This is a screenshot I took yesterday of the rate of new followers coming into my Twitter account. On April 12th, the graph just shot up and left me a little bewildered but I supposed there’s no one ‘secret’ I can pinpoint that created this result. I kind of figure things out and do all the little things that come together to create the impact. In fact, on April Fool’s Day, I was still as clueless as a personal friend who asked me what Twitter is all about.
Honestly, I really felt like an idiot that day. I mean, here was I, aspiring to be an Internet Marketing coach, ended up discouraging an old friend of 10 years from understanding Twitter! How stupid can it get? Throughout the one hour I had after he typed, “I need to learn from you…” I kept thinking, “Why not? There are success stories of using Twitter for effective customer service. Dell made $1 million via Twitter…Jonathan is a trained accountant. Surely he can twitter to clients…” I begin to see any professional can make the act of twittering productive and profitable in more ways than just from an Internet marketer’s point of view.
It just goes to show how difficult it is for newcomers to fathom this open-ended social communication platform, because for the first time we are encountering a site that doesn’t set its own rules; you set your rules according to how you use it. The only 3 rules (or catches) are its 140-character limit per tweet (post), the inability to add pictures and the 3rd one which I’m going to mention later has to do with following-follower ratio.
Thus there are several ways to using Twitter depending on how you look at it, but first, let me draw a metaphor for Twitter as a loudhailer. This special loudhailer has a 140-second run-down time limit. You have to turn a knob to restart the time limit. If your message is more than 140 seconds, it will be broken up and ultimately your presentation is affected, so the point is to capture the full essence of your message in one tweet.
Now you can use the loudhailer on several different occasions, like during a rally, to direct people in a fire drill or supposed a one-to-one conversation, if ever 2 persons talk like that. Likewise, what is the context you want to build up from your tweets? What is the default impression you want to give to your followers?
I think first of all, you got to have a big picture of what insights you want to drive into the minds of your readers or followers. Writing entries like “I just woke up and brush my teeth” or “I’m getting ready my new PDF report by next Friday” doesn’t mean anything until they figure in a larger picture. For this picture to materialize, the twitterer must have 2 consistencies:
1) The frequency of twittering.
2) The focus of the tweets.
But let’s start with defining the big picture. If the picture is “The lifestyle of a millionaire Internet marketer”, then the entry “I woke up and brush my teeth at 7.30 am” will be a very intriguing post to start with because everyone else would love to copy what a millionaire would do, right? Your frequent entries will give an overall insight into a general pattern or rhythm of all your actions so people can deduce for themselves what they should do.
The challenge is only celebrities have the clout to pull this off. Most people’s lives are too mundane to extrapolate and project eventful moments out of. Watch this cartoon clip. Someone commented, “I couldn’t imagine wasting my time reading people’s boring notes about their everyday lives.
6:00pm – Ate Dinner
7:03pm – Watched Family Guy
7:14pm – Took a piss
7:20pm – On Facebook
7:33pm – Written Essay
10:29pm – On YouTube
Who gives a shit???”
Clearly, twittering about activities which the rest of the human population is already doing does not add value to the readers. Before I suggest what information to best tweet about, I want to touch on the dynamics of adding followers.
As you saw in the clip, Daren said, “None of you have any friends!” Adding followers is not like adding friends. Unlike Facebook or any other social networks, there are still limited characters for introducing your bio. You can’t learn much of a person from that short bio, which brings our attention back to the main content of Twitter: the tweets. Do you begin to see Twitter epitomizes the game of influence? Either you follow or are followed. I have never directly appealed, “Follow me!” by revealing the URLs of my 2 Twitter accounts because the true test lies in how the netizens find me. Michel Fortin has fired his salvo in the never-ending debate for and against auto-following or unfollowing. Meanwhile, it looks like Cameron Johnson, a famous entrepreneur, is swearing off following anyone. As for myself, I auto-follow somewhat as a response to placate the follower, but usually the same old Internet marketers and new faces follow me first since they already know what I do for a living online. The point is each time you are being followed, you can assure yourself that you have scored leverage over a follower and depending on who your followers are, that speaks volumes of how much expectations the followers have placed on the value of your tweets. And since I auto-follow anyway, I can stay relevant with the grapevine and get a big picture of where my “like-minded community” is up to.
