Twitter and the Business of Writing

How can Twitter be used for business in just 140 characters per tweet? (Editor’s note: Twitter now gives users 280 characters per tweet.) A reporter asked that question recently, and this is what I replied:

My posts serve a few different types of purposes (example after each, italicized):

  • Connecting 1:1 with people who are important in my industries

@TerryDean Thanks 4 following. Loved yr post about hypercopyitis–very in tune w/ my philosophy of copywriting

  • Exchanging useful information

@drmani Picked out an article for yr Heart Kids Tweetathon (honest copywriting)–have sent to my assistant to set up the download page.

  • Subtly demonstrating my skills and capabilities

Waiting for two different clients to send follow-up so I can write them knock-’em-dead press releases 🙂

  • Generating interest in an article I’ve written or found worthwhile

Is horrified at police violence against protesters AND JOURNALISTS at Repub Convention [www.principledprofit_com]

  • Once in a great while, something about my personal life if I think people will actually find it interesting

Reunited with important old friends from NYC poet days after ~17 years–great visit!


I joined Twitter in the summer of 2008 and am finding it increasingly useful, almost addictive. I typically spend about five minutes, two or three times a day—but invariably I then spend some extra time following useful links that others have posted.

I have no patience for the “I had cereal for breakfast” type of tweet, and I unfollow people who chatter about nothing all day long and fill my box. But I’m finding it a nice little relationship-reinforcer, especially for those who know me very casually, as well as a fabulous source of information, a way of associating with new people I should know, and in some situations, a way to hear breaking news. I first found out that Paul Krugman won the Nobel Prize on Twitter. And by following HelpAReporter, ReporterConnection, and ProfNet, I’m able to get a jump on fast-breaking requests from journalists for story sources.


This article was excerpted with permission from Shel Horowitz’s e-book, Web 2.0 Marketing for the 21st Century: The Missing Chapters of Grassroots Marketing: Getting Noticed in a Noisy World and Grassroots Marketing for Authors and Publishers, which is included with every direct-from-Shel order of either Grassroots book. Press releases, book jackets, sell sheets, and web pages from Shel (award-winning author of Grassroots Marketing for Authors and Publishers, Guerrilla Marketing Goes Green, and six other books) tell “the story behind the story.”