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How I Use Twitter - A Social Media How-To for Home Energy Pros

 

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.

blogging social media organic search website traffic building science

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.

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Comments

Great post, AB3! It's been fun to watch the traffic growth! Let's keep it up. 
 
I just learned this week from the webinar about social media and the science of timing (#TimeSci) that if want to check the stats of the links you Tweet (via bit.ly), enter the shortened url in the web browser address bar and add "+" to the end of it. It shows how many times it has been clicked by day, and in which country!  
 
Just one more tracking mechanism! 
 
Hope the Boot Camp goes well tonight!
Posted @ Thursday, March 31, 2011 9:31 AM by Chris Laumer-Giddens
Great article! I'm still trying to figure Twitter out as we have a lot of uniques per month, but very few twitter followers. You've hit on a lot of great tips, but the key is you just have to spend time and build relationships, something you've done a great job of. Many people think you can just hop on twitter and get a bunch of followers, but it doesn't really work that way unless you are famous. You have to add value to the site to get the followers. My original strategy of just following a bunch of people hoping they would follow me didn't work out so well and is not a good strategy at all.
Posted @ Thursday, March 31, 2011 9:50 AM by Chris
Thanks for the tips! I especially liked the graph for the blogging -- it really works! I'm a freelance copywriter now, but I worked for seven years as a carpenter and still do marketing for my company. We're entering the Home Performance field now, and were at last year's ACI Conference in Austin. So sorry to be missing the Social Media Bootcamp! Will highlights be posted later?
Posted @ Thursday, March 31, 2011 1:10 PM by Melanie Grove
Thanks, Chris, Chris, & Melanie! 
 
Chris K., yes, you'll definitely have fewer followers than following for a while when you get on Twitter, but if you use it effectively, that turns around. 
 
Melanie, I believe all the PowerPoint presentations will be posted online afterward. Also, you can follow the Twitter stream live at #ACI11.
Posted @ Thursday, March 31, 2011 1:53 PM by Allison Bailes
Great post. The Be Real section most resonates for me. When I'm decided whether to follow or not, I don't want to see a list of RT's or links to articles. I also want to see discussions, thoughts, original opinion. 
 
I disagree on the reciprocation issue, however. I see Twitter as another way to build relationships, and the more people you know, the less time you have to really "know" them. When I go through my Twitter feed, my hope is that every link or post is something I'm interested in. I follow people who have something to say that I care about. I hope people that follow me care about what I have to say. 
 
To use your example, if someone has 1500 followers, good, they might have something interesting to say. But I don't expect them to follow 1500 people. I actually would prefer to "Following 120, Followers 1500". 
 
But hey... that's what works for me. Hope Bootcamp when well!
Posted @ Thursday, March 31, 2011 2:14 PM by Graeme Nix
Excellent post Allison! Chris Brogan's blog is a great resource and not just for SocMob issues.
Posted @ Thursday, March 31, 2011 4:01 PM by Steve Byers
Graeme, I didn't go into this level of detail about using Twitter, but the key to managing the stream of tweets when you're following a lot of people is to use lists. I never look at the main feed that shows all the tweets from all the people I follow. I've created several of my own lists, and I also follow some lists from a few others. That allows you to dive down into the tweets that interest you most. Also, it's something that's fluid. I'm always adding people to my lists and moving them around among lists. The main one I watch is my A List
 
It's still important, IMHO, to follow the others because some of them may not seem like the best people to follow at first, but, as they say, appearances can be deceiving. Also, as I said in the article, some people will look at your ratio and say, well, they're not going to follow me back, so I'm not going to follow them (as is my policy). 
 
Besides using lists, I also keep a close on tweets that I get mentioned in and when my tweets get retweeted. That's how I decide to move people into or around in my lists sometimes, too.  
Posted @ Thursday, March 31, 2011 4:40 PM by Allison Bailes
Thanks, Steve. Yep. Chris Brogan knows what he's talking about. He's one of the gods of social media.
Posted @ Thursday, March 31, 2011 4:41 PM by Allison Bailes
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