“Why do you use Twitter? How does Twitter Benefit You?”
I’ve been asked these questions so many times since starting TwiTip that I thought I’d write a post answering it. I hope that it’s helpful for those of you just starting out with Twitter (or considering getting involved).
Twitter has changed the way that I use the web and connect with others online in many ways. Those of you who’ve traveled with me on my Twitter journey since the beginning know that I started out very skeptical of the medium.
It always seemed like a waste of time – however once I started using it I immediately began to see its potential and some tangible benefits to me. Let me try to break some of them down:
1. Research Tool
One of the things that I value very highly about Twitter is the way that it allows me to tap into an amazing community of people from around the world to find out what they are thinking, feeling and experiencing in different ways.
I’ve often said that Twitter makes me smarter because among those in my network are 18,000 people who collectively know and have experienced a lot of stuff.
I’ve always known that together a group is smarter and more powerful than any single member from within that group – but I’ve never really been able to tap into that power…. that was until I started using Twitter.
I use this every day as I write posts for my blogs (and ask readers for their ideas and experiences to help deepen what I write), as I tackle issues and problems that I face (there’s always someone ‘out there’ who has been through something similar and will quite often have a solution), as I face questions and as I develop my business.
Being able to tap into the Twitter community is incredibly illuminating. In fact these days Twitter is starting to replace Google for me. If I want to know something I’ll quite often ask my followers before I ask Google.
Also what I consider to be research is the ability for me to use a tool like TwitScoop at any point in time to see what is trending up in the Twitterverse at any point in time. In a sense Twitter becomes a news service with this and you’ll quickly find if there is a breaking story somewhere in the world by watching it.
I once wrote a post on ProBlogger about how a personal online brand is made up of the many ’strands’ of ‘presence’ that you have. You might have a blog or website – but when you’re also present on other social networking sites, forums, social messaging sites (etc) you reinforce that brand.
I’ve definitely found this to be true for Twitter.
Here are some of the comments that I’ve gotten from people in the past:
- ‘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.’
Twitter is a place that people are searching for connection and information. For me as a blogger who is interested in giving people information and drawing people together into community it is a logical place for me to be present because it reinforces my brand.
For me it’s like having a billboard on a busy virtual intersection.
3. Collaboration and Networking
I’ve lost count of the many opportunities that I’ve had to interact with amazingly talented, smart and insightful people on Twitter.
Some of these interactions have led to new ideas, others have led to temporary collaborations while still others have led to ongoing partnerships over time. The collaborations that have come out of Twitter for me have been both big and small – but collectively they’ve been incredibly significant.
In fact the opportunities have been almost overwhelming. There are days when I Tweet that I’m looking for someone to work with on an idea when the response is simply too much to handle.
Not only does Twitter open up new relationships – it’s a great place to cement and deepen existing ones. For example after a trip to Los Vegas for Blog World Expo earlier in the year I was amazed to find how many of those that I met were on Twitter when I returned home. In the months that have followed quite a few of those that I met in person at BWE have become regular Twitter buddies to this day.
4. It’s my Water Cooler
I’m a solo entrepreneur, working out of the front room in my house in suburban Melbourne Australia. Most of my contemporaries, readers and business partners live in other parts of the world (many in North America) – so at times it is easy to feel quite disconnected, isolated and even lonely.
Having previously worked in workplaces with teams of people – since starting to work from home I have always missed the banter, collaborative opportunities and companionship of having people around me.
Twitter in many ways has fulfilled some of these needs. There’s always someone around to bounce ideas around with, have a joke with or just to talk with about what you did over the weekend. While it doesn’t’ quite match up to real life workmates – it certainly has helped (and at times is even better….. because you can’t switch off work mates when you need to get work done!).
5. Direct Traffic
As a blogger I’m interested in building traffic to my web properties. Twitter has been an increasing source of this traffic over the past year or so. While it isn’t my primary reason for being on Twitter it certainly is nice to be able to post a link to a post that I’ve written or an online project that I’m launching and to see people coming directly from Twitter to that page.
What is even more special is seeing others promote my links on Twitter on my behalf either by ‘Retweeting’ my tweets with the links or simply by finding something I’ve written on their own and promoting it to their followers.
It is difficult to know exactly how much traffic Twitter has driven to my blogs (particularly difficult as so many people don’t actually follow Twitter on Twitter.com but use desktop clients that don’t come up with a referral metric) but as the picture to the right shows – last month Twitter.com alone directed over 8500 visitors to my blog at ProBlogger – I’d estimate at least that much again came from other Twitter clients.
What Would You Add?
The above 5 reasons that I use Twitter will not appeal to everyone. What I love about Twitter is that the more people I talk to the more creative and wonderful (and sometimes wacky) ways that I discover people are using the medium.
How does Twitter benefit you? I’d love to hear your own list of ways that you benefit from Twitter in comments below (or feel free to write a blog post about it and leave a link to it in comments below).