Monday, 15 October 2012

Tweet dreams are made of this

So you want to know how to keep your blog content alive, re-use your twitter microblog moments of glory and broaden your social media reach? Bear with me, I'm going to take you off on a hygiene products tangent.

You're walking down a corridor at work, a hotel lobby for an event, the final few steps to the wine bar for a date. Did you remember to put on anti-perspirant deodorant? Doesn't matter, you're cool. But now you start to worry about whether you forgot to put it on and the sweat begins. Even if you put it on now it would be too late. What's that odour? Body or fear? That's how I feel about all the things I have to do to keep my social media platform running. I've forgotten something essential, my weaknesses (social armpits) are exposed and the strange smell in the room is me. How can I keep things sweet, make sure the toilet paper is hanging the right way everywhere I go and maintain my sanity with everything else going on?

Social media fads come and go. Remember MySpace? A few months ago Google+ was going to be the next sweet little number. Since its flotation the predicted demise of Facebook has had people scrabbling for footholds on Pinterest, Tumblr, LinkedIn, Stumbleupon and goodness knows where else. Everything is a whirling blur of social networks, blogs, photo collections, discussion forums, online chat and update feeds.

How about Twitter? What is the point of a 140 character message which might not get read by anyone before it sinks into the 340 million daily tweets? Maybe you use it for a kind of global chat. Are you a microflash wizard who gets favorited every five minutes and manages to send tweets viral? Twitter doesn't seem to offer much to those of us mortals who don't have spare hours to follow the streams of consciousness. Unless you're a blogger.

Content is the key to good blogging. Some folk blog about their routine daily life, others about a book release, product review or maybe a competition. Authors engage in round-robin writing challenges, give updates on their WIP and share writing tips. People tend to follow or bookmark the blog if the content has value for the reader: well written, entertaining and pertinent. They skim and immediately forget uninspired posts.

If you write a good blog post it can pull in considerable traffic to your platform and you might even sell the odd book or two (although the jury is out on whether there's any real correlation between blog traffic and book sales). Write a great or controversial blog post and it could go viral, even be the catalyst that catapults your writing from relative obscurity to Amazon top 100 (John Locke believes his viral blog post about a controversial baseball coach was the tipping point for selling a million).

The killer is this: when you've written a good blog post, it's still there and will pull some traffic through tags, keywords, SEO stuff, but it soon becomes old news, after a week or so. Right? Wrong, if it's evergreen content and not related to a particular point in time. How many people viewed that post? A hundred, a thousand, a hundred thousand? That's peanuts. Goodreads alone has 10 million members. The majority of your target audience haven't read your stuff. My Compulsive Communication Syndrome post has had over 10,000 views but, until I start getting irate emails telling me to shut the hell up about those elephants, I haven't reached saturation with it. That post is still news. 

So how best to leverage all that great content you've slaved over when you should have been writing your latest novel? Send a killer tweet. Use keywords, hashtags and a link to the blog post. Sounds easy, it can be done. Did anyone spot it on Twitter? Any increase in page views? Now it's disappeared again into the 340 million daily tweets. Help.

You need a way to share your best tweets about your best blog posts with people around the globe, in different time zones and on different days. I discovered (yeah, discovered - I'm always the last to know) how to do this while away from home having a Bunfight at the Breaffy House Hotel on the west coast of Ireland. Trawl through your old tweets and find the best one you sent for that post, the one that was retweeted and favorited by others. Do that for all your best blog content and build up a list of tweets in excel, notepad or similar. Make sure you check the tweets don't refer to expired competitions or offers, and click all links through to be sure they still work. Now you need to schedule those tweets using something like Hootsuite. Watch the stats on your blog and see the numbers grow. Try scheduling at different times to catch the Americas, Europe, Australasia and Asia. Look at the audience and work out what's effective for you and your content.

Your blog traffic should have multiplied with this little exercise, but your twitter dementia will be escalating. Try scheduling nothing for a couple of days (if you can bear it) and see your blog traffic drop. You'll soon be back on the scheduling, trying to build the numbers back up and keep your content live. Oh, talking of content, shouldn't you be writing a new blog post? And how's the new novel WIP coming along? Feeling stressed? Don't panic, we have a couple more cards up our sleeve that will exorcise this compulsive communication demon.

