Back in January, I wrote about blogging and its effect on our organic search traffic. I showed a graph in that article of our organic search traffic from March 2010, when I started blogging, through December. Here's the updated graph with nearly three months more data.
As you can see, the growth has continued unabated. Last March, we had almost no organic search traffic, maybe 20 visits for the whole month. This March, we're going to end up with more than 7000 visits to our website just from organic search. We've been getting about 250 to 300 visits each day from organic search. Such is the power of blogging.
One important thing I do to support all the blogging we do is use Twitter actively. When I write a new post, it automatically gets tweeted by our blogging software. Then I retweet and watch how many others do likewise. As our organic search traffic has gone up, so has the number of my followers on Twitter. (It's currently at 1060.)
Twitter took me a while to figure out. As with learning to juggle, I just went out and did it on my own, so it took me longer than it could take you after reading this article. (At least, that's my hope.) So, what follows is advice on what I've learned about using Twitter effectively. This isn't the only way, of course. Plenty of 'tweeps' use Twitter differently and have great success with it, but this is what works for me.
The first thing you should do when you're new to Twitter is read Chris Brogan's article, How to Manage Twitter. It's full of great advice, especially when he describes what he does with Twitter.
Be Real. Have a bio that tells me something about you and lets me know that you might be a real person. Interact with people on Twitter. When someone new follows me, I have to decide whether to follow them back or not, and if I can't tell that they're a real person rather than a bot, I usually don't follow back.
Be natural. Don't try too hard to be profound. Just interact and retweet articles you find useful or interesting. One thing I like to do is to post photos of what's happening. I use twitpic, but a lot of people use yfrog, too.
Don't annoy people. Don't send me auto-responses if I follow you. It wastes my time deleting them. If I want to check out your website, I've probably already done it.
Reciprocate. If you don't follow me back within a week or so, I'm going to unfollow you. There are some people who almost never follow anyone back, and when I see ratios like, 'Following 120, Followers 1500,' I'm not going to follow them unless they're already following me. Sorry. Sometimes I do it anyway and then unfollow them a week or so later if they haven't reciprocated. (To find out who's not following me back, I use Tweepi.)
Likewise, if someone is retweeting your stuff, make sure you tweet some of theirs. I'm not crazy about thanking everyone directly for every retweet and interaction. I'd rather do it by interacting in other ways with them and retweeting their stuff.
Don't reciprocate. Don't follow everyone who follows you. Many of them aren't real people. They're bots or fake profiles or spammers. They're usually easy to spot. Even when real people follow me, however, I don't automatically follow them back. I look to see if there's value in my following them.
Don't whore yourself out. Yes, you can get thousands - even tens of thousands of followers - in a short time. There are lists you can put your Twitter handle on that will get you a lot of followers, but those aren't the kind of followers that can help your home performance, HERS rater, building science business. Building up a list of good followers takes time. It's taken me two years to get to a thousand. Don't try to do it overnight.
Be smart about links. First, make sure you shorten them. I use bit.ly for this. Second, make sure it's clickable. Occasionally I see someone who's new not putting the http:// in front. That means that a reader's going to have to be really interested to copy and paste that link into another tab or window. Make it easy for them.
So, that's a start. Twitter takes time, but if you're consistent and smart about how you use it, it can help your business.
If you're here in San Francisco at the ACI conference, come to the Social Media Boot Camp tonight, where you'll get a lot of good info about Twitter, blogging, Facebook, and other social media. If you can't make it, you can follow the Twitter stream at #ACI11.