Getting the Most Out of Twitter… Niche-Twittering
The best way to picture the “twitter-sphere” is a bunch of people conversing around a water cooler, except in this case, you can only communicate in text and you have a limit of 140 characters!
Like other social media sites, there are two major uses of Twitter…
1) Personal You want to use Twitter to keep in touch with friends, to socialize. This does not include “business-socializing.” The offline equivalent would be keeping in touch with friends, families, etc. It would not include socializing at trade association evenings.
Since this has nothing to do with growing your business, we won’t cover this further. But if you want to socialize, create a separate Twitter account and keep it separate from your niche-business twittering…
2) Business Niche-twitter! Yes, there’s going to be some “social chat.” In business, we call that “relationship-building.” 🙂 But the point is this… Everything you do is related to your niche and has the potential of building your business.
Remember, don’t mix the two. If ever you’re not sure about how to handle something regarding Twitter, ask yourself this…
“What would I do offline?” or “How does this compare to offline?”
If you’re “chewing the fat,” that’s not business. This article focuses on using Twitter to build your e-business.
At the end of the day, you’re in this to build a business. So the benefits of niche-twittering need to more than “pay for” the time you put into it. What are those benefits?…
- Spark ideas for new content.
- Generate some direct traffic from your account. This will be small at first, but it will grow.
- Build relationships. You may find someone who is perfect to write original articles for your site. If not… ask!
- Or you could contribute unique content to their site. For example, Brankica from cool-small-pets.com used this strategy to garner a quality inbound link. She tweeted the owner of a related site saying, “I like your guinea pig site. I would love to contribute a guest post. Is that possible?” A positive response led to a win-win-win situation for the site owner, her audience and Brankica!
- Put your site in front of people who are interested in your niche. They may have a site and link to you, or you may arrange a value exchange with them to enhance your own visitors’ experience.
- Increase your luck by making your own luck. Some fellow site owners have government tourism ministers, major magazines, etc., following them. It’s just a matter of time until something happens!
- Open up monetization options — You may find joint ventures, someone who makes something you could sell, someone who provides a talent you lack (such as the ability to sell ads), etc.
Let’s Start With Some Basics
- “Keep it real” is the Golden Rule.
- “You follow me and I’ll follow you.” This is the #1 nonsense on Twitter. Do not be impressed by those who are followed by 100,000 if they also follow 100,000. I’m much more impressed by someone who is followed by 500 and who follows only 10.
- Be careful what you automate. Automation should be consistent with niche-twittering and should “keep it real.”
- Follow others because they have something interesting to say about your niche, are interested in your niche, are an authority in your niche, are a potential great partner for you, etc. It’s irrelevant if they follow you. Never un-follow someone just because they do not follow you!
- Contribute relevant or interesting observations. Remember your newest followers read your most recent posts. Make them great (yes, that means most of your tweets should be excellent).
- Skip the self-promotion — “it’s just not about you.” It’s about sharing common interests with like-minded individuals.
- Ask yourself if what you are writing adds value to the other people on your feed.
- Stay disciplined about what sites, blogs, etc. you recommend — less is more.
- Be sociable, but in moderation… not overly bubbly or cynical.
- Build upon your individual posts about a certain topic so that, bit by bit, the reader gets a better understanding of your perspective/ideas.
How Do You Find Relevant Conversations?
A fast do-it-yourself way to find quality people to “follow” (or to join their conversations) is right at your fingertips. Let’s use “anguilla” to demonstrate the steps…
- Choose your username wisely, making it as close to your domain name as possible.
- Complete your profile fully.
- Create an engaging bio (max. 160 characters). Work in relevant keywords. Consider linking to your Facebook Page from your bio.
- Enter your site’s URL into the “Website” field. You can enter it with or without the “www.” Twitter will display it as “YourDomain.com.”
- Upload a profile pic of yourself, basically a nice head-and-shoulders photo.
- Upload a header image and a custom background image. Both should be related to your site’s theme.
