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SMO Guide to Micro-Blogging Posted On: 04/06/2011 Last Updated: 04/07/2011

What is Micro-blogging?

You're probably familiar with micro-blogging, even if you didn't know its technical social media name. Micro-blogs are characterized by short, one line, frequent updates that, like blogs, can either be viewed by a restricted set of people or anyone. If that sentence confused you let me give you a one word answer: Twitter.

Why should I Micro-blog?

Micro-blogging enables you to have almost real time interactions with people, both potential customers and marketplace peers. More a cross between a blog and chatroom, micro-blogging services such as Twitter and Plurk give you as a business-owner a way to provide unmatched customer service to your buyers, a way to communicate easily and casually with other sellers, and a way for you to broadcast your content (and the occasional promotion) to hundreds if not thousands of targeted potential buyers.

What Service should I use to Micro-blog with?

For the purpose of this guide we will not get into an argument about which services is the best as it really boils down to personal preference. The two services I see used most often in the handmade community are Twitter and Plurk. Both of these can be used effectively to help increase your online presence. You can choose either or both, but remember the key is to become a valued content provider which takes time and commitment. It will be better to be a valued and active participant in one community than an unknown sporadic user of many. For the purpose of this guide, we will write primarily about Twitter. Twitter has a larger community, has a lot of interactive functionality with your fusion studio, and is very basic and easy to use even for a computer novice. You can also read our Introductory Guide to Twitter to get started with some of its features, which is also available in the Help Guides section of these forums.

What should I Blog about?

The real challenge to micro-blogging is not just updating your feed regularly. A great Twitter user is a combination of a columnist, a critique, an expert, and a friend. With informative posts, creative comments, and meaningful insights, a Twitter account can do it all in short lines of 140 characters or less. Sharing links to things you find interesting, commenting on other people's updates, and letting people know what you're up to are all popular ways to engage with the community. The same message that we talked about with regular blogging is just as important here. You will need to be a content provider, not just an advertiser.

So now that we have the basics out of the way we can start to talk about the art of micro-blogging, it is important to keep in mind that social media is an art and not a science. What works well for one person might not be the right approach for another.

I'd like to start out by talking about the first trap I see most Twitterers fall into (this is something I have observed rather than the accepted practice). The best thing to do is explain both methods of accumulating a network on Twitter and allow you to choose which would be best for your business. The two schools of thought I'm referring to focus on the best way to get followers of your Twitter feed. The first method involves following hundreds to thousands of other users, with varying levels of affinity to your purpose, with the hope that they follow you back. The second method involves slowly building a community of friends and acquaintances over time, or basically the quality over quantity argument.

Both of these schools of thought have their benefits and drawbacks. You could end up with an army of people you follow who don't actually follow you, or you could find you don't want to manage any more than one or two hundred followers. I think most people eventually settle for something in the middle of these two extremes. There are several programs like Mr. Tweet and Twitseeker that will help you refine your search for people that are more likely to have high affinity with your profile. You can also use Tweetdeck to search for target keywords, such as your username or even just, "handmade" and jump in on the conversation when you get the chance which will generate followers as well.

It is important to remember that Twitter is not somehow fundamentally different from other social media venues or the world in general. There is no get-rich-quick scheme that will deliver you customers on a golden platter (regardless of what those scam Twitter accounts say). Anyone selling such a dream is making money off the dreamers, not the system they promote. The only way to reap true rewards is honestly put in the time and effort to be an active community member. The great thing about social media is that it often times doesn't even feel like work. When you engage your customers, chat with your friends, help someone else out, and post that cool site you just found, you're building your reputation. Just having fun, helping out, and getting to know people will set you on the right path toward tweeting greatness.

Like in our SMO blogging guide, let's list off a few of the things that seem to make a great Twitter account. Some of these suggestions might look familiar. That's because a lot of social media activities have synergies that seem to work regardless of platform. Without further ado, 5 steps to tweeting greatness:

1. Be involved - Actively engage members of the community. Did someone ask a question you know the answer to? Go ahead and let them know. Is there a great discussion about lampwork techniques or your favorite primetime show last Sunday that you find interesting? Jump in and take part. You want people to take notice when they see your tweets, not just scroll past. If people remember you, they'll stop and read.

2. Update frequently - Try to figure out how often you want to check in and stick to it. Twitter is a very interactive and fast-paced social media platform, so you might not get everything out of it if just check in once a week. That's not to suggest you become a tweetaholic, but checking in at least once a day isn't a bad idea. It is a good idea to set up a tweet schedule. Figure out how much you'd like to tweet, not including @Replies and DM's and try to meet that goal every day. You might start out just trying to send out 7 tweets a day. Some of these could be an interesting link, a thought provoking question, an offbeat comment, and the occasional self-promotion to let people know what you're up to in your studio.

3. Have a goal - Just like blogging, you will find tweeting much easier and enjoyable if you can figure out your purpose before you start. Are you tweeting for your business, for a cause, just for your friends. Understanding what you hope to achieve beforehand can help you build measurable goals for the future.

4. Use all the tools available - With new applications being created every day, it is impossible to list all the useful applications. I have listed some of my personal favorites and time-tested tools of the community below. However, if you can dream it, it has probably been built and is just waiting for you to find it. Mashable's Twitter List offers over 100 great Twitter applications, so go check it out if you're looking for some fun new Twitter tools!

5. Watch other "tweeps" - One method that might be underrated is to just observe other tweeps (or fellow Twitter users) that you enjoy. If there is someone you feel sets a real example for the community, look at what they are doing. Then try and figure out how you can use a similar strategy to your advantage.

Have more questions about Social Media Optimization on Twitter? Leave a question below or email  Also be sure to check out our Twitter Introductory Guide, also located in the Help Guides section of the Forums.

Other SMO Guides:

Social Networking SMO

Social Bookmarking SMO

Social Media Guide to Blogging

SMO Guide to Forums