Hey beloved Tweethearts, I know what you’re thinking…
Why the heck is this girl talking about Twitter?
No, I’m (sadly) not inebriated, nor am I a time traveller from 2012 (though that would be fun too). The truth is this, despite what many bloggers think, in 2017, Twitter is still alive and kickin’.
Unlike Vine (which did, in fact, die a very sudden and random death), Twitter is still laughing in the face of haters, boasting 100 million active users each day (according to Omnicore Agency). And yes I did just cite a statistic, so you know today’s about to get seeeerious.
Now here’s the deal: I have a bet going on with myself (because the blog life is lonely, yo), that this article will be by far the least popular in the whole #SlaySocial series. That’s because these days, the Twitter hype just isn’t there.
But that’s exactly WHY I need to talk about it… because no one else is.
Since somebody had to acknowledge the “awkward cousin” of social media channels, I’ve happily volunteered as tribute, because I genuinely still see it as a platform of value for bloggers. You just need to use it properly. That’s what today’s #SlaySocial post is all about.
And while I’m far from a model Twitterina, this platform has helped me not only land paid gigs and brand partnerships, but also strengthen relationships with readers and fellow bloggers. So, without further rambles, here are my golden tips on how to make the platform work for you. (Many of which are aspirational strategies that I’m working towards myself!) But first, let’s address…
Why Twitter is still important for your blog
1. Social proof
As much as I wish social media wasn’t a numbers game, it often is.
I’ve never liked the word influencer, but it’s so deeply tied with our line of work that I use it out of necessity. To be an influencer, you need some kind of proof that people respect your opinions and listen to what you have to say. Twitter is a great way to offer that proof. Used correctly, you can use it as a portfolio piece to demonstrate that you’re not a crazy-eyed conspiracy theorist, and people actually follow you as a thought leader!
And you might think: that’s vain… who cares?
My sassy answer: Brands do. *dramatic hair flip*
For every press trip application I’ve filled out, every influencer agency signup, etc., my stats on Twitter have been a metric used to gauge whether or not I’m worthy. For me, that’s compelling reason enough to keep tweeting my heart out, and at least attempt to build followers/engagement.
I see Twitter a little differently than most people do. For me, the goal at the end of the day isn’t to build traffic… Rather, I see it as a branding tool/relationship builder. Remember back in Week 1 of this series, how I said that every platform serves its own purpose? For me, Twitter’s purpose isn’t to skyrocket pageviews, it’s to build a brand… a brand that people can trust to supply good, engaging content. This is especially true for those of us who want to join broader conversations within the wild west of the Internet. Let’s say you run a blog that speaks about social justice. Using hashtags to jump in on important international conversations can be a great way to hook in new readers and establish yourself as a credible thought leader. Likewise, if you blog about movies/entertainment, having epic tweets during say, the Oscars or the Emmys can really put you on the map as a person of influence.
So yes, Twitter = a great tool for branding and expanding your reach, so long as you use it correctly.
EXAMPLE: That time I was featured on UK radio because I followed the host on Twitter:
But another important consideration is that…
2. It connects you with brands better than most platforms
Whether you know it or not, many people still take to the Twittersphere to air their customer service grievances.
Like, legitimately, Twitter is filled with a crap ton of angry people. Search up “delayed flight” and you’ll be submerged in sass/passive aggression.
It’s for this reason that there are many brands who have active customer service people specifically responsible for handling tweets… and because tweets are so much more public than say, an email or Facebook message, there’s a lot more pressure to respond and engage.
This has two important implications for us as bloggers: 1) if we’re trying to connect with brands and need a contact person, Twitter is an awesome starting point. 2) If you want to nab the attention of brands, Twitter is a wonderfully sneaky way to do that, whether it’s simply tagging them in a tweet or engaging with the ones that they post themselves.
I know that brands still use Twitter as a way of finding influencers… mostly because I’ve had many who have reached out because I followed them, or interacted with them in some way. Think about it – there are SO many bloggers and influencers out there. By using your Twitter to put yourself on brands’ radars, you’re immediately setting yourself apart from the pack… and they might share your content with their audience as well.
EXAMPLE: When I mentioned Popeye Village (a theme park I visited) in an article about them, they retweeted me and now sometimes share my stuff without me even asking!
