Tuesday, April 14, 2015

How I Promote My Blog on Twitter

Image credit: Lunar Templates
Twitter is my favorite and most effective social media platform for promotion. Since it was founded in 2006, Twitter has revolutionized social media and even revolutions. I have used it extensively and profitably when I had an Etsy store and Squidoo postings. Since Squidoo crashed, I’m starting over and now use it for promoting my own blog. Twitter is free and easy to use. I like the free part best.  I'm not a marketing guru or tech geek, just a retired baby boomer blogger. The following information is based on my own experience using Twitter for several years.

Twitter account

You need a Twitter account first, of course. Just go to www.twitter.com to open an account. I keep separate accounts for my blog and for my friends. Try to name the account with your exact blog name. If that's taken, try close variations to keep your branding consistent. Since tweets are restricted to 140 characters, it’s sometimes difficult  to fit in what you want to say. I try to use a snappy phrase as an attention getter, followed by the link and hashtags.

The link to a blog post can be quite lengthy and makes the tweet look bloated. There are several Web sites that offer shortened URLs, consisting of numbers, capitalized and non-capitalized letters. The ones that I see most often are bit.lyow.ly, TinyURL.com, and goo.gl. from Google. The shortened URL looks more professional, which makes the tweet more appealing and recognizable. I’ve found that click throughs increased dramatically when I started using shortened URLS. Both bit.ly and ow.ly offer extensive analytics.

Hashtags are an extremely useful to get wider exposure on Twitter beyond your followers. The hashtag is “#” and is found on the “3” key on your keyboard. For example, when I tweet about a recipe, I’ll add the hashtag “#recipes” and the type of recipe, such as “#lasagna” or “#burrito.” The tweet will then come up in general searches in addition to being sent to your followers.

Here's the tweet I use for this blog article: "Tips for promoting your blog/Web site on Twitter & social media! http://bit.ly/1zdAYNh #blogpromotion #twitter #hootsuite #donnasblogs."

Once I’ve composed the tweet and tweaked it to my liking, I save it to a spreadsheet for later use. Using the tweet on other social media saves a lot of time posting. The hashtags can serve as keywords on Delicious or Tumblr. I use the “snappy phrase” for those sites, Facebook and Pinterest. For Instagram, I simply post the picture and use the tweet as the text. Other ways of saving the text include Evernote, OneNote and Google Docs.

Finding Followers

Here’s how I got Twitter followers for my Etsy store, Squidoo, and now my blog. First and foremost, make sure that you have a Twitter button/link on all your posts and your blog or Website. This is the easiest way to get followers. Blogger puts them on the bottom of posts for sharing a post but does not offer a widget to put them on the sidebar. There are many websites that offer free packs of social media icons in many styles. Choose the style that you like, post the jpg or png to the HTML widget and link to your social media site. The file will be very, very small-about 20 x 20 pixels. In February 2015, Twitter just started offering a plugin for WordPress. Just click on the Twitter button to the right to follow me!

Now that you have the perfect tweet, who do you send it to? I started by following a few bloggers that I know and branching out. Check out Twitter’s Best Rules and Practices for guidelines. Basically, it says to follow a few people at a time, not thousands. Once you are following 2000 people, Twitter has limits on the number of followers.  I followed and had about 1500 followers for my Etsy store so I haven’t had experience with the limit. 

I've started from zero followers for my blog Twitter account, @DonnasBlogPosts. I  try to add 10-20 followers per day on the Twitter Web site. It’s not a fast method, but it works for me. First I check the Notifications tab on my Twitter account.  I usually follow back people that follow me. Also, I follow people that retweet, favorite, or mention my tweets.

I don’t follow everyone that follows me. If their profile doesn’t fit my blog, I don’t follow back. I write a lifestyle blog about recipes, movies, gardening and music. I don’t follow technical computer tweets, science tweets or business tweets.  

When you first start on Twitter, you’ll get some junk followers. There are a lot of “marketing gurus” that offer to get you thousands of followers. I’ve seen a lot of authors promoting their books. Don’t be surprised if you get followers that tweet porn, obscenities, or hate tweets. I’m all for free speech, but I just block those followers and any other oddballs so that I don’t run afoul of the Google Analytics guidelines for my blog. This is especially important now that Google is able to include tweets in Google Search results.

I’ve also found mentions from several people that use the tweets on their paper.li “newspapers.” Paper.li is based in Lichtenstein. People can create their own publication that is sent routinely to followers by using Twitter feeds. I need the exposure right now but I may block the use of my tweets for this purpose in the future. I tried paper.li for a while, but it did not expand my following. However, it may work for you.

