Is Twitter Still Popular (and Useful)?

Pondering BirdMaybe you’ve noticed it too, and you’re asking yourself the question:

Is Twitter still popular enough, that it’s worth your continued time investment?

The Pew Research

The Pew Research Center released its “Twitter Use 2012” findings at the end of May. Among them were:

  • 15 percent of online adults use Twitter, and 8 percent use it on a typical day;
  • The number of online adults who use Twitter on a typical day has doubled since May 2011, and quadrupled since late 2010;
  • The increase in smartphones might account for some of the increase in Twitter usage.

And yet … and yet … I find that the average tweeter’s posts are overlooked, more and more. Is it just me, or do only the news outlets, celebrities and thought leaders benefit from this once-awesome platform?

Twitter’s Evolution: Good or Bad for Writers?

I mention writers here, because I’M a writer, as are many of you. However, this can apply to anyone who is building an online presence.

According to an April, 2012 Mashable article, Twitter is still the number two most-used social platform (falling behind Facebook, which is number one). NBC reporters used Twitter to gather collective insight on public opinion during this year’s Summer Olympics. And I learned about the infamous Osama Bin Laden news on Twitter.

However, I’ve noticed it becoming harder and harder to build a presence on Twitter if you’re not already established. For those of us who are unknown writers (i.e. NOT Stephen King, Judy Blume, or Tina Fey), perhaps building a Twitter presence isn’t as important as … say … two years ago.

Maybe, what’s become more important, is for others to tweet your content, rather than you.

The NEW Twitter: Getting Shared is King

In my own experience, not many people will read a blog post when I tweet the link. However, if others tweet it, Twitter becomes a top traffic driver for my article that day.

Crazy, huh?

Here’s the conclusion I’ve come to: Twitter is important. You should retain a presence on it. However, if you’re not a thought leader, journalist, news outlet or celebrity, you’re better off concentrating on creating content others will share for you. And continue using Twitter as a feed to stay on top of industry trends.

What do you think? Have you noticed any of the trends I mentioned above? Is Twitter still useful for YOU?

My Secret to Finding New Readers, Followers

I’m going to let you in on a little social media secret.

It’s one I’ve picked up while working as a media strategist for both my day-job, and as my own consultant (not to mention, building MY readership, as a writer).

It’s a very simple concept, really, but a difficult one for many to grasp. Are you ready? OK … here it is:

You need to find new readers or followers where THEY live—and not expect them to find you, anymore.

The Customer-Centric Business Model

Let me take a step back for a moment. Because really, this stems from a business model.

Businesses used to develop their strategies around them. If you wanted a new Verizon phone, you had to drive to the store. If you needed help with your new laptop, you called the tech support number.

If capitalism was a solar system, then the business was the sun, while customers were the planets.

But that’s all changed now. In today’s world of social media, the customer has become the sun. And if businesses want to survive, they’d better turn into planets.

So How Can YOU Become the Planets?

Here’s a tidbit of encouragement. You already know where your customers or readers live: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, WordPress, Blogspot, etc.

  • If you’re an author, many of your target readers may live on Goodreads or Amazon.
  • If you’re a communications consultant, many potential clients probably follow ProBlogger.

Do you see where I’m going with this?

From a business perspective, if a customer has a complaint, they may no longer call the service line. Instead, they may post a “tweet.” If no one is listening and responding, then the customer may start a blog bashing the company. Which could attract OTHER upset customers, forming an angry online mob.

But that’s a whole other topic, on reputation management. My point is, if you want to build an online presence, you need to determine WHO your customer or reader is, and where they live.

Finding Your Reader

So, just how do you find this elusive goldmine? You need to start by listening. Just listening.

For example:

  • Use Twitter’s search function to type in a keyword related to your subject of interest. Are you a writer? Search “writing.” Are you a lawyer? Search “law.”
  • See what people are saying about these topics, as a collective.

Think of yourself as a CIA agent, gathering intelligence. And when you collect enough to understand what people need, you can start reaching out. @Reply to people’s questions on Twitter. Maybe write a blog post about a common concern.

