Bite-sized blogging

Would you describe yourself as a busy person? Let’s pretend that you’re tasked with taking on a new assignment every week. You can choose between two tasks: one that takes three hours of your free time (roughly 20 minutes a day), or one that takes about seven hours. I don’t know about you, but I’m going to save those four hours for some quality TV time and tackle the three hour task instead!

When it comes to blogging effectively, you have a choice. Let’s face it—not everyone is passionate about banging out 800 well-written words regularly. If that doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, then microblogging might be a much better fit for your personal style. Microblogging allows you to post regular content updates, respond to comments, and interact with other users (as long as you stay “bite-sized” at about 140 characters or less). Rather than managing a full web presence with a domain and site design like you would with a traditional blog, microbloggers use a service (like Twitter, but there are others) and manage a basic user profile. While on a regular blog you may struggle to hit readership in the double digits, a microblogging platform will give you much broader reach more quickly. On Twitter, for example, there is a huge community of people constantly seeking original content created by other users that they can interact with.

If you decide to microblog, The Tao of Twitter has a handful of best practices that can help you to effectively use Twitter in just 20 minutes a day.

Share great content.

This can come in MANY forms, such as a photo, video, blog post, original thought or idea, joke, review, or offer. It can also be an interactive question or game, or best of all—a retweet. The retweet is hands down the most powerful tool in your Twitter arsenal. Use it frequently!

Cultivate connections.

In the first two months, tweet at least once a day so people see that you’re active, but spend most of your time finding and following interesting people.  Don’t worry if they follow back or not. That will come in time. It’s not enough to have a huge number of followers—you need quality people who will happily function as ambassadors for your content. Use Twitter lists, Advanced Twitter Search, Twitter chats, and even Twitter’s advertising programs to find the people who are (or will be) interested in what you have to say. You can also use third-party programs like HootSuite and Crowdbooster to find suggestions on who to follow.

Focus on authentic helpfulness and engagement.

How AWESOME are those automated phone systems where you get to talk to a machine and hope for an actual helpful response? Aren’t they amazing? I’m sure you could hear the sarcasm, but in case you didn’t, automated phone systems are terrible. Everyone hates them because no one wants to interact with a robot when you are expecting (or needing) a real person. To be successful on Twitter, you need to be present and authentically human. That means no canned responses and strategic automation. If you find yourself looking for tools to automatically respond to users, maybe you should re-evaluate exactly why you are using Twitter. There are plenty of other platforms that don’t demand the type of back-and-forth present on Twitter (see: Tumblr).

Straight from the pro

Being effective in 20 minutes a day means knowing how to use time-saving tips and then having the discipline to prioritize. Here’s what works for The Tao of Twitter author Mark Schaefer:

  • First, see who has mentioned you in tweets.  People are reaching out and trying to connect, so engage with them, even if it is a simple “thank you.”
  • Next, look at direct messages and quickly sift through the spam to make sure you don’t miss something important from a friend.
  • Use an organizing tool like TweetDeck or HootSuite so that you can easily browse through the latest updates from people you follow. Look for opportunities to engage and re-tweet.
  • As you read interesting articles throughout the day, look for the “tweet this” button to share your favorites.
  • Don’t forget to show you’re human. If you’re waiting in line or snap an awesome photo, send a quick tweet to let people know what’s going on in your day.

Final thoughts

Microblogs are a great fit for busy people who are looking to share and interact with other users. Twitter is a great platform to launch your microblog because it has been so widely adopted. It also offers a robust set of tools for a variety of users. Twitter allows you to share text, photos, videos, links, and private messages all within the native platform. The challenge is that once you have built a list of followers and followees, you may find yourself happily using the service more than an hour a day.

What do you think readers? With all the flexibility that microblogging offers, do you ever wonder why anyone would choose to run a traditional blog? Can you think of instances that would be a better fit for one or the other (traditional blogging versus microblogging)?

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2 thoughts on “Bite-sized blogging

  1. Greta post Ashley. Followers are a key element in making sure the message is being heard, but as you mention quality is better than quantity. I believe that is something every beginner should remember. People sometimes stress themselves because not a lot of people are following them and think they are failing. That is why is important to keep that best practice in mind.

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