It’s only taken me five years to get here. And honestly, assessing the results of my journey is still an ongoing process.
So even though I’ll continue to reflect on that, I’m quite sure that I won’t stop using Twitter any time soon. Especially now that I’ve joined the five figure club—those Twitter users that have posted updates over 10,000 times.
Just crossed over: 10,000 updates. 🙂
— Paul Pruneau (@Paul_Pruneau) November 12, 2015
While that volume may sound impressive to some, I recognize that it’s not even close to many of the social media gurus and others that I follow.
Fanatics? Or fanatical results?
Some prolific users in my Twitter community, like @NealSchaffer for example, have tweeted well over 92,000 times. And @kimgarst has posted over 270,000 updates! It’s hard to imagine how that’s even possible. Seriously, do the math. 270k tweets over 4 years is just about 185 tweets per day—or 23 tweets per hour.
To be sure, that’s a lot of time filling out a 140 character field with a well crafted headline, shortened link, hashtag, optional image and the occasional referral info. It would be very challenging indeed for me to devote that much time to Twitter. So I both admire these fanatical users and question how they actually get it done.
It’s no surprise that many pundits and popular personalities have teams or others posting updates for them. Without these added resources, it’s really hard to believe that someone could possibly share over 23 updates an hour, every single day, and still have a life.
What’s all this chirping about anyway?
Created in March 2006 by Jack Dorsey, Evan Williams, Biz Stone and Noah Glass, Twitter has become the go to method on the internet to create and distribute sound bite updates of 140 characters or less to an audience of over 500 million users. Twitter’s accurately described as the SMS of the Internet.
Unlike Facebook with over 1.5 billion users, or LinkedIn with just about 400 million users, Twitter has an enthusiastic community of over 300 million monthly active users (MAU’s). Wall Street and investors pay close attention to both the size and growth of this audience segment. And recently, they’ve been unimpressed with either. As a result, Twitter’s market value and outlook have been dinged in spite of launching new features like Periscope live video broadcasting.
Three parts of Twitter’s value
For me, Twitter’s value has three key parts:
- a distribution channel for content on our blog
- a listening board for issues and content that I’m interested in
- a public communication tool—for networking and sharing
1 | Instant distribution + wide reach
Let’s not forget that if you want anyone to find or recognize your value on the internet today, you have to be both a content publisher AND distributor—just like a media company. One without the other just doesn’t add up. And both are required today to be a credible content marketer.
Twitter has proven to be a great solution for increasing the reach of our blog content—above and beyond just SEO. It’s consistently the top referring site that brings traffic to our own site. Without this result, it would be difficult to justify our investment in Twitter. For us, frequent Twitter use increases site traffic, period.
Twitter’s monthly active users, on average, tweet over 6000 times a second. With that kind of noise and volume, how does anyone ever see what I tweet? Make no mistake, getting seen or heard isn’t easy. And actually getting “clicked on” is even more challenging.
The way that we address this is with frequency and consistency. It’s a fact that the more that I tweet, the more followers and site referrals we get. This shows up in our analytics every time. And as soon as I back off my update frequency, I can watch my follower number and traffic referrals start to decline—rather quickly.
2 | Unexpected insights that lead to learning
Twitter is also an amazing platform for learning and discovering. Today, virtually every kind of organization, from news networks to the smallest local blog, shares or references content posted on Twitter.
Tweets enable them to gauge sentiment, get a pulse on people’s reaction to content, events or issues, and learn what topics or trends are being most discussed.
Simply awful and tragic. Confirmed: Steve Jobs has died. Apple just said in a press release. — Paul Pruneau (@Paul_Pruneau) October 5, 2011
RT @Paul_Pruneau: Simply awful and tragic. Confirmed: Steve Jobs has died. Apple just said in a press release.
— Michael Markman (@Mickeleh) October 5, 2011
Twitter is also one of the best vehicles ever for instantly staying on top of breaking news. In fact, Twitter was the way I discovered that Steve Jobs unfortunately passed away in 2011.
After seeing the tweet from Apple, I instantly shared an update about his passing and watched it turn into an online tsunami of disbelief and grief. I’ve come to learn that there’s no faster or better way to distribute a message to millions instantly.
Those that I follow also expose me to new and interesting things every time I check in on my stream. My tribe connects me to things that I wouldn’t have found or know about on my own. The result is a 24/7 continuous feed that enables me to learn, gain skills, expand understanding and then apply this in ways that I never considered before.
3 | Adding my voice to the conversation
When I have a great experience with a product or service, I use Twitter to “shout out” about it. It’s one of the best ways to either show support or share a poor experience so that others don’t repeat my mistake.
Whether it’s a great new post or feature that someone added to a site or a good experience I’ve had with customer support, I do my best to recognize the result with a 140 character summary and hash tag about the result.
When I do this, almost without exception, the Twitter user follows up and we stay engaged online. This humanizes the experience and makes the connections more rewarding.
Managing the digital hamster wheel
Keeping up with Twitter’s requirements might sound like quite a bit of work. And it’s reasonable to ask if the traffic Twitter delivers is qualified. In other words, are the visitors sent from Twitter actually engaging with our content when they arrive.
That’s where good site content and conversion tactics take over. Make no mistake, if you succeed in actually getting someone to your site or blog from a referral source like Twitter, you better deliver with quality content that fulfills the promise or benefit in your tweet. Otherwise, you can count on that Twitter user thinking twice about ever clicking on the link in your tweet again or returning to your site.
Managing Twitter’s voracious content appetite requires more than wishful thinking. But have to have tools, like Hootsuite, make keeping up a bit easier. Without this great tool, there’s no way we would be able to feed the beast. I can schedule tweet content for an entire week or more at a time with Hootsuite.
By using their suggestions feature, Hootsuite analyzes my tweet history and gives me an index of relevant content that my followers or I might be interested in sharing. With one click, I can schedule it for distribution. We just love this because it saves time and keeps us on message.
I also lean on Google Alerts as a great way to stay up on content that is focused on the keywords of my choice. The amazing Google machine sends me an email summary every day of content focused on keywords or topics that I choose. The result is that I can cherry pick the content that’s worth sharing with others and pass over the lame stuff.
I try to follow the best practice of 4-1-1. 4 Tweets of curated content (other people’s stuff), 1 tweet about content on my blog, 1 promotional tweet driving people to a landing page to convert. This keeps me focused on serving my followers and not just spamming them with “read my stuff” tweets directing traffic back to an offer or a post.
It also enables me to build credibility as an expert in our domain of expertise. I know if it’s working when new or existing followers add me to a list that reflects the content that I’m sharing.
Practice good housekeeping
I’m the first to recognize that I have a very modest following. However, every member in my Twitter community is vetted and aligned with the targets that I want to reach.
I look at every follower and then consider if they are the right fit for my content and tweets. The spammers are blocked and thrown overboard. This includes people just trying to sell me stuff. Followers with the right profile and content stream are let into my tribe. And as a best practice, I try to follow them back and share or like a tweet that they’ve made.
To some, this may sound trite. But I’ve found that it works for me. I also think it’s appropriately polite. And we need that more than ever online, right?
Now that I’ve shared more than ten thousand updates on Twitter, I look forward to continuing to evolve and refine my usage and strategy. I look forward to learning how Twitter will change to improve my distribution, reach and audience interaction needs.
In the mean time, I’ll continue to turn to Twitter as one of our primary distribution channels for blog content, an instant listening board for stuff I’m interested in and a public communication and networking tool with my community.
Are you with me? Are you finding value with Twitter too? Share what’s working for you or what has room for improvement.