Tuesday, December 9, 2008

An Introduction to Twitter

You don't have to spend very much time in the forums on Etsy to see several questions and posts about social networking site Twitter. What is Twitter, and how can you use it? I'm by no means a social networking expert, and I don't use MySpace or Facebook. I enjoy using Twitter because of its simplicity, and hopefully this article will give you the information necessary to start using Twitter as a valuable method in promoting your business.

What is Twitter?

From the Twitter main page, "Twitter is a service for friends, family, and co–workers to communicate and stay connected through the exchange of quick, frequent answers to one simple question: What are you doing?"

Communication on Twitter is done in short, 140 character-limit posts called updates, or "tweets". Tweets are meant to be simple blurbs to your friends and "followers" about what you're doing. When you "follow" another Twitter user, you'll see all of his or her updates on the Twitter home page when you are logged on in order of most recent posting time.


But to be honest, Twitter would get old really fast if all anyone ever posted was simply what I'm doing....."I'm eating a turkey sandwich with potato chips in 10 minutes", or, "I leaving work now. Glad it's Friday!" While these types of tweets are nice and sometimes very entertaining to read, that 140-character limit can be used more effectively as a tool to bring traffic to your Etsy shop or blog, network quickly with people whose interests match yours, and as a free form of advertising.

How can you use Twitter?

If you look at the top-right corner of the screen shot, you'll see I'm currently following 186 people, and 169 people are following me. I've made 213 updates, or tweets, talking about everything from weather to blogging to Etsy. That means that 169 people currently see my updates. Not that 169 is a giganitc number considering some people have thousands, but the number grows everyday.

How did I get those followers? Like everyone else, I started with zero. I followed several people after seeing their responses in the Etsy forums concerning Twitter. I also looked at who they were following, and followed some of THOSE people as well after looking at their profiles. Then, most of the people I followed subsequently followed me back. I made sure I followed people that were interesting to me, that I liked their Etsy shop, blog, or website, and that also had a few followers.

I then stumbled upon the powerful search.twitter.com (not the same as "search" from the menu when you log in) to look for certain topics that interest me. This search looks for terms in anyone's Twitter updates. I searched for people using the keywords: Texas, runners, running, etsy, craft, cards, marketing, and blog, because these are the topics I'm interested in AND these are the people that are potentially in my target market for what I sell on Etsy and blog topics. I followed these people, and most of them followed me back.

Now that I have people following me, I make sure to tweet when I list a new item on Etsy or add a new blog post here to self-promote. I also spread the love by tweeting about sellers that I have good experiences with, neat things I find on Etsy, and other blogs that I think people will appreciate and enjoy.

Twitter is a fun, quick, and best of all easy way for me to get myself out there in front of people faster.

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