Two Strategies to Make Twitter More Engaging

This is not a comprehensive examination of twitter. I’ve done several of those. (See: The Twitter Way page) But today as I was scrolling through my Twitter analytics I got a reality check, even for me, the Twitter evangelist. Here is a tiny slice of my performance metrics on an account that has 11k followers.

Screen Shot 2014-12-29 at 8.59.37 AM Here are a few observations.

Seems like my organic reach is about 1%. That’s a lot of work over the last few years to build up an audience, to only get 150 impressions per tweet. It makes me wonder about the people with 500 followers. No wonder they’re not seeing *any* results.

Okay, so then we look at Twitter’s reported “engagement rate” clocking in at a 1% – 2% average. Not terrible if compared to Facebook advertising. BUT, there’s a bit of a fallacy in these numbers. See the engagement rate should be calculated on my entire following when trying to calculate the engagement of my audience and not just the people who saw the tweet. In that calculation we’d divide by 100. So moving the decimal point over two places we get a more realistic view of my total audience engagement. 0.01% – 0.02%. That looks a lot more like traditional social media paid advertising.

With these numbers I understanding the lack of joy most users have when they start experimenting with Twitter. Why would a business spend *any* time building up a Twitter following to get 0.01% engagement? And if they have an average of 500 followers, the math gets really bad on their return. So most businesses give Twitter a try, tweet a bit, and see zero results. Then they stop.

There is a little bit of hope when you start using Twitter a bit differently. These are no panacea, and without dedicated work, you probably won’t see much ROI from your Twitter presence.

FIRST STRATEGY – USE BIT.LY TO TRACK LINKS

Twitter analytics only reports on Twitter.com stats. And well over 50% of Twitter activity happens outside of Twitter.com in tools like Tweetdeck and Hootsuite. So one way to get more information is to use a tracking url service like Bit.ly. Here is the story of one tweet on Twitter Analyics.

Screen Shot 2014-12-29 at 9.19.13 AM

That’s pretty high compared to my average, so I thought that would be a nice tweet to look deeper into. Using bit.ly I can see the activity on the specific URL that was in the tweet, regardless of where the activity happened, meaning off Twitter.com. These results are somewhat more comforting.

Screen Shot 2014-12-29 at 9.18.51 AM

So while Twitter.com reported only 8 engagements, bit.ly shows that 52 people clicked on this tracked link. And an additional 85 people clicked on another bit.ly link to the same content. (Often this happens with second party tools reform new bit.ly links as they are retweeting or forwarding them along.) So rather than 8 engagements, this tweet got a nice total of 137 engagements. And today’s still the 29th, so my numbers may continue to go up some more.

SECOND STRATEGY:  TWEET ALL THE DAMN TIME

You’re reach to 1% of your followers is due to the nature of Twitter. As the firehose of content rushes by, any Twitter.com user will miss your tweet if they are not online and looking at their feed. (Tools like Hootsuite and Tweetdeck offer more ways to follow users and never miss a tweet of someone you’re interested in.) So while I don’t believe in using auto-tweeting tools that repeat the same tweet over and over again, I do think you should tweet often.

Here’s my strategy.

  1. A new piece of content should be tweeted 3 – 5 times during the course of the first day of publication. I write new tweets every time and try to learn from previous performance what hashtags might have worked.
  2. Hit tweets should be noted and the content rewritten to capitalize on a popular piece of content. People are reacting to the content and the words of the tweet. If you find a WINNER don’t just repeat it, but try again to say the essence of the tweet in a new way. It’s the content the audience is after.
  3. When you’ve tweeted out your maximum on current content, look for “evergreen content” on your site, or tweets that have done well in the past, and pull a few of them back up during the course of the day. Re-promoting your best content is a way to show another 1% of your audience a good article.
  4. If you have posts syndicated on other sites (Huffington Post for example) you can use those pages as additional content for your tweets without wearing out your followers.
  5. Be a good tweeting citizen: a. RT other’s who generate like-minded and valuable content; b. comment or respond to everyone who engages or retweets your post.
  6. Start a conversation. Once you’ve initiated a conversation on Twitter you’ll see that some people who are LIVE TWEETING and online at the time will engage and respond. I’ve met some cool people through Twitter due to real-time chats.

That’s it. Twitter is a lot of work. Building a large following also takes time. But as you begin to get the rhythm of Twitter down and you master a tool like Tweetdeck to help you manage your flock, you’ll begin to see how it can become valuable.

John McElhenney
@jmacofearth (also seen on Google+: jmacofearth)

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