When I first signed on to Twitter I thought, “That’s it? 140 Characters? What’s the point?” In my mind the only thing Twitter and Tumblr, and even Facebook, were good for was posting a link, and we all know how well that works if you don’t follow it up with some personal interaction. To me, microblogging was simply a waste of time. But all that changed when I spent a weekend on Twitter. Let me share with you how microblogging can really help.
A couple of years ago I had a weekend with nothing to do. The weather was crappy, my friends were all out of town and my work was all caught up. I had just read a blog post about the benefits of Twitter so I decided to challenge myself and see just what all the fuss was really about.
I set up an account on Saturday morning . By Sunday night I had 400 followers and I’d learned a few valuable lessons.
Microblogging lets you blog off-topic: Like most people I’m interested in a lot of things, not just the things I blog about. If I set up a blog for everything I’m interested in I’d never get done blogging. Still, though, sometimes you want to share something that’s just not appropriate for your blog. That’s a good time to move over to Twitter and strike up a conversation. It’s a nice creative outlet and, at the same time, you’re letting a little bit of “you” show through which forges a stronger connection with your followers.
Microblogging teaches you to cut the fluff: Spend a weekend communicating in 140 characters or less and you find out just how many words you waste on your blog. On some of the blogs I follow the bloggers just keep making their posts longer and longer every week. It’s like they’re competing to see who can use the most words.
It’s not necessary. In fact, most readers don’t want all that information in one blog post. They want one answer to one question. If they want to know more, they’ll search your blog to find out more. If you’re a good blogger, you’ll have links to other relevant content to help them out. But for goodness sake, every post doesn’t have to be a novel.
Microblogging keeps you in tune with your audience: If you’re just working with your head down all day long you tend to lose touch with what your audience is really looking for. You’re providing valuable content, but it’s the content you want to provide. You’re not taking your readers’ wants and needs into consideration.
Remember back when you were a kid and your mother said, “I don’t care what you want for dinner. I made meatloaf and you’ll eat it or go hungry!” That’s exactly how you’re treating your blog followers.
You have a general idea of which direction to go but what are they concerned about right now? Microblogging allows you to see what’s happening right this minute so you can strike while the iron’s hot. Content that gets the most shares and goes viral is content that addresses hot-button issues, the things people are talking about right now.