This post first ran in 2009 - much still remains relevant. I've changed a few things in red.

At the Blog Book Tours class (which I no longer teach) , the next assignments for the month focus on the social marketing groups we all know... and maybe hate. These include Facebook, MySpace, Goodreads, and Twitter.

We're starting with Twitter because it's the fastest, easiest, and most powerful for marketing your other websites. It's also less of a time-suck than the more complex social forums. There are other added benefits about Twitter networking that I'll point out later.

In a nutshell, Twitter is a micro-blogging site that allows snappy posts of 140 (now 280 + photos, videos, and GIFS - use them!)characters. To participate, you follow other Twitter users and this allows you to see their updates.

You, in turn, are followed by others and those people can read what you have to say. Keep this scenario in mind, because it's the key to how Twitter works, or how it doesn't if you don't "get it". Believe me, many people don't, and consequently feel it's a waste of time.

Let me repeat:

You must follow people to see their updates.
Only your followers can see your updates.

It's crucial you understand this. If you are enthusiastically following thousands of people, but only a fraction are following you back, then only that small fraction sees what you write. Therefore, it's important you spend your efforts offering information that is of value to others, so they will want to follow and read you.

Now, to get started, and before the following and socializing begins, you need a few things upfront:

  1. An email account that is acceptable on Twitter like yahoo or hotmail

  2. A name that coordinates with your other website efforts if possible - I use blogbooktours everywhere I can
  3. A small photo for your homepage and post icon

  4. A well-written short bio

  5. The website link you will send readers to for more information
Now you're ready to set up your Twitter account. Go to and follow the directions, plugging in the information above.
Once you've gotten this far, you're ready to practice entering some updates. Introduce yourself in one, leave a blog link in another, tell us what you're doing today in a third. Do this several times more, perhaps throughout the day, to get Twitter into your conciousness and just to practice writing concise but meaningful messages. Be sure to bookmark your Twitter page to make it one of your regular stops several times during the day, much like checking your email.

Now you're ready to start following people and have them follow you back. We'll talk about how to do that in the next post.
And then you can follow me @twitter!
Tomorrow I'll also post helpful links picked up at Twitter to help you even more. One of my favorites is TwiTip for ongoing updates and tips.


Karen Walker said...

Hi Dani,
This is great. I've had a Twitter account set up for awhile and just don't use it because I'm one of those that doesn't get it. Truly, I don't see how this will help me sell books, but I'm ready willing and able to do everything you say to do and suspend my judgment.

Jane Kennedy Sutton said...

I’m still trying to get tweeting down so I am glad I can sit in on what will be for me a ‘remedial’ class.

Jane Kennedy Sutton

N A Sharpe said...

This class is so helpful! I have set up the accounts but trying to use them appropriately to network and promote without constantly bashing folks over the head...

Funny, last year I made a New Year's resolution to post at least twice a week to the blog...ahem. Didn't last. This is making me focus more on the blog and social networking and finding a heckuva lot of good blogs out there that I really enjoy!

Twitter. I just don't get it. I feel totally restrained to try to say something of value with 140 character restraints. Thanks for showing us how to accomplish this.

NA Sharpe

darkened_jade said...

Great advice on how to use Twitter more effectively. Thanks

Ted A. Brooks said...

Oh wow Dani you made it easy for me to get the Twitter thing. I am so glad I was led to your site.
Angel Blessings said...

There are also many services and applications that work with or enhance Twitter. Many are designed to allow easy access to Twitter from specific devices, such as the iPhone or BlackBerry.

Anonymous said...

Hi All,
My Blog Book Tour starts Sunday May 17 at

I'm out of town and can't get my laptop to connect, so am using someone else's. Anyway long story short, I'm having trouble posting to yahoo digests, so if you could pass this along, I'd be ever so grateful!


AlanChinWriter said...

I'm not sure I agree that Twitter is not a time-suck. It's so damned additive that it's sucking up huge amounts of my time.
But that's partly because I see that it's an effective marketing tool. I've only been on a few weeks and already it's making a difference in driving readers to my sites.

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