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How To Use Twitter To Leverage Your Blog (Part Two)

(This is a follow-up article to the post, “How To Use Twitter To Leverage Your Blog (Part One).”)

In the first part of this article, I wrote about how the impact of the StalkDaily and Mikeyy worm exploits on Twitter were, in a roundabout way, beneficial to this blog. By providing timely and helpful material to folks who were infected by the worms, I received an enormous amount of re-tweets, traffic and praise on Twitter and around the internet, and this blog’s ‘status’ rose considerably.

In this post I will share what I learned about this experience. Can anyone use Twitter to leverage their blog? Is Twitter a great source of traffic? Will Twitter followers become part of your blog’s community, and even subscribe?

Yes, yes and yes, and it can all be achieved by observing a few simple steps.

How To Use Twitter To Leverage Your Blog

Build Your Twitter Profile

This one is a no-brainer, right? Without lots of followers, there’s not much point in sharing your own content, is there? Well, yes and no. I think it’s far more important to have the right types of people following you than to have an enormous amount of folk who have little to no interest in what you tweet about. Would you rather have five hundred followers who regularly clicked on your links and engaged with you and your content, or ten thousand who rarely did and didn’t care either way?

From my own experience, I’ve found that each time I tweet a link to my own content (either on my blog or in a guest post), I get an immediate wave of traffic of about 2-5 per cent of my total follow count. With re-tweets this number magnifiers, but if the right person (or people) hits the re-tweet button, we’re off to the races.

I’m increasingly in agreement with the opinion that our network of followers should be as optimal and relative as possible to our own interests. Otherwise it’s very easy to get lost in the noise, losing sight of those signals you desire, and Twitter can become a frustrating experience. To best accomplish this, I strongly suggest a network blend of all manner of Twitter users, large and small, names and newcomers, as long as they remain relative to your niche. (More on this later.)

Be Active On Twitter

The simple reason why I was able to offer timely updates on the worm exploits is because I was on Twitter when they began to infect the network. I am, in fact, on Twitter a lot. This is obviously of some benefit to this blog, although occasionally to my wife’s chagrin.

The reality is you don’t have to be on Twitter 24/7 to be able to maximise its benefits for you as a blogger, but you do have to be fairly active, I think, both to build trust and interest from your followers and also so that you are able to best utilise breaking events and relevant news stories to your advantage.

Twenty hours a day is too much; twenty minutes, not enough. And if at all possible, it’s better to be active for the same period of time each day than to flitter in and out randomly.

Share Great Content – Not Just Your Own

Nobody likes a spammer. Even spammers unfollow other spammers on Twitter. If all you do is share your own stuff, people will rapidly lose interest. Approximately fifty per cent of all my tweets on the network are sharing content of some kind – links to other blogs and websites – and I do this somewhere between 30-70 times per day. I submit a tweet about my own stuff usually once per day, shortly after I’ve written an article. I may from time to time submit it again if it’s timely. But that’s it.

It’s All In The Timing

I mentioned timing above and it’s extremely relevant – for your tweeted content to ‘have legs’, it needs to be re-tweeted. Re-tweets spread through the Twittersphere and can give you enormous reach. This is especially true if you are fortunate enough to be re-tweeted (or mentioned indirectly) by a name on Twitter. Hence, it can pay dividends to announce your stuff to the network when it, and especially your key followers, are at their most active.

You can use tools like TwitterFriends.com to check who is online at any given time, or simply pay close attention to your stream.

Engage With The Big People

I’ve touched on this above but it’s important to engage with the power-users on Twitter who are relevant to your niche and interests. Don’t toady around them and don’t suck up – if anything, the opposite is more effective, as long as you’re not a hater – but read and comment on their content, and re-tweet it when it’s good. Do this and you will be noticed.

When you first begin to network on Twitter it takes a lot to get attention from some of the very big names. It’s important to understand that they receive thousands of replies a day. While I will always be a firm believer that you should not ignore the replies of your followers, it can be overwhelming at times. Be patient. Make relevant and insightful comments and you will get a response. (And if not, ask yourself if following that individual is worthwhile. Plenty more fish in the sea.)

Engage With The Little People

Fact: Most of Twitter is made up of the little guys. I’m one. The names on Twitter can give your content an enormous push but this effect is countered by the fact that you could be one of many thousands of people they follow or are receiving tweets from (through replies).

Conversely, whereas your smaller followers will be able to give a re-tweet less legs, they are far more likely to notice and read your comment. Additionally, more of them will notice it; which could mean more of them will re-tweet it. I may get a ‘name’ re-tweet once every other week but each and every day I get loads of great re-tweets from those in and around my inner circle on the network.

The same rules apply to those with smaller follower counts on Twitter as anybody else – engage with them. Answer their questions and help out when you can. Again, it will get noticed – loyalty begets loyalty. And when one of those ‘little guys’ becomes a big guy – and it does happen – you won’t be forgotten. (For more detail, read this excellent post by Brett Borders.)

Monitor Trends

I use TweetDeck for most of my Twitter interaction, and within that I always have the TwitScoop pane open. TwitScoop tracks trends within Twitter and it’s an easy and convenient way to see what’s going on right now, which can help trigger ideas for blog content.

When the Mikeyy virus was active, I opened a Twitter search tab on my browser and kept a query going for evidence of the worm throughout the day. This allowed me to update my followers when Mikeyy was most active and also when the infection was slowing. It’s another simple process but the information you can retrieve is powerful and informative.

There’s always relevant content to write about on Twitter – if something is trending, and your article is strong, it has an excellent chance of being picked up.

Listen To Your Followers

This is quite possibly the most important tip. Actually pay attention to and listen to your followers – all of them. The StalkDaily/Mikeyy worms hit Twitter a total of four times – two of these instances I became aware of myself by monitoring Twitter, the other two were brought to my attention by my followers, both of whom @replied me. If I had ignored them, I wouldn’t have been able to act.

There’s no way any one person can know everything that’s going on, and that’s why tapping into Twitter’s hive mind is such a rewarding experience, but information starts somewhere, often with a few people, and sometimes just one. Listen, listen, listen.

Conclusion

By observing these simple guidelines you can easily convert followers into loyal readers of your blog. Treat your network with respect and intelligence, write creative, timely and useful articles, and Twitter can and will become a valuable source of traffic.

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