Thus the value of your tweets almost always lies with work-related issues (outside of work, the question is how you add value to your family and loved ones). So regardless of your occupation and if your work takes up a significant portion online or you’re already interacting with professionals in the same industry, you can consider creating another space in Twitter for interaction.
Speaking of interaction, one of the better forms of twittering is to carry out a conversation. You know what a conversation is? A 2-way street filled with short sentences. The thing about conversations is they sound highly personal. Friends might have teased you for being a nerdy, walking encyclopedia but to talk likewise in Twitter won’t cut it. Anything beyond 140 characters becomes a speech. And you can forget about spamming. Twitter is the worst place to spam. Think about this: if an affiliate link takes up 50 characters, that’s 35.7% of the whole tweet length and you have 90 characters left to say something good…still shorter than AdWords! I hope you couldn’t imagine posting tweets like this every 24 hours. From what I see through Internet Marketing lenses though, most of us like links to a page filled with 10 or 20 quick tips to doing certain things, like “20 easy ways to optimize your blog”. If you want your web page to get tweeted, you should write this kind of quick-and-easy-to-digest content. It’ll get passed around.
Therein lies a certain way of vindicating the value of your tweets and is a crucial key to building up the number of followers. Part of the culture/etiquette in Twitter is to retweet a good tweet and give credit to the twitterer who started it. Example:
I’ll come around to the Twitter commands. RT stands for retweet and is like mail forwarding. It’s not a system command so the site does not act on it. In this case, Mahesh liked what missrogue has sent out, so he replied (represented by the arrow icon. When you reply someone, @someone appears), put RT in front, copied her message and tweet out as well. He did not necessarily reply to her, but by replying, not only had he credited her for a good tweet, his followers—which missrogue otherwise would not have—could see that same tweet and missrogue’s account link too. missrogue stood a chance to win some of Mahesh’s followers.
If there’s any one good philosophy you can take away from this chapter, it is “retweet and be retweeted”. Apparently when I checked out Mahesh’s page, almost all he does his retweeting! Not very original, but he has surpassed the psychological “1000 followers” level. Perhaps Mahesh has developed a habit out of searching for earlier tweets to make sure he was not the first.
A retweet can mention more than one username and whoever had passed the message around; just do a copy-and-paste of other usernames. Someone had even tweeted back to thank me for the mention. The exposure can get incredibly viral. You know some things are working when you get more new follower notifications than usual in your inbox.
And if you do reply to someone, even as simply as saying, “Wow, your tweet just made my day. Thanks!” That someone’s username will nonetheless be exposed. Every seasoned twitterer knows and appreciates what an active conversation can do to increase exposure of the 2 talking parties.
All these mean that unless you think you are an influential personality who can live well with following no one, you are better off with following some in order to build up your follower base by staying engaged within your group of people. It doesn’t mean you’re technically a loser if you follow more people than being followed. Who knows if you don’t read their tweets? But here lies another challenge that not all your followers are loyal to you too, so you need to have much more followers to see a significant size of that critical mass of ‘true’ followers.
Anyway, the 3rd rule is Twitter limits you to following only 2,000 people until you get 2,000 followers yourself, then the limit is lifted…not that I care as long as I am either influential, or provide tremendous value.
For more system commands and symbolic abbreviations, read this Twitter FAQ. Of importance are the hash tags (#) which are just keyword tags you can search for in Twitter and also insert in your tweets. Out of all these hash tags is one #followfriday. Read the FAQ and search for it in Twitter. In a positive light, it is unconditional recommendation of a good twitterer. In a not-so-positive light, it can be used as a subtle means to pimp followers in an “I scratch your back, you scratch mine” manner. But make it a point to include #followfriday as a regular feature in your tweets and as more followers take notice, perhaps your favor will be reciprocated. Also thank whoever recommended you in the last round. Gratitude is powerful.
Like I said, you set your own rules for using Twitter. Other than retweeting, you can also tweet to build up anticipation in the midst of preparing a product launch. Your series of entries provides a running commentary for an event and this gets your followers excited on their toes in real time.
