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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

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  2. kidkiller says:

    thanks Darren ! I’m trying Twitter now, see if there any improvement on my traffic ^^

  3. Aru says:

    Thanks for sharing the information on how to use twitter for increased benefits for blogging.

    http://www.simplewayoflife.net

  4. Bobby Rio says:

    Just discovered the wonderful world of twitter…

    This post further clarifed some other interesting uses for it. I agree its not going to bring thousands of new visitors to your sight… but it gets your name out there one twitter at a time..

    plus it can be pretty fun.

  5. Nils Davis says:

    I’m going to try a lot of the things you suggest in this post and the followup. I wish I had a good written sense of humor, since you mention “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.” I’ll try to be a bit lighter in both places – Twitter *and* the blog :-)

  6. JR Griggs says:

    I started using Twitter due to this post and I’m loving it so far. I also found a nice plugin for wordpress called mytwitter which will display your tweets as a widget.

  7. Great information to share! I have just started using Twitter for about a few weeks now and have found that I can link it up with my mybloglog.com account and my squidoo lens. I will have to go back over all this information that you listed here to truly reap the benefits of having a Twitter account…Thanks again!

  8. Irene Houston says:

    Thanks Darren , it’s a lot clearer to now how I can use Twitter in my online business. :o)

  9. php dersleri says:

    Darren – One additional point worth mentioning about Twitter is that since it’s heavily crawled by Google, your Twitter page can help with page rank.

  10. Darren Rowse says:

    php dersleri – last time I checked Twitter links were all nofollowed…. not sure it passes on any page rank

  11. mike donovin says:

    still not sure how to totally get this tool…and how i can get more traffic out of it…

  12. Thanks for the great post. I’ve started using Twitter a few weeks ago and have been very surprised with the results.

  13. ssovit says:

    Thanks Darren, I am very much inspired with your blog and your blogging tips updated always. I got into twitter when I read this post and I found it great which drive me more traffic with it. visit my blog and you ll be surprised to see how much I am crazy about your blog.

  14. Shawn L says:

    Darren,

    I had heard about twitter but no used it until I read an article online in CNN Money about Twitter as one of the tools one should learn.

    I am still a newbie to it but your article here has provided several opportunities for me. I will likely try at least five of your suggestions and see how it work for me. Thanks!

  15. Thanks for the Twitter motivation. It has been something of a confusing medium before reading this. I’ll give her a shot.

  16. Such an appropriate topic. One of your better post.

    I began using Tweetbeep just 4 weeks ago to identify and follow Twitters that were using certain key words. I am a newbie blogger, but this alone is serving to add 3 to 5 new followers per day.

    I have identified certain key words for niches that I am researching. Tremendous and quick market research tool.

    Kind Regards

    Glenn Seymour

  17. This is a truckload of information that will take me days to digest. It is mindboggling the amount of information that is out there and how serious a medium blogging has become. I am still very much in the infancy of my blogging career even though I write nine different blogs. I frankly don’t understand Twitter. I have an account, and I “tweet” (at least I think I am tweeting but who knows?) but do I get what the purpose is? Nah.

    About RSS. I don’t get that either. Someone told me to stay away from putting RSS on my blog since it potentially could result in my site being linked up with other sites that are unpalatable (such as those that cater to the “prurient interest.” But I notice that almost universally, pro bloggers advocate RSS? What gives?

    What I like about your blog is the meaningful comments and feeback you get. How do I encourage that on my blogs, especially on my main blog, Divorce Saloon? I mean, first I guess I need an audience but after that, what?

    By Marion TD Lewis, Blogger
    http://www.divorcesaloon.com

  18. Jennifer says:

    All your points are great and valid! I use twitter to drive traffic, not only to my blog, but to my clients and fellow followers sites. Social Media is all about engaging and if someone watchs my posts and I them … I always want to help them promote their “items”.

    Twitter also helps me get ideas … i write reviews of interesting and different products, etc. So, when I get stumped… I put out a tweet for an item/site/business to review. I love it! Thx for the post!

  19. I personally feel twitter is one of the best way which really helps you to promote, branding and help in business networking.

    Thanks for the valuable post.

    Archna Sajwan
    http://www.ecommind.com

  20. Umer Hayat says:

    hello Darren,
    First of all, I’m really impressed with you.
    As You, Yaro and Ewin Chia and some others are my ideal in this blogging field… I really want to be like you people.. and I’ll … that’s my MOTO. :)

    Well, as far as post is concern… it is nice like always… and now I’m going to use TWITTER on my first time.
    Hopefully It will work for me as well.. :)
    thanks

  21. Eskil says:

    Thank you for sharing your experiences with Twitter. I am really interested in getting started but fears that it may eat all my precious time.

