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Whether you wish to promote your blog or content created for other sites, social media websites like Twitter and Facebook can provide excellent networking opportunities. Anyone from A-list celebrities down to your neighbor can sign up for an account and start adding friends and followers. It's a great way to keep up with old friends or get inside the head of your favorites actors, musicians and even politicians.
There is, however, a dark side to all this inter-connectivity. The shameless self promoters among us often abuse our friendships by constantly flooding their accounts with links to things they sell, stuff they've written and more. They rarely, if ever, comment on anyone else's postings, and their account seems only to exist for marketing purposes. If you use sites like Twitter and Facebook, then you already recognize this type of behavior. It's part of what brought down MySpace because it had turned into an advertising depot.
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I feel like somebody is spying or snooping if they follow me on Twitter or send me a friend request on Facebook, then I never hear another thing from them again. Why bother if you aren't going to be an active participant? The whole point of this type of site is to facilitate the brief exchange of information and get online conversations going. Otherwise, you're just being nosy.
One of the best ways to attract Twitter followers is to get out there and participate. Leave comments for others. Discuss topics that are brought up in tweets. If you see something worth sharing, repost it and you might impress the original poster. The idea is to put yourself out there so that you become a "regular" in certain circles. As familiarity grows, you might make a few new friends in the process.
The trick is to find the right conversations to jump into. You can easily get into a long debate on controversial stuff like politics or religion, and this may gain you a small following. On the other hand, it could alienate others who disagree with your stance on those topics. As a general rule, don't post anything online that you wouldn't say to the face of another person, and you'll get along just fine.
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About the worst thing you can do as a Twitter user is post nothing but links. It's tempting to use your account as a link depot, but if all you ever post is links then you're going to mostly be ignored. You could also be flagged as a spammer and that's even worse. Personally, I hate those link shorteners because you don't know where they are pointing and it's a good way to trick somebody into going to a malware or virus site.
If you are an online author like me, and generate content on a daily or weekly basis, then you will have a lot to share. It's fine to post the occasional link, but you need to post something less spammy in between. Talk about movies or TV shows you've watched recently, or maybe comments on something in the news. The idea is to break up your constant flow of links with more personal pieces of information. It'll help make you appear more like a regular person instead of some kind of online writing machine.
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There is something about food that always gets people talking. Maybe because it's a fairly neutral subject and won't spark online arguments like some comments about religion or politics, or maybe it's just because people like to eat. Either way, I have found that conversations regarding food always get lots of comments on social media sites like Twitter and Facebook.
Since tweets post in real time, you'll often find people posting about where they are eating. This opens up lots of opportunities to discuss food and restaurants. Be careful not to go overboard, as some folks are turned off by too many photos of half eaten plates full of food. Personally, I like to see how food items look in the real world compared to how they are portrayed so perfectly in commercials and print ads.
For example, let's say Wendy's has some new sandwich out and you decide to give it a try. Wendy's has been running commercials and advertisements for this new product, and most everyone with a TV has heard of it. If you were to go try this new sandwich, you could post about it on Twitter. Tell people whether you liked it or not and give a brief opinion on it. You'd be surprised how many people will respond out of curiosity.
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Find Your Audience
Whether you write books, reviews, or tweets, every author needs to find their audience if they want to be read. Twitter is full of groups for just about every genre of any topic you can imagine, and they have active discussions going on. By getting in with the right groups, you'll be more likely to find others with similar interests and it'll be much easier to start new conversations or get involved with ones that are already going.
To summarize, follow the people and groups you like and apply my first bit of advice about participation, but don't forget my second bit about spam. If things get slow, mention lunch or dinner. The idea is to get your name out there and contribute worthwhile info, and hopefully reciprocity will take care of the rest.
- Author's personal experience as a Twitter and Facebook user.
- Pro Blogger, http://www.problogger.net/archives/2008/05/08/5-tips-to-grow-your-twitter-presence/
- Image credit, Wikimedia Commons, http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:No-spam.svg, Public Domain