2) In the search box, type in “anguilla.”
3) This brings back search results. Click on the “People” tab to the left…
4) These specific search results display this way…
5) Begin your investigation by scrolling down the list and clicking on each result that interests you. For example, let’s start with a click on “Anguilla Tourism.”
6) Take a look at the data displaying on the right-hand site of the page (the number of Tweets, Following, Followers and Listed) and skim through some recent tweets.
7) If you like what you see (i.e., a good “follower” to “following” ratio, tweet information, writing style, non-competitor, etc.), save the url and then continue down the list.
When it’s time to select those you truly want to follow, be laser-focused in your choices. You only want to actively court the top matches for your niche.
You can also find “conversations” through Twitter’s search tool and through other tools. Search on your Site Concept Keyword and related keywords (ex., if your Site Concept is RVing, you’d also search for “motorhomes” and “RVs”) and then scroll through the results until you find a comment that grabs your attention.
Next step? Follow the most niche-relevant “twitterers” or “tweeple.” Introduce yourself and share your own thoughts. Follow what’s happening in your niche through RSS feeds (I’ll show you how below). Anytime there’s something new about your niche, you’ll know.
Tagging content on Twitter to make it more easily searchable is done using one specific symbol at the start of the important keyword. The pound sign…
…is better known on Twitter as a hashtag. This powerful little symbol signals Twitter’s search engine to include the keyword that follows in its database.
Note: Hashtags never include spaces and are usually 10 characters or less.
Using a tag consistently creates – or continues – a conversation.
If a few of your Twitter followers find your tweet interesting and want to share it with their own followers, they only need to include your hashtag within their tweet. That way, everyone will be able to follow the conversation…and eventually follow you all the way back to your site!
So if Nori was twittering on “Anguilla,” she would add a “hashtag” in front of Anguilla. For example… “I love it in #Anguilla.” Why? Because people search on the hashtag.
Niche-Focused Twittering and Your Time Pie
Think of niche-twittering as a time investment. The more you build your presence in Twitter, the more people will find you and track you.
Conversation is the fuel. For example… someone makes a tweet about, let’s say, a nice Anguilla hotel (which your RSS feed informs you about). Ask them to share it on your site!
Or just ask someone influential in your niche a question, “Have you ever gone out to Sombrero Island? I’m looking for a contact who’ll take us there.” Or ask it of all who are following you. That starts a conversation about your niche, and builds relationships.
Keep your Twitter account tightly niche-focused if you’re going to use it for your site.
If you have sites in different niches, put a different Web site in each profile of each account. When you establish your settings, you provide a link to your site. This is a relevant link that could grow in importance as your presence does. So make one for each site.
If you want to have a Twitter account just for fun or for a variety of reasons (friends, track NY Times, various other subjects, gossip, etc.), open a second account and track it in a second browser.
That way… you can know when you’re “wasting” time and when you’re focusing on business.
Drive Targeted Traffic to Your Site
Here’s a step-by-step process for building a following in your niche at Twitter, and then using it to grow your site…
1) Start at http://search.twitter.com/ Search for your site concept keyword and a few tightly related terms.
You can use “Feed43” to subscribe to the RSS feed of your Twitter Search (Twitter no longer supports RSS feeds natively)
It may just give you some great ideas for new content (ex., through news or comments about your niche) or you may give a short reply to a question with a link to your site.
2) Visit the folks who turn up for your search. Review the bios and the tweets, pick the ones who look serious about your niche and follow them.
How do you tell if people hold conversations with other twitterers? How? Look for the @ symbol, which indicates that they reply to tweets.
There’s a tendency for folks to follow you back. If not, you can always introduce yourself, pass along a nice comment, do something strong and original to make them want to follow you back. This is especially worthwhile with the “big players” in your niche (i.e., who have lots of followers).
What Do You Do With Those Found Twitterers?
Do you recognize the Twitters that you find with the tools? Are they well-related and potential good contacts? If so, follow them. For example, Nori would follow the hotels, villas, restaurants tourist associations, any professional in the Anguilla tourist industry, etc.
