When I first saw Twitter, I thought, “So what?” I could see the use if I were traveling, or if a friend needed to send roving updates I could pick up via cell, but every day?
I started an account for both myself and my alter ego, Kitty Malloy, but left it virtually untouched for about a month. Then, while working on a client blog, I stumbled upon an innovative use of Twitter’s instant communications site by Tobacco Free Florida. To help smokers kick the habit, this techno-savvy nonprofit hooked up with Twitter to create the Quitter network. Here, smokers could sign on and use Twitter technology to communicate with other Florida smokers for virtual support while quitting.
That one Web site sent my mind racing. I started using Twitter daily to watch how others used it, especially news and marketing departments. I realized just how effective Twitter could be for cross-pollinating messages from Web sites, blogs and streaming video sites into one simple format.
Twitter allows users 140 characters to send followers a message. It can be anything from, “I’m home sick—BLAH!” to “My latest book launched today.” One day, I followed the uStream feed. UStream constantly updated Twitter followers with a stream of Michelle Williams’ Destiny’s Child. The posts said she was live, she was singing and viewers instantly knew when Williams said she supported Senator Barack Obama for president. The online shoe store Zappos uses Twitter to respond to customer queries. FoxNews and CNN inundate Twitter followers with short blurbs of breaking news, along with TinyURL site links.
And now, with sites like Twitter Feed, your Tweets will automatically update, thanks to RSS technology – and you won’t have to do a thing.
Twitter isn’t the only game in town. You can grab a Friend Feed, Hello TXT or other account and microblog away. These are great because you can integrate all of your social network blogging into one feed, and post it on your social networks and Web sites.
These are great examples of how you can use one venue to share your online presence with your fans. and increase your sites’ traffic. As a self-promoting author, it is vital to cross-pollinate yourself on the Internet using a Web site, blogs, podcasts, videocasts, streaming video, guest spots and more. You can use Twitter to direct people to your various sites and keep them posted about upcoming book signings, contests, speaking engagements and conferences where you will be networking.
When attending an event, encourage your Twitter followers (who are similar to MySpace friends) to get device updates. This way, each time you update your travel progress, they can get a text message via Twitter. If you don’t have PC access, you can send tweets via text message. If you are trapped on a runway on the way to a conference, you can text a tweet telling fans and friends that you are running late. It also is beneficial for touching base with fans and other writers when attending a large conference. You can send a text message tweet to indicate where you are, so they can meet you for lunch or at a certain room for autographs or business talk. Twitter is also an excellent tool to promote book or gift basket giveaways and to direct followers to sponsor sites. You can also direct followers to the sites of fellow writers.
Twitter also offers the code to put your updates on your blog, MySpace, Facebook or Web site. Grab that code—or have your Web designer do it—and paste it there. Encourage your fans to sign on. Also search Twitter for new friends to spread your marketing message. I type in various hobbies and work-related terms to find new followers, including write, edit, market, PR, painting and read.
Twitter is a simple, free, fantastic online venue to promote all of your Web sites in a one-stop shop. If you are not already tweeting, set up an account at www.twitter.com. Be sure it reflects your name or something about you so people can find you easily. Then, start posting. My tweets are available at twitter.com/angelawilson and twitter.com/kittymalloy, my fiction alter ego. Be sure to use your cover art creatively on your Twitter page – it is GREAT free advertising!
Those who use the Firefox browser can download add-ons like TwitterFox to make it easier to post updates and follow your friends. TwitterFox is a much better option than TwitterBar, which is sometimes fickle and not as user friendly. If you are sending a long link, use the TinyURL button to create a more manageable link. The site also allows you to create an easy-to-use button for your toolbar.
Have a marketing question you want answered? Email Angela at email@example.com,and your question may be featured in a future column.
Copyright 2008 Angela Wilson0