5 Ways I Benefit from Twitter

“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

personal search engline.png

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.

2. Branding

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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

network.png

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

twitter-water-cooler.jpgI’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

Picture 6.jpgAs 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).

Comments

  • December 4, 2008
    ggw_bach
    @ggwbach

    6. Discovery Tool

    overhearing people’s twitters can put the ‘random’ back into your life. So much of what we do online is targeted and directed, often we lose out on ‘chance discoveries’ or ’serendipities’.

    you can learn some crazy stuff on twitter.

  • December 4, 2008

    Twitter (for me at least) is a networking tool…and a chance for me to wax philosophy with my fellow tweeples. I’ve met TONS of interesting people and the more I use the service the more useful it becomes. Twitter is one of the best marketing tools I have ever come across. You can brand, interact with customers, and promote yourself all in the same 140 characters. It’s pretty incredible. Thanks Darren :)

  • December 4, 2008

    Here is a post focusing on how a medical student can benefit from using Twitter:

    http://scienceroll.com/2008/11/01/10-reasons-why-i-use-twitter/

  • December 4, 2008

    I use it for all of those things. I’ve had a personal Twitter account for a couple of years (@shurleyhall) and I’ve used that to keep in touch with my freelancing pals. I’ve also started doing some corporate blogging, and have set up an account for the company. At the moment, that’s more of a way to build connections in the travel industry; it hasn’t got to water cooler status yet.

  • December 4, 2008

    Those referral stats are staggering. Undoubtedly, twitter is on its way to be the best social media tool for its effectiveness. Very informative article.

  • December 4, 2008

    Tool to meet new “e-friends” and discover new and interesting blogs. (I like reading blogs).

  • December 4, 2008

    I’ve seen others use Twitter to promote products although I don’t know the results I think it is a possible marketing channel just like email marketing. The difference is, no one is annoyed with multiple contacts a day in Twitter, as long as it is not flooding their screen.

    So I think it is possible to accomplish what marketers want to do with email faster with Twitter because one can send content, survey, send personal messages and promote, all in one day!

  • December 4, 2008

    Twitter has allowed me to ‘connect’ to people I was around on a somewhat regular bases (once or twice a week). I would see these folks, say hi, how are you, and walk on. Know when I see them I can ask specific questions about their life and have meaningful conversations.

    I have to agree that there is definitely power in numbers and had to laugh when you referred to Google, as lately I have seen quite a few Tweets asking questions and looking for answers.

  • December 4, 2008

    Micro-blogging for personal development in 140 or less it’s quite a challenge and I learned a lot from this. Meeting new people, being informed and driving traffic to my blog are next in my list, but I feel I just started to scratch the surface here, the potential I feel it’s huge.

    Thanks for the post.

  • December 4, 2008

    Well though i am just a newbie (2-3months old) into twitter in no time i could recognize that twitter is excellent medium to stay updated with what is happening around the world. Professional networking, Current Technology Updates, Interaction with new people, job offerings, Social Networking, etc.. these are some of the niche areas right now I’m associated on twitter. I’m yet to explore twitter to the fullest !!
    On the whole Twitter is Excellent !!!

  • December 4, 2008

    Great article! I really enjoy all your posts, and since joining Twitter, I’ve found them to be very helpful and insightful. I use Twitter mainly for networking and just getting a chance to talk to a lot of different people. I also use it to promote my web store a bit, but I try not to make that my main focus. I’m hoping as I develop more followers that it might even become a customer service tool for me. Overall, I’m addicted!

  • December 4, 2008

    It has no doubt changed the way I promote my blog but also the way I get info. Don’t have enough followers yet to get a good response out of questions but I get a lot from reading others tweets.

  • December 4, 2008

    I would add friendships and opportunities that I had not had before. I opened a Twitter account a while back and did not see the benefit until I just started chatting. What a great group of folks.

  • December 4, 2008

    I personally stayed away from Twitter for a while because at first it was only about people just talking about what they were doing at the exact minute.