  22. luis says:

    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/lant2005

    thank Daren

  23. Jag says:

    Great i will also love to pull traffic like this :). Thanks for the research post. Will keep wathcing this blog

  24. George says:

    Great tips on twitter, me personally still do not how to promote using it, but learning slowly

  25. I personally feel twitter is one of the best way which really helps you to promote, branding and help in business networking.

  26. krish says:

    wow…so many benefits…i only thought its like random talking for your friens…an kind of mobile integration…but wont readers be pissed if i start linking my blog each time?

    May be with restraint…..

  27. krish says:

    I was not too aware about this twitter thing until i found this piece. Nice inspiring one to get me addicted to it

    Oops I forgot to mention my teweetbox. Guys I Look forward to getting your updates here

    http://twitter.com/krishbhatt

  28. marc says:

    Glad you found a use for twitter, but I still don’t get what all the commotion is about. We’ve become an A.D.D. society where we need our posts to be smaller so someone invented blogging with a 140 character limit, no thanks.

  29. Alvin says:

    I still cannot get enough follower, hope this will help! Cheers!

  30. Gabriel says:

    Twitter is getting massive right now. I wonder how its stock is rising because of posts like this? Oh boy, them twitter guys are sure gonna make a lotta of money.

  31. Mehmet says:

    Thank you for this post, it inspired me to really try to play with Twitter more.

  32. Dave says:

    This is a great article and I couldn’t agree with you more on the benefits of Twitter. However, I don’t think marketing via Twitter is being maximized to its fullest potential. What do you think? Check out my blog at http://blog.biznetis.net/
    -Dave

  33. Medyum says:

    hello Darren,
    First of all, I’m really impressed with you.
    As You, Yaro and Ewin Chia and some others are my ideal in this blogging field… I really want to be like you people.. and I’ll … that’s my MOTO. :)

    Well, as far as post is concern… it is nice like always… and now I’m going to use TWITTER on my first time.
    Hopefully It will work for me as well.. :)
    thanks

  34. wow…so many benefits…i only thought its like random talking for your friens…an kind of mobile integration…but wont readers be pissed if i start linking my blog each time?

    May be with restraint…..

  35. Thank you for this post, it inspired me to really try to play with Twitter more.

  36. medyum says:

    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!

  37. medyum says:

    This is a truckload of information that will take me days to digest. It is mindboggling the amount of information that is out there and how serious a medium blogging has become. I am still very much in the infancy of my blogging career even though I write nine different blogs. I frankly don’t understand Twitter. I have an account, and I “tweet” (at least I think I am tweeting but who knows?) but do I get what the purpose is? Nah.

  38. Web Designer says:

    Twitter is great. I got into Twitter in mid last year. At first things were slow as I didn’t know what To do with it. However as time has progressed and my follower list grown, I have begun to see the potential. Being on Twitter is simply not enough though. Its what we do with it. Surely its a great tool. However due to recent popularity many users have jumped on to the band wagon without having any strategy. It is important to devise a strategy from the start. This was you will be able to maximise what you can achieve with it.

  39. This is a truckload of information that will take me days to digest. It is mindboggling the amount of information that is out there and how serious a medium blogging has become. I am still very much in the infancy of my blogging career even though I write nine different blogs. I frankly don’t understand Twitter. I have an account, and I “tweet” (at least I think I am tweeting but who knows?) but do I get what the purpose is? Nah.

  40. This is a truckload of information that will take me days to digest. It is mindboggling the amount of information that is out there and how serious a medium blogging has become

  41. This is a truckload of information that will take me days to digest. It is mindboggling the amount of information that is out there and how serious a medium blogging has become. I am still very much in the infancy of my blogging career even though I write nine different blogs. I frankly don’t understand Twitter. I have an account, and I “tweet” (at least I think I am tweeting but who knows?) but do I get what the purpose is? Nah.

  42. This is a truckload of information that will take me days to digest. It is mindboggling the amount of information that is out there and how serious a medium blogging has become. I am still very much in the infancy of my blogging career even though I write nine different blogs. I frankly don’t understand Twitter. I have an account, and I “tweet” (at least I think I am tweeting but who knows?) but do I get what the purpose is? Nah.

  43. mark says:

    i’m still not sure about twitter. How do people find your twitter and sign up? Let’s say I have a blog and want to use twitter to promote it. Do random people just find my tweets and decide to go check out my blog, or do only people who know me sign up like facebook?