Three weeks ago, I was in a place where my best posts were getting around 25 retweets – max. Average was 15-20. Sure, I had a few outliers like the launch of my e-book that got even more, but what I really wanted was a way to drive more traffic to my site.
I started looking toward my friends to see who had the most effective social media strategies. Immediately, Francisco, our valiant leader here at SocialMouths, stuck out. While some of my friends were getting 30-50 tweets, somehow, Francisco was getting hundreds. It seemed that nearly every post he writes goes crazy. I wanted to know how.
I watched. I thunk. I analyzed, and I came up with a strategic answer for how it appeared Francisco was seriously rocking the number of tweets his posts received. Then I took action; I applied the strategy for myself. And it worked.
And now, I’m here to share it. The first logical step is to create relevant and powerful content for your audience. You won’t get attention for poor content. The second has to do with copywriting – Francisco’s headlines are always eyecatching and engaging. You want to read his posts because of that. Those two things will only get you part of the way there.
How do you get the rest of the way? Let’s find out.
The Nature of Twitter
Twitter is one of the largest social media hubs online, and for some people, it is even more important than is Facebook. Twitter works because it is constantly changing. If you follow more than one hundred fifty people, your Twitter stream will be constantly updating. For better or worse, it appeals to the modern culture of Internet ADD.
Users don’t read their entire streams. To do so would quickly become ludicrous and you would have time for nothing else. The messages we send on Twitter are temporary and disappear in an instant.
Yet many people don’t realize this when they create a plan of action for how they promote their own work on Twitter. They feel uncomfortable if they promote themselves more than once or twice.
In my mind, this is choosing to be irrelevant. If you tweet something to your followers once, and it disappears from the top of their stream within 5 minutes (or less at peak times), what happens if they aren’t online to see it?
Do they just miss out on the high quality material that you’ve produced that could help them? Bummer.
Your average follower might be looking forward to your post when it appears in their Twitter stream, but unless you’ve got an unusually dedicated fan, they aren’t going directly to your Twitter profile in order to see if you’ve got any new posts up. You want to reach as many people as possible, right?
So what’s the answer? Tweet more.
The Benefits of Tweeting More
Let’s not pull any punches – social proof matters. And if you’re tweeting more, your numbers are going to go up. All of them (if you do it right):
- The retweet count on your Twitter widget will go up with each time you retweet it.
- It will rise even higher as your post gets retweeted at least once or twice every time you tweet about it.
- Your traffic will go up because you’re hitting a larger audience.
- Your follower count will go up because more retweets means exposure to a wider audience.
- The number of conversations and engagements you have on Twitter will go up.
So far, I don’t see much of a downside to promoting yourself more on Twitter. Are you worried about alienating your followers or that they might be annoyed?
But Won’t My Followers Be Annoyed?
Since adopting the strategy I’m about to share, I haven’t heard any complaints. I’ve even gone so far as to ask my close friends and my fiercest followers on Twitter if they’ve noticed the extra noise. The results? Not at all.
Active Twitter users practice a selective reading policy – we can tell by peripherally glancing at most tweets if we want to read them or not. It’s a matter of who’s doing the tweeting, if we see a link or a quote inside and the keywords that pop out at us. If people don’t want to read a tweet with links, they don’t.
These numbers are far from scientific, but here’s how I break down the answer of, “Will my followers be annoyed?”:
- 48% of them won’t care, because they won’t notice.
- 36% of them will notice one or two of your extra self-promoting tweets, but won’t care because they love the work you do and the type of message you’re sharing; they might even share it (again).
- 14% of them will notice your extra tweets and they won’t care because they are social media mavens and understand what you’re doing; they are also following so many people that they aren’t impacted by it.
- 2% will notice and be annoyed. It is likely that they will unfollow you. It doesn’t matter. They are not your true fans. They are the fringe; the outliers. They read and liked one or two posts, but are not the target audience for your writing. They don’t interact with you and chances are, you don’t have a relationship with them.
The last part may sound harsh, but this type of attrition to your followers is actually valuable. It results in a greater percentage of engaged followers – the people that you want as a member of your community. Let’s be frank: this is business, not a popularity contest. While big numbers and follower counts are nice, far more important in the long run is the quality of those followers. I’d rather have a following of 500 where 300 are deeply engaged than 5000 with 1-2% who actually care about the content I produce.
Timezones & Times of Day
How do you know exactly when to tweet something to gain maximum exposure?
If you want to go by the numbers, the “best time” to tweet something is between 11am and 3pm EST when the greatest amounts of people are online. It can’t hurt to follow this type of statistical guidance, but it’s a near guarantee that your audience does not exactly reflect the entire demography of Twitter.
