If you've read some of my previous posts on the two, you might have picked up on a tone of skepticism. That was in my early days, before I really understood their purpose and functionality.
However, after months of facebooking and tweeting, my skepticism is rehabilitated. I've gained a new perspective on both. Here's what I've learned. 5 ways to use Facebook and Twitter effectively:
1. Don't tweet or leave a comment and then disappear. In this sense, they are similar to blogging. We can't expect to get much out of such sites if we toss our comments out there and then run back into our safe hole.
I can't respond to every Twitter or Facebook comment, but I try to take some time to personally interact with those who respond to me. More importantly, I try to show interest in the lives of others. Yes, here it is again--the give and take of successful communication.
2. Make an effort to meet new people. I'm not always sure how people find me, but I'm glad they do. I rarely turn down requests and almost always follow back (unless someone looks like a hacker or spammer).While many friends overlap between the social networking sites, I've also met a whole new spectrum of friends in each realm that I wouldn't have met otherwise.
If we want to network, we can't be shy. We have to jump out there, show interest in others, and make an effort to socialize. If we wait for others to make the first move, we might miss out on new friendships.
3. Use the cyber world as a place to express our uniquenesses. I fully realize not everything I say on Twitter or Facebook is life-shattering or world-altering. Some of it might be downright mundane. But the trick, just as in novel-writing, is to take the ordinary and share it in new and intriguing ways.
Maybe we can't expect every comment to have our special flare, but Twitter and Facebook give us a stage on which to showcase our uniquenesses, to establish ourselves as interesting and worth listening to. Debra Schubert recently landed an agent partly because of her unique voice on Twitter. Read her agent story here.
4. Link to other helpful articles or posts. Twitter is an especially useful resource for finding quick links to blogs. Agents and other writers often tweet links to helpful articles. If the title catches my attention, I pop over to scan the information. (This shows the importance of crafting catchy titles.)
I've also found Twitter an especially useful place to link to my own blog. I don't link every day or make that the main focus of my tweeting, but sharing about a blog post can generate more readers. When others find my blog posts helpful or inspiring, sometimes they retweet it (send it into twitter again), which has the potential to bring even more readers.
5. Use social networking consistently and with balance. Tweeting and facebooking don't have to be a huge effort. In fact, with Twitter and Facebook, sometimes less is more. We don't want to tire our followers with our our constant chattering. When someone tweets or comments too much, my eyes tend to glaze over when I see their name.
On the other hand, tweeting or posting for one day and then disappearing for a week doesn't help maintain the connections either. Everyone needs to find a system that works for them. But I try to make a comment on Facebook approximately once a day and then get onto Twitter for several short bursts on a daily basis. Of course I miss days. Life happens. But for the most part, I try to stay consistent.
That's it--that's what I've learned so far about Facebook and Twitter. What have you learned? Do you find them beneficial or are you still skeptical? Please share!