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9 Benefits of Twitter for Bloggers

Twitter-Benefits
I was a little slow getting onto Twitter last year (when so many other bloggers embraced it). To be honest I didn’t think it had much to offer me – I’m beginning to see how wrong I was.

In this post I want to explore how I’m using Twitter to:

  • improve the quality of my blogs
  • network with other bloggers
  • widen my readership
  • grow my profile
  • drive traffic to my blogs

Before I get into some of the benefits of Twitter – let me say that I’m still new to it as a medium. I’m in a phase of experimenting and finding my voice. So please treat this as a progress report rather than a complete and definitive one.

Also note that tomorrow I’ll share some of the more practical tips of how I’m finding Twitter to be most useful. Today is more the ‘benefits’ and tomorrow I’ll make some suggestions about how to use the tool more effectively. Subscribe to my feed to ensure you don’t miss that post.

The Benefits of Twitter (to me)

One of the main things that I’ve discovered about Twitter is that no two Twitter users are using it in the same way. Almost every Twitter user that I come across tells me that they have a different objective when it comes to using it and are benefiting from it differently.

As a result I won’t attempt to write a definitive list of the benefits of Twitter – but will share how I’ve found it to benefit me (feel free to add your own comments).

1. Research Tool

One of the things that I’ve come to enjoy about Twitter the most is the way that it can be used when you’re researching a post.

  • Stuck for inspiration? Twitter and idea and see what others add to it.
  • Need an example for a point you’re making? Twitter it and you might get some good ones.
  • Got a question that you’re stuck on? Ask it to your followers to see what they think.
  • Need to test a hypothesis? Do a straw poll on your followers.

The beauty of Twitter is that it’s quick, is used by a wide variety of types of people and because of the 140 character limit to messages it keeps interactions concise, manageable and productive (usually).

Example – Let me illustrate this with a ‘live’ example. Lets just say that I’m writing a post on RSS feed subscriptions and wanted to find out how many feeds people were following. I’d post a Tweet like this:

twitter-research.png

Now I actually posted that Tweet a few minutes ago and in the time that it took me to grab a screen shot of the tweet and made myself a coffee I’ve had the following responses:

twitter-research-2.png

What other medium can you gather that kind of data in 5 minutes? (actually by now – 10 minutes later there have been 30 responses and it’s the middle of the night for most of my followers).

2. Reinforce (and expand) Your Personal Brand

twitter-branding.pngI’ve written previously about how I’ve found interacting on multiple mediums can be important in building your personal brand. Whether it be social networking, blogging, bookmarking, real life interactions etc – all of these ‘straws’ when added together can go a long way to building your own brand. Twitter is another ‘straw’ in my personal brand (and that of my blogs).

What I’ve found is that I’m getting emails and messages from people saying things like:

  • ‘I used to read you at ProBlogger but had lost track until I found you on Twitter’
  • ‘I subscribe to your RSS feed on the blog but seeing your posts on Twitter reminds me to read them more’
  • ‘I was scanning through someone else’s Twitters yesterday and saw your face. I recognized it from your Facebook account so thought I’d check out you.’
  • ‘I saw your name mentioned the other day on Scott Karp’s Twitter feed. I hadn’t seen your blog for a while and it reminded me to resubscribe.’

This type of comment to me illustrates that Twitter is another useful tool in putting you as a blogger in front of readers and potential readers.

The other thing that I’ll say about branding and Twitter is that it can be used to expand your brand or to show a different side of you. Some of the people that I enjoy following the most on Twitter inject humor into their Twittering that I don’t see on their blogs. There’s also something a little more personal about many of the people I follow on Twitter (even if they Tweet on a ‘professional’ topic – their voice is often more personal than on their blogs).

Example – the wonderful thing about Twitter is that it’s actually others who brand you and not just you who does all the work. Look at the example above and you see that 30 people (it’s now up to 40) answered my question and each time they did they publicly used my blog’s name and linked to my Twitter account. Those 30 or 40 people are collectively being followed by thousands of others and by responding to my question they ‘sneezed’ the ProBlogger virus out to them (incidentally I’ve had 15 new followers join up since posting that question just minutes ago).

3. Promote Content

The first thing that people usually ask me when I say that I’m on Twitter is ‘how much traffic does it drive back to your blogs?’ I’ve purposely held off on writing about Twitter as a means to drive traffic until this point in this post because I don’t see it as the main benefit of the tool. Having said that – it can potentially promote content and drive traffic.