Starting out, you don’t know when your star retweeter will be online (or even who they are), you don’t know when most of your followers are going to be online and you don’t know when they’ll have time to read something.
So what do you do?
Keep promoting yourself. The best way to do it is to target specifically different crowds. Some people are morning Twitter users, some people hop on during their lunch time and some people tweet late into the night. Think about different time zones and peak periods of use.
In my own testing, I’ve found that two hour increments from 9am to 7pm PST (9am, 11am, 1pm, 3pm, 5pm, 7pm) hits a different area of my audience each day and each tweet tends to result in a few retweets. This is especially effective if there is a new post to share, but still works well when I’m sharing the gems from my archives.
It also leaves a lot of room for engaging in conversations and sharing quality content from other people that I find throughout the day.
ReShare The Best In Your Archives
You’re probably familiar with the concept of “pillar” or “evergreen” posts – posts that when you write them, they become a foundation for the writing you will do in the future. You can literally build your message on these types of post. The quality and attention of pillar content to detail will consistently serve those that visit your site in a timeless fashion.
At times, a new visitor may become deeply engaged in your content and tweet the best of your old material. You can wait for that to happen – if you want. To do so is an extremely passive approach.
You probably get new followers on twitter daily. How are they supposed to know what the best you have to offer is unless you tell them? On the days that you don’t have a new post to share, you can still serve your audience (especially the newer members) by sharing the best of your evergreen content.
Success in Action
As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, I modeled this strategy after watching the success that Francisco was having using it. You’re all still here, right? Social Mouths is definitely on the rise. The content here is incredibly high quality and the copywriting is consistently impressive – the bases of this strategy are covered. The real success comes from how skillfully Francisco shares his content to extend the reach of his material.
Hugh MacLeod of GapingVoid shares his posts and his cartoons multiple times with all of his followers (of which he has many). Not only does he share his posts, he retweets people’s comments on his posts and many tweets related to his art. Does his audience rebel? Hardly – in fact, his numbers continue to swell and his presence online continues to expand.
And lastly, the site I know best – By Bloggers. I started by testing out the strategy I’m sharing on a few posts of mine. The first one: 13 Core Components of E-Book Design got over 50 retweets using this strategy, up from an average of 20. Last week, The Only Guide to Online Product Pricing You’ll Ever Need did the same. While I’m not yet close to Francisco’s numbers, this is a 250% improvement over the number of tweets my posts were getting before.
To Schedule or Not to Schedule?
Implementing this type of sharing strategy takes time, and many people might jump to the question, “Should I schedule my tweets?” It’s an important one. You’ll find people all along both sides of the line that have relevant and insightful opinions.
I’d like to take a balanced approach: You should schedule your tweets, but only schedule them around the times you’ll be at your computer within an hour of posting it. The worst thing you can do is tweet something and start a conversation, only to have the conversation die before it starts because you weren’t around to engage.
If you know when you’re going to be online, you can schedule your tweets for around the same time, so that when conversations do arise, you’re there to take part in them. At the end of the day, scheduling is neither good nor bad; it’s all in how you use it.
Balance: Share and Share Alike
Self promotion is great – getting yourself out there and creating a reputation begins with the actions that you take. There is some danger involved however – you may get trapped in only promoting yourself.
Twitter and all of social media is a social venue. Social means interaction & conversation. It means asking questions and giving answers; it means hanging out with all of the awesome people that have decided that online is the place to be. Tell jokes; share joy; actively participate in real conversation. Engage.
To implement this strategy successfully, you have to find a balance in how much you promote others and how much you promote yourself. While tweeting your own posts more is guaranteed to bring more attention and traffic to your site, shouting, “ME, ME, ME!” into a crowded room is one of the best ways to get tuned out or unfollowed.
Focus on providing value to those that you are sharing with. If you start with this in mind and your goal is to help your audience (whether they are in Australia or the United States), you’ll gather a following that wants to receive what you are sharing.
How Are You Promoting Yourself?
In the end, it all comes down to marketing yourself. If you’re creating content but not driving people to it, you’re talking to a vacuum (empty space). That’s disappointing, and is not a sustainable enterprise.
To succeed, you much become as skilled a marketer as you are a content creator, or team up with someone who is.
So I ask, how are you promoting yourself? Are you using Twitter and Facebook in a way that helps you active expand your reach? Leave a comment and let’s talk about it.
This is a guest post by Jonathan Wondrusch – Jonathan is the Head of Awesome at ByBloggers.net, author of Epic E-Book Creation and the brain and soul behind the ByBloggers Bootstrapper program. You can also find him hanging out on Twitter or Facebook.