I link from Twitter

    @Mike – Just watch the time as it is easy to get absorbed :)

    @LaurenMarie – I catch up with twitter a couple of times a day, I treat it like catching up on my emails. It is quite easy to skim and speed read it, just keep who you are following to a manageable amount.

    @George – I am slowly edging out FB to a weekly thing whereas I watch Twitter every day, so already I am seeing me re-prioritize

    @Matt – I find those sorts of tweets very useful :)

    @Robert – Good idea :)

  42. @George – Oh if only we could duplicate ourselves :) Actually, no, I would end up arguing with myself ;)

    @Alan – People are finding many innovative ways to make 140 characters work, interesting ideas you have there

    @Adam – As yet I have not really noticed any referrers from Facebook but I know I can get one or two comments when I link from Twitter

    @Mike – Just watch the time as it is easy to get absorbed :)

    @LaurenMarie – I catch up with twitter a couple of times a day, I treat it like catching up on my emails. It is quite easy to skim and speed read it, just keep who you are following to a manageable amount.

    @George – I am slowly edging out FB to a weekly thing whereas I watch Twitter every day, so already I am seeing me re-prioritize

    @Matt – I find those sorts of tweets very useful :)

    @Robert – Good idea :)

  43. I was inspired by you & by Caroline’s fantastic series of posts to create a little lens to focus the issue. http://freshest.tweets.ever.com/ Chris, you (and your readers of course) are invited to go on over there and add your Twitter feeds as “must reads.” :)

    I’m still not there yet myself with Twitter–I have so many bits and pieces that I’m checking every day, and I just don’t remember it. Hm, now that I think of it, maybe I’ll make it my browser’s default page . . .

  44. I was inspired by you & by Caroline’s fantastic series of posts to create a little lens to focus the issue. http://freshest.tweets.ever.com/ Chris, you (and your readers of course) are invited to go on over there and add your Twitter feeds as “must reads.” :)

    I’m still not there yet myself with Twitter–I have so many bits and pieces that I’m checking every day, and I just don’t remember it. Hm, now that I think of it, maybe I’ll make it my browser’s default page . . .