Saturday, March 07, 2009

Blog Improvement Project #5-- Social Media Carnival

According to our inspired, intrepid leader, Kim, March is Social Media Month:
Because I love alliteration, March is going to be Social Media Month for the Blog Improvement Project. For the next 31 days, we’ll be focusing on using social media to improve your blog.
I’m no expert in social media, and there are a lot of social media options to think about. There’s Digg, StumbleUpon, Technorati, Twitter, Facebook, Delicious, Ning, and about a million other options I don’t even know about. In that spirit, Social Media Month is going to be about educating each other about social media. Our first project is the much-anticipated Social Media Carnival!
The task is simple: write a post about a social media tool that you currently use.

I'm no stranger to social media. I like trying out new things and seeing which ones are a good fit for me. I once had a page on MySpace and Facebook, but dropped them both for reasons which shall remain personal. I've joined Stumbleupon and Technorati but have yet to fully understand them. I belong to the Book Blogs group on Ning, and I know I don't spend as much time there as I should.

One thing that I said I would never try and did is Twitter. At first my reaction was, "I don't have enough hours in the day as it is. Why would I want one more thing to keep updated?" However, fellow book bloggers started talking about it, and I became intrigued enough to give it a try. It's easy to sign up, but once I had my foot in the door, I wasn't sure where to go from there. I sat here and had a little think about it and remembered that one of my favorite bloggers, Lesa Holstine, had a "Follow Me On Twitter" badge on her blog. I clicked on that badge, and I immediately connected to Lesa.

Okay. Where do I go from here? I decided to take a look at the people she was following on Twitter. Since we both share many of the same interests in books, I found several people to follow from Lesa's list. I took a look at the people they were following, found others to follow, and I rapidly had over 100 people and organizations I was following.

As I went through posts in my Google Reader, I began seeing mentions of Twitter, and I made sure to read them. That's how I found out about Twitter Feed. After a simple sign-up and set-up, Twitter Feed hooks up with the RSS feed on your blog and "tweets" your latest blog posts on Twitter. I saw other book bloggers using Twitter Feed, too, and now I've gotten to the point where I click on the URL in the tweet before I even think about checking my Google Reader. Others were doing the same, and the traffic on my blog began to climb.

When I first started using Twitter, I wanted to be able to follow along without keeping my eyes glued to a separate browser window. After all, I needed to get other things done while I was sitting here! I use Firefox, and I installed its TwitKit add-on. TwitKit runs on the left side of my monitor and keeps the feed updated. Be warned: the first week or so that you use Twitter, you're going to spend a lot of time reading each 140-character tweet because you won't want to miss anything! The "new" does wear off, however, and now I find "selective reading" has set in. I've become accustomed to the habits of the people I follow, and my eye usually looks at the person's name before I look at what's said. Certain words and phrases jump out at me now, and it's been a long time since I've read every single tweet on my screen. The only other Firefox add-on I've installed that relates to Twitter is Twitterbar. If I find an interesting article or URL online that I want to share with people, Twitterbar allows me to do that right in the browser address bar. Pretty cool, huh?

My opinion of Twitter has drastically changed from my original "Who needs something else to update?" I now think of it as an essential blogging tool. By following other book bloggers, I'm made aware of events occurring within our community. I can advertise the things happening on my own blog. If I need help or have a question I need answered, friends are only a short tweet away, and I've gotten to know them much better by following along with (and joining in) their conversations. I can win books and other prizes by following book publishers and other organizations on Twitter, and I can be kept up-to-the-second current on what's happening in the world, since many news organizations are using it, too.

If you've been wondering if Twitter is worth the time and effort, I would give it an unqualified two thumbs up. And if you decide to bite the bullet and give it a try, sign up and then go to one of your favorite blogs that has one of those "Follow Me on Twitter" badges. Click on it and start following. There's a world of news, tips, help and friendship out there waiting for you!

If you'd like to see what other participants are doing in March's Social Media Carnival, click on the Blog Improvement Project button at the top of this post to be taken to Kim's Sophisticated Dorkiness.


  1. Twitter is my topic for this task too :-). You made some very good points about it, especially Twitterfeed.

  2. I love Twitter, too and will probably use it for my BIP post, when I get the chance to write it.

  3. I am warming up to Twitter. It's a great way to get to know more interesting people.
    I didn't know you're on Book Blogs. I'm heading over there to send you an invite :-)

  4. Florinda and Kathy--sounds like Twitter just might be the hit of the Social Media Carnival! I can't wait to see what you have to say about it!

    Lilly--I went right over there to accept your invite! :)

  5. I wrote my BIP post on Twitter, too. I learned a few new things about it, thanks to your post. I'm now going to investigate Twitterfeed.

  6. I love Twitter! And Cathy has hit all the reasons why it's such a great tool!

  7. This is a great post! I still don't use Twitter as well as I think I could, but I love reading updates from everyone else. I haven't read all the carnival posts yet, bit if they are all this great it's going to be very useful.


  8. Kitten--I hope you give Twitterfeed a try. I think it's great!

    Thanks, Beth and Kim!

  9. I get it! Thanks. This is the first explanation of Twitter that has helped me understand what it's all about. I also have Firefox but had no idea I had access to these two plugins. Your blog post has been valuable to me. Thanks again. I'm off to explore.

  10. Margot--I'm so glad I was able to help!

  11. I'm a total newbie to Twitter - just joined yesterday, so your info about the Twitter feed, etc. is very helpful. Also that you were skeptical at first but now really enjoy it. I've been resisting Twitter like mad, but now I've jumped in. Now I'm off to find you there!

  12. Julia--you found me, and now we're following each other!


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