Since I have been playing around with Twitter, I have noticed a trend amongst certain people… all they really use their Twitter feed for is to spam all their followers with their latest blog posts. And when they aren’t giving links to those posts, they are instead giving links to Digg & Sphinn where, you guessed it, they want you to vote for their stories on those sites too.
Now, as a follower who sees this, you can bet those peopole won’t stay on my Twitter feed for long. That said, Twitter is a brilliant way to market not only yourself but your blog. However, you need to be a savvy marketer and make sure you don’t cross that invisble spam line.
If you want to spam, do it right
First, considering grabbing two Twitter accounts so that you can do a bit of separation between you and your blog. Now, @sengineland has a feed that is nothing but titles and links to their blog entries. But, the key thing is, I expected that when I signed up. If I want stuff from the man behind Search Engine Land, well, @dannysullivan is twittering to his heart’s content about all kinds of things (and maybe Chris Sherman is too, but I haven’t found him yet) so I can sign up for that one too. So if you want to use your Twitter to keep your fans updated the instant you add a new blog post, signup an account with @yourblogname and use it just for your marketing stuff. Then save your @yourname or @yourusername Twitter account for your everyday twitters and just an occassional heads up to your best posts.
How much is too much?
So now that you have your account, how often can you get away with twittering your latest blog post? Well, a lot of it depends on how often you Twitter. If you Twitter something 20 times a day, I can easily handle one or two links to a blog entry a day But if you only twitter a few times a week and they are always to your blog entries, I will tire of following you pretty quickly, unless your blog entries are pretty stellar. A good ratio of about 10-15 non-marketing twitters for every 1 marketing twitter you do…. but put a cap on it at one or two per day. Worried you aren’t twittering enough to make your feed seem less spammy? Make sure your do some @whoever replies to the people you follow, which also has the added bonus that when they reply, other people might see it and follow you too.
Think about your headline
If you are going to send out a link to your blog entry on Twitter, at least make the effort to give it a killer headline that still works in the 140 character count once you have the URL in there too. This is one of the unfortunate problems with Twitterfeed, a program that will automatically send blog entries to your, surprise surprise, Twitter feed. First, don’t repeat your blog name, especially if your headlines tend to get cut off at the end and especially if your blog name is a lengthy one. When it comes on my Twitter feed, I see who has posted it, so cut out the repeating of the blog name and give me a better headline. And if you use a tinyurl.com link, it will free up space for more characters in your headline.
Another useful way to market is to make a post about something that is “breaking news” in the industry. For example, I saw this week’s news about Ask.com on Twitter before anyone had gotten around to blogging about it. Several people posted it as breaking news (@LisaBarone & @rustybrick are two I remember), then as the discussions @everybody went on, people began posting their own blog entries with their own thoughts on the news. In this case, it was breaking news and totally appropriate for everyone to post their blog links. And because they were following Twitter at the time, many more people posted their links that might not neccessarily have posted links if it wasn’t a huge discussion being followed a the time. And an added bonus, because you learned it on Twitter before it ever hit your RSS reader, you have time to have a blog post written and posted by the time the news hits and people start looking for reactions and more information on the whole Ask.com decision.
What are you doing
There are things you can say in your twitter feed that while being promotional, are also informative to your followers. When I was on Webmasterradio.fm this week co-hosting with @shoemoney, we both twittered it and we saw many people twittering us back with comments or questions about what we were discussing on the fly. It was far easier for me to pick out the comments on Twitter than it would be for me to follow it in the Webmasterradio.fm chat room where the noise ratio is so much higher. In fact, we ended up with two guest callers into the show simply because they twittered us while we were talking (@rustybrick and @tamar). I personally have also tuned in to several other podcasts (both live and when they were uploaded) because people twittered something along the lines of “just on the air with @whoever, listen live at ____” or “@whoever just uploaded the podcast we did with @whoever last week.” Likewise, if you are at a conference with many fellow twitterers, Twitter when you are about to head to a session you are speaking at, or even when you are in the bar to network.
Too much information?
Sometimes people get right into twitter and twitter everything, including things I really would rather not know about. If you are worried what you are about to post is TMI (too much information), think about reading it as if someone else posted it, then make your decision to post it or rewrite it. If you find your personal social life twitters might offend your business contacts who also follow you, think about having a social persona and a business persona… then stick the business to your business Twitter account and have a personal one where you can tweet about your drunken exploits, sexual exploits and bodily functions just to those who can handle it… and if you are worried about it coming back on you, chose the “protect my updates” checkbox in your settings. That said, some people just don’t care if the two worlds collide, but do consider the fact that some of your followers might unfollow you or even get turned off from reading your blog because of it.
Twitter other people’s posts
I usually find that the blog entries I read most often because of tweets are the ones made by other people. So if you find something especially interesting, write a short but enticingly sweet headline, pop up a link and a @whoever shoutout. They could return the favor to you in the future, or those seeing your shoutout could end up back to your main Twitter page and follow a path down to your blog. And if you are trying to build up credibility as a submitter whose submissions go hot regularly, you do have a better chance of getting that vote if you do the @whoever shoutout or make note of where the original article or blog entry is from, so we know it isn’t you blatantly spamming your own stuff
Can you Digg/Sphinn/Whatever this post
There are a couple people I followed that I unfollowed because I was barraged with all kinds of vote requests for all his sites. And it will probably be only a matter of time Digg adds some sort of algorythm into their votes where those entries that have a lot of Twitter/tinyurl/etc referrals either get buried or take even more Diggs to make the front page… if it isn’t already happening. And again, it is all about ratio. If someone asks for a Digg or a Sphinn once every two or three days, I am much more likely to indulge that person than the one who asks me for a vote a couple times a day. Drop it back to once a week, combined with a twitter feed I find useful and/or interesting? You have just increased your odds exponentially of getting a vote from me. But don’t make the fatal faux pas of asking more than once for a Digg or Sphinn on the same post. Last week someone asked for a Digg four times in a single day, all for the same post, and I got annoyed and unfollowed them… and no, they still didn’t make the front page of Digg. I do sometimes see people do it twice to cover friends in different continents (once for the UK and once 6-8 hour later for the US) but then use the disclaimer “retweet” when doing it. But again, don’t go overboard and constantly retweet either.
Twitter other people’s posts
I usually find that the blog entries I read most often because of tweets are the ones made by other people. So if you find something especially interesting, write a short but enticingly sweet headline, pop up a link and a @whoever shoutout. They could return the favor to you in the future, or those seeing your shoutout could end up back to your main Twitter page and follow a path down to your blog.
Did you sign up for a Twitter feed, have somehow amassed a few hundred followers but have not given them anything for their following effort? You can definitely get away with a once a week “hey, I have a new blog post” type of tweet, because people will simply be so happy to finally get something from you at all. It can be a nice way to slide into the whole twittering thing, if you just aren’t that sure about it, especially when you get all the @you replies back from people who see you have actually made it back to Twitterland. However, be aware that if this is all you consistently do, people will tire of it and unfollow you.
To leave you with one last thought… if you are wondering if you are that spammy Twitterer that all your followers hate, well, you probably are.