If you are beginning to Blog or Twitter, one of the first things you want to bear in mind, is that there’s a learning process involved.
A good place to start is by listening to people who already blog, or twitter about the things you’re interested in. You start by getting comfortable not just listening to them, but replying to what they say, and what they share. When you start blogging, or tweeting (as in using twitter), it’s often easier responding to something that someone else has written than starting with a blank slate, and feeling like you are talking into a void.
Of course, if you already have things to share, this won’t be your challenge, but for those of you who know you should be using Twitter, or writing a blog, or possibly both, but don’t have the first clue on how to start, let me give you some advice.
Start by listening. Talk less, and listen more. Better yet, listen for at least twice as long as you might spend writing and responding. Pay attention to people that are already blogging, or twittering, and listen to what they have to say. It helps if you find people who you either already know, or are already established authorities in their field, since clearly, you’ll get some great examples to learn from, and you’ll be able to learn much quicker, than if you were trying to understand and make sense of it all by yourself.
So where do you find these interesting people to listen to? If you’re on twitter – the easiest thing to do, would be to search the conversations (which you can do by going to http://search.twitter.com – or following the link at the very bottom of the main Twitter page, that says “Search“) – that are already happening on twitter. If you pick up some words, or phrases that would be used when talking about a topic, or subject relating to your field or topic of interest, you should be able to find a whole bunch of people interested at least to some extent to similar things as yourself.
As an example, I recently was looking for people interested in “meditation“, and “relaxation“, so I went to search Twitter, and from the conversations, I discovered people who were talking about meditation, or relaxation. (Of course, as well as the main words of meditation, and relaxation, I also used the terms meditate, meditating, and meditator and also relax, relaxing, relaxed, as well as a few appropriate, and similar terms, such as peace, tranquil, calm, serene).
There are also some great websites that bring together “groups” of people on twitter, who are interested in similar things. I’ll find those websites, and include them at the end of this article in the near future.
If you’re looking to find interesting people to follow, in the blogosphere, there’s a couple of different options. The first would be to seek out people who you already know to be experts in something, and find out if they have any blogs, by finding their main websites, and looking for links. The other option is to use Google’s Blog Search to look for blogs that make use of keywords relating to your topic(s) of interest. Personally, I look for content that looks interesting, and useful, and then decide to follow the authors blog, afterwards, simply because I found their blog useful :)
A good habit to get into, is to make sure you’ve already set up your blog before you start reading other people’s blogs, and then when you read something useful or interesting, make sure you leave a comment, and include a link back to your own blog. Of course, there’s little point in just senselessly linking back from any old blog, but if you found something particularly interesting or useful, chances are, one day, you might right something that could be of interest the author of the blog you visit – and they only way they can decide if they would be interested in listening to what you have to say, is if you leave them a trail, that leads back to you.
To keep track of all the interesting blogs you find, it’s best to use a newsreader also known as a feed reader, and some great examples are Bloglines, NewsGator, or Google Reader, which let you collect the blogs your interested in, in one place, and they let you read the news on each of the blogs, from one place – saving you the time it would take to go visiting each website, to get the latest news. You use the RSS Feed (sometimes also called XML, or Atom), and register the address for the feed in your feed reader, to make sure the most recent content from the blog is retrieved in a single place, for you to read at your leisure.
If you need any help with finding relevant people on Twitter, or appropriate blogs to read, based on your industry, or topic of interest, feel free to leave a comment below, and I’ll be happy to help you find a few good sources to start from ;)
Happy hunting – and be sure to share any other great tips, or suggestions you have for finding great and interesting people to follow on twitter, or ways you have for choosing which blogs to read.