I’ve been using a tool called TwitterFeed for the last four weeks (31 days to be exact) to take the headlines and URLs from my blog’s feeds and to publish them in my Twitter account. In that time I’ve seen just over 1350 visitors come from Twitter to Problogger after something like this appears in my Twitter feed each time I post:

twitter-promote.png

That is not a massive amount considering I have over 1000 followers at the moment and considering that it’s .38% of the total traffic that the site has had in that time – however it’s not insignificant because I suspect that Twitter users are a fairly influential bunch of people and could potentially be spreading my URLs wider than just on Twitter (on their blogs etc).

Here’s how my traffic has grown since starting to use Twitter more seriously a month ago.

twitter-traffic.png

One surprising thing that I found when I started publishing my stories on Twitter was that some Twitter readers told me that they now read ProBlogger exclusively through Twitter – to the point that they didn’t check the feed any more. At first I was a little concerned by this – but then i realized that it was a good thing because those readers had found a way that fitted more with their own rhythm to read my content.

Twitter had become an alternative subscription method for them. Plus it actually caused these readers to read the blog on the blog rather just in their feed reader – creating increase page views/unique visitor counts.

4. Extend Audience – Find NEW Readers

One challenge that bloggers who’ve been around for a while in their niche can face is that they reach a saturation point. They sometimes feel like everyone who will hear about them has already heard about them and they can see a plateau in their stats. This often happens 6-12 months into a blog.

My encouragement to this type of blogger is to think about where potential readers might be gathering that they’re yet to tap into. I’ve found that this has happened for me with Twitter.

I’ve already touched on how this happens above in the ‘branding’ section – however a number of Twitter users have told me that they’ve just discovered my blogs through my Tweets (and the Tweets of others). There hasn’t been a flood of new readers from this – but my Google analytics says that 27% of of the visitors who have come to ProBlogger from Twitter are ‘new’ to my blogs. For me that’s about 15-20 new readers per day through Twitter – over a year that could definitely add up and those 5000 – 7000 new readers could have a significant impact upon a community.

5. Networking

twitter-network.pngAnother obvious benefit of Twitter is the ability that it gives you to network on a different level with other bloggers, readers and ‘others’. I’ve lost count of the direct messages and group conversations that I’ve had with people that I’d never have ‘met’ any other way.

Already this has opened up some fascinating opportunities to work together on promoting each other’s content, sharing advice etc. It’s also opened up 3-4 opportunities for me to find new guest bloggers for my blogs.

One more thing on a networking front – I find it difficult to put this one into words, but there’s a certain camaraderie that develops when you read what someone’s written every hour or so throughout a day (and know that they’re doing the same with you). For me it’s something like that feeling that you get after spending a couple of days with someone at a conference – you know each other on a whole other level. Difficult to explain and I’m not sure I’ve quite put my finger on what this is (anyone able to say it better?).

6. Previews

Last week on a couple of occasions I released exclusive little previews to Twitter followers of information that I hadn’t yet posted on my blogs. I did this in two ways.

1. Once I posted news that I was yet to break on ProBlogger (I think it was about AdSense retiring their AdSense referral program). I did this because it was important news and I hadn’t yet had time to write up a post. I included in the Tweet that I’d post about it shortly – this created a little anticipation among followers (to the point where a few started direct messaging me asking when my post would go up).

2. The other time I shared a link to a post on ProBlogger that was yet to go live (ie I’d published it as an advance post at a time that was yet to happen – this created a page but no one would have known it was there). I did this as an experiment to see what would happen. The result was that when the post did go live on the blog on the front page it already had comments and a good discussion. I also found that three people had already linked to it. It also helped some readers to feel a little special to get a Twitter exclusive (in fact I’m publishing the link to this post on Twitter 3 hours before it actually goes live on the the blog).

There’s one more thing that I’d like to try in terms of combining this idea of ‘preview’ and the ‘research’ point mentioned above – and that’s to create a private post on my blog that I reveal only to Twitter followers and to then post a draft there of a post I’m working on to get feedback on before publishing it publicly. This would be an interesting exercise and explore the idea of a more communal writing of a post.

7.Speedlinking

twitter-speedlinking.png
One of the things that I’ve been doing lately instead of posting so many ‘Speedlinks’ here on ProBlogger is to share these links on Twitter. I’m doing this largely from Google Reader using a Firefox add-on created by Bob Lee. While Speedlinking is something that has worked reasonably well here on ProBlogger (in posts like this for example) I’m actually finding the medium of Twitter to be well suited to it also.

Note: – if you’re not into Twitter but still want to follow my speedlinks I’m posting alot of them in my Shared Items feed via Google Reader.

8. Story Gathering

A number of times this past week I’ve heard of breaking news in my niches via the Tweets of others. I would have heard of these stories via my news aggregator and the RSS feeds of others eventually – but due to the immediacy of Twitter I heard them just minutes after they broke.

