In the face of the digital stream of information tightening and flattening the globe, international borders are coming down, and the number of potential viewers is going up. The message you want to send out to people can be heard, and can be heard by many – often beyond your intention or control.
These days, it is not simply about producing quality work… it’s about getting the message out there. If you build it, they may not necessarily come – because it is a wide, wide internet, and you are one voice in the wind.
Such precludes the rise of social media. Its importance to businesses across the globe is staggering. No company is exempt from the need to have and maintain an online presence in the form of a website, Facebook page, company Twitter, etc.
The same can be said about you.
You’ve written quality stuff, now it’s time for other people to see.
In the beginning, it’s either a toss-up between Facebook, or Twitter, or (and this is my choice) both. Facebook has the advantage of having been around longer, and chances are that you probably have one and that you have friends on it. You already have instant access of people who will probably not mind looking at what you link and signal-boosting too, regardless of whether or not it’s truly interesting to them. Friends do that.
Twitter is a different beast altogether but that shouldn’t discourage you from using it. Let me preface this with the fact that I am not a veteran Twitter user, and I don’t have a billion followers… and yet I can still safely say that it is one of the easiest ways to get your words out there and being heard. Here, in no particular order, are some of the reasons why.
1. There is a huge potential audience.
The first reason is the most obvious one. There are a lot of people on Twitter. Everyone knows what it is. Your grandmother probably knows what it is, even if she doesn’t have one (it is not the most user-friendly way to send you funny cat pictures).
Here are some of the hard numbers. There were about 500 million users counted in 2012 posting 340 million tweets a day, and the service handles about 1.6 billion searches queries per day. It is in the top 10 most visited sites. That is a lot of people you can reach.
2. You can easily reach that audience.
One of the biggest things holding you back on Facebook is the limiting factor of your friends network. You may be incredibly popular and you may have access to thousands of people through your network, but the fact remains that your direct viewership is limited by the number of friends that you have.
On Twitter, this is not the case. Searching on Twitter gives you hits for every public tweet, sorted by date with that search term. The use of hashtags (which admittedly requires an interesting balance of use and over-use to perfect) further helps to ensure that your voice on the matter is heard. People do search these terms. Someone out there that you don’t know will see your tweet. And they may retweet it, simply because your voice is worth hearing.
Furthermore, you can tag people that you are not following or who are not following you. Finding someone relevant to post to (e.g. an article about a new game on Steam, could be tagged with @steam_games) increases the chance that they will retweet it to their even wider audience of followers, they to their followers, and so on.
3. It is easy to signal boost.
Let’s face it. People are lazy.
With 140 character limits to a message, people scroll through tweets as fast as a college party through a sixer. Posting it to a million people does not necessarily mean that they will see it. My news feed on Facebook is inundated with page updates to the point where occasionally I forget that actual people exist on there that are not fictional characters from Doctor Who or The Vampire Diaries or webstores for pretty things and my Twitter list not much different.
But the character limit streamlines the information. Taking a little care into crafting your tweet (and really, that should only take a few minutes on the outside versus a few seconds) into something interesting helps to ensure that other people find it interesting enough to retweet to a wider audience of people if they do happen to see it. And that’s as easy as a single click of a button. People are lazy, but not that lazy.
4. There are fewer privacy barriers to gaining followers.
On Facebook, most people are quite reticent about friending people they don’t know personally. A lot more personal information is posted up there, and quite a few personal photos they don’t necessarily want braving the full brunt of internet attention. In this day and age, it’s not hard to make friends with friends of friends of friends, but it is a great deal harder to make friends with complete and utter strangers with no connection to you at all.
Not on Twitter!
People will follow you simply because they noticed you say interesting things, or because you struck up a conversation with you, or because so-and-so follows you, or because they like the shape of your nose. It is easy, and there are no uncomfortable qualms about “But I’ve never actually met this person in my life! Will I look like a stalker? What if they don’t like me?”
It’s a different atmosphere where pretty much everyone hasn’t ever met anyone else (so many celebrities!), following someone is casual and impersonal, and everyone, absolutely everyone is hungry for more followers.
5. It only goes up from here.
Chances are if you want to get your work out there, you’re not trying to get only one piece out. This is for the long run. And while people are usually quite quick to follow, they’re less quick to un-follow. Your group of followers, on the whole, is most likely going to just keep growing. Twitter is fluid, but it is not like a newspaper; if you readership drops, your column isn’t getting booted – keep working at it and new people are just as likely to fill in those old spots.
You will make relationships. Tenuous ones, maybe, but real back-and-forth that will increase your chances of being read, and being read by more people. A celebrity may actually reply to something you say. You will friend industry people and banter about Miley Cyrus with them. You’ll find yourself getting used to checking your Twitter feed, and hashtags won’t be as such an overwhelming mystery of science as they first appeared. It only gets easier.
And if you’re feeling really serious, there are always new ways to up your game. People teach classes on social media. People teach classes solely about Twitter. It’s not hard to find new information about how to use this peculiar blue bird that’s taken the internet by storm. Applications like Buffer can help you track the analytics of each of your tweets, letting you know how many people actually clicked through your links, how many retweeted, and how many potential viewers you had. It’s a learning experience, but you’re definitely not the only one getting it.
If you liked this, and are interested in following me on Twitter, you can find me as @mirroredsakura. I always like new follows too!