This post is written in response to Writing 101, Day 8: Expand a comment.
The other night before I went to bed, I was visiting with my fellow Blogging 201ers on The Commons for Blogging 201. The conversation was all about our assignment, Day Six: Dig Deep into a Social Network. I currently use three social media platforms to promote my blog: Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. I have debated adding Instagram and Google+ to my social media mix and was hoping to find some conversation about both these platforms. I came across a post asking for advice and tips on using Twitter and commented:
I love Twitter – but I love sleep too. I just followed you on Twitter and tweeted your mushroom soup recipe. Would be happy to give you some tips. Will try to post tomorrow. Off to bed – doing better tonight it’s 215 am in my world last two nights was on here until 4ish.
As I commented, I realized I had an opportunity to multitask by turning my comments into a post, helping out a fellow Blogging 201er, completing a Writing 101 assignment, and auditing my own use of Twitter. Bestill my twittering tweeting heart.
My twitter profile says I joined the twitterverse in March 2012. Happily, I have learned a few things along the way. In 2012, I wasn’t sure I would ever be able to get my point across in 140 characters or less. I wasn’t even sure there was a point. Seriously, I find 140 words or less to be challenging. Boy was I wrong, 5,221 tweets later and I’m quite good at it.
I initially joined Twitter to help out Linda McD, the director of marketing at the firm I was working at in 2012, meet a benchmark of followers she was trying to reach. I jumped in Twitter’s icy waters and with Linda’s tutelage I slowly began to understand the dos and don’ts of Twitter. To the point that I am comfortable not only in my own Twitterverse but in helping others set up their Twitter accounts and tweeting as one of the social media liaisons for one of the real estate networks I belong to CREW Boston.
How I use Twitter has changed and developed over time. For nearly two years, I used Twitter for personal connections and professional networking. Slowly I started to use Twitter to promote community service activities (and simultaneously the firm that I worked at with Linda McD).
Approximately a year after I started blogging on from the sticks to the bricks and back again, I made the decision to use Twitter (and the same account I had been using personally and professionally) to promote my blog. Some bloggers use separate blogging and personal accounts for each social media platform; I only felt the need to keep my personal Facebook account separate. My viewpoint is that having duplicate social media accounts would be social media overload. There is only so much social updating one person can do. I feared that I would burnout quickly and become well very anti-social.
Besides, I had worked really hard to develop my twitter following of about 350 followers at the time and if at some point I felt the need to separate my #CRE (commercial real estate) tweets from my blogging tweets I would create a separate #CRE account.
Regardless of whether you maintain separate accounts or not, the moment you decide to promote your blog through social media in this case Twitter you become a brand. And your choices need to reflect your brand and help you gain an audience for your blog.
Your Twitter Profile
Don’t Be An Egghead – Use A Profile Photo
Change your profile photo from the canned avatar Twitter provides to a photo or graphic that represents you and your brand. It can be a photo of you, your brand logo, any image that sends a message about you and your brand.
When I was newbie and a bit apprehensive about Twitter, I used a picture of the Citgo Sign at Fenway Park. It represented what I wanted people to know about me at the time – Boston, Red Sox Fan. It gave me a degree of anonymity but told potential followers something about me. It gave me a personality that others could relate to that the Twitter egghead doesn’t provide. Don’t be an egghead – take advantage of the branding opportunity the profile photo provides you.
Eventually, I changed my profile picture to my current picture, which is my personal Facebook profile picture. It’s a picture of me photo bombing two of my nieces taking a selfie. It makes my profile even more relatable than the Citgo sign.
Consistency is Key
Since I started using my twitter account to promote my blog, I haven’t changed my profile picture. It is something I need to change because I’m breaking a rule of branding – consistent imaging across all platforms. I currently have four different profile avatars floating out there on social media platforms.
I need to choose one profile photo, whether it is one of the four I currently use or a new one, and apply it consistently across all social media platforms.
The same basic rules apply to your header image; change it and be consistent across all social media platforms including your blog. The header image on my blog is the same bridge shot I use on my Twitter and Facebook headers. Consistency is key. People respond visually, you want someone who reads your blog or follows you on Twitter to recognize you, your brand across all platforms.
What’s So Novel About You in 160 Characters or Less
A good bio is important, it gives your potential followers a snapshot of who you are and what is important to you. You can’t capture your entire life story in 160 characters, it’s a short bio not a biography. It’s the hook, the elevator speech of social media. It’s where you convey to potential followers what’s novel about you, what separates you from the millions of other Twitter accounts out there. A bio should tell what makes you interesting and what interests you. A bio is a snapshot of you today and can and should be changed. This is the second bio I’ve posted on Twitter and will likely update it before 2016.
In 160 characters I actually reveal quite a bit about myself. Anyone looking at my bio discovers:
- I am from Boston.
- I am a sports fan at least of baseball and the Red Sox.
- I am a blogger.
- I am a Citizen Teacher; you may not know that means I volunteer to teach commercial real estate apprenticeships to middle school students in the after school extended learning time program Citizen Schools. What you do know is that I am interested in education.
- I am a finance geek so talking to me about personal finance or numbers crunching would interest me.
