Using Twitter for Marketing

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#BatFleck, Business Basics and Follower Tools

Illustrated by Patrick Yurick

What does everybody think about Ben Affleck as the new batman? Everybody forgot about it once Miley twerked her little heart out at the VMA’s, but I thought the hating on Twitter went a bit extreme. I liked how @TimCarvell put it, “Spend ten years working your way back into everyone’s good graces. Win an Oscar. Then you get cast as Batman, and BAM! You’re Gigli again.” By the way, I probably spent too much time on this, but I did put together eleven of the best responses to #Batfleck.

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Twitter Apps, Ads and Twelebrities

This month I wrote a whole lot about Twitter apps and a bit about Twitter Ads and Twelebrities

I wish I could start working out a theme for the posts I’m doing over on About.com about Twitter but lately I’ve been coming up with random topics as they strike me. This month I went mildly theme-y and decided to write about the 5 Best Twitter Android apps. Naturally, it was part SEO challenge and part research-y fun.

As you might know by now, I’ve been managing Twitter.About.com since April and so far I’ve been trying to focus on building a base of Twitter Basics and a Twitter Glossary. This month I collaborated with someone who is an Android power-user to come up with these reviews.

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Birds of a Feather Flock Together…on Twitter

I won’t let you automate your whole feed or fake a verified badge, but recently decided that buying a few followers to launch an account is a pretty good idea

As you might know by now, I’ve been managing Twitter.About.com for a few months and so far I’ve been trying to focus on building a base of Twitter Basics and a Twitter Glossary. This month I took a break and asked my Twitter followers from @About_Tweeting what their most pressing questions were.

For example, every time I try to teach a client about Twitter, their first go-to question is how they can set up automatic Twitter feeds. That question makes me cringe every time I hear it. Mostly because it’s hard to teach someone how to use Twitter when you know that their goal is to automate the whole thing.

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Getting to Know Twitter Lingo

Getting to Know Twitter Lingo

Illustrated by Nick Palazzo

This month we cooked up a bunch of Twitter lingo, I’m putting together a glossary of terms because Twitter is a beehive of jargon that scares people away before they ever really get into it.

Twitter has done a great job at turning some of the former jargon into site features (the retweet button, linked hashtags) but there’s still plenty to learn. Even I only just learned what a MT was. Apparently now when you shorten or edit a retweet, you’ve gotta mark it as Modified Tweet (MT). That’s of course, not patrolled by the Twitter police or anything, but another implied community rule.

The new Twitter glossary isn’t complete, but then again, is any glossary ever complete?

In any case, there are a ton of glossary terms in the post. Some things worth noting:

Did you know:

  • Micah Baldwin (@micah) started Follow Fridays back in 2009 using the hashtag #FollowFriday. On that note, nobody used to shorten it to #FF back in the day because at the time, #FF meant FriendFeed (.com).
  • Twitter favorites used to be used as public bookmarks, not how they are used now as “likes”
  • In the past year, Twitter has made it really easy to Discover new people and trends without using Twitter Search
  • When you block someone on Twitter it only keeps you from appearing on their timeline, they can still see your Twitter bio, avatar and your feed by typing in your URL unless you make your account private.
  • Direct messages are private, Tweets are public.
  • Looking at your Connections will tell you how many apps are connecting to your Twitter account. You can deny access to Twitter apps using the Twitter API that you no longer want connected.
  • The Twitter Connect tab has gotten so cool lately. You used to have a single feed of replies, now it’s like your Twitter inbox and alert center. No way to track unfollows via Twitter yet, but who wants to know that anyway??
  • Twitter makes it super easy for you to get followers with a simple form that creates Twitter buttons.
  • Twitter’s version of a customer service call is when you submit bugs to @support.
  • Your Twitter background is ridiculously customizable, all you need is Photoshop!
  • You have 30 days to change your mind after deactivating your account, then it’s gone!
  • Unlike the RT, a MT or HT used in your Tweet is completely optional. Technically, using RT in your Tweets are optional too!
  • Whenever you’re mentioned on Twitter, you’ll know about it!

Getting to Know Twitter LingoAlso this month, I put together some Twitter quotes that marketers can use in their feeds. We all know that quotes get shared frequently, so if you’re trying to fill up some space in your timeline, check them out.

