I’m going to start this post by saying that I’m really bad at following my advice on this one. I know Twitter is really useful for driving traffic to your blog, and I know I should be making better use of it, but the fact is, I find it all a bit overwheleming, really. It always seems to move so fast, and while I’m still sitting there staring at the status box, wondering why anyone would be interested in what I have to say (or, more likely, trying to shave a 15,000 character tweet down to 140 characters: you know me, I don’t really do “short”…), everyone has moved on to talking about something else. Woe!
Anyway, the point is that when I DO make the effort to get to grips with Twitter, it does send visitors to my blog, so here are some tips I really should be following myself, on the subject of how to use Twitter to drive traffic to your blog…
HOW TO USE TWITTER TO FIND READERS FOR YOUR BLOG
01. MAKE SURE YOU HAVE YOUR BLOG URL IN YOU PROFILE
Yeah, I’m starting off with a Capt’n Obvious one, but some people don’t bother putting their blog address in their profile, so when you follow them you have to go through their feed to find out if they even had one. Don’t be one of those people, people.
02. WRITE AN INTERESTING BIO
Again, a lot of people don’t pay much attention to their bio, and just stick to the time-honoured old ‘age/sex/location’. Which is all well and good, obviously, but it’s not really going to draw people in and want them to find out more, is it? A few months ago, I updated my bio (it’s a good idea to do this every so often, I find) to say something about how I turned writing a diary into a full-time job: it’s pretty cheesy, to be honest, but I’ve actually had quite a few people comment on it, and tweet me asking about it: that never happened with any of the previous bios I had, so I figure it’s doing the job for now.
03. PIN ONE OF YOUR BEST POSTS TO THE TOP OF YOUR PROFILE
Did you know you can “pin” a particular tweet to the top of your profile, so that when someone looks at your feed, that tweet will always be at the top? (If you go onto the web version of Twitter then click on the three little dots that appear under each tweet, you’ll see the “pin to your profile page” option.) This is a really good way to let new followers (or people who are just thinking about becoming new followers…) get a flavour of your blog, and find out what kind of thing they can expect from you. I normally pin one of my “evergreen” posts (i.e. content that doesn’t date), because I have a habit of forgetting to change it, and I don’t want to have an outfit from three years ago be the first thing new visitors see. This is a good way to introduce yourself to followers, though, so choose a post you feel best represents you – and don’t be like me, and forget to change it every so often!
04. TWEET LINKS TO YOUR BLOG POSTS
A lot of new bloggers are afraid to tweet links to their own blog posts, because they think it seems really spammy, but the fact is, if you don’t promote your blog, no one else is going to do it for you. Actually, you’ll probably find that at least some of the people who follow you on Twitter are doing it to get notifications of your newest posts, so if you don’t publicize them, they’ll never know about them. If you’re really self-conscious about tweeting links to your blog (or just want to keep it separate from your “real” life), I recommend starting a separate Twitter account just for your blog: yes, it’s a bit of a faff having to manage more than one account (sites like Tweetdeck or Hootsuite will make it a bit easier, though), but at least you’ll know the people who follow that account actually WANT to know what you’ve been blogging about.
I also use a WordPress plugin (Jetpack) which automatically tweets the link to each post when it’s published: this is really handy, especially if you’re in the habit of scheduling your posts in advance, because it means that if you’re not around when the post is published (or if you just forget to tweet about it), it still gets promoted on Twitter.
05. TWEET THEM MORE THAN ONCE
If you were afraid to tweet your posts at all, you’re probably going to hate the thought of tweeting your links more than once, because OMGSPAMMY! People will hate you, and unfollow you, and the world will end! At least, that’s what I sometimes think. If you only tweet each link once, however, you’re missing out on a huge amount of traffic from Twitter, because only a tiny percentage of your followers will ever see that single tweet. Most people DON’T go to your feed and then read their way down it, like it was a very strange novel, completely composed of 140 character tweets: instead, they just go to their own timeline, and look at whatever appears on it . If they’re following a lot of people, that timeline will be updating constantly, making it really easy to miss a tweet from someone you follow – especially if you’re not in the same time zone as them.
I remember the last time I was in California, for instance, I felt like I’d stumbled onto someone else’s Twitter account by mistake, because the time difference meant that I didn’t see tweets from any of the people who usually appeared on my feed – they were all in bed when I was online. Instead, I saw tweets from a whole bunch of other people instead – people I was following, but was hardly ever seeing tweets from, because they were tweeting at times when I wasn’t normally awake. All of these people are missing a trick, and missing out on a huge amount of potential Twitter traffic: I read somewhere that the lifespan of a tweet is only around 20 minutes or so, so if you’re serious about using Twitter to grow the traffic to your blog, you HAVE to tweet each link more than once.
06. ALWAYS INCLUDE AN IMAGE WITH YOUR TWEETS
Tweets with images tend to get more clicks than tweets without them, so it’s a good idea to always include an image from your post in the tweet promoting it.
07. TWEET LINKS TO YOUR OLD POSTS, TOO
I wrote about how to to use the posts in your archive to drive more traffic to your blog a few months ago, and one of the things I recommended was tweeting links to your older content on a regular basis. I’ve found this really useful in increasing the number of visitors to my site, so it’s definitely worth doing. I used to use a WordPress plugin which would automatically tweet links to older posts, but I’ve found I have more success when I select the posts to tweet manually. I use Buffer to schedule all of these tweets: it costs around $10 a month, but I think it’s worth it, because it means I can sit down once a week or so, work out which posts I want to promote on Twitter, then forget all about it.
08. JOIN TWITTER CHATS
This is one piece of advice I REALLY need to take myself, because I just don’t do it. Twitter chats, for those who don’t know, are scheduled discussions which normally happen at a set time every week, and use a hashtag to allow people to join in and keep track of the conversation. There are tons of Twitter chats which are specific to blogging, and I know a lot of people swear by them – not just as a way to find new readers for your content, but to get to know other bloggers. My problem is that I’m not great at joining things like this – I always worry that I’ll say something stupid, and basically find myself re-living high school by being shunned by my peers – but that’s MY issue, and it doesn’t have to be yours, too. So, join some Twitter chats – and maybe one day I’ll actually gather the courage to join you!