Twitter Tips for Beginners: Lessons from the Evolution of Blogging Part 2 – Link Lists

The following is Part 2 of a series of posts by Crystal N. Woods, from
Conscious Evolution, Success and Self Esteem (Follow Crystal @CrystalsQuest) You can read Part 1 of Lessons From The Evolution of Blogging here.

Since my last post, I hope you’ve had fun playing around with your storyline.  This time, we’re going to look at how blogs shifted away from journaling, and started becoming lists of links.

Initially blogs were few and far between so, having shared themselves by journaling in this new medium, there was a sense of being part of a small community.  Bloggers weren’t all that common still, so when a new blog was found other bloggers would link back to it, providing a way to follow other blogs for people who’d discovered (and liked) reading blogs.

These list posts over time evolved to include linking to other sites the blogger found interesting – creating a kind of filter for all the information on the web, through the lens of someone’s interests.  If you shared those interests, you had a quick way to find things you’d probably like, without having to hunt them all down yourself.  That meant people that weren’t bloggers, friends or family, started coming to visit these blogs, and their popularity grew.

Not all of those blogs continued through this stage of evolution, though.  Some shifted entirely to links and went on to become portals, although not all portals started out as blogs.  The blogs that kept growing were the ones that took a lesson from the last stage – journaling – and maintained that sense of friendship and sharing, putting themselves into their posts and keeping it personal, giving their editorial comments so people could get a sense of what they thought and why.

The blogs that thrived in this stage were the ones that had a clear focus – some particular topic they were passionate about, so you knew (mostly) what you’d be finding if you came back to visit again.  If you were interested in the same topic, you’d make sure to come back.  Having someone filter stuff for you and deliver up your interests saved you time, and with their editorial you had someone else’s opinion to guide you, too.

The rise of url shortening services sparked a similar trend in twitter.  Once your focus changes from what you want to write, to what people want to read – a natural shift after journalling for a while – you’ll want to start sharing the things you’ve found interesting, just like those early bloggers. This is the start of ‘professionalising’ your twitter micro-blogging.  You don’t update based on what you want to say, but on what you think your friends might like to hear about.  In sharing with them, you’re delivering something that means they’re likely to a) appreciate what they get from you, b) come back for more, and c) possibly tell their friends.

There’s two things to remember when you start using link-sharing updates on twitter.  Even though it’s got to be short, people want to know what they’re clicking – don’t waste their time sending them to links that just say something generic like “Check this funny video out.”  Let your friends and followers decide if this is something they want to check out for themselves.  Even better, if you can describe it in only a few words, put a comment of your own to personalise it.  As an example, Chris Brogan recently posted:

chrisbrogan Thanks, Seth. I needed this post on saying no –

Your challenge for the next week is to find at least one interesting link to share with your friends (followers) on twitter, and post it with BOTH a description and comment.  They can be combined, like the one above, or you can add your note onto the end.  If you look at the tweets that get most retweets, you’ll find a large number of them do exactly that.


  • July 9, 2009

    You’ve got it backwards. The filtering function of blogs didn’t “evolve.” As Rebecca Blood says in the essay you seem to be basing this on, “[t]he original weblogs were link-driven sites” (emphasis added). Also, people have always shared links on Twitter – it has nothing to do with the “professionalization” of the service. That said, your advice, if not your history, is sound.

  • July 10, 2009

    Thanks Jesse. Sounds like you’re already au fait with twitter, so these early posts in the series might not offer you much, but I’m glad you took the time to comment and clarify.

    Rebecca’s essay was for the period up to about 2000, but this series is meant to take it from there, after blogs became part of the browser-accessible web. The history I’m basing it on is my own experience, watching the internet evolve as a webmaster since 1989. It fascinates me.
    Technically, the link lists she refers to were part of the internet, but not the web, since they were served via specific servers and software, before the web integrated things like bulletin, chat etc, into the http protocol, which is why I consider the blog link lists to be a step in their evolution after they identified as ‘blogs’. Hope this clears up the point.


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