Examples:

“Dance like the photo’s not being tagged, Love like you’ve never been unfriended, Tweet like nobody’s following .” - @PostSecret

“If Paul Revere had been a modern day citizen, he wouldn’t have ridden down Main Street. He would have tweeted.” - @AlecJRoss

“We are the generation of Social Media, Our biggest Revolution is a Tweet of 141 Characters.” -@sandrachami

“I’ve had to learn when not to tweet. Like, you learn how to keep your mouth shut? Learn to keep your tweet shut.” @thatdanstevens

“If you are tweeting how busy you are…you’re not busy.” – @KristinCav

“…don’t tell me I should only talk to people with a high influence score, or I’ll Klout you…” ― @JohnJGeddes

“I tweet, therefore my entire life has shrunk to 140 character chunks of instant event & predigested gnomic wisdom. & swearing.” @NeilGaiman

“Don’t ever tell people on Twitter that you’re tweeting while you’re driving … it’s worse than saying you’re cutting up kittens” @robgokee

If you’re not following me over on @About_Twitter, you most definitely should. Not only am I sharing all of these new articles, but I’m also spitting out Twitter news like a firehose.

For example, did you know:

And that’s just a little bit of news. I’ve been cooking up as many definitions as I can for the glossary, but will soon be adding a lot for how-to’s and whatnots. Hope you guys have been enjoying so far!


NOTE:

Did you know that I’m now managing Twitter.About.com too?

From now on I’ll be sharing a bunch of quick-tip articles here that link back to all the new tips,
strategies, apps and tactics I’m posting over there that will help you sharpen your Twitter chops.

Consider it cross-pollination! Getting to Know Twitter Lingo

Getting to Know Twitter Lingo

 

 

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How to Bring the SEO Swagger Back into Old Articles

Refill the SEO juice on your old articles by using a six-month plan to refresh them on Twitter

Illustrated by David Flanagan

I’ve been working with Mequoda, a marketing, training and web development company for magazine publishers, for over seven years.

One of the things I love about them, and one of the reasons why we’ve gotten to work with the likes of publishers like Men’s Health and Time Inc. is because they are so incredibly research, testing and numbers driven. The number of reports that Mequoda pulls together on a daily and monthly basis would make your head spin. Everything they design, and every piece of content they/we write is so expertly thought out and measured, that it’s no wonder their clients sing them from the rooftops. Mequoda events are filled with the most passionate business leaders I’ve ever had the pleasure of surrounding myself with. And those people attend year after year because Mequoda makes publishers rich on a regular basis. Seriously.

One of my favorite reports from Norann Oleson, their Analytics Program Manager, tells the story of every keyword Mequoda gets ranked for, which article is ranking mostly highly for that keyword, and how high it’s ranking.

This report allows me to also see the increase and decrease of those rankings, and Norann always includes a nice little drop out of the firehose that gives a simple overview of which ten articles rose in rank the most that month, and which ones lost the most rank.

Most of the articles that lose rank have been sitting on the first page of Google for a long time, years in some cases. They’ve been sending hundreds, sometimes thousands of page views per month. Because of this, any drop is definitely noticeable and we don’t want to lose that.

And we do have other strategies that we use to refresh those articles in other ways, for example, updating the articles and actually refreshing them. But, over the past few months I’ve been doing something that’s a little quicker, and possibly even more effective.

I’ve been taking the “bottom ten articles” list she sends me and recycling the posts on Twitter in a fairly strategic and systematic way.

My process for recycling these old articles and bringing back their SEO juice is this:

  • Take all of the articles (they were already SEO’d by the way) and write six  new Twitter headlines for each. This doesn’t involve updating the posts, just writing copy for Twitter.
  • Then, I schedule them all out for six months using Hootsuite.
  • I choose to do it on the same day every month, to make it easy.
  • I choose to switch up the time for each effort to tap into different time zones.

For example, 5 Reasons to Recycle Content on Twitter becomes these Tweets:

  • April 25th, 9am: 5 Reasons to Recycle Content on Twitter http://ow.ly/kpMMs
  • May 25th, 11am: One good reason to recycle your content on Twitter: more visibility http://ow.ly/kpMMs
  • June 25th, 1pm: Visibility, SEO, Clicks, Timing & Testing: 5 Reasons to Use Twitter for Recycling: http://ow.ly/kpMMs
  • July 25th, 3pm: You’re wasting good content if you’re not doing this: http://ow.ly/kpMMs
  • August 25th, 5pm: “As long as the content is evergreen, you have every opportunity to stick it in your future feed” says @amaaanda http://ow.ly/kpMMs
  • September 25th, 7pm: Are you recycling old articles on Twitter? Here’s how to do it right: http://ow.ly/kpMMs

By refreshing this content through social media, Google gets a chance to look at it again. In many cases, you’ll get more re-tweets and shares which can only help those articles climb their way back up onto the first page of Google.

