When I started out running my websites, the online marketing possibilities seemed endless, but ultimately concentrated my efforts on blogs and Twitter. Reading stuff like this, I had high hopes for both. They worked well together – blogging gave me content worth sharing, Twitter gave me somewhere to share it. It was a noble and relatively innocent plan. Until recently, when I stepped back and saw what it’d become.
This infographic is a keen bit of insight into how people interact with Twitter. I first opened my Twitter account in 2009, and by the time I started this website in 2012 I had somewhere in the regions of 30 followers. About of third of which were beautiful women offering me photos if I sent them an email. Welcoming as those ladies seemed, nothing really drew me into the Twitter phenomenon, and I was very much stuck in that Phase 1 of confusion, with occasional abortive forays into the Phase 2 realm of telling people what I’d just eaten.
Blogging changed the way I interacted with Twitter. I started to follow people I found genuinely useful and they started to follow me back. I got what was useful about it, scouring feeds for advice. Within a few weeks my paltry 30 followers had blossomed into hundreds. And what’s more, blogging gave me something worth sharing. Not just my own blogs, but other blogs I read for advice and inspiration. I settled into the world of Twitter cheerily spreading content, and entered the top phase of that infographic.
The Evolving Twitter Strategy
From the offset, I tried to build a base of followers who I thought would be receptive to what I had to share and the way I was sharing it. People who followed other bloggers who posted links to articles. People with an interest in copywriting and online marketing.
I was getting a minimal amount of traffic to my blog, but when I Tweeted an article to my selective audience the traffic spiked. Not to hundreds or thousands, but little jumps of ten or twenty, enough to make my stats graph look fancy. This guy knows what I’m talking about. What I realised, though, was that even as I acquired hundreds of Twitter followers only a fraction of them would notice each Tweet. Twitter is a fickle beast, it exists in the moment, and anyone not there in the moment won’t see what you had to say. I would write a blog article, post it to Twitter and get 3 or 4 followers take note and read it. And that was the end of it.
Seeing as each Tweet had about as much impact as a damp fart in a hurricane, I determined to change my Twitter strategy. I became more efficient, scheduling Tweets, and plotted a course for success.
The Master Plan
My strategy going forwards was to schedule Tweets in upcoming weeks, so that after I blogged there was a greater chance that more of my followers would see it. It was a carefully plotted scheme; with a handful of blog posts, I could quite comfortably link to an article once or twice a week and happily see myself Tweeting at least once a day. And each time those scheduled posts went out I’d get a few visitors, and occasional comments on Twitter that showed I was still reaching new readers. Meanwhile I could keep up appearances by occasionally sparking up conversations and sharing other blog articles I’d happened upon.
Score, I thought, this is the way my Twitter will work. I had my unashamed copywriting account, clearly there to share copywriting tips, and my separate personal account where I could talk about my creative writing and inane nonsense. There were times when the accounts occasionally blurred, and I felt bad for hapless followers of both as I posted the same thing twice, but for the most part the distinction held. I had one place to share business blogs, one place to kick back, and a whole load of relevant people to interact with.
What went wrong?
Recently I started to notice my personal account stream had become filled up by self-published authors’ spam. Relentlessly pimping their books, like Twitter was a platform for ticker-tape advertising. The sort of Tweets you ignore the same way most people walk past the homeless, pretending they don’t exist so as not to bring down your day. Eventually it dawned on me that, unlike the homeless, these people were there because I had followed them. And I could make it stop. I didn’t like to, wanting to support my fellow indie authors, but let’s be fair they’ve only got themselves to blame.
I stepped back and started to consider my own strategy, hoping it was different. Each post for my blog articles was unique, I never posted generic messages, and I wasn’t trying to sell something, I was trying to be helpful. But was that how others saw me? The realisation came to me that I’d gone too far when people started following my business account more closely, often people I’d met in real life. Those who were paying attention to what I was saying, not just some of the hundreds I was hoping to catch by chance, were regularly responding to my posts. And I started to feel dirty about repeating myself.
The strategy hadn’t evolved much, but it had run into two heinous snags. First, I had stopped trying to expand my Twitter audience. That was a time consuming endeavour, so I took a step back from trying to get new followers. That meant I had a stagnant group of followers, people who I needed to interact with rather than give them the same links.
Second, I was sharing too much of my own content. It was no longer the case that I was posting one or two Tweets a day from my handful of blog articles. The blog has bloomed into an expansive archive – this post is my 50th on this site, and I tend to share posts from my other site too. With 50 posts to share, giving each one a Tweet once a week, my stream was swarming with links to my blog. And I started to feel as though everyone might have seen it all before.
The real cinch came for me when I started perusing this extensive collection of Twitter marketing articles, pondering how to up my Twitter game. I wanted to interact with people more, so I searched for people asking copywriting questions to see if I could help them. I searched for ‘copywriting ?’ and what did I find? Countless people spamming Twitter: ‘Is your copywriting as good as it can be? This link will help!’
Useless, one-sided bla bla bla.
I felt dirty, because my Twitter account was no better.
And I fell out of my chair and clutched desperately at the carpet as I wept bitter tears, screaming skyward No, no what have I done. And I ran to the window to jump out and crash to the Earth to end this insufferable facade. But the window was double-glazed and I hurt my nose.
What happens now?
The problem is that my Twitter strategy wasn’t all wrong. It was a legitimate use of Twitter, with people following especially to find the sort of links I was sharing, and it did drive traffic to my site. And I know that if I keep it up I will reach more people in my same group of followers who haven’t seen my articles. But it’s not worth it for those small spikes of 10 and 20 views – not worth the effort for me, and not worth the annoyance for my more familiar followers.
What really drove it home to me was when I posted a popular post-apocalyptic novels article on Reddit a few weeks ago. With that one post I got 10,000 visitors in one day, and I continue to get traffic from it. It somewhat puts the continual Twitter spam for 10 visitors a day into perspective.
Next month, I’ll trial taking a step back and returning to how it was before. Sharing my blog through one or two Tweets a day, if that. Staggering my posts more carefully. Building my audience more, and actually connecting with people on Twitter. I never needed to be told that Twitter strategy should be based on connecting with people, but somewhere along the way I got lost in a niche use of it, one with small benefits for a lot of inconvenience. It’s time to make myself feel clean again.