Twitter is very much this years number one get rich quick and buy my ebook topic, but there are some very sensible ways you can use Twitter to help promote your blog.
Let me say upfront though that if you believe you can get rich using Twitter (with or without a blog,) turn the computer off, walk out the door, and don’t return. If however you’re simply looking for better ways to use Twitter in promotion, here’s a few things we’ve tried and are using.
Dedicated Twitter account for your site
Lets start at the obvious one, although it’s still fairly common to see sites that don’t have a Twitter account attached to them. Some say that Twitter is killing RSS (a point of which I humbly disagree) but no matter where you stand on that argument, there’s no doubt that Twitter has become a distribution tool for your links.
There’s two schools of thought on using a dedicated Twitter account: simply links, or links and Twitter specific commentary. The latter will do more in engaging with your readers, but likewise if you already have a personal account, the simple links might be an easier way to go.
The easiest way to put links to your latest posts up on your Twitter account is with an RSS to Twitter service. Twitterfeed is the most popular service and offers a range of neat features, although the recommendation is with the proviso that in my experiences with them, they can suffer from downtime on occasion.
If you’ve got a self hosted WordPress blog, try any number of plugins available from WordPress.org.
Retweet buttons are this years most popular alternative to the social voting buttons from the likes of Digg and Reddit, and for a reason: they most definately work. We love our retweet buttons so much we’ve mostly done away with other buttons.
Tweetmeme offers the most popular and commonly used retweet button. There are a number of other services that offer retweet buttons (or you can host them yourself) however in our testing we found that the Tweetmeme buttons get the most retweets; perhaps because they are common and people are use to seeing that design.
To maximize the chances of getting a retweet, put the button somewhere prominent towards the beginning of a post, vs following the text. We currently have our button to the left of each post header, other sites often have the button as a left indent at the beginning of the text.
Using Twitter to make comments on a post is a new feature that you don’t see on many sites, although using Twitter to sign into services like Disqus or JS-Kit has been common for over a year.
The advantage of using Twitter comments is that the comment left (depending of the implementation) is tweeted back to the account of the person making it, exposing your post to others.
The competition here is with the implementation of Facebook, such as currently being used by The Huffington Post. We do neither so far (although users can opt to send messages out) but it is something you should look at.
Twitter Visitors Widget
One surprise packet for me was the popularity of a Twitter visitors widget. Think MyBlogLog or Google Friend Connect, but based on Twitter. People love leaving their details in the sidebar and promoting their accounts to other readers, and we love giving them that opportunity.
Our favorite is provided by Twitter Counter, and the widget also encourages visitors to sign up to your Twitter account as well.
I’d recommend using something like this vs a standard Twitter badge/ sidebar widget that just republishes your tweets because you get the benefit of promoting your site with an added a layer of engagement for your readers.
Use you personal account sparingly
If you’ve got a Twitter account set up for your site, use your personal account for site promotion sparingly. Maybe if you’ve got 100,000+ users that’s not the best idea, but for everyone else you run the risk of losing followers by basically spamming links, particularly if they followed you before you started using Twitter that way.
This is not to say you can’t promote your own links, but I’ve found that promoting my own links only when I really want to get the word out on a great post works a treat, because my personal Twitter followers know that I’m not wasting time with all and sundry.
Autofollow new followers
I’ve previously been cold on autofollowing new followers, but after a chat with Kate Carruthers recently I decided to give autofollow and auto unfollow a shot on my personal account and something strange happened: despite having roughly the same number of Twitter followers for nearly two years, my follower account started to increase.
It turns out that at least some out there really don’t like it that you don’t follow them back, so although I’ve been getting a steady stream of new Twitter followers for years, I was losing just as many. With automation, I’m not losing as many followers, and in the event that they unfollow my Twitter account, they are unfollowed back.
There are a variety of tools out there to automate these aspects of your Twitter account. I’m happy to recommend SocialToo, they do charge for catchups ($5 a pop for both autofollowing existing followers and unfollowing people who aren’t following you) but the rest of the service is free.
We’ve only just implemented SocialToo on The Inquisitr Twitter account, but I have every faith that we will soon be seeing strong numbers there as well.
The hints and techniques above aren’t difficult to implement, but they can and do work. Since reconsidering our Twitter strategy across the board around 6-8 weeks ago our number of retweets, and our traffic from Twitter (and by extension Facebook as many share Tweets into FB) have increased significantly. It hasn’t made us rich in traffic (or money) but it means a quiet day isn’t as quiet as it once was, and a good day pumps harder and longer than they did before because the viral spreading of posts is stronger.