    I am now on twitter and I tweet about things that I and my followers are interested in (for instance this article will be a tweet this morning) I do maintain 2 twitter accounts one for the website I help run and one for my personal use. I think just like at work people should separate they work from their play online as well.

    Thanks,
    Jay
    Follow Me On Twitter: http://twitter.com/jayphilips
    Follow All Realms on Twitter: http://twitter.com/allrealms

  • December 4, 2008

    I’ve seen Twitter launch people into other social media, like Stumble Upon and Digg. I’ve seen people ask for a stumble, or say they are doing social media that day and would anyone like a boost?

    I also use my twitter ID to update my Facebook, so it stays active and I can get feedback from my friends that aren’t on Twitter.

    A lot of my traffic comes from my post getting put onto Twitter or retweeted.

    It’s a great place to get advice or fix tech issues straight away, or get feedback on a new venture, site, or post. And that is only what I can think of off the top if my head

  • December 4, 2008

    i love “i use Twitter as my water cooler”….that’s exactly how i use it. i dont have a lot of news or blog posts to tweet about, so i just chat with people or reply to their posts. it keeps me sane since i work from home alone.

  • December 4, 2008

    Yet another great post. I discovered you on Twitter and now read your blog and love taking your polls. Love Twitter for the speed and access to near-real time info.

    I follow social media experts to learn more about how these technologies are transforming life and biz — also to find out how much coffee they drink! I follow other writers and creative folk because they/we are generally hilarious. I’m cultivating a virtual girl gang. Last but not least, I follow @HolyGod for great good laughs.

  • December 4, 2008

    I would have to say the networking/conversation aspect of Twitter is what I have found most useful to date. I have been a lot more engaged in conversations with it than I ever have been commenting on posts.

  • December 4, 2008

    I definitely agree with the water cooler benefit. Working at home can be very isolating; I’ve been doing it for nine years now and wish I would have had Twitter years ago. Of course, I might not have gotten as much work done in that period of time, but I’d have had a lot of people to confess that to. Confession is good for the soul. (Back to work now.)

  • December 4, 2008

    Hey Darren,

    This is the first post I’ve read of yours and it definitely struck a chord. I recently decided to take the plunge and start my own blog mainly due to the encouragement and inspiration of other bloggers I have met on twitter. I even wrote my first ever post on how twitter had influenced my thinking (I always seem to think in 140 characters or less these days!).

    For me twitter is like a constantly evolving conscience that is ready to help develop ideas, support and promote good ones as well as reject (with constructive criticism) the bad ones). As you say, it almost replaces Google because it has personality, emotion, objectivity and subjectivity combined, plus thousands of great ideas thrown in.

    The only downside to twitter for me is it’s infuriating ability to totally sidetrack me and take me away from what I’m supposed to be doing but as this generally ends up in giving me a great new piece of insight or the inspiration for a bllog post I guess it’s not the worst side-affect :-)

  • December 4, 2008

    In my case it have bing direct traffic, more that other source and i think one of the problems its that i did work hard on other ways top drive traffic to my web.

    good post.

  • December 4, 2008

    I get a lot of ideas for my blog posts. Plus I use it as a news site. All I do is ask and I get responses. When you are passionate about a topic you love to share information!

  • December 4, 2008

    It keeps me from cleaning my house. lol

  • December 4, 2008

    I too resisted Twitter for a long time. I’ve been on since about May and it is currently my favorite way to network and build my business.

    Because of my direct participation and interaction on Twitter, I’ve been hired by clients, I’ve had people join my classes, and I’ve made great collaboration partners.

    I love the live interaction and the ability to quickly build great relationships. I like your analogy of the water cooler – I agree… I always tell people it’s like a big party that’s always going on and you can step in and out and mingle as you want.

    I agree with Stuart – the more I use it, the more useful it becomes.

  • December 4, 2008

    Very good information. Twitter has become more than just a fad, so many use it as the networking tool that it truly is.

  • December 4, 2008

    I have moved away from my RSS feed and now use Twitter to keep up to date on the latest blog posts from those I have interest in. I do however find it amazing that there a lot of blogs still not pushing their posts to Twitter.

