This Post is by Lori Woodward Simons, Regular contributing writer for
FineArtViews. Find out how you can be a guest author.
Twitter has become, perhaps, the most efficient social networking tool for my business. When I first began using this online tool, I imagined it would only provide another way to waste time on the Internet. However, I couldn't have been more wrong since 1/3rd of my website's visitors arrive via Twitter.
An Efficient Means of Communication
Twitter is basically a social networking utility - much like Facebook, but it's unique in that a user must enter each typed "tweet" in 140 characters or less. While you might first think this as restrictive, in actuality it's rather freeing -- I don't need to use perfect grammar or sound eloquent -- rather I just need to be clear and get my point across.
Twitter is often used casually as a friendship tool - where you tweet what you're having for lunch, but many folks employ it as a business tool by pointing to interesting online articles, blogs and videos. In fact, I've recently noticed that below Youtube videos, there is a tab that enables direct sharing of a video on Twitter.
Link To Your Blog or Website
While it's more difficult to show images on Twitter, it's easy to link to your website or blog, but because URL links can take up most of the 140 character space, you'll need to use a URL shortening utility such as: http://tinyurl.com
to fit your longer links into the tweetline. Later, when you have a large network of followers, you might try http://tweetdeck.com
-- which has a URL shortening utility built right into its software.
OK, I suppose that all who are already familiar with Twitter are yawning by now, so I'll get onto the reasons I find Twitter so fascinatingly useful.
One Tweet Becomes a Movement
Essentially, Twitter is the place where information spreads like wildfire. Whenever I finish a new painting or blog post, I can get that information out to hundreds of artists almost instantly. If they like what they read or see, they can send it out to their followers. In a matter of a few hours, my tweet can reach the eyes of thousands.
For example, one morning I tweeted, I'm going to challenge myself to work 20 hours per week in my studio, anyone want to join me?
A few of the artists who follow my tweets, RT'd (retweeted) to their followers and before I knew it, dozens of artists were asking me to write more about what I had in mind. When Alyson Stanfield
RT'd that tweet, the challenge really took off
- because Alyson has thousands of followers. By the end of the day, all due to Twitter, The 20 Hour Studio Challenge
became a movement. It spread from the painting world to the fine craft world in a little over a week's time.
Using Hashtags in Tweets
When a tweet becomes a movement, it eventually is designated with a hashtag (#). In the 20 hour challenge case, someone suggested #20hrchallenge
. Attaching the # to a set of letters makes it easy for search engines and Twitter users to find tweets about a subject.
One of the greatest assets that using Twitter offers is #followfriday. Each Friday, users list several of their favorite folks to follow. Whenever someone lists @Loriwords in their list to follow, new people visit my twitter page. They can see what I've been tweeting/talking about and decide whether or not to follow my tweets. If they find my tweets particularly helpful, fun or interesting, they can choose to follow me by clicking the follow
box below my avatar (picture).
My account, http://twitter.com/Loriwords
has relatively few followers - about 450 at present;on the other hand, http://twitter.com/Clintavo
(Clint Watson) has thousands. Clint follows my tweets, and when he sees that I've pointed to an interesting blog that his followers might enjoy, he can choose to RT (retweet) my tweet to his followers. Then hopefully, some of his followers will RT the same info to their followers. As you can see, this is how my original tweet can get seen all over the world in a single day. If I've provided a link in my original tweet to my website or blog, I can gain hundreds of new visitors in just a few hours.
One caveat: If lots of folks are going to visit my site or blog, then I'd better have something interesting for them to find when they arrive... which means I need to make sure my site is updated, and my blog and newsletters having something wonderful to offer.
Twitter does have a few drawbacks. The first being that it is often addictive
. I really don't have to go into how the addictive part works here - once you use it, you'll know how it can easily capture your attention and hours of your time. Second, you have to scroll down through previous tweets to see the ones you've missed. When I've got something I really want people to see, I might tweet it several times throughout the day.
Another drawback: When someone tweets all day long with mundane info, I get tired of looking at their avatar (picture) and then unfollow them. For this reason, I try my best to tweet with useful links to information I think other artists will enjoy. Sometimes I do report what I'm working on for the day - especially in the morning, and sometimes I let others know what I've accomplished at the end of the day. I have no idea whether they care or not, but I'm human and not just a news-service. Twitter is also a great place to show a bit of who you are.
Hopefully, this has been a good introduction for those of who are new to social networking. To those who already use Twitter, thanks for reading this far.