Curious about those five reasons to recycle old content on Twitter?

1. More Visibility: If every single person in your target audience took a vacation today, none of them would see your tweet. Essentially, it would be lost in a sea of tweets, and the people who would see it and click your link wouldn’t be those most likely to complete a sale. If you only post your articles once, they may never be seen again.

2. More SEO Benefit: If you title your posts with brilliant SEO keywords, Google is taking notice. In fact, Google associates the words in your tweets with the URL you are tweeting about, so the more you post it, or people re-tweet it, the better you’ll rank on your targeted keyword.

3. More Opportunity for Clicks: Obviously the more times you post a tweet, the more traffic it’s going to bring in. However, if it’s a holiday, or even holiday season, you probably aren’t going to see the results you’re looking for. Or, if you posted at the wrong times of day, or a natural disaster occurred, you’re obviously going to see a drop. Instead of calling it a loss, you have the next two reasons to consider.

4. Diversity of Timing: Recycling posts means that you can schedule them at different times in the upcoming days and months. Perhaps today you schedule your tweet for 10am and 3pm, and next month you schedule it at 9am and 5pm, and six months from now you might post it at 2am and 11pm for international readers. Then you look back regularly to see which times brought in the most traffic and begin to work on a more calculated schedule.

5. Experimenting with Headlines: Writing Twitter headlines takes practice because what works on a blog and what works as an email subject line doesn’t always work on Twitter. Folks on Twitter appreciate hashtags and call-outs to signify a more “human” feel. The more you post an article, the more opportunities you have to work with these types of elements to see which headlines pull better. Does a question work better? A statement? The title of the post? The email subject line you used? These are all different formulas to try.

Comments? Questions? Demands? Let’s chat down below!

Or, let us do it for you.

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Why You Want More Twitter Followers (or Do You?)

Why You Want More Twitter Followers (or Do You?)

Illustrated by Patrick Yurick

The main reason people want more Twitter followers is to build credibility. For businesses, it’s a good way to show your reputation. For people, especially those looking for a job in social media, it’s a way to prove influence.

The more followers you have, the more people will be inclined to trust you. The idea of getting more followers might make you feel like you’re in high school: the more followers you have, the more popular you appear.

It’s because of this that some people choose to “cheat” the system by buying followers or using automated programs (more on that later).

But there’s a benefit to more Twitter followers than just the “body count.”

Whenever I follow someone new, I make an effort to reply to something in his or her feed right away. It’s not just a follower-building habit, it’s a relationship-inducing tactic that has served me well in getting jobs, building friendships and even getting free stuff.

Don’t place your bets on getting a response from celebrities on Twitter, but it’s easy to get the attention of regular users, business owners, PR people and customer service tweeters.

A few easy ways to get more Twitter followers:

  • Attend tweet-ups
  • Follow more people
  • Introduce yourself to people you follow
  • Add a “follow” button to your website
  • Use a flattering profile picture
  • Ask for re-tweets
  • Join tweet chats and use designated hashtags
  • Respond to more people in your feed
  • Use Twitter search to answer questions people are asking

I can also think of a few more ways to gain Twitter followers

Some people use applications like Hootsuite to create custom feeds of anyone who mentions keywords they want to watch, or create mini-feeds of influencers who they want to re-tweet and get in front of.

The wonderful thing about Twitter is that you get back what you put into it. You can spend a single evening seeking out conversations to respond to, and get fifty new followers in a few hours.

Or, there’s the easy road, automated applications and buying followers, which rarely conjures up valuable followers, but certainly makes your profile scream, “I’m popular!” Imagine if high school was that easy!

Whether you choose the organic karma-building method of getting followers, or the dirty not-so-secret secrets of Twitter’s “most fake followed” users, there are strategies for every level of effort.

Keep in mind that Twitter isn’t a popularity contest. If you spend all your time trying to be witty, share what you think people want you to share, and promote your business like everyone else, your followers will get bored.

So I guess the biggest lesson comes from Oscar Wilde: be yourself, everyone else is already taken. Sometimes your username is taken too, and that sucks.


