June 2009
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Twigger Happy Self Promotion

Advertising signs that con you
Into thinking you’re the one
That can do what’s never been done
That can win what’s never been won
Meantime life outside goes on
All around you.

So here’s a question. How many times is one meant to announce the arrival of their latest and greatest blog post on Twitter before they look like a knob head?

Twitter is a good traffic source for clowns like me that have just started a blog. It isn’t like millions of people know you exist, so you’ve got to advertise somewhere. Have a look at my Google Analytics Traffic Sources graph:

Try to ignore the grey piece of pie. That’s all the “other” sources aggregated together. Direct traffic is biggest.  I get slightly more visitors via the Twitter web site than Google. And I have a feeling a large chunk of the direct traffic is from desktop Twitter clients such as TweetDeck or Seesmic. I’d estimate at least a third of my traffic is Twaffic. As an aside, if anyone has a good way to track a) how many clicks came via each Twitter client (which is probably impossible) or b) which tweets actually generated the traffic (which is possible if you encode more things into your shortened URL) I’d love to here about it. 

So, tweeting about blog post at least once seems sensible. But the problem with Twitter is that it is a bit too real-time, and unless someone a) is following very few people, b) likes to scroll back through their history or c) is running clever notification tools, the chances are that your lone tweet will go unnoticed.

When I started, I thought I’d let the all important first blog post Tweet come automatically via Twitterfeed. That way I didn’t feel like I was blowing my own trumpet. After all, the machines were sending the Tweets, not me. For those that don’t know about it, you simply point Twitterfeed at an RSS feed and it does the shouting for you. Some people think any automatic Tweetbots (such as Twitterfeed) are a lame violation of the Twitter ethic. After all, if someone wants to know when I post something, they can subscribe to my RSS feed. I don’t agree with this – many people tend to use Twitter as their uber-aggregator at the moment. My RSS feed stats are sad proof of this.

So, with Twitterfeed rearing to go, I published my first post. After 45 mins of silence and feverishly waiting for my first blog visitor, I couldn’t take the suspense any longer. I manually tweeted my arrival on the blogosphere to my slavering hordes of followers. About an hour later, Twitterfeed finally kicked in and did its thing. That’s become my pattern now. When I publish a post, I tweet about it once myself as soon as I’m done, and the bot spews something about about an hour later. Job done. The world knows about it.
Traffic from Around the Globe

Or does it? I tend to publish my posts between 23:00 and 01:00 UK time. Most of my sensible followers are in bed, or at least not sad enough to be scrutinising their feeds. And as the Google Analytics map above shows, I’ve got 75 other countries who depend on my wisdom for their blog reading fix. So, as much as I hate the douche bags that repeatly tweet the same link to their blog posts, I’m becoming one of them. I normally unfollow the stuck record tweeters quite quickly. My current theory is to tweet my post again at about 10:00 UK time, and then again at about 15:00 UK time for my adoring fans in the US of A. Is that reasonable? Or is three manual tweets and one Bot tweet per blog post also flagrant douchebaggery?

Of course the answer to all of this is to harness the real power of Twitter – the retweet. These are waves of publicitly goodness that spread beyond your usual audiences into brave new worlds. Grovelling with a “Pls RT” at the end of a tweet is out of the question, though. So you have to desparately hope that the lovely people will retweet your plug because they really really like your article, or because they just feel sorry for you.

I think what this all means is that if your content is crap, no amount of self-promotion is going to get you anywhere. But create content that is interesting and it can spread across the interwebs like wildfire. Then you can sell out and put ads on your site, make lots of money and live in Bermuda.

In closing, I’d just like to get on to my knees and beg you all to tweet about this blog post. Retweet anything you see about it. Use the social networking links at the bottom of this post to Digg It, add it to Delicious, Technorati Rate it and everything else. Link to it from your esteemed sites. Send a mail to the EVERYONE mailing list in your company. Add it to your student’s coursework. If you are an editor of Slashdot, El Reg or Mashable, can we do a link exchange? Please. I’ve got a young son to feed. He wants his Daddy to make the big time. He wants to live in Bermuda. Tweet this. Please.

Pretty Please.

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