This can be the difference between breaking a story to readers and being second or third at it.

9. Find Out What People REALLY Think

Another observation that I’ve made in the last couple of weeks while on Twitter is that people have a certain level of honesty and rawness on Twitter that they sometimes mask or hide on their blogs. I’m not sure why this is – but perhaps when confronted with saying something in 140 characters they have to strip away some of the disclaimers and politically correct language and just say what they mean.

The good thing about this is that it gives you a sense of what people are really thinking on a topic. This helps you to get to know them on a new level but also helps you keep your finger on the needs and feelings of your potential readers.

So they are some of the benefits that I’ve found of using Twitter. I’d be fascinated to hear how others have found it to be useful. Don’t forget to look out for tomorrow’s post with suggestions on how to improve your blogging with Twitter.

PS: I wrote this post over a number of days. Since starting it Maki at DoshDosh put together his 17 Ways You Can Use Twitter post which has some good suggestions too.

Update – Read my next post with tips on How to Use Twitter and also read some of my Twitter Follower’s tips on using Twitter.

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. Taoski says:

    Twitter never really “clicked” for me.

    It was a bit like shouting my mind in a room of 100,000 people all doing the same thing at the same time.

    My Tweets quickly get buried in the landslide..
    Might give it another go though!

  2. Alex says:

    Taoski,

    This is why I put the Twitter thing on my blog – if people like what you say, then they may listen out for you when you shout.

    Of course, Darren already has plenty of listeners, so his tweets are well followed.

    If and when you do become a noted twitterer, you could use the system as a way of announcing ‘blog scoops’ or other potentially interestng posts, but, big but, if you cry wolf too often, people won’t even bother listening out for your shouts.

    To me, Twitter looks a little like a sort of ‘press release for blogs’ system, or at least it could be used in that way. But I guess that, in the end, readers will decide whether Twitter ‘does it for them’ or they are happy with good old RSS.

    Whatever, I shall twddle with Twitter and see what it achieves.

  3. Twitter is very new to me. This post will help me get a general feel for it. I’ll check it out and see how it goes. You’ve done a great job of outlining the benefits. There is so much out there, it is good to have some basic summaries like you provide. Thanks.

  4. Noelle says:

    Twitter has become my favorite website!! Love it!!

  5. alanj878 says:

    hank you very much I never knew how to use twitter for blogging before Now it can be a very important social media site to show the world my blog http://livelymoney.blogspot.com.

  6. HDTV reviews says:

    Nice info there, I’ve been to twitter maybe once a year ago and didn’t find it to interesting, but now… :)

  7. Ross Dunn says:

    Hey Darren, awesome article. I am also finding Twitter very interesting. In fact, I posted an article discussing the interesting Tweets during the San Francisco storm http://tinyurl.com/26qzpm. Anyway, I am now following you and look forward to more top notch writing.
    Cheers, Ross

  8. Bob Angus says:

    Much like Taoski I felt like I was in a cacophony of noise, especially if all I was trying to do was promote content (#3). Same thing can be said for almost any social networking and bookmarking service.

    However, I as soon as I stopped trying to be Darren and started communicating 1-on-1 with my network of contacts, the usefulness of Twitter exploded. I could use it to connect and provide value to my business relationships… not just broadcasting my whimsical drivel.

    The added benefit of Twitter that I like is the mobility. I can get updates on my cell phone, not just when I am at my computer.

  9. I’ve just started using twitter and still trying to figure it all out. Thank you for this post, it inspired me to really try to play with Twitter more.

  10. I had signed up on Twitter but I have not used it so much… Now, when you published your thoughts about this tool, I feel the necessity of experimenting. Surely it will be more useful for bloggers when more and more common people sign up on Twitter, because nowadays I guess that most Twitter members are techies and geeks.

  11. Ruchir says:

    Well for you it was easy to make an influential twitter profile, due to the influence of your blogs. But I think those benefits will take much time to show for the average blogger. I’m still not going to join Twitter yet. I just follow people to get quick news but that’s it…

  12. mf says:

    Darren, don’t know how long you are using twitter but on the long run it will temper your blogging activity and therefore your direct income.

  13. Very good comments. I, too, am trying to become a better Twitterer … tweet … whatever! And I’m still experimenting with the ways to use it and make my comments valuable to others. Thanks for the good suggestions/insights.