The Twitter button and Notifications tab are the quickest way to find followers. Now it’s time to go out and look for them! Conveniently, Twitter offers a Who to Follow window on the right hand of the screen. I click View All and start searching, based on the following criteria. Most of the suggestions are related to my profile, so I check to see if the person follows back and is active daily. The actual number of following/followers isn’t important to me if they’re about equal. For my blog account, I don't follow the "quote of the day" folks.  I don’t follow most commercial sites since they don’t follow back. I will follow manufacturers related to my blog like canning supplies or movie sites. I don’t follow promoted sites either. I will do some primitive data mining to find people to follow. Twitter makes your list of followers publicly accessible. Sometimes if I like a particular person, I will look at their list to find more people.

How do I know if people don’t follow me back? There are several free Web sites to check for non-followers. I use ManageFlitter to clean out my list on a regular basis. I try to keep my followers/following numbers approximately equal. ManageFlitter will sort out non followers, inactive, fake and many other types of undesirable followers. I usually give people a week to follow back and then unfollow if they do not. I do keep those commercial sites mentioned above and some of my favorite bloggers even if they don’t follow me.

Time Saving Tweeting

I certainly don’t spend all day on Twitter! Following and unfollowing take about 15 minutes of my time. I upload future tweets so that I’m not directly tweeting all day. There are many free tools on the Web for this purpose such as Twitter’s TweetDeck, Hootsuite and many others. I’ve used the free version of Hootsuite for several years with TweetDeck as an alternative. This is where keeping tweets on a spreadsheet, Evernote or whatever can save a huge amount of time. I spend about 15 minutes once a week uploading timed tweets for the next week. 

There are many theories of the best time to post. I randomize my posts to try to catch everyone at some time. This method may sound weird but it works for me. I post six tweets a day throughout the day. On even number days I post on even numbered times and on odd numbered days I post on odd numbered times, rolling the times. For example, on an even day I’ll post at 12 AM (midnight), 4 AM, 8 AM, 12 noon, 4 PM and 8 PM. On the next day, which is odd, I’ll post at 1 AM, 5 AM, 9AM, 1 PM, 5 PM, and 9 PM. The next day is even so I post at 2 AM, 6 AM, 10 AM and so on. It may sound complicated but it’s easy once you try it a few times. When I post on Hootsuite, it’s not precisely on the hour so the tweets may be sent of 1:50 AM or 8:05 AM, adding to the randomization. Hootsuite does offer bulk uploading with their paid option. I used that for my Etsy store and it was easy to use. I’m going to wait for a revenue stream to get going on the blog before I go to the paid options.

Another way to tweet automatically is to utilize the inter-connectivity of most social media sites. I’ve connected my Facebook blog page to my Twitter account. When I post a blog on Facebook, it goes on their Twitter stream which adds another site for blog exposure. You may choose to connect with tumblr, Instagram, or any of the other popular media Web sites.

Twitter does offer promoted ads and has a toll free number to help with set-up. As above, I'll wait until the blog generates enough income before investing in paid services.

Analytics

Analytics are important to follow to see if your strategy is effective. Twitter finally introduced tweet analytics in August, 2014. This is one more reason Twitter is my primary social media promotion platform. You don’t have to generate a code to place on your blog or Web site, like Google Analytics. The data is just there! Click on your profile icon in the upper right hand corner and choose Analytics on the drop own menu, which opens in a new window. The analytics are robust and provide the statistics that I am interested in for my tweets. Twitter Analytics seem more similar to Google Adsense than Google Analytics.

The Twitter Analytics Home page provides a 28 day summary of your tweets, impressions, profile visits, mentions, followers, and a number of tweet highlights. Below that are the same statistics for the previous months that your account was opened. If you want to drill down further, click Tweets on the menu across the top. You’ll get details of the last 13 days for each of your tweets for impressions, engagements and more. There is an option to set the date range on this page. A CSV download option is convenient for me because I like to sort by the various statistics on my beloved spreadsheets. The Followers Page shows the trend of your followers, hopefully going up. It also includes demographics such as interests, location and gender. I was surprised to find that almost half of my followers are male even though I tend to follow women with similar interests.

Twitter Trivia

On a lighter note, here’s some Twitter trivia. The Twitter bird was created by Simon Oxley and originally posted to iStockphoto.com. The bird is officially named “Larry” as in Larry Bird of the Boston Celtics basketball team. There have been four versions of Larry, the bird not the basketball player.

Final Comments

These strategies can be applied to any social media site to build a following and drive traffic to your Web site or blog. I’d love to hear from you about how they have or have not worked. Give some or all of them a try!


Image Credit: Allposters.com
John James Audobon-Blue Jay