And when you start understanding where your target readers live, make yourself available … there (i.e. become the planets).

About three months ago, I wrote a post for ProBlogger and linked back to my Twitter account, as well as my blog. That gained me several new blog subscribers and dozens of Twitter followers. And here’s the kicker:

They didn’t find me (even if they THINK they did). No, I found them. And you can too …

On ProBlogger! Building a LOYAL Blog Following

I am so excited to announce that today, I was featured on the ever-popular copywriting site, ProBlogger! My post?

6 Steps to a Loyal Blog Following

Only a week ago, when Nina Badzin posted about getting more comments on your blog, several of you asked how to expand your readership. How do you reach more people?

Well, I think you’ll find some great ideas tucked away in my ProBlogger post. And I wanted to make sure to share! So, head on over and …

Read my post now.

Top 5 Posts to Develop a (Solid) Online Presence

A year ago, I hated—and I mean hated—anything social media. I’m a traditional writer, and blogs destroyed my field: journalism.

Right?

Well, only partially. In a few weeks, my story, “Death of a Dream,” will premier on the new Anthem Exposition, and you can read how I turned from hater to believer.

But until then, here’s the summary of what I learned: If you want to make it as a writer today, you need to combine your traditional values with the new strategies of social media and virtual networking.

Otherwise, kiss your hopeful writing career good-bye.

To help you get started (or further develop your current skills), below are my top 5 posts from the past year to help you develop your online presence—as a writer.

1. Three Social Marketing Lessons from a Bananagram

 

 

 

 

2. No Experts in Social Media (but …)

 

 

 

 

3. Five Killer Twitter Tips: Expand Your Network Power!

 

 

 

4. How Can Hootsuite Help Busy Writers (or anyone else)?

 

 

 

5. The 3 Questions EVERY Blogger Must Ask Themselves

 

 

 

Social media isn’t all that complicated. It’s more about learning how to connect the dots. Once it clicks, it’s easy!

Here’s my suggestion:

Bookmark this page, and over the next couple of weeks, come back and read through each post. One at a time, of course. But I think you’ll find, each one brings you another step closer to connecting those dots.

MY QUESTION TO YOU: What’s your question about social media, and how it relates to your work as a writer? Post your question to the comments, and I’ll do my best to answer (either now, or in a future post)!

Top 8 Reasons to STEP AWAY from the Computer

Back in April, a pack of wild teenagers stole my laptop computer right from the desk in my home.

You can read about that fateful day from my post, “Burglars Beware! Why to NEVER Rob a Writer’s Home.” However, as angry (and scared) as I was when it happened, I learned something that day:

Taking time away from the world of technology was refreshing—and amazing for my writing. I urge everyone to lose their computer for a week (I was out nearly a month) and see what I mean.

Here are my top eight reasons why you should STEP AWAY from the computer for once:

1. You see the world again. I mean, you really SEE it.

 

 

 

 

2. You sleep better, and deeper, and calmer.

 

 

 

 

 

3. You’re not as stressed from constantly being “plugged in.”

 

 

 

 

4. You have more time to exercise and cook healthy meals.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5. You concentrate on YOU, not what everyone else is doing.

 

 

 

 

 

6. Your mind can relax and regenerate, which = more creativity.

 

 

 

 

 

7. You read a book—the old-fashioned way.

 

 

 

 

 

 

8. And finally, your writing improves. Not just a little, but A LOT.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sometimes, as ambitious writers, we forget that the most important aspect of writing, is living. And although the computer is a significant piece of building our names, we cannot let it consume our lives.

I CHALLENGE YOU: Leave your computer at a trusted friend’s for a week, and take away the temptation. Then tell us the outcome … Are you up for it?

**All photos displayed are the copywritten property of Shari Lopatin (except the books photo, which was borrowed from Google Images), and cannot be copied, reproduced, or printed without written consent from Shari Lopatin.**

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20,000 Clicks and Some Crazy Social Media Thing

This past weekend, I hit a milestone–and it’s thanks to YOU.