Feed140. How about if you could take your list of top tweets and schedule them in a never-ending loop? Even better, randomise the sequence in that loop / play list. How many of these great tweets do you have and how often are you prepared to repeat them? Say you have 100 in your list, that's enough for one an hour spread over four days. You'll repeat them after those four days but the random order will probably put them in a different time zone. That's what Feed140 can do for you. All your back catalog of blog content getting Twitter airtime. You'll start to find comments appearing on posts you'd forgotten existed. Tweeps will begin to retweet and favorite your tweets when they enjoy the blog post or even just the content of the tweet itself. Now you have time to get back to your new blog posts and, even more importantly, your novel WIP. When you write a hot new blog post go revise your Feed140 playlist to include a tweet for the new post. (Note: Feed140 is in beta phase. If you can't join without an invitation code then drop me a line, I have some codes.)

So, semi-automated top tweet content, driving traffic to your blog back catalog. Your twitter and blog followers are increasing, you use some tool like JustUnfollow to drop unfollowers and follow back new fans, and everything is dandy. Until someone unfollows you, a someone you value as a top tweep influencer. Are they fed up with your play list? Are you swamping their twitter feed? It could be that they followed you for interaction and aren't getting it from you anymore. Unfollow them and then follow back, in case it was a mistake by them. They'll come back to you if it was. It's always a good idea to keep putting those personal tweets in manually, those run-to-the-computer moments when something great pops into your head. And don't forget to say thank you to folks when they mention you and reply to any valid direct messages.

After a while with Feed140 you'll hear the buzz of activity coming from your blog. But, like an MP3 player with your entire CD collection uploaded, it starts to feel a bit stale. And why aren't you getting more hits on your latest blog post? You have a twitter following of a few thousand but that great new post is sinking into the mire after just a few hundred views. 

Triberr can be a bit tricky to get yourself set up and connected with the right people, but Triberr is a great source of expanded coverage for new blog posts. Connect your blog and twitter to your Triberr account (and Facebook and LinkedIn if you wanna go the whole hog). Join a tribe that has members with blogging interests you want to share on your social media platform (this is important - their content should be pertinent for the people in your network). When you post on your blog it will automatically be shared with the tribes you are a member of. They have the option to share your posts with their social networks (Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+, Stumbleupon).

Example: I have 4,086 Twitter followers, I'm a member of 8 tribes on Triberr with 113 tribemates and a reach of 458,000 Twitter followers. When I blog around half of those tribemates will share my content to their networks. Depending upon how well my blog post title works as a tweet (and it can be edited on Triberr to put in a hashtag or extra keyword) I'll get a boost of extra traffic on my new blog post for every day the post remains active on Triberr.

Conversely, in the spirit of give-and-take that is Triberr, I go onto the site once a day and share every post in my tribal stream that has content I consider relevant to my network. I share writing and publishing tips and news, good book reviews, author interviews, relevant competitions and beautiful/clever writing on any topic. Those posts enrich my tweet stream with something new at a maximum frequency of every half an hour. I read most every post that I share and have benefited personally from a lot of that content too.

Phew! Sometimes it all just has to come out. How to keep your blog content alive, re-use your twitter microblog moments of glory and broaden your social media reach.It's easy to set the machine running and keep it ticking over. Does it sell more books? You can set up analytical tools and laboriously follow the statistics, but the only way to be sure is to switch your platform off for an extended period and see if sales are maintained. Are you going to take that risk?

This Ruby Barnes post first guested at Wise Words - Book Blogger

If you've enjoyed reading Ruby's blog then please sign up to Ruby's News for freebies, advance review copies of upcoming novels and occasional updates. Thanks!


  1. What a great post. I know I will return to read this time and time again to absorb all of the great information!!

    All the Best,

    1. Thanks Rionna! Yeah, a lot of info. I have my head deep down in the twitter bucket and have to come up for air sometimes ;-)

  2. Great article! You're right! When I took a break from tweeting it did drop :-) I love the tweeters! They are a great group :-). I made myself finish setting up my blog and stop avoiding technology lol it was painful but felt so worth it at the end.

    Thank you gor sharing!

    1. Thanks Kay! Yes, there's an initial time investment but it pays off and gets easier ;-)

  3. I have not yet figured out how twitter works. But after reading this article, I think I'll give it some serious effort. Thanks.

    1. Hi Carol. My mind was blown by Twitter initially. I have some good intro tips in The New Author, just sign up to Ruby's News (on the right of this blog) to get a free e-copy ;-)

  4. Agghh! Yes, talk about catch 22. No one else will sell my books, but if I spend all my time selling, not much writing gets done. I just shared some other networking tips for Twitter on my blog this morning. Tell me what you think

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Mark. Yep, I read your blog posts before I share them via Triberr (we're tribemates), and they're all good. I find it hard to balance an 80% day job (4 days a week), young family and music plus sport personal interests with my writing and marketing. The upshot is I don't do enough marketing, so I'm always looking for the pressure points to get the max return. Twitter and Triberr are driving blog traffic well. I'm working now on mail list and the holy grail of onward book sales.