Twitter: Not as bad as first thoughtMikey 7 comments
Despite a lot of the recent negative publicity surrounding the alleged impending death of certain social networking platforms, I think it's time somebody focused on the positives.
But before that, allow me to recant an article I penned a few months ago where I asked the question "Is there a use for twitter"? Yes I'm back flipping, just a little though. Here's why.
I think Twitter has been marketed wrong, at least by the blogosphere in general. If you believe everything you've heard about Twitter you would be forgiven for thinking it's a rather useless concept. One of it's major problems, or I should really say major annoyances is the high percentage of people who login, tell us what they had for lunch, and regurgitate several other totally pointless facts about their day.
Let me set the record straight: There is nothing I care less about in the entire world than what you, or even my best friends and family, had for breakfast. Oh wait, there is something I do care less about - having to read about what they had for breakfast.
I think this is where Twitter cops a lot of bad flack, and rightfully so. This is probably in part due to the useless web front end the platform provides, which leads me now to tell you about the good parts.
You're no doubt aware that there are a stack of 3rd party Twitter clients available, for the desktop and mobile alike. One I've been having success with is an Adobe Air application called Tweekdeck.
With Tweekdeck, twitter actually becomes useful. Using the built in search function I can search for topics that interest me. The searches I always have activated are "web standards', "css" and "typography", all topics I care deeply about and that relate to what I do for a living. So now I'm seeing tweets from people discussing these topics and sharing links to relevant sites. Looking at someone's profile, I can see a history of their tweets and if I see a pattern of them staying on the topics I like, I will follow them which, because I tweet on the exact same subjects (and other design subjects), usually always results in a follow back to me.
So here I am a few weeks later and I have 116 followers (growing by a few every day), none of whom care to tell me about their bus ride or any other insignificant story. They only talk about the stuff I'm interested in, and vice versa.
Now on occasion as you may or may not know I post original articles on my design blog
Anyway, just to give you an example of how that translates into web site visits, within 60 seconds of tweeting one of my own articles (which is only once or twice a week) I will have a few hundred unique site visitors. Not to bad considering how new I am to this and the young age of my blog.
The important thing to remember though is to not get a reputation as someone only interested in pimping themselves. Anyone following you will soon notice and un-follow you in a heartbeat. There are many tweeters doing nothing but promoting themselves, and they are getting fewer followers.
I tweet lots of relevant articles that I find on other sites, and even offer assistance to designers who tweet that they need help solving a CSS or other design issue. It usually only takes a minute to look at their code and spot a problem. Also encouraging and thanking others goes a long way. I'll occasionally come across some poor soul who is having a hard time wrapping his or her head around CSS. A simple "hang in there, you'll get it soon." usually results in a "thanks" and a follow. If Twitter had a reputation count, I reckon I would be up there.
So there's my advice for what it's worth. Find people with similar interests and say hi. Follow them and they will usually always follow you.
Clearly I focus on design in the Twitterverse, but this method will work in any industry. At the end of the day you only get what you put in.
Aside from the extra traffic I'm getting to That Web Guy Blog, I'm getting a genuine sense of satisfaction out of helping up-and-coming designers learn the ways of web standards.