  • December 4, 2008

    Off topic, Darren, how did you create the networking graphic? Some tool?

  • December 4, 2008

    Resisted the pull for a long time, always thought of Twitter as a micro-formatted facebook – but very glad to have taken the plunge. Met some great tweeple along the way and have experienced a similar exponential traffic drive.
    Socially and professionally I have found Twiiter to be an amazing resource

  • December 4, 2008

    This is great information. I’m sharing this article in my blog at http://ff-penang.com/iskandarX/benefits-twitterbenefits-twitter/. Thanks.

  • December 4, 2008

    Hail to the Thief’s

    Open Source Developers and users, Break the chains of web 2.0 share cropping. Understand that Twitter is a closed source application.

    Twitter the friendly little bird wants to become a closed source monopoly. Twitter wants to lock you and your content into their closed silo and they want to generate millions in revenue off of your content, and for this they will give nothing back to you or your community .

    With an Open Source solution you at least have a copy of the application that you have given value. With Open Source you have a choice. If you want to do things differently you are “Free” to take the software and do so. This kind of Freedom also keeps any ideas of vendor/data/content lock in out of the picture.

    At adelph.us we believe in members freedom to control their accounts, and their content. We also believe that any revenue model should always put the members in the equation first. We believe in the Open Source community and ideals. We know we are not the smartest guys in the room and trust the our community of members and developers.

    Break the chains of the old web 2.0 model. Do not give your content or your software development work to closed source old world companies they only seek to profit from you

  • December 5, 2008

    Darren,

    Twitter is one of my top referral sources as well, just after stumbleupon.

    John

    P.S. Who’s that girl at the water cooler? ;-)

  • December 5, 2008

    Hey Darren,

    I’ve been following you now for a year via Problogger and now here and am learning so much!
    Now putting it all to good use, now that’s a different matter…. ;)
    But I’m getting better.

    The Water Cooler observation is such a wonderful way to look at Twitter.
    I am working alone, independent at my work, at home, and although I like it very much, sometimes I miss having someone to chat with.
    Looking at Twitter as a place to meet and have a few words has made me think it’s not such a bad thing to have.

    Thanks!

    Yael

  • December 5, 2008

    Yes Darren this are the benefits of Twitter. As I always think can Twitter be a personal place and I always thought it cant.

    It can be the place for creating networks because I don’t think any one would be interested in reading what I am doing right now I am going to sleep or I am going to do this or this.

    People are interested in the value they get from a program and Twitter provides them that value in many ways.

  • December 7, 2008

    I love Twitter also.
    Love life,Love Twitter.

  • December 8, 2008

    I recently did a post about how twitter is beneficial to me, based on this article.

    I feel like the most beneficial thing about Twitter for me right now is the brand recognition and the new contact potential. I’ve had the chance to speak on the phone with a few people lately that I met via Twitter. Even if only one of these new contacts pays off, my time will have been invested properly and then I can do similar things again and again!

  • December 8, 2008

    Using twitter as a research tool is Great! But, not everyone has enough followers for it to work like that.

    It is only by chance that out of yours and my thousands of followers that a few people know the answer.

    That is why I am building a website called Monkey Answers that is like twitter, but allows you to target your questions to specific groups, categories, and keywords.

  • December 9, 2008

    Darren,

    You are a blessing. Thank you! Thank you! Branding.

  • December 9, 2008

    Great post. Thank you.

    I started with Twitter, tentatively, in December of 2007. Did not understand it, did not feel comfortable with it, did not spend any time on it and had next to no followers. A year later, I gain many new followers everyday and am close to getting to Twittergrader’s 100% (I know, I know, but we live in a credential-hungry world and I like to see that little HubSpot icon waving his foolish arms around as he calculates).

    For the past year Twitter has been like going back to school and I have learned more than I can tell in this short space. I have met new people, been exposed to new ideas, laughed out loud over and over again, been among the first to know about news, been appalled at what I read and enriched by it. I have transitioned from an enthusiast to an evangelist and see a Twitter use for almost every industry and market. I have been hired because of Twitter and have learned about new prospects via Twitter.