Another thing I realized about Twitter is it can be a darn good place for prospecting. Read this news article about how a CEO clinched a deal. What does it mean to you? Go search for all the keywords of your niche in Twitter. You never know you might come across someone in need of help. Plus when you give your personal touch in such a conversational environment and the other person responds in kind, where do you think the interaction can lead to? Wouldn’t that whole experience be awesome?
Search around for other Internet marketers’ Twitter pages and see what you can learn from them.
At the end of the day, I still know of at least one brand-name marketer who only posts affiliate links. If this is to your liking, I suggest you set up 2 accounts to separate your product recommendations from your real meaty/informative stuff.
Thus this is as much I can surmise about Twitter dynamics today. One final big takeaway is twittering is not capable of falsehood because you have to get to the point within 140 characters plus the fact that you’ve to maintain consistencies. When you adopt a strong twittering discipline, you can establish a rock-solid presence that demands the attention of the faithful, and will not fade into the Twitosphere.
As the growth of Twitter explodes, 3rd-party Twitter-related resource sites keep coming up. Unfortunately, my sad prediction is unless these sites have sustainable financial backing, some of them are going to disappear over time. At least, whatever I can recommend below (essential ones), please make the best use of them. By the way, the ability to tweet over 140 characters is still a myth. Any solutions for tweeting over the limit are strictly technical workarounds.
a. Twhirl, Seesmic or TweetDeck: 3 popular Twitter desktop clients. Another 4 are DestroyTwitter (nevermind the name), Snitter, Spaz and Tweetr for iPhone, though the first 3 are more popular. Once you can get around to using the clients instead of logging into Twitter, you’ll begin to feel how fast and addictive you are getting your tweets. I’m using TweetDeck.
b. TweetCube: Posting pictures, videos and audios in TweetCube gets immediate update in Twitter. Twitpic is an image-only alternative.
c. SocialOomph: Schedule tweets, automate welcome DMs to new followers, auto-follow those who follow you and auto-unfollow likewise. There’s even more automation when you subscribe to a professional account!
d. Twitterfeed: Crosspost your blog feed to Twitter, identi.ca, HelloTxt and Ping.fm. Set up another Twitter account to propagate your blog feed because if you post every day, it would look impersonal in Twitter.
e. Twitter Blaster: A brilliant piece of invention. Twitter Blaster is a PHP script that will bring viral traffic to your site using the Twitter network. You can build a list very quickly using this technique and increase your profits.
f. Twollo: Find and follow twitterers with similar interests to you automatically for FREE!
g. ViralURL + ViralFollower: Character limits give us compelling reasons to shorten our links, so why not use programs that are monetizing such a service or have a side benefit in list-building? Basic sign-up is free.
h. Twitoria: Twitoria lets you quickly find out which of your followers has not been actively tweeting. Easily sorts through your network of followers and purge the inactive users.
i. MyTweeple and Tweepi: For those with an ego, this is the perfect site to unfollow those who do not follow you back on Twitter. You can also follow those who follow you but aren’t being followed by you. Saves time, but do it with care. If you follow someone first, it may take some time for the other person to follow back. Twitter Karma, UnTweeps and ManageFlitter are other similar tools. UnTweeps and ManageFlitter are best for removing inactive twitterers.
Twitter has a term that disallows 3rd-party websites from providing a “select all” checkbox for Twitter management, making work tedious, but there’s still a trick: Install CheckFox add-on for Firefox! Next time you manage your account, right-click, hold steady and drag across all checkboxes, then left-click and choose ‘check’.
j. Bubble Tweet: Unique application lets you post a short video message that pops up on your Twitter profile in a bubble shaped player. You can personally introduce yourself and/or your business to anyone who visits your profile.
k. Twittersheep: Generates a word cloud based on keywords found in the bios of your followers. It gives you an idea how like-minded your overall community is. Who knows you might find a big product word in there, like…shoes.
l. Retweetist: Find out the hottest tweets likely to get retweeted. Retweet them and stand a chance to get retweeted yourself.
m. TweetBeep: Keep track of conversations that mention you, your products, your company, anything, with hourly updates! Refer to Chapters 3 and 4.