I finally reached 20,000 visits to my blog. I began blogging a year ago, and in fact, this blog’s original theme/title was “Peanuts and Watermelon.” But then, sometime in September, I had an epiphany.

And “Rogue Writer” was born.

So, to commemorate, and to laugh at my mindset only nine months ago, here is a post from Sept. 21, 2010:

This Crazy Social Media Thing

 

As the old-fashioned writer I am–who has no cable or converter boxes for her ancient TVs (surprisingly, they do display in color)–I never thought I’d say this:

Twitter is pretty cool.

Stubbornness runs in my blood. I’m Jewish and Russian and Polish. My father once refused to take our 13-year-old cat to the vet when she fell over in some sort of animalistic shock. “Oh! She does this all the time!” he said.

Turns out the cat was spiraling into renal failure.

Only by the desperate tears from my sister and I did my dad take her to the vet, who saved her life. Today, I’m proud to report she’s happy and healthy.

But I digress. My natural stubbornness forced me to reject everything social media for the past few years. I’m a former newspaper reporter who finds romance in the printed word. I was convinced (and still am, to a point) that the developing blogosphere is killing true journalism. And I hated social media for that.

If I could be a serial killer, I’d aim straight for the jugulars of Twitter and Blogspot.

Until this past week. Don’t ask me what clicked. Or what snapped. But I suddenly decided I NEEDED to begin building an online presence. As a professional rogue writer, my future depended on it.

So I sucked it up, bit my tongue (maybe bled a bit), and started my profile. Within two days, I have 6 followers, including the possibility of doing a book review. Now, that might sound like nothing, but from 0-6 (that’s right, I didn’t even have a base) in a day or two makes me feel pretty darned important!

Maybe there is something to this word-of-mouth on steroids called Twitter. Maybe it’s not such a bad thing after all. Naw, I won’t spend my life on the computer. I love nature too much and need that fresh air. But I do think I’ll pay more attention to it going forward.

While I’m at it, I’d better loosen that stubbornness gene, before I let my own cat die of renal failure.

NOTE: I now have more than 300 followers on Twitter, and I just opened my Facebook page (15 followers right now). If you like what you read on “Rogue Writer,” you’ll love the discussions  and posts planned for Facebook (The Onion, Writer’s Digest, and more).  Join me there!

How Can Hootsuite Help Busy Writers (or anyone else)?

The first time I heard of Hootsuite, I laughed. Hard.

I mean seriously, who uses an owl for a mascot? Regardless of my first impression, Hootsuite has turned into a lifesaver for me–and it could for you, too.

What is Hootsuite?

Hootsuite is a nifty little tool where you can SCHEDULE your Facebook and Twitter posts in advance. This means, you can schedule everything on Sunday evening, and Hootsuite will post for you throughout the week.

Oh yeah, and it’s free.

Hootsuite has lots of other fun features, too. But for me–a busy writer who works full-time in the corporate world by day, and freelances for magazines by night–the ability to schedule social media posts in advance is key.

After all, I don’t have tons of free time to throw away on social media.

Why maintain a social media presence as a writer?

If you want to go by the experts, Poets and Writers Magazine just featured an article in its May/June edition entitled, “Social Media for Authors.” In it, public relations professional Lauren Cerand emphasizes the importance of social media for up-and-coming writers. Here’s an excerpt:

The task of finding readers and finding an audience is made much easier by joining the conversation that you feel you belong to, whether it’s via media that you maintain, community sites you check daily, or blogs that you read and comment on when you have something important to add.

What does this mean? It means as a writer, you have a better chance of selling your work if you can find your niche, and build a loyal following. One of the best ways to build that following is by using social media, especially for unknown writers.

As a former newspaper reporter, I now pay the bills by working in media strategy and marketing. And I can tell you from personal experience: social media is the future of exposure. I’m not talking about Facebook or Twitter, but rather the idea of social media and its platform of sharing information. Social media is word-of-mouth on steroids, to borrow a phrase from Gary Vaynerchuk, author of “Crush It.”