— Christina Guan (@happy2wander) May 3, 2017
3. Real people DO still use Twitter!
Last but not least, before you dismiss Twitter completely as a dying social platform, you need to understand one thing: bloggers do not use Twitter like regular people do.
The truth is, your disdain for the platform likely comes from a lackluster feed filled with thousands of spammy, self-promotional tweets a second. That’s because you probably follow a lot of bloggers. But, remember: 99.9% of the world lives outside of this bizarro blogger bubble of ours.
Non-bloggers (aka the people you’re probably trying to reach anyway) usually only follow a handful of accounts they’re genuinely interested in. If you can get these people to follow you, then there’s a lot of value in that (for establishing your credibility, influence and relationships). A hint for getting these follows? I know it’s controversial, but nothing has worked better for me than following regular people and likeminded people in my niche. I know that the follow/unfollow game is a hotly debated topic, one that I’ve previously discussed. That whole fiasco is really a blog post in itself, so I won’t get distracted by arguing that today. Instead, I want to now provide you with easy tips to survive Twitter, improve engagement and make it a little more bearable.
PS: This week’s bonus will be a little strategy worksheet for Twitter that will (hopefully) help you nail your voice and determine what your content plan should be. Make sure you’re subscribed to my mailing list to get it!
Easy Tips for Improving Your Twitter Game
So hopefully by now, you at least sort of see why Twitter still matters.
Now onto a more difficult question: how can we actually use it properly? I know – sometimes as we’re follow/unfollowed by the same person 7 times in a day, it’s easy to lose faith that this platform serves any purpose. BUT, I assure you: Twitter can be engaging and fun.
The most important bit of advice I can dole out is a wistful throwback to my six golden rules of social media, as discussed a few weeks ago. Specifically, I want you to consider the vomit-inducing question: why should people follow you?
Answering this will help guide what content you share.
Should people follow you for gorgeous travel photos? For snappy one liners about current events? Or maybe, just maybe, for fun gifs of dogs taking baths? [Please let it be that one]
The most important tip I can provide is that your Twitter is an extension of your brand, just as your Facebook page or Instagram is. I’m constantly amazed by the number of people who are normally really great, engaging writers, then turn to the dark side and become soulless robots on Twitter. I know that 140 characters isn’t a lot to work with, but it’s enough that you can spice things up a little, and still have your own voice.
That said, the following tips have helped me maintain some decent engagement on my Tweets. Remember though, every audience is different, so I suggest experimenting until you find something that clicks and make your fans go wild (or at least, throw you a sympathy like).
- Write your tweets for Twitter – skip the auto/pre-made.
Remember, Twitter is not an excuse to become a sad robot. One of the biggest problems I’ve noticed (particularly with bloggers) is that they populate their feeds with bland, generic tweets, specifically ones that are automated or pre-written by the site’s share button plugin.
But think about it: why be boring and beige when you can be a rainbow unicorn that pukes greatness?! What has worked wonders for me on Twitter is axing auto tweets completely and speaking like a human again. It sounds basic, but it works. For instance, the tweet below COULD have just read “Inside the Secret World of Bucharest: Beautiful Must-Sees | Happy to Wander [LINK]”. *yawn* I know… we’re all asleep, and I sound like a robotic serial killer. Instead, this is a jazzier version that did quite well:
— Christina Guan (@happy2wander) May 31, 2017
2. Always attach an attention-grabbing photo.
Twitter feeds move freakishly quick, which means unless your content stands out, it gets buried faster than my diet at Dairy Queen.
Attaching an eye-catching photo will almost always capture attention faster than a few lines of text, especially for visual niches like travel. SO, experiment with attaching nice photos to your link posts, or even just posting pretty photos from time to time, without that cheeky link drop. The times I’ve done this have often been my most engaging tweets.
NOTE: Installing Twitter cards will help add a visual to your tweets automatically (usually your featured photo). That said, for some reason my photo tweets do much better than the ones with just Twitter cards. Such is the weird witchcraft of the Internet. I recommend trying some A/B testing to see what works for your audience. Read more about Twitter cards here.