  14. This post really explains things well. As usual Darren, you provide us with the “social proof” of whether something is worth trying. Now that I’ve read this, I plan on adding Twitter to my very short list of social media that I am committing to:)

  15. Great write up. These are exactly all the benefits I’ve seen from using Twitter since last year. I’d have to say that gaining access to relevant information quicker is the big benefit I get from Twitter. Whether I’m working on web strategy work or photography (what I’m most passionate about) I can access great information in seconds. The stream of content and updates is invaluable to my day to day work.
    I look forward to getting your Twitter updates
    http://twitter.com/jimgoldstein

  16. Beth Kanter says:

    Darren:

    Twitter has been helpful in the fundraising campaign for Cambodian Children that you helped me with by writing a post back in December.

    http://beth.typepad.com/beths_blog/2008/01/calling-on-the.html

    BTW, thanks to your generous help — we’re in the running for the big prize – with about 9 days more to go until the contest ends.

    Beth

  17. I have to say that I’m amazed by how many people you “follow” – and apparently you really do.. even more amazing as I assumed that you “followed” to be polite but in actuality use some filtering software to strip away 99% of it..

    I don’t know how you do it.. I follow about 15 people and can’t keep up with that sometimes.. you follow over 800? Amazing..

  18. Simple Mindz says:

    This was an awesome post. Thank you for sharing it!

  19. Bruce says:

    Thanks, Darren.

    Very thorough and informative, as usual.
    I’m onto checking out Twitter and Twitterfeed right away.

  20. Dr.Mani says:

    These days I read Problogger after seeing you tweet about your latest updates – and only those stories that interest me. Yes, Problogger is in my feed reader, but that gets viewed less frequently. Twitter is a part of my morning online routine.

    And yes, you can get guest bloggers for your blog on Twitter. Without seeing you on Twitter, I doubt if I’d have approached you to write “Lessons for Bloggers From The ‘Death of 2007′”

    As for how I use Twitter, I’ve often called it the ‘virtual coffee room’ – a place to relax, unwind, chew the fat, catch up with news and gossip, and explore/extend contacts and network. Guess I’m just afraid that if I convince myself it helps with ‘work’, I’ll spend even longer there than I already do!

    Nice post, thanks Darren. You really have made great use of Twitter in a short period!

    All success
    Dr.Mani

  21. Manish says:

    I started my twitter account about 2 months back but did not bother to use it as I could find any real benefit. But now I am prompted to check it out thoroughly and make use of this new medium.

    Thanks,
    Manish

  22. Any thoughts yet about jaiku?

    Personally, I am posting to both twitter and jaiku simultaneously with TwitKu (http://www.twitku.com/)

    I agree that twitter can, at the very least, be used to attract people to your blog. Towards that, I’ve been posting to my blog, and then immediately posting to twitter and Jaiku, about my blog post.

  23. mousewords says:

    Lots of great points! I just found Twitter 3 months ago–and I’m seeing the same process you mention. I’ve definitely seen an increase in traffic to my blog, plus I’m being tagged with bookmarking sites–whereas before I wasn’t.

    I also noticed the camaraderie you mentioned–for me, since I work from home, it gives me the sense of having an “office” dynamic–makes me realize that others are involved in their workday, too, sharing ideas and energy. It keeps me from feeling alone, and inspires me to plug away harder at what I do, to keep up with others. :-);-)

    One of the best benefits of Twitter, for me, has been discovering the voices of so many intelligent people. I’m literally learning something new every day. Like on this blog! :-);-)

  24. Dee Copeland says:

    So I’m digging Twitter. I thought it was strange and 1st, but it’s cool learning what people are reading, doing, going to, etc. It’s actually kind of addictive.

    Besides real estate blogging tricks, I’ve learned about cool albums and movies via Twitter. Not sure how useful it is, but I really get to know someone by the “tweets” or…whatever it’s called.

  25. Dee Copeland says:

    So I’m digging Twitter. I thought it was strange at 1st, but it’s cool learning what people are reading, doing, going to, etc. It’s actually kind of addictive.

    Besides real estate blogging tricks, I’ve learned about cool albums and movies via Twitter. Not sure how useful it is, but I really get to know someone by the “tweets” or…whatever it’s called.

  26. Bohemian says:

    I didn’t like twitter too!! But from now on i will give it a try!

  27. Rhett says:

    I picked twitter up many months ago and used it for 2 days, then lost interest. Might be worth a re-look. I’d be interested on you thoughts about tumblr.com Darren?

  28. Paul says:

    Thank-You for the post! Twitter will help me inprove an allready great sight. Thanks!

    http:www.ptlblog.com

  29. Neil Duckett says:

    Twitterfeed, the single most frustrating ‘create account’ procedure i hve endured. I have followed the process, i have an Open ID …. the pain of Twitterfeed has made me bin it for ever!!!

