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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18 comments to Twigger Happy Self Promotion

  • Pie

    Can’t help you. I tweet once, but that is my choice. People that tweet for days about the same piece of content annoy me, but a few random tweets, not as bad.

    I actually scan everything the people I follow tweet, even if I am asleep. There are a few exceptions, but that case usually holds true. But I am just one reader.

  • Hi John,

    Interesting post. I see the multiple tweets and my first reaction is spammer! To be completely honest with you, if you didn’t have something interesting to say then I probably would have unfollowed by now.

    I’m not criticising your use of twitter, it is such a simple service that everyone is busy writing their own rules of etiquette and it is nobody’s right to dictate how another uses the service.

    I’d be interested in a service that allowed you to append your latest blog post URL to your email/website forum signatures as a way of distributing your latest content.

    • Pie, Darren,

      You’ve confirmed my suspicions. I am one of those douche-bags. As a result, my policy is officially changing. One Twitterfeed auto-post, plus one manual tweet in the middle of the day some time. And that’s it.

      Thanks for the wake-up slap.

  • I guess that Twitter only gives you a bump if you have a *lot* of followers – not sure if I have the energy for it! I’m surprised that you get so few hits from search engines as I’ve always found long-tail search to be a prime source of blog traffic – that and commenting on other blogs and forums…

  • I’m seriously guilty of self promotion via Twitter and I’ve been called up on it a few times by respected colleagues or industry bods. But what the heck, similar to you Jon, I feel I have something worthy to say and I don’t want people to miss it (your real-time argument is spot on).

    I guess it’s all down to the content, no matter how many times you tweet it, bump it, add to this feed and that feed or shout about it from the roof tops…If people don’t think it’s worth reading…they wont. and they wont pass it on.

    • Yeah, you are guilty Neil. And it’s a bit annoying ;-) In fact, probably about as annoying as mine have been :-( I see plenty of your tweets for the same post, and I’m sure you see plenty of mine. We have to trust our readers more to find the stuff they want to find. When I’m back-scrolling through the tweets I follow, I get nice and excited when I see a new blog post from people (yourself included). Then always a bit disappointed when it turns out to be one I’ve seen already. Even worse when you advertise it with a different tag line. I’m guilty of the same.

      At least the old more spammier me was guilty of the same. As of now I’m changing my spots as I mentioned in a comment higher up. Still going to allow the Twitterfeed bot to do its thing, but I might kill that too at some point.

  • “Even worse when you advertise it with a different tag line”

    :) I’ve been trialling this method with little snippets from my posts to see if it sparks any more interest! I didn’t really think about how annoying it might be! ;)

    Back to the drawing board..!

  • Interesting! I must admit I noticed the multiple tweets and thought that something was broken – like Twitterfeed had decided to embarrass you and then I noticed a pattern, that this must be on purpose. On the other hand, you make a great point, I am one of those people who are following too many people and can no longer use twitter like it’s e-mail, eyeing up each tweet and now tune in and out like radio.
    So, I am noticing I am missing stuff, by folks like you who I enjoy following – I am also missing your stuff because other folks have started multiple tweeting or those people that tweet 20 times in a nanosecond and everything else gets buried. So maybe you need to be more aggressive and post MORE tweets about your stuff ;-) a tweeting arms race.
    Tweetdeck is great, with groups, but I think Twitter needs to add some core functionality to help us out here….

  • Aggressive tweets – I like that. I was reading an article the other day that said the amount of click through’s you get on your tweet is all dependant on how you ‘sell’ it. With this in mind, I’ll think I’ll try and spend longer on blog titles…

    RT’s are where it’s at. If someone worthy RT’s your post, I always notice a massive spike in the stats.

  • Naomi

    do you know about twitter counter? http://twittercounter.com/ its another good way to track all of this…if you want to be really marketing about it and less geek of course :)

  • Why not solve the timezone issue by localising your tweets? eg:

    “…and for all the East Coast US readers out there, why not check out my post [insert link]”

    “…GMT? You may have missed [insert link] … pls RT @ EST ta”


    Just a thought :-)

  • Andrew Godfrey

    I use RSS (I still don’t get the point of Twitter).
    Could you explain to an idiot like me why you would want to re-tweet the same
    blog post at all?

    Is it just that your readers are following so many things, you’re scared that if you don’t tweet close to when they read it, it will fall off their radar? I hope I’m missing something – that would be so lame.

    Either way: Spammer! I’m glad I don’t see this rubbish in my RSS feed.
    And: It seems like a simple feature for Twitter to be able to eliminate the duplicate tweets, so your readers only see 1 tweet no matter how many times you repeat it.

    P.S. You kids, get off my lawn!

  • Andrew Godfrey

    Btw I was asking about when you tweet the same blog post twice,
    not the other “re-tweet” case you mentioned.

  • Suzy T

    I personally don’t care how many times I see your tweets, just so long as you’ve cleared them off your FB profile (which you did a while back, thanks). But then I will dip in here every few days regardless of your self-promotion so it doesn’t really make a difference to me. I guess what you really want to do is get one of the big nerd forums (/., dailywtf etc) to link to you – then if the clickthroughs like what they see, they’ll come back. (Hi Andrew! :) )

  • Thanks for the graph!People are waking up to the power of twitter and it’s great to see an actual analytics chart!

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