— Christina Guan (@happy2wander) June 14, 2017
3. Stop retweeting everything…
I don’t wanna sound like a friend trying to coax you out of a bad relationship, but guuuurl you gotta have standards.
There are some really great accounts that I see retweeting anything that mentions them, or pretty much any random thing. Remember: retweets, at the end of the day, hold just as much weight as a Tweet. They occupy the same amount of real estate on both your feed and your followers’ feeds, so hand out those retweets sparingly. For times when you want to acknowledge others without spamming everyone that follows you, leave a thoughtful reply instead.
4. Abandon retweet threads.
I’m not a snob when it comes to reciprocal participation threads… you know, the ones in groups that operate on a “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” sorta mentality. I think they work well for Pinterest especially, but to be honest, where I don’t see their value is Twitter.
As I mentioned before, a large number of spammy retweets look tacky, and if your whole profile is full of them, especially from the same people repeatedly, it becomes quite obvious what you’re doing. Especially for me, because I see Twitter more as a branding tool than a traffic driver, it makes me cringe if my profile is full of lame tweets, posted out of sheer obligation.
NOTE: I love being proven wrong! If you have proof that these retweet threads work, please chime in in the comments. I will send you a virtual hug and a bouquet of retweets 😉
5. Cluttered feed? Make lists.
This has been a to-do item for me since forever, but I still haven’t gotten around to it… that said, if you want to make Twitter manageable, you gotta take advantage of lists!
Twitter lists allow you to curate users and organize them into groups (e.g. Travel Bloggers, Real Life Friends, News, etc.) That way, you can just browse your feed via one of these lists to get the kind of information you feel like consuming. Let’s say you’re looking for good travel content to retweet, then you can look at your feed from “Favourite Travel Bloggers” and pick from there. OR, if you’re fishing for funny memes to share, why not scroll through your “Best Memes” list?
If you’re wary of following too many people because of how messy your feed can get, this is one easy solution. Now if only they rolled this out for Instagram, amirite?
6. Struggling to find engagement and real connections? Join some Twitter chats.
I’ve done a few Twitter chats before, and have found that they’re really great ways to engage with people and actually have your tweets seen! At the very least, you’ll have a host or two who are in charge of engaging with everyone, so it’s a sure remedy for feeling like a friendless Twitter loser.
After all, one of the best ways to build relationships on Twitter is well… having conversations, and Twitter chats are made specifically for that purpose. Using chat hashtags is also a great way to get your content to a more targeted group of people.
Looking for chats to jump in on? Check out bloggers in your niche and see what hashtags/chats they’re joining in on. Of course, Google is also your best friend 😉 For my fellow travel bloggers, here’s a great list of travel-related chats.
7. Try to make things more personal – offer something that you don’t on any of your other platforms.
This is something I’m constantly trying to work on.
Remember that thing I said earlier about soulless robots on Twitter? That’s what it seems like when all you do is share article titles + their links, without any additional commentary. You know the kind I mean… “10 places to visit in Donutland… LINK.” I mean, sure it’s straightforward, but it’s also kind of boring. In an ideal world, people will follow you because they like your opinions and what you have to say. SO, try to mix things up. Remind people that you’re human and worth following.
And don’t be afraid to experiment with this! I’m sure many of you will get a kick out of this epic Twitter fail of mine, prompted last week when I was like “let’s make my feed more personal.” For some reason, my solution for that was to throw out a random tweet about RSVPing yes to corgi meet-up this Saturday, despite not owning a corgi (true story). What did I hear? Not corgis, but CRICKETS. It was so embarrassing. It was the quickest #shamedelete in the history of tweets. The point is, you need to play around with what works for your audience.
… clearly for me, that’s not corgis.
8. Make smart use of scheduling!
As with most “chore-like” things on a blogger’s to-do list, one easy way to minimize mental breakdowns is scheduling. As much as possible, I like to use Buffer to schedule my Tweets so I can leave them on autopilot. On days when I’m ultra productive, I’ll have a full queue on Twitter and feel like the absolute goddess of productivity. I’ll then spend the next 3 hours aimlessly “Internet-ing” as a treat, but nobody needs to know that.
So, be brutally honest with me: what are your thoughts on Twitter? Have you found any techniques that work especially well? Fire away in the comments, let’s help each other out!