  30. Alex says:

    Not completely sure what author stated above, I tryed to find any useful thing about twitter as to increase my traffic, but found nothing I don’t know for whom they did such a social network, where I have to think what and how to do. It’s one of the poor social networks I discovered. IMHO

  31. Spuds says:

    Very good article. I love twitter.

  32. shannon says:

    Okay, so I was referred here, as I have read Naked Conversations and other latest publishings about how to market today. But I was specifically wondering if I was blogging right. So I am studying links like this. But at first previews, I’m so confussed already. I don’t even know what a twitter is :(. Anyways, if anyone has any comments about my blog, please send them. Another photographer criticized my last blog. But in my understanding of what a blog is, I’m one of the few photographers in my area that uses it correctly- to show people who I really am vs. what they want to market… anyways, I’ll keep trying to understand this site and others… And let me know if there is a better place for such a question. Thanks for any help you can give.

  33. [email protected] says:

    Twitter rocks

  34. Now, why did you have to go and convince me to get involved in yet ANOTHER technology bit?

  35. Nag says:

    As said , Twitter will be useful for every blogger and it is a must-have-arm for each successful blogger

    Get Most Out Of (GMOO)

  36. I didn’t know much about Twitter,and until now thought it had no benefit for me. Your post makes me realize I must get on board. Thanks.

  37. Emma says:

    Like quite a few others who’ve posted here, I’ve not really got into Twitter. Perhaps I ought!

    I could very much relate to Ben’s comment:
    “I always thought that Twitter was more of a mobile phone thing. Guess I’ll have to do a little more research on it.”

    I’d also thought that & as I use my mobile the bare minimum; it’s off most of the time, I couldn’t quite see the need to use Twitter. Maybe it’s time to reconsider.

  38. Wow. I never knew the power of twitter.

  39. josephgelb says:

    thankyou for the info it is really helpful

  40. Sheamus says:

    I’ve only recently signed up for Twitter and while I found Darren’s post useful, I still feel a bit ‘in limbo’ over the experience, not knowing quite how to use it effectively as of yet.

    It’ll come, it’ll come. :) Like most things, I think it’s definitely of more use if you’re established with a large group of followers! Otherwise, it can feel a bit like sending SMS messages out to random numbers.

  41. joe2 says:

    This was an awesome post. Thank you for sharing it!

  42. GP says:

    Hi Darren – Good stuff. I wanted to learn about Twitter and now I have 3 more things to check out – Sphinn, Adsense and StumbleUpon.

  43. dave allen says:

    i am using twitter quite a lot and i am getting lots of useful information — however is there anyway that i can tag tweets and move them to a blog? — a reversal of promoting your blog via twitter

  44. Great post Darren,

    Love seeing when You have just added a New Post at
    ProBlogger from Twitter. That’s another Champion Business
    Builders Content Treasure, 9 Benefits of Using Twitter
    according to Darren Rowse. Great stuff.

    You know the point You made about people being very
    able and sharing about the blessings of content is very unique I think coming from that 140 Characters per Tweet. Users are blessed to learn to say a Champions Plate in a few
    words. That is one additional sure blessing and hidden Benefit of Twitter. Have a Great Day Everyone.

  45. Keith says:

    Glad I finally found this. I have been struggling with my twitter content. I really wanted to use it more then telling people i was having my 3rd slice of pizza

  46. John says:

    thank you for the info it is really very helpful…

  47. Kevin says:

    Wow….I think the real question is this, “How do people have so much time to read through 30+ RSS Feeds let alone 100+. Seriously.

    I read this article to try to figure out the real benefit of “twittering” and unless you have a lot of friends who also use “Twitter”, what’s the point?

    It seems the real benefit of using it is if you have an online presence, and most of my friends do not. Do I really care what my friend Mike is eating for breakfast, or what Stacy is wearing to work, or that Jason just rolled a strike at the bowling alley?

    I think any efforts in trying to convince my “non blogging” friends will be futile.

  48. I use Twitter for fun, for “hearing” of new cool things that people post about, and intend to use it for Marketing. Along with a few other microblogs, like Plurk and Jaiku. For massive postings, to more than one microblog, I often use Ping.fm

  49. Oh, by the way, if you are interested in microblogging, come join us at the ‘microblogging’ Google Group http://groups.google.com/group/microblogging

  50. Lenin Nair says:

    Wow Darren,

    This post is such an inspiration to me that I also now started using twitter more professionally. Your first part of asking a question and getting so many answers and followers thereby is the most important aspect of twitter I believe. I will tweet this post through my twitter account . Let me remind you that I am already following you there

    Lenin