If you want to have a shot at being a successful writer, you need to maintain a social media presence. And Hootsuite is just one more tool to help you do it. Imagine drawing people again and again to your blog posts (old and new) throughout the week, without  spending all day on Twitter or Facebook?

MY QUESTION TO YOU: What social media platforms do you use, to maintain your online presence as a writer? And if you don’t use social media, which services do you want to learn more about?

5 Killer Twitter Tips: Expand Your Network Power!

I used to hate Twitter. No, seriously–I did.

Until I discovered its networking power. Less than six months ago, I opened my account. I initially had six followers, most of whom were personal friends. I couldn’t, for the life of me, figure out how some people had 1,000 followers, yet only followed 300.

Now, I’ve not only helped build my company’s Twitter account to that status, but I’ve reached nearly 300 followers myself. Recently, I hit a personal landmark: more people are following me, than I follow others.

How have I managed to build this growing social media presence? Here are 5 killer Twitter tips that will help you develop your presence into a powerhouse:

1. Don’t make your tweets about you; make them about everyone else. People are selfish creatures. So, what makes you think they’ll care about YOUR blog post? They won’t. But they WILL care about improving their own presence on Twitter (hey, you’re on my blog, reading my stuff, aren’t you?).

2. Ask questions. If you wrote a cool blog post on how gardening inspired your creativity, your tweet could look like this: “How can gardening help YOU become more creative?” Then link to your post. Questions tease people’s curiosity.

3. Always, always thank or acknowledge your new followers. If you choose not to follow certain people or entities back, fine. Be prepared, they may not stick around. However, they’ll be more likely to keep following you if they see you’ve acknowledged their presence.

4. Be an information forum. Choose who you follow wisely–the experts in your field of practice. C’mon, you know who they are.  THEN, let them feed you information, and you can  tweet it to your followers. Your news will be coming from legit sources, and people will turn to you as an expert in the field.

5. Tweet often, but remember: it’s better to tweet fewer solid tweets, than many useless tweets.

Social media is a time investment. The tools may be free, but becoming an online sensation doesn’t happen overnight. Your community will build slowly, but, it will build. Just keep at it, and you’ll reap the rewards.

Like the advice I offer? Sign up to receive my blog posts by email (upper righthand corner). As a professional writer, journalist, and media strategist, I offer funny life stories, writing tips, and social media strategies to consider.

This Crazy Social Media Thing

As the old-fashioned writer I am–who has no cable or converter boxes for her ancient TVs (surprisingly, they do display in color)–I never thought I’d say this:

Twitter is pretty cool.

Stubbornness runs in my blood. I’m Jewish and Russian and Polish. My father once refused to take our 13-year-old cat to the vet when she fell over in some sort of animalistic shock. “Oh! She does this all the time!” he said.

Turns out the cat was spiraling into renal failure.

Only by the desperate tears from my sister and I did my dad take her to the vet, who saved her life. Today, I’m proud to report she’s happy and healthy.

But I digress. My natural stubbornness forced me to reject everything social media for the past few years. I’m a former newspaper reporter who finds romance in the printed word. I was convinced (and still am, to a point) that the developing blogosphere is killing true journalism. And I hated social media for that.

If I could be a serial killer, I’d aim straight for the jugulars of Twitter and Blogspot.

Until this past week. Don’t ask me what clicked. Or what snapped. But I suddenly decided I NEEDED to begin building an online presence. As a professional rogue writer, my future depended on it.

So I sucked it up, bit my tongue (maybe bled a bit), and started my profile. Within two days, I have 6 followers, including the possibility of doing a book review. Now, that might sound like nothing, but from 0-6 (that’s right, I didn’t even have a base) in a day or two makes me feel pretty darned important!

Maybe there is something to this word-of-mouth on steroids called Twitter. Maybe it’s not such a bad thing after all. Naw, I won’t spend my life on the computer. I love nature too much and need that fresh air. But I do think I’ll pay more attention to it going forward.

While I’m at it, I’d better loosen that stubbornness gene, before I let my own cat die of renal failure.