NOTE:

Did you know that I’m now managing Twitter.About.com too?

From now on I’ll be sharing a bunch of quick-tip articles here that link back to all the new tips,
strategies, apps and tactics I’m posting over there that will help you sharpen your Twitter chops.

Consider it cross-pollination! Why You Want More Twitter Followers (or Do You?)

Why You Want More Twitter Followers (or Do You?)

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Chicago Tribune on Twitter: The Case Study That Backs Up Engagement

Chicago Tribune on Twitter: The Case Study That Backs Up Engagement

Illustrated by David Flanagan

Chicago Tribune on Twitter: The Case Study That Backs Up Engagement

The Face of @ColonelTribune

Take a lesson from the Chicago Tribune on Twitter and increase followers by 2298% just by being human

I’ve taught social media to publishers across the country and it breaks my heart when someone tells me during a workshop, “oh we’re just pushing feeds… The New York Times does it and it works for them.” Or similarly, “we’ve just been automatically reposting blog content and it seems to be working fine.”

Working fine? That’s called working “good enough”. People have RSS readers, so what incentive are you giving them to follow you on Twitter? How does this translate to your other marketing efforts? Are you always doing the bare minimum?

This is like comparing your personal Twitter account to Ashton Kutcher’s Twitter account. As a normal average human on this earth, I can’t do exactly as Ashton Kutcher does because I am not Ashton Kutcher. I haven’t been an Abercrombie model turned TV actor turned movie star. Therefore, what works for him isn’t going to get me six million followers.

The New York Times is the head honcho when it comes to social media popularity. A newspaper with 951,063 daily circulation has The New York Times Facebook page close to 800,000 fans and the @NYTimes Twitter account coming up on 3 million followers. The Wall Street Journal more than doubles them in terms of daily circulation, but are way behind in online presence.

Chicago Tribune on Twitter: The Case Study That Backs Up EngagementAccording to TweetStats, The New York Times:

  • posts 39.8 tweets per day
  • retweets at a rate of 0.18% – and only to other NYTimes accounts
  • replies/mentions at a rate of 0.02% – again, only to NYTimes properties

In comparison, the Chicago Tribune is the ninth most circulated newspaper in the U.S. with 516,032 daily circulation, with  The Chicago Tribune Facebook Page that is nearing 20,000 fans and an official @ChicagoTribune Twitter account with just 35,000 followers.

Chicago Tribune on Twitter: How They Turned a Brand into a Personality

So, the ninth largest circulated newspaper in the U.S. with an official Twitter account that ranks 8th came up with the brilliant idea of creating a separate, personal Twitter account for the Chicago Tribune.

While @ChicagoTribune is ranked 8th in terms of Twitter followers for national newspapers, they actually rank #2 with a more personal account called @ColonelTribune. The @ColonelTribune account is architected to serve the average news-reader and isn’t catering to the news junkie that subscribes to newspaper feeds as a replacement to their RSS feed.

The @ColonelTribune account hand-selects articles to tweet about so that they don’t overwhelm their readers and every headline is rewritten in the form of an engaging discussion-starter.

Chicago Tribune on Twitter: The Case Study That Backs Up Engagement

Chicago Tribune on Twitter: The Case Study That Backs Up Engagement

@ChicagoTribune – Pushing content, no bio, following 0, relying on brand

Here’s the thing, I’m not even going to trash-talk the Chicago Tribune for their branded Twitter feed. Sure, they’re missing a bio, they’re not following anyone, and they’re relying on their brand to get Twitter followers. All forgiven.

Why? I’m not going to offer any type of criticism because what they’ve done separately is brilliant.

For those who only want headlines, they’ve got @ChicagoTribune. There are over 35k people on Twitter who are perfectly happy to use this feed in order to get their news. They don’t need anyone to reply to a question, they don’t need any kind of engagement, they simply want the news.

However, for those 845k people on Twitter who want a little personality with their news, they’ve created @ColonelTribune. This account is “the more gentlemanly version of @ChicagoTribune” and always re-writes headlines to be more interesting, @ replies to people and is seen as “the face” of The Chicago Tribune, even if he is simply a mascot.

Chicago Tribune on Twitter: The Case Study That Backs Up Engagement

Chicago Tribune Headline: ‘Drunkorexia’ a growing trend among college students

Ahead of the curve, the Chicago Tribune created “Colonel Tribune” as a face of the brand back in March of 2008 when they assembled a social media team to work on building their company image via networks like Facebook, YouTube, Flickr and Twitter. They immediately saw an eight percent increase in page views ontop the millions of pageviews they were already getting.

