Linda Aksomitis kayaking

Linda Aksomitis urban kayaking on the St. Mary River in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Photo by David Aksomitis.

Many of us–writers, bloggers, librarians and teachers–have a love-hate relationship with Twitter. We’d love to know what it’s supposed to do, but hate to invest a ton of time to find out it really doesn’t accomplish much of anything.

To summarize, these are the most common things I’ve heard:

  • It’s hard to figure out how to use Twitter
  • Twitter takes too much time
  • It’s boring to read hundreds or thousands of tweets that are meaningless little vignettes on somebody’s day-to-day life (let’s face it, nobody really cares that I forgot to check the barbeque because I was tweeting and burnt tonight’s should-a-been-awesome ribs)
  • Tweeting doesn’t seem to accomplish anything

In my last blog post, I went through my goal of finding 5000 people interested in the same things I am as followers. I also talked about time management to make it happen.

However, the task of building that list of followers can be bumpy. Just like face-to-face people you meet at the gym or the office, we don’t know until we hang out with them for awhile whether or not we enjoy their company and want to listen to what they have to say.

On the bright side, if you find you’ve ended up following somebody whose tweets you’d like to turn off, you can. Just unfollow them. Likely you’ll be weeded from their list as well when they realize you’ve disappeared.

So that brings us to the big question– now that you’ve got like-minded followers, how do you accomplish something on Twitter? My goals, you may remember from my first post, are to build my name recognition and branding.

Since I’m a big believer in the old adage to show, not tell, I figure the best way to accomplish this is to lead my followers to some some of my writing, insightful blog posts, and awesome information (gotta think positive, right?) that I’ve got online.

The thing is that we all like to get to know one another out here, so popular tweeters mix up the types of things they post. I quickly remove somebody who keeps sending me ads for that single e-book they’ve published, along with anybody who spits out frequent profanities about people in their face-to-face world.

If you’ve never “traveled” with me, you may not have discovered my travel blog at guide2travel.ca where I share my travel adventures from around the world. My upcoming series of posts over there will take you chasing the best fall foiliage for 2013 from Saskatchewan to South Carolina, with a few dozen states in between.

Obviously, I tweet the URL to each blog post as I publish it. Less obviously, I belong to a group of tweeters on a service called Triberr, who tweet each others’ posts. The group I’ve joined are a carefree bunch of travel writers from “have sippy cup, will travel” to “banana skin flip-flops (who owns the tribe I’m active in).”

How does it work? Well, I installed a Triberr WordPress plugin that sends each new post of mine off to the group and feeds everyone else’s posts back to a list on my WordPress dashboard. I review the list and approve (or remove) each item for distribution on my Twitter feed (I have my account set to tweet one neat new destination every hour). I don’t approve anything I don’t think would be of interest to my followers.

So instead of tweeting my neat new destination out to my 5000 (or however many follwers I have), my post is tweeted out to a hundred thousand or more people who are connected to these travel writers. That’s a lot of people seeing my name and being exposed to my brand!

Of course, if the title of my post has done a good job of creating excitement then I get a surge of visitors to the tweeted page, plus a number of people “discovering” my travel site and reading more. Many also sign up to receive my RSS feed or join my site as subscribers.

Since Twitter is a microblog, or a short form of blogging, it’s a great way to get readers interested in your other content.

And that’s just the start! My next blog post on how to make the most of Twitter will also be added under the tag, Twitter, when it comes out. Join me then.

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