Yes, I might be a little bit in love with Twitter, but it's not just a case of better the devil you know.
Twitter not only makes me feel good (most of the time), it makes me look good (because I keep up a strong ratio of followers compared to how many people I follow) and my blog statistics show that Twitter nets me some lovely readers too.
Some might call it traffic but to me they are readers. Real people looking for really useful information who found my blog on Twitter.
Let's take Successful Blogging as an example of how Twitter can help get more readers to your blog.
Here at Successful Blogging, Twitter is the seventh best referer of traffic. Google is first which is a huge success for a new blog (it's only six months old) then StumbledUpon (this is a unique case I could write about in another post if you're interested), direct traffic (people who typed www.successfulblogging.com into their browser bar) plus referrals from my travel blog Get In the Hot Spot, then from Personal Development Free (where my three free book chapters are listed as incitement to sign up) then, (drum roll, please) Twitter.
Twitter beats Facebook bringing 50% more readers than Facebook and, while Twitter is the seventh best referral for traffic, Google+ limps in at 31. Of course there's room for improvement and Google+ is new, but common sense and experience shows it's better to concentrate on the proven performers and not the potential performers.
So I want to share more Twitter tips about the tools I use to manage Twitter and my other social media accounts.
I've written about the joys of Twitter as a motivational tool, mentioned it in Over Online Networking? Start Stalking People Instead and shared some Twitter tactics which is a recommended read if you need tips on what to tweet and how.
This is more of a hands on guide to help you use those Twitter tips and streamline your Twitter and social media accounts so they don't eat up too much time but are still useful to you and your readers.
The Ugly Side of Twitter For Bloggers
I said I love Twitter but it can be a love/hate relationship and I want to talk about the downside too.
Sometimes Twitter can be a waste of time. What better place to go when you want to avoid work?
Sometimes Twitter can feel like an obligation. There's the feeling you have to be interesting, be connected or engage in conversation, when sometimes you don't have anything interesting to say and you'd rather enjoy a bit of isolation or not speak to anyone.
Twitter can induce feelings of paranoia too. It invites endless comparison between you and other bloggers or makes you wonder why so and so are talking to each other and not to you.
But that's just on a bad day. On a good day Twitter rules.
There's a lot of nonsense on Twitter too. There are some people who follow everyone to boost their own followers and who just seem to be self-promoting spin doctors. There are bots (robots) and spammers who send Direct Mail to sell, sell, sell and hackers who tweet phishing links you should not click on.
Never click on a link in Twitter from someone you don't know, even if they've tweeted to you. Usually when you look you'll see they have no followers and it's a hacking or phishing account.
But the majority of Twitter users are good people, normal people who want to find new information and make new contacts.
Twitter For New Bloggers
1. You have to be on Twitter. I recently wrote about 5 brilliant books to read. Only two of the author are on Twitter which is criminal.
Twitter offers writers an incredible opportunity to talk to their readers. Likewise business owners can use Twitter to connect with their clients and reach new ones.
Twitter is the very best social outpost because it's incredibly easy to get started. It's easy to use and it's easy to connect with amazing people. Often without even trying.
At the very least bloggers should start a Twitter account and set it to update automatically every time you add a new blog post.
2. Follow other genuine Twitter users who are interested in your topic and keep your tweet stream 80% related to that topic.
3. Make sure you follow no more than the number of people who follow you. If you follow a lot more people than follow you it creates a bad impression.
@BloggingMentor has 1,172 followers, 888 being followed – there I follow everyone who's into blogging. @GetIntheHotSpot has 2,925 followers, 116 being followed – there I follow strong supporters, travel industry leaders and travel companies.
4. Mention your Twitter handle on your blog where people can easily find it and link to it. Some readers want to subscribe by email, others like RSS feed but some will want to follow you on Twitter so make sure they can.
Twitter For Established Bloggers
I recommend HootSuite for Twitter and social media management because:
1. I've tried using the Twitter site and Tweetdeck but I like Hootsuite best. There's a free version which lets you manage up to five different social media accounts including Facebook and LinkedIn as well as Twitter. It will also let you add the RSS feed to your blog (or two blogs of your choice) so your Twitter feed automatically updates when a new post is published.
2. Hootsuite has a built-in URL shortener.
3. If you use Firefox as your browser there's an extension called Hootlet which adds a button at the top of your browser window so if you read a post you like and want to tweet you just click the Hootlet button and it creates the tweet with the blog post title and a shortened url.
4. Hootsuite lets you set up streams for each of your Twitter account so you can easily see everything at a glance. I set up streams for direct mails, my sent tweets, my followers tweets, certain search terms or hashtags I'm interested in like #blogging.
5. It's free. Try out the free version of HootSuite if you like the sound of it.
Twitter For Pro Bloggers
While five social media accounts is enough for me I've signed up for the Hootsuite Pro and pay them $5.99 a month because:
1. I can automatically re-tweet new blog posts by as many other bloggers as I like because Hootsuite Pro allows me to add an unlimited number of RSS feeds to my account.
This is brilliant because it means my Twitter stream is constantly updating with relevant information and links – I only set up a blog for automatic retweets if I know the blogger and trust that their content will be useful or interesting to my followers.
I'm providing a useful service to my followers and helping other bloggers in my field who often reciprocate by auto-re-tweeting my posts.
2. I can schedule a whole month's worth of Twitter updates in advance. So if I'm away, or want to make sure my Twitter stream has useful tips from me without the distractions of actually being on Twitter, I can schedule my tweets once a month.
Of course I still check in at least daily to see if anyone's re-tweeted something and thank them or see if anyone has replied to me or said hello.
3. For $5.99 a month it's worth it because those things save me a lot of time.
You can sign up for a free 30-day trial of HootSuite Pro if you'd like to try it.
How do you manage Twitter and your other social media outposts? Please leave a comment and feel free to include your Twitter handle so I can follow you.
PS. Here's where you can connect with me:
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