What is Twitter?

This social tool is redefining audience development and RSS by turning it into an interactive and community-based experience

Twitter would call themselves a “service for friends, family, and co–workers to communicate and stay connected through the exchange of quick, frequent answers to one simple question: What are you doing?” To learn more, read their About Twitter page.

For publishers, it could be considered more of an interactive RSS feed.

For most users, this is how Twitter works:

You have a box that looks like this when you log in:

You use this to type what you’re doing in 140 characters or less. Below this box, you have an RSS feed of all of your Twitter friends. Every time they send a “tweet” aka update on Twitter (or through the popular Twitter reader, twhirl), you get an update.

Sounds simple right? You might ask yourself why anyone wants to be “on” 24 hours a day and share with the world what they are doing at every moment. But this site is HUGE and the target audience includes anyone that enjoys social media.

WebGuild recently wrote a fantastic guide on how to start with Twitter called “Beginner’s Guide To Using Twitter” that you should check out.

In addition, Twitter acts like something as a chat room for people who choose to use it that way (many people). People can choose to respond to “tweets” by typing an @ symbol before their friends’ username. If you were writing to us on Twitter you would say: @mequoda – your articles are the best. Well we hope you’d say something like that. Twitter users use this feature often and it would be helpful to have someone on your staff, if you’re using Twitter, be the voice of your Twitter account if you intend to use it as a community tool in addition to a distribution tool.

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How is Twitter helpful to publishers?

Last year when we attended the Web 2.0 Expo, Twitter was everywhere. Last minute session updates, feedback on sessions, quotes by speakers, and meeting places were all being fed into Twitter by both attendees and event organizers. This year at PodCamp NYC, the story was still the same: notes and quotes being thrown up from each session, updates from speakers, links to conference coverage and more was being updated by the second. You couldn’t bump into one person who did not have a Twitter account.

With such a large user base, why aren’t we all tapping into the network? Some of the biggest news publishers such as The New York Times has a New York Times Twitter account that is just an RSS feed of their website. The account brings in 3,383 followers. When they update, Twitter updates with the article title and a tinyurl link back to the article on nytimes.com. Imagine if you had 3,383 followers that might click back to your site atleast once or twice a day… Sounds like an effortless yet productive concept, no?

Our Mequoda Twitter has only just gotten started, but we’re subscribed to many of the publishers using Twitter, so check out our Mequoda Twitter friends page to see some of the other magazine, news, and traditional print publishers are using Twitter.

Download a FREE copy of Best Email Subject Lines for Selling Premium Subscriptions and Memberships and discover an extensive list of email subject line frameworks that are consistently proven to sell and boost revenue for publishers.

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