Watch the links flowing in the Twitter stream. Click a few. You’ll probably find that 80% of them lead to blogs.
Some are the sites of professional bloggers or online media giants. Others are the blogs of businesses large and small. But most of the links go to blogs or articles.
Blogs are essential to business people trying to promote their companies. They are, of course, essential to the bloggers making a living off their writing. Blogs or articles are essential to the many media and research companies on the web. And they are highly valuable to Twitter.
Many of the tweets are headlines or teasers for blog posts followed by links to the post.When people search Twitter for information, a lot of it comes back in the form of these links. When people surf the stream, they scan for interesting headlines from interesting tweeters.
In fact, the ability to create a good headline is put to use daily by Twitter users, giving bloggers a distinct advantage. Especially those keeping within about 130 characters (to allow for retweets).
Twitter is making its mark in large part as a conveyer of information, a huge real-time information resource. And blogs appear to be the link currency of Twitter.
So, if bloggers and their links are such a commodity for Twitter, perhaps it should cater more to bloggers?
Twitter may want to consider adding features that help bloggers and make it an even more attractive platform for them to promote their content. Here are some of the features I can think of:
One of the challenges with Twitter is the volume of tweets. One relies on the text in the tweet to decide whether the link is worth clicking on.
I’m disappointed too often because the tweet text is either purposefully deceptive or just not clear or accurate enough. I click on the link and the article is not what I expected or wanted.
On the flip side, I often wonder how many good posts I’ve passed up because the “headline” in the tweet wasn’t accurate or enticing enough. I only have so much time to surf the stream, after all. I can’t click on every link.
You may have encountered the double underline links used on some sites. When your cursor passes over them, a small window containing graphics and text pops-up over the page.
Often, these are ads, which I detest. Even when they’re not ads, I usually find these pop-ups rather annoying. But on Twitter, I think they could actually be useful.
If they popped up over links, you could get a better sense of where the link is taking you and decide whether to click it. That’s a useful feature for bloggers. Instead of losing people who’ve gotten click-shy, bloggers have a better chance of getting click-thru’s from their target audience.
Tracking Links through RTs
As a blogger, of course you want your promotional tweets retweeted.
But you probably track the links through bit.ly or another tool, to see how often they are being retweeted. Unfortunately, a lot of the other Twitter users want to track the items they retweet, so, they change the URL.
It would be great if Twitter provided a URL shortner in their UI and if it tracked these changed URLs, so bloggers (and others) could do accurate accounting.
Helping Bloggers Get More Regular Followers
Twitter is great for bloggers because we get to promote our headlines to our regular readers as well as promote it to potential new readers.
With the power of retweets and the fact that we get follows coming directly through Twitter rather than our blog, we have broader reach. Twitter could aid us by helping to make users aware of their own proclivities.
Users surf the stream, retweet this, click on this link or that link. They may notice that they’ve clicked several of a given person’s links or retweeted their stuff several times, but then again, they may not.
What if Twitter, unobtrusively, pointed out the fact that we seem to really like a given person’s tweets. Maybe it put little flags next to people we’ve clicked or RTed more than a certain amount. Or maintained a list in the right pane of the people whose links we’ve clicked but whom we’re not following yet.
That makes it easier for people to see new people they should be following. (And, of course, the more followers we get, the more opportunity for them to see the headlines for our posts.)
Those are a few of the features I can think of that Twitter could add to help bloggers. Can you think of others? Do you agree that bloggers are a special and especially important resource for Twitter, and should be catered to?