This is a guest post written by Joel Vaillancourt (aka TKE71709) over at Twittley.com which is a social bookmarking site focussing on using Twitter to categorize and rank web content. To see how you can use Twittley to supercharge your site’s social marketing, visit their blog at blog.twittley.com.
They lied to you.
Everything you’ve been told about promoting your site via Twitter is a lie. Maybe lie is a little harsh, let’s say that you’ve been listening to the wrong people. They mean well, they really do, but they’re just recycling the same misinformation that they hear others say.
Lie #1 – Build It and They Will Come
Unless you’re Ashton Kutcher, no one is going to decide to follow you. Odds are nobody knows who you are, so why would they? But wait you say, I get people following me all the time, and for some strange reason they’re normally attractive girls. I’ve got some bad news for you friend, those aren’t real people, they’re spammers (gasp), hoping that you’ll actually visit their profile/twitter feed and visit their sites.
Lie #2 – Give out Great Tips and They Will Come
See #1, you can give out the best tips in the world, create awesome content, link to only the best sites and guess what? Nobody knows who you are so nobody is following you, so nobody sees your awesome content.
Lie #3 – Follow People and They Will Follow You
OK, this isn’t really a lie, it’s more of a misunderstanding (like the time I told my wife I was working late when I was out with the guys, but I digress). It’s technically true (the guys were from work, and I think we talked about how Bill always forgets to put the new cover sheets on the TPS report between lap dances). If you follow people, they often will follow you. That’s how you see people with 5,000 followers and they’re following 5,100 back. So the advice you’ll hear on the street (internet marketing boards) is that you should follow as many people as you can, and hope that they follow you back. Heck, some people have even created websites dedicated to finding people interested in your topic to follow.
So, what’s the lie then? You can build up a large followers list doing this. It’s not a lie, but the truth of the matter is, it doesn’t work. Anyone who is following that many people isn’t actually reading their tweets, they’re just sending out tweets in the hopes that other people will read them. And guess what, the other 5,000 people involved in this “conversation” aren’t reading them either.
I call this strategy the reciprocal linking strategy for Twitter. Not so long ago, if you had a web site that you wanted to do well in Google, you could engage in what’s called reciprocal linking, or you link to me and I link to you. So you had a site about pet cemetaries linking to Bob the Laguna beach real estate agent. Neither of them actually expected the other to send them any traffic, they just did it to make themselves look more important in the search engines’ eyes. So, if you’re one of those people with 5,000 followers and you’re following 5,100 back, congratulations, it looks pretty but it’s pretty much useless.
Those are the lies, what are the truths?
Truth #1 – People Trust Their Friends
If someone receives a tweet from a friend about how awesome your site is, they’re probably going to visit it.
Truth #2 – People Associate with People That are Like Them
My friends are people like me, they’re upper-middle class, university educated, and we share interests in common (for example, a lot of my friends, and I, play Ultimate Frisbee). So if I’m interested in something, odds are my friends are too. You’re probably in the same boat, if you’re reading Tyler’s blog you’re probably interested in Internet Marketing, and therefore some of your friends are probably interested in that as well.
Truth #3 – People are Lazy
Don’t deny it, we all know it, people are LAZY! Conversion study after conversion study shows that adding even a single step to a checkout process reduces conversion rates to a large extent.
Tying those truths into a Twitter marketing campaign.
What we’ve learned is the most effective means of marketing on Twitter is to leverage your existing relationships with your site visitors by getting them to recommend your site to their followers and we have to make it as easy for them to do so as possible. You need to provide them with a means to tweet about your site that does not require to leave the site, does not require them to formulate a message, and that is easy for them figure out (remember, people are lazy, they won’t go looking for a way to tweet your site, it has to be easy for them to find).
But what can one person tweeting do for my site traffic you’re asking yourself (you really should stop talking to yourself, people are staring). If Twitter was a superhero, their superpower would be the retweet (not much use in fighting crime, but who are we to judge). So you have Mary visit your site on designer handbags where you review the latest bags straight off the runways of Paris (fashion runways, please don’t review handbags where airplanes land, no seriously, please please don’t). Mary loves your post, so she tweets her 40 followers who are also interested in handbags (Truth # 2 – people hang out with people they share common interests with).
Seeing as Mary has recommended the site (Truth # 1 – people trust their friends) most of them decide to visit the site as well. So we’re gone from 1 visitor to let’s say 31 (Mary + 30 of her Twitter followers). Of those 30, 10 love the site so much they retweet them to 20 friends each, of which half take the time to visit as well. So now we’re up to 131 visitors (Mary + 30 followers + 100 retweeted visitors) from that one single tweet. The retweeting process can continue forever as well but I’ll stop there.If your site provides quality material, then you can encourage the visitors to follow you, and even if they don’t they’ll probably visit your site again and again.
So let’s recap, you’ve been doing Twitter marketing all wrong. Your goal should not be to build a gigantic non-responsive follower’s list, but rather to leverage the lists of your existing users to build traffic and to build a responsive follower’s list of you own. Once you get that down, the rest is easy.