- I have a connection and interest in Roxbury, Boston and Lawrence.
- I’m interested in CRE and if you are too you know that means commercial real estate. You can safely assume that is the industry I work in (or perhaps want to).
- The hashtags #mapoli and #edchat tell you I like to tweet about Massachusetts politics and education.
So what do you want to tell us in 160 characters or less? Cupcake connoisseur, wine aficionado, blogger, former New Yorker living in Alaska, expatriate living in Paris. You decide what it is you want us to know and tell us in 160 characters or less.
160 characters not enough? If you want to tell us more you can always link to your about page on your blog or your about.me, Gravatar or LinkedIn profile if you use it in connection with your blog in the field that Twitter provides to link to a webpage.
Follow and Be Followed
Where is Everybody?
Gaining followers is a process. And, for most of us who do not have the last name Kardashian it takes time. You need to start following people. Who do you follow? People with the same interests as you, people you find interesting. My followers and people I follow primarily fall into four silos: sports fans, mainly Red Sox fans; CRE professionals; education/community service; and bloggers.
I started following people who tweeted about the Red Sox, CRE and education. Use the search feature to find people who tweet about things that interest you and follow them. It really is that easy to find people to follow. Some of them will follow back and through their tweets introduce you to more tweeple (people who tweet) you might be interested in following.
Join the Convo
Getting people to follow back takes more work. You need to converse with people, engage with them and develop connections. You have to join in on the conversation. Cupcakes your thing? Share an article about the new bakery opening up or tweet about the bakery and mention them in the tweet by including their user name in the tweet.
RT (retweet), favorite and reply to other people’s tweets.
Twitter is social. It’s talking and sharing information in 140 characters or less. And just like any conversation, tweeting should not be one-sided. Don’t just tweet about you or your brand.
Be mindful of twetiquette (twitter etiquette). Thank people for following you, retweeting you, and mentioning you. Some people even thank people for favorites, I do not find this common or necessary.
Participate in Follow Fridays. I sometimes combine Follow Fridays with my thank you for follows and/or RTs. Other times, I randomly pick tweeps to give a #FF shout out to, perhaps a group of bloggers, Red Sox or CRE tweeters. Follow Friday tweets are a way of telling others to follow some of your favorite tweeters. Remember to use the hashtags #FF or #FollowFriday.
If someone includes you in a #FF tweet definitely RT and thank them for the mention. You want to keep getting mentioned so interacting and showing appreciation helps ensure that. Also, don’t forget to check out the other tweeple mentioned in the #FF tweet; that tweet is meant to introduce you to each other and others. I don’t always follow everyone that is included; it has to make sense to me because of shared interests or that I find their tweets engaging.
Use Hashtags Wisely
Use Hashtags in your tweets. I’m working on a post about chocolate chip cookies. When I publish it and tweet about it, I am going to want to use hashtags to help people find my tweet. I may write in the post that I baked the best chocolate chip cookie ever. If I tag my tweet #Ibakedthebestchocolatechipcookieever how much traffic do you think that tweet will get? Not much, that’s right. In the twitter search box type #Ibakedthebestchocolatechipcookieever and see if you find any tweets with that tag. None? If you shorten and focus the hashtag to #bestchocolatechipcookies you get some results but even more for #chocolatechipcookies #chocolatechip #chocolate #cookies or #baking. To find out what hashtags are popular type a few ideas in the search box on your twitter feed and see what the results are.
My blog and twitter traffic has increased since I started participating in Hashtag Days. My followers have also increased on WordPress and Twitter as a result. I find hashtag days to be an effective tool for driving traffic to my blog and increasing my overall social media presence.
Some basic rules for participating in Hashtag Days
- Don’t just tweet your own posts.
- Don’t tweet all your posts that you are sharing one after another in a fifteen minute interval. It’s annoying and your fellow tweeters and bloggers hear a whiny little voice “screaming, me look at me, look at me.”
- I aim for three shares of my own posts per hashtag day; occasionally I push it to five posts.
- Share one of your posts that you have decided to post periodically throughout the day either by logging in and sharing or scheduling the shares through a social media app that allows you to schedule such as HootSuite or TweetDeck.
- Read other posts, RT and favorite the tweets of other bloggers participating in the hashtag day particularly those who RT your tweets. I try to RT a minimum of three tweets for every post of my own that I tweet with a designated hashtag day hashtag.
Some popular hashtag days are:
Mondays – #MondayBlogs @MondayBlogs
Tuesdays – #TuesdayShares
Wednesday – #WWWblogs (Women Writers Wednesday)
#BeWOW – (Be Wonderful on Wednesday) @RonovanWrites
Thursday – #ThankfulThursdays
Friday – #BlueSkyFriday
Saturday – #ArchiveDay
Sundays – #SundayBlogShare @SundayBlogShare
The Weekend – #WeekendCoffeeShare #WeekendBloggers
There are numerous other hashtag days out there for bloggers. If you look around the twitterverse at what other bloggers are doing and using you will find even more ideas you can adapt to make you a successful tweeter.
Image Credits: Image by Sujin Jetkasettakorn and SweetCrisis at FreeDigitalPhotos.net