Daniel Honigman, former Social Media Strategist for the Tribune Media Group told Mashable last year:

“Essentially, we wanted to find our audience regardless of the medium.  The Colonel acts as a touch point for the Tribune and serves as our voice on the web. Thus we needed a front man, which turned into Colonel Tribune. Who is kind of a goofy man about town but is an actual person. He would even answer questions that you might have.”

Is @ChicagoTribune dead on Twitter?

What I noticed while researching this article was that the @ChicagoTribune feed has been down for almost a month. This made me question whether they had abandoned the account in favor of the more popular account, or if the feed was simply broken and they hadn’t noticed yet.

So, I decided to take my question to @ColonelTribune. I did this for two reasons. First, I did it because I wanted to know if I would get a response or if the old man in a paper hat would shun me for asking such a silly question. Second, I did it because I wanted an answer and it it’s hard to get one through email.

To my surprise, @ColonelTribune answered me in less than two minutes.

Chicago Tribune on Twitter: The Case Study That Backs Up Engagement

When I asked Bill Adee, VP of Digital Development & Operations for the Tribune Media Group about the stagnant @ChicagoTribune account, he confirmed that they hadn’t abandoned the account and that they “only recently re-gained control over it” and are “going to fix up the page and the feed soon.”

He also noted that they do in fact believe “the @ColonelTribune account is the important one for engaging with [their] audience and learning from it.”

Comparing site traffic between the big-wigs

In general, site traffic for all of the large newspaper sites has seen a dive over the last year. Even the Wall Street Journal, which doubles The New York Times in daily circulation is down 36% in terms of site traffic, going from almost 12 million to 7.5 million this year.

Chicago Tribune on Twitter: The Case Study That Backs Up Engagement

The New York Times isn’t much better—down 17% from last year. This is coming from almost 21 million unique visitors last year to a little more than 17 million this year.

Chicago Tribune on Twitter: The Case Study That Backs Up Engagement

The Chicago Tribune has seen the least decrease of the three, but is still down about 16%, coming from close to 3 million unique visitors per month down to 2.4 million. However, they did see a 15% hike between the months of May and June.

Chicago Tribune on Twitter: The Case Study That Backs Up Engagement

As you can see, all newspaper sites have taken a digger in terms of site traffic. However, smart newspapers like the Chicago Tribune believe in the power of social media. In fact, they’ve seen the benefits first-hand.

After all, the Colonel Tribune project started based on a surge in traffic that they initially got from Digg. A small local article got 16,000 page views on the day it was published and dropped down to 1,300 the next day. This is typical.

What wasn’t typical, was the 43,300 page views they got 9 days later when it got picked up by Digg and drove more than 126,000 more unique views by the end of the month.

After this, they put together the small social media team I wrote about earlier, and have been putting their faith in social media ever since.

The takeaway from this case study

Speaking in generalities, a newspaper doesn’t need to work hard at getting thousands of followers. When you’re the third most circulated newspaper in the U.S. like The New York Times, you don’t need to adhere to the rules of engagement that we hold other companies to. Would it be nice? Sure. Would it increase their followers even more? Probably. Will The New York Times survive social media without responding to @ replies and without retweeting other newspapers? Without a doubt.

Even though the Chicago Tribune is still considered high up on the totem pole of newspaper circulation (they’re #9), the company understands the importance of leveraging personality and charisma on social networks. So many large publications think that they are untouchable and that they don’t need a social media to get by, while smaller publications think they can build their online brand by watching what the leaders are doing.

The big secret: Many newspaper publishers, especially the big ones, have no idea what they’re doing. Trust me, I’ve been to enough publishing conferences and networked at enough events to tell you that everyone in the industry is still watching what everyone else is doing. It’s like the blind leading the blind.

The lesson: Don’t copy your idols unless they’re doing something that you are personally impressed by.

The solution is to close your eyes and ignore what everyone else is doing. You’re a consumer… what do YOU respond to? When the Chicago Tribune put together their new social media team back in 2008, they were literally starting from scratch because nobody in the industry was leveraging the medium successfully yet.

Social media is your chance to stand out and create a unique online presence. By doing what everyone else is doing, you’re simply fading into the background.

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