Back when I first started using Twitter in 2007, I had become fond of tweeting updates whenever I had a new post on my personal blog. I also tweeted everytime I made a post on several network blogs I edited and contributed to. After a while, it became tedious, and I decided to use one of those WordPress plugins that automatically updates your Twitter status when you had a new blog post.
The concept is pretty simple–the updates could actually go both ways. The plugin will automatically tweet the blog post title as soon as you hit the publish button. You also have the option of consolidating your tweets for a day, and publishing these as a blog post (which I personally find tacky).
For a while, I thought having these updates on auto-pilot seemed good. But when I realized I, myself, ignored automatic update notifications from my Twitter friends most of the time. Unless you run a Twitter account solely to provide updates to your readers about new posts, you most likely run your Twitter account to communicate and connect. And I think it’s best to use this to really talk engage with your readers, rather than blindly update them when you have posts elsewhere.
I guess it’s similar to how I’m not so cool with the idea of cross-posting between Twitter and other microblogging services, such as Plurk. It gives the perception that you’re not actively engaging with your Twitter friends and contacts. It makes it seem they’re not important enough to spend a minute copying and pasting (and shortening) URLs, and typing a few words to introduce your text. It makes them wonder whether you’re actually logged into your Twitter account to read replies and messages, if anyone wants to respond.
Manually posting Twitter updates when you have a new blog post is better, in that you can personalize the message that comes with the link. Sometimes, a blog post’s title is not self-explanatory enough, unless you’re an expert at writing headlines. You can get readers more interested in your blog post if you include a catchy tagline or blurb using your own words, or as an excerpt from the blog post.
Furthermore, when you write about the new post in your own words, it makes it more conversational, and it helps you connect better. For instance, rather than just tweet:
The Pros and Cons of Auto Tweeting Blog Posts – http://shortenedurlhere
I can perhaps say:
What do you think of automatic tweeting blog post updates? – http://shortenedurlhere
By asking a question, my friends and followers can pitch in. Or perhaps I can write something more retweet-worthy, so both my tweet and blog post get better traction.
People easily get tired of automatic tweets. But if you make your Twitter followers feel important by personalizing your tweet, then that helps in winning them over. Instead of getting a lot of zombies to read your posts, you get real people liking and loving what you write, reacting to these, and possibly helping spread the word.
When you’re in a network environment, with dozens and dozens of blogs and contributors, it can get unwieldy. In these cases, it might be easier to do automatic updates, but only if you intend the Twitter account as an update mechanism to alert readers of new updates to the network or to that particular blog. Otherwise, you can perhaps ask each contributor to be active in linking to their posts on their own Twitter accounts.
Have you tried auto-tweeting plugins? What has your experience been, so far?