    So there. I love it. Not afraid to say and excited about sharing what I’ve learned!

  • January 21, 2009

    cool stuff in this article, man. thanks.

  • February 5, 2009

    Following your suggestion, I published my own 5 Ways to Benefit From Twitter.

    As a new blogger, I think the best opportunity Twitter offers is the chance to talk to industry leaders like Darren.

  • February 17, 2009

    I signed up a while ago but never really got into it. Now I’ve found several bloggers tweeting about topics that interest me and it is just such an easy way to keep up to date.

  • March 11, 2009
    Deirdre
    @bunnypoo4

    Discovered this awhile back and didn’t understand its purposed at first, until an” ironic thing” happened to where I devled deeper into this.. and found that It would benefit communications with my husband in the United STates Navy. He will be leaving shortly, overseas. Access to a phone is is okay if you are in the “State side”. However, overseas this can be “overwhelming” in charges. I frequently travel thoughout , and this is the “perfect” tool of being in contact with him and he the family. I am still having difficulty trying to figure all of this out.. and “hopefully” someone out there can assist in helping me.. before he leaves.. Its a wonderful tool, of communication..
    Deirdre

  • April 20, 2009

    I wrote back in January Why I Use Twitter. Back then I suspected there was something important about Twitter, even though I could not put my finger exactly on it. But yesterday it hit me when I was pondering, So, Will Oprah’s Audience Affect Twitter?.

  • June 3, 2009

    I started using Twitter last year. With time my network has grown and I can see the potential it offers for my business. Instead of simply using Twitter for news or regular posts, we have started building a network of web designers so we can share information and links. At first things were slow but as the network has grown it has become a valuable tool for our business to share information.

  • July 13, 2009

    Alternative searching is a feature that I like. When you’re sick of Google and want to find great articles that are being discussed online, their hash searching and services like TweetMeMe help find the most interesting articles online at the moment.

  • September 22, 2009
    sumit

    It is not only about updating your profile but catching up fast with followers so that you do not loose them out…
    Know the big brands leveraging twitter for their business
    http://www.redalkemi.com/blog/twitter-big-brands/

  • October 7, 2009

    I have to admit that I am looking for traffic, and I’m wondering how you got 150,000 hits from Google.

  • March 8, 2010

    I use twitter to keep in touch with my genius computer guru guy bseeds82 on twitter…I can ask him any computer related question about, software, hardware, networking, programming (any language) and he always has the answers…He’s got skillz!!!

  • March 23, 2010

    Twitter is such an amazing tool, I just recently started using it but now it has made my website explode in traffic! :) thank you everyone.

  • April 7, 2010

    Thanks for the article. I just wrote one to on Twitter. Let me know what you think and if you have any advice.

    http://www.media-street.co.uk/our-blog/2010/04/06/29-understanding-twitter-as-a-form-of-social-media-marketing

    Thanks again.

  • October 31, 2010

    I’m arriving rather late to this post, but I’m considering getting a Twitter account. My only hang up is how is Twitter that different from a Facebook page? Because it seems to me that, as a regular student-aspiring-to-be-an-author, Twitter wouldn’t benefit me anymore than Facebook already has. I could see having a Twitter account if I was someone with a few more subscribers to my blog or more than 600 friends on Facebook, but as it is, I don’t really see what Twitter could offer me.
    And I’m not trying to bash Twitter, either, but rather just trying to find out if it’s something I should plug into a little bit. So if you or anyone else could explain how Twitter is better than Facebook from a writer’s perspective, that’d be great.
    Good post, though, very educational!

  • November 23, 2010

    ince half a year Museum Boerhaave from Leiden uses Twitter. So far we can say that Twitter is a way to get (some) more exposure, to find out what your audience talks about, to see what other colleagues do, and to keep up-to-date with news from the museumfield and other sectors. Also we did a Twitter Tour through the collection and experienced great reactins and responses from our followers.
    I would advise to join Twitter, and if you decide to do so….

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