If you don’t recognize them, click to check out any who sound interesting…
- Look for Quality…
- Do they have more followers than those they follow? This is a good sign of authoritative Twitters. Stay away from those who follow 50,000 and are followed by 50,000. They’ll never reply to you.
- And look for Relevance…
- Is there a good indirect connection to your niche (ex., luxury travel magazines).
These are influential potential contacts worth adding to your list. They may not be directly about your niche, but if you can establish yourself as the go-to authority about your niche.
Final Note: Do not bother tracking down who the “1-degree-of-separation” connections follow. This “2nd-degree-of-separation” is too low-yield. If there is anyone important and relevant in that haystack, you’ll find this needle by repeating the more direct approaches listed above anyway.
3) Add your Twitter URL on your Web site’s contact page, inviting visitors to follow you there, ask a question, etc. Why handle e-mail when you can turn inbound questions into niche-based followers on Twitter?
4) Integrate a Twitter tab on your Facebook Page and have it automatically feed from your Twitter account. And on the flip side, put your Facebook Page URL in the bio of your Twitter profile.
5) So now you’re building a following. You can track what they’re saying through RSS, too. There’s a feed that pulls together all the tweets of all the folks you follow. So you’ve got two feeds… one for all who you follow (ideally, they’re all related to your niche) and the search feed that lets you know whenever anyone tweets about your Site Concept Keyword.
6) Build on this and keep growing a niche-based following. Here’s a nice idea from Ashley from united-nations-of-beer.com…
Twitter sends you e-mails that tell you that you have a new follower. Check out who they are. If you see someone who is following 2,000 and who has 2,000 following him, just ignore. But if you see someone who has an interesting-sounding username and who is followed by more than s/he follows, it may be worth making contact. And, finally, if it’s from a big name in your field who you recognize, it is DEFINITELY worth the effort to make contact.
7) Build a two-way street between user-generated content on your site and your Twitter account. Say your site is about coffee, and you receive a question from “the owner of a coffee shop who wanted to know if it made sense for him to roast his own beans.” You would go to Twitter and write… “Coffee shop owner wants advice on coffee roasting. Help!” You then feed the answer back to your site visitors, e.g., in the form of an FAQ page.
This is the beginning of a process that you can build upon, relatively time-efficiently, and use it to bring targeted visitors over to your site, where they can either comment on your content or subscribe to your newsletter.
It’s All About Leveraging
Think leverage. If you find that you are working or communicating only one-on-one, that’s not leverage — it’s just fancy e-mail or messaging. But if you get folks involved in commenting at your site or if you can reach out to an Anguilla hotel (or your equivalent) that tweets and strikes a deal, that’s leverage.
Yes, your presence might attract a big deal with a company, but that’s not likely — you’ll have to be the one who tracks RSS niche feeds and finds them. And, for example, you’re not twittering just to sell one e-book, either. Your site should do much better sales, with no time on your part (that’s leverage).
I repeat… Think leverage. Guard your time when Niche-Twittering.
Niche-Twittering is a winning approach. You can drive traffic to your site, get some good inbound links going, find potential JV and other monetization opportunities.
It’s of less value, of course, if you are in the “Internet marketing/small business” space. As usual, in this space, you see an awful lot of nonsense/spam/etc. (ex., folks following 40,000 others so that they follow you). And you see the pros who really work it like crazy — in other words, it’s like setting up a site about Internet marketing — tough competition.
But once you get out of that “pro bubble” and into the real world, and as long as you avoid the trap of “what I had for breakfast” drivel, you can really fashion a Niche-Based Twitter that can help you network in many ways within your niche.
Niche-Twittering is about leveraging your time as much as possible. Building a presence in Twitter in your niche may take some time in the beginning. But it has to have a leveraged payoff down the road… for example, a joint venture with a local developer, or selling ad space to a big hotel, etc. Or more immediately… bringing folks over to your site.