5 Days of Social Media {Twitter}

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Welcome to Day 3 of 5 Days of Social Media. If you’re just now discovering this fun series, be sure to check out:
Today, we’re going to take a look at what Twitter can do for a homeschool blogger. 
Some of you are wondering, “What exactly is Twitter?” I remember wondering the same thing a couple of years ago, when it was new.  Well, Twitter is a way to share conversation with a community people by sending and receiving short messages, called “tweets”. You can build your own community by “following” other Twitter uses, which enables you to see their tweets. When Twitter users follow you, you become a part of their community and they can see your tweets. Imagine taking email, Facebook, chat rooms, and instant messaging and merging them. That’s what Twitter is.
Tweets are a maximum of 140 characters long, so unlike blogs, it just takes a moment or two to read and write them. Tweets have features that allow you to “reply” to someone’s tweet, thus beginning a conversation, “retweet”, allowing you in essence to repost what someone else tweeted, and direct messaging, which allows a private message to be sent.
People tweet about all kinds of things — homeschooling, products, inspirational quotes or scripture, things they find funny, interesting, or controversial, photos, and business news. What began as a way for employees of a software company to communicate with each other has become an amazing conversation and marketing tool!
So what can Twitter do for you as a blogger? Just why should you tweet? Let’s explore that further.

1. Synchronization

Twitter can easily be connected to your Facebook fan page, so that anything you post as a status on Facebook is automatically tweeted. This includes your Blog posts (whether you manually post them or use Networked Blogs), or a quote, link, or statement you make. More exposure to your blog posts will hopefully parlay into more people reading your blog.

2. Ease of use

Twitter is quick and easy to use. Unlike blogging, Twitter limits you in the number of words you can use. Likewise, it only takes a few moments to read tweets on your feed. The search engine makes it easy to find folks tweeting about things that interest you. And most bloggers today who are tweeting have made it easy to find them by place a Twitter social media icon right on their blog page. You can do that, too. By placing a Twitter icon on your blog, you give readers another way to follow YOU.

3. Networking

Similar to a Facebook fan page, you can connect with other Twitter users, including homeschool moms and dads, bloggers, and homeschool publishers. There are many relationships built on Twitter, homeschooler to homeschooler, blogger to blogger, blogger to publisher, and more. Many publishing companies and conferences are holding Twitter parties where you can connect even more. This helps you find like-minded friends who will not only inspire you with their own thoughts and ideas, but just might be willing to share yours with their “followers”. 

4. Hashtags

I know, “what is a hashtag?” A hashtag is that # symbol you see people putting in front of words on Twitter (or on a Facebook status that will automatically tweet). It categorizes your tweet so that someone searching for a certain topic can easily find tweets on said topic. For example, if you go to the Twitter search box and type in “#homeschool”, you’ll find a long list of tweets about homeschool. One tip: be sure you are using a hastag that others are using, or no one will see your tweet. Some common ones for homeschooling include: 

5. Sharing your blog posts

Maybe you don’t want to use Facebook, or you don’t wish to synchronize everything on your Facebook fan page to Twitter. Twitter is an easy way to share your blog posts. Just a few introductory words and the link to your blog post, and it’s out there for all of your followers to read. Add some hashtags and even folks who don’t follow you will see them. And those folks may then decide to follow you, adding to your community of followers. Just remember that you only have 140 characters and that includes your link. Twitter will automatically shorten your link to less than 30 characters, but if you need it even shorter, you’ll want to consider using a link shortening site like bit.ly. Or to make it really easy, you can synchronize Twitter with your Blog (without using Facebook).
If this post inspires you to begin tweeting, please leave your Twitter handle in the comments. I want to come and follow you. You can follow me @BenAndMeBlog.
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