n. Tweetmeme: Tracks the hottest retweets in the Twitosphere. Participate in retweeting and get retweeted yourself. Other similar sites are Retweet and Topsy.
o. Twitscoop: An advanced tool that allows you to see friends in real-time conversations. View the history of a niche or keyword phrase at various time frames, and measure a trend’s credibility.
p. Monitter: Similar to TwitScoop. Displays real-time conversations containing your keyword or phrase. Allows a user to have multiple windows open displaying conversations simultaneously.
q. Twemes: Twemes follows tweets that have embedded hash tags. May be better than Twitter’s internal search engine.
r. WeFollow: A user-powered Twitter directory to add yourself in.
s. TwitterCounter: This analytics site charts a time graph on your “performance” at adding followers. Not only that, look to the right to see a TwitterRemote widget. This works similarly to other visitor widgets like MyBlogLog or BlogCatalog. So next time a twitterer visit your site, reply to thank them for their visit.
t. TwitHawk: This marketing application is very good for location-based, local businesses. It helps you connect with consumers in your area and related to the keywords you choose. TwitHawk will send Twitter users your custom response when they tweet your keyword in locations that you specify. Say you sell shoes and you want your response to reach anyone within a 20 mile radius of your business. When someone 7 miles away tweets about shoes, your response will automatically be sent to that person.
u. twtQpon: Create exclusive coupons for your business services or products and share them with your Twitter followers.
And tons and tons more Twitter applications can be found here. I also found 2 Twitter monetization programs:
v. TwittAd: Monetize your profile by serving an ad on the background of your Twitter page.
w. Magpie: Let advertisers publish their ads as your tweets and earn based on per-view, per-click, per-lead or per-sale conversions. Run this under an account that is sustained by Twitterfeed.
Other articles on Twitter:
1) 26 Reasons Why I Love Twitter
2) Your Guide To Micro-Blogging And Twitter
3) How To Use Twitter—Tips For Bloggers
4) How To Use Twitter To Generate Traffic
5) Tweet This! A Twitter Manifesto by Randy Gage (good one)
6) 5 Steps To Going Viral On Twitter: It says retweets see sharp increase between 9am and 6pm EST. My hunch is if you stick to a certain time period in which you release your tweets, whether on schedule or tweet actively, you create expectancy on the part of your followers to pay attention to your online presence on time.
Using SocialOomph, the best automated Direct Message (DM) you can send out is “Track my tweets from 9am to 12pm EST. I aim to be available around this time. www.yourwebsite.com“.
7) How To Power Up Your Twitter Search Techniques
Yet one more marketing tactic has to do with designing a Twitter background with a message through which visitors can learn more about you. One terrific example can be seen at Mieke Janssens’ account.
However, I took the screenshot based on my 12.1″ laptop screen at 1024 × 768 resolution. At 800 × 600, the main text area engulfs the whole window. You would want to spare a thought for others who have poorer LCD screens than you do as you design your background. You can right-click and save Mieke’s background and use it as a reference for the dimensions of your message.
Wait, there’s another smart tactic. See below:
The last time Mike Filsaime gave away Butterfly Marketing 2.0, he had a strip of graphic asking visitors to tweet the page, social bookmarking style. Later Frank Kern did a video showing how easy the source code is implemented. Kudos to these 2 guys. You can see the Twitter banner at work here. Download the graphics. The code starts at the ‘body’ tag. I show you an example from my site:
The 4 margin parameters are there to push the graphic to the edge of the browser window as a matter of design aesthetics. So far I can only do this for plain web pages. I can’t quite get it to gel with the WordPress blog codes so maybe someone out there can e-mail me when s/he finds a solution.
Twitter and identi.ca are not the only microblogging platforms around, though Twitter has the lion’s share of the market. Also check out Jaiku and Tumblr (you can import your blog feed into Tumblr). As you may already know, status.net is a script with which you can set up your own microblogging platform. Identi.ca is based on it.
Hopefully by now you can’t claim you don’t know what the hell Twitter is all about! If you adhere to the proper usage of these Twitter applications and apply good twittering practice, you can stake a sizeable claim of online presence in Twitter.
This is Chapter 8 of your special Web 2.0 report “Monetizing Secrets Of Going Web-Social“. Download for free now!