October begins with a new season and a new look for our favorite birdie. In honour of the revamped Twitter, my BlogAdda column this week looks at the 140-character phenomenon and how it can benefit bloggers.

I’m still looking for feedback on this column, so my dear readers, please do drop in and leave your thoughts.

(Click here to read the post at BlogAdda)

Here we are in a fresh new month and a new season. It’s a time for change all around and in keeping with that thought, this column looks at something new. I talked about Facebooking the blog the last time around. The online social media force is driven by one other platform. If you’re one of those who hasn’t figured out what the big deal with 140 characters is, welcome to the Twitterverse!

Twitter, unlike Flickr or Youtube or Blogger doesn’t serve just one purpose. It doesn’t even have a broad focus like Facebook does, on networking. It’s a little bit of all of those but more.

So what is the big deal?

If you like writing, then Twitter is just an extension of blogging, or perhaps I should say ‘compression of blogging’ since it is saying something in just 140 characters. One advantage of the brevity is that it’s quick and more forgiving of typos, spelling mistakes and grammatical errors. Twitter is really useful when one is covering events since it’s an ongoing progress update. I often use myTwitter account like a notepad where I jot down quick impressions, thoughts and ideas which can be retrieved later and built into posts at leisure.

What are you doing today?

Since this is first question that Twitter answers, its most basic use is as a status update mechanism. Naturally, updating the same on multiple platforms is laborious. Twitter can easily be plugged into each of these so you update your status in one place and it reflects in all your platforms.

There are several applications that update your Facebook status with your tweets. However you risk flooding your friends’ Facebook timeline if you tweet often. Selective Tweets is an application that only updates your Facebook status when your tweet contains #fb.

LinkedIn has an option (under Profile>Additional Information) that lets you update your status through Twitter. The LinkedIn Tweets application picks up your latest tweets and updates your status accordingly. Do remember though, that this means your professional resume will be connecting to your Twitter account (which may have personal content).

FourSquare is another popular service that can be tied to Twitter. You can update your location and check in to places using your Twitter account. Once again, I advise caution since the ease of Twitter makes one careless. Be sure to remember that whatever you tweet becomes available openly.

Easy-peasy does it!

Twitter homepage

The best thing about Twitter is how accessible it is. The Twitter site is only one of the ways to get in. Some of the other sites in use are Dabr and Twimply. If you’re mobile rather than computer-connected, Mobile Twitter and Tweete are handy on a GPRS connection. Twitterrific and Tweetdeck are applications that run on your desktop.

While on this, image capture is also quicker and easier on Twitter. Twitpic and Twitgoo let you post images instantly to the Twitterverse. This is really handy for when you’re on the move with a cameraphone and don’t want to spend time downloading, formatting and blogging.

Has your blog met Twitter?

Once you extend your online output to Twitter, it makes sense to link it to your blog. That way you can draw your followers to your blog and your readers to your tweets. While talking about expanding your online output, it is a good practice to allow your users the convenience of one-stop access. FriendFeed will tie in your blog(s), Twitter, Flickr and a number of other services.

The Twitter widget keeps a running update of your tweets on Facebook, Blogger or a self-hosted domain.WordPress has an inbuilt widget that does the same thing. If you have a self-hosted domain, WordPress also has several plug-ins that post a tweet when you publish a new post.

Twitter widget on The Idea-smithy blog

I’ve already talked about link-sharing options in detail. Most online services allow you to share information through Twitter (in fact, it is usually the first or second most popular choice in a link-sharing toolkit). Many review sites, social communities and ticket-booking sites offer the option of instantly tweeting your action. Be prudent about what you approve since each tweet reveals something about you (site usage, schedule, location etc). The other side of this is that you should offer your readers the same option. It is so much easier to tweet a link to a post than to email or text it to our friends.

Twitter on Wibiya toolbar at The Idea-smithy blog

And finally, once you’re a citizen of the Twitterverse, come say hi to me. Perky Tweets is feature that could make you famous on BlogAdda because of your tweets. Get tweeting and let the little blue birdie tell the world about your blog!

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Other articles in this column:

  1. Checklist For A Blogger
  2. Building Access: Feeds & Link-sharing
  3. Protecting Your Privacy
  4. Is Your Blog Facebooked?
  5. The Twitter Birdie At Your Blog
  6. Dress Up Your Blog
  7. Dear Reader, Stay Awhile Longer
  8. Group Blogs: Becoming A Part Of The Online Community
  9. The Internet Undesirables
  10. Blogger Profiles: Creating An Identity For Your Blog
  11. Reader Devo Bhava!
  12. “This happened today…”: Blogging An Event
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