11 Ways to Use Twitter to Help Your Site Go Viral

How can Twitter be used to help spread the word of your website or blog? Today Jeff Printy, Creator of Write or Die (follow him @DrWicked.

Twitter is one of the most satisfying ways to spread your website or idea. In addition to referrals, you can also gain loyal users, expert opinions, and possibly friends. It’s unlike any other medium in its ability to propagate interesting things. Word of mouth has always been the best advertising and Twitter is the best vehicle on the internet for word of mouth.


Here are some things you can do to get people Tweeting about your site.

1. Learn to explain the concept of your website in 140 characters or less.

Less than 100 characters if possible, to leave room for the URL. The second part of this is to pay attention after the launch not to just who is Tweeting, but how. If people are describing your site in a different way than you are, that give you a good idea of which parts they find useful. This is honesty that you cannot buy with market research.

2. When describing your site, leave something to the imagination.

Give Twitterers a reason to click and find out more. My tagline is “If you stop writing, there will be consequences,” that’s 46 characters, which leaves me more than enough room for the title of my site and the URL.

3. All of your target audience might not be on Twitter, but you can bet that their favorite bloggers are.

I’ve gotten a large amount of traffic directly from Twitter (almost a quarter of total traffic) but I credit Twitter for a great deal more than just those referrals. I managed to get featured on Lifehacker, Stumbleupon and the Delicious front page within 10 days of release, not because of some grand advertising push from my end, but because people were Tweeting about Write or Die. The very top echelon of internet-savvy people use Twitter, and those are the people you want to reach. You can’t afford not to.

4. Tweet This… is your friend.

There has been a lot of talk lately about Twitterrank.com and their questionable requirement that you enter your username and password in order to Tweet your Twitterrank. The author would have avoided all of the bad press if he’d instead used a simple <a href=”http://twitter.com/home?status=My Twitterank is x”> link. That way people could see what they’re Tweeting and edit it if need be.
I used this on Write or Die. When people click “Tweet my results” they are taken to their Twitter homepage and their status is filled in with “I Wrote X words in Y Minutes with Write or Die!

5. Make your Twitter ID the same or similar to the the name of your site.

When Write or Die first launched, I was still using another nickname as my ID, I’m very glad I switched it to DrWicked. It has helped me build my brand and gives me some authority when I respond to user issues.

6. Put a Follow Me on Twitter link in a prominent place on your page.

Having Twitter followers is a much better way to get loyalty. It’s a lot more personal than RSS, if I could convert all my RSS subscribers into Twitter followers, I would.

7. Design your Twitter homepage to closely mimic the design of your site.

I use the same background and a similar color scheme to achieve this. It gives your followers a sense of continuity. Consider adding additional details about your site to the background image to give people even more of an insight.

8. Turn on “Show me all @ Replies,” so your new Twitter followers can contact you with questions (or praise).

If you use Twitter mainly as a messaging system within your network of friends, get another account. Twitter has been of inestimable value in quickly addressing user issues. It’s just over two weeks old and in those two weeks there’s been a major update and it’s only been broken for one hour.

9. Use TinyURL’s Custom Alias feature to further reinforce your brand.

When I first Tweeted about Write or Die, my message was too long to include my entire URL. So I went to TinyURL.com and got http://tinyurl.com/writeordie.

10. Use search.twitter.com to monitor your site’s health in the wild.

  • Search for your site’s name, so you see people who are mentioning your site and using URL shortening services. If this returns unrelated results, try appending filter:link to your search.
  • Search for your URL so you can see who’s linking to you.
  • Search for new customers, search for people who are Tweeting about the problem your site solves, I searched for “behind word count” (without quotes) and found a perfect demographic.

Subscribe to all of these in your RSS reader. Not only is it great to see people talking about your site, you can also address problems the moment they are up for discussion.

11. Even if your Twitter account isn’t personal, keep it personable. Do Not Spam.

No one wants to follow someone who is just pimping their own creation all day every day, that’s the fastest way to lose followers. If they’re following you, they don’t need pimping to, they’re already your users. One of the chief delights of Twitter is how it allows people a glimpse into the lives of others distant from them.
Tell users about useful updates to your site. Let them rejoice with you if you get featured on a major site, but don’t let that be the only thing you’re tweeting about. After all, the Mars rover didn’t get all those followers because it was pimping for NASA funding.


  • November 19, 2008

    What happened with the format on this post? Very wide.

    Ok, after cruising through the tips I find I’m using most of them already, I guess through instinct.

    I’ll incorporate the others as well.

    Since paying attention to Twitip, my twitter referrals have quadrupled.

    Thanks for everything.



  • November 19, 2008

    In one week on Twitter (actively) my blog traffic has increased by about 1/3. I’m thrilled. I’m looking for repeat readers, devotees if you like…and I know that with a writing blog with a certain focus, it’s not going to happen overnight. But it had taken me three months to get where I was…

    Twitter works.

    Great tips.

  • November 19, 2008

    Very helpful, thanks.

  • November 19, 2008

    Thank you, Jeff and Darren, for this thoughtful and valuable post! Most of these suggestions are just good sense, but I’ve never seen them together all in one place.

    How many times have I seen these suggestions violated? The twitter friends who do not have a “follow me on Twitter” link on their site? The people who incessantly pimping their own stuff?

    One thing I learned among many from this post is to search for my site’s name to guage its health. I’m going to do that right now!

  • November 19, 2008

    One of the things I absolutely HATE (okay this is going to be more than one thing…) about some twitterers is the:

    Follow Then Unfollow tactic – where they try really fast to get you to follow them and then they unfollow you. WTC? Does it really make you feel cool to have more followers than following? Really?

    And, then there is the self pimping you mentioned. Which…I’m cool with if it’s a new post or your twitter updated and spewed 5 at me at once…whatever. I’m good. But, when you NEVER reply to other folks and you never join in the community…don’t expect other people to keep following you, unless you really are THAT good.

    And, I’ve still not found anyone who is THAT good as of yet, someone who I’d follow even if they did totally ignore me.

    Good post.

  • November 19, 2008

    Talk about small world – I just found Write or Die last night (definitely motivational – I’ll be going back) and just started following people on Twitter. I’m actually just starting to use this…and really have no clue what I’m doing. Thanks for the tips — a lot of these are things I can do even in my clueless state. This minute, though, I need the basic basics…if I reply to a tweet text on my phone and don’t type @whoevertweeted, does the tweeter know I replied?

    I’m a bit behind the curve (probably didn’t need to point that out); thanks for the breadcrumbs.

  • November 19, 2008

    Awesome tips! Nr. 6 is obvious perhaps, but right now my twitter icon is just the twitter logo in the sidebare under the follow me section. Need to fix that. Also need to minimalize my Twitter background design.

  • November 19, 2008

    Great article.

  • November 19, 2008

    Powerful tips, Darren.

    Leaving something to the imagination is cool. Peaking curiosity will definitely attract more followers.

    I also have noticed my Twitter followers are the ones that are more engaged than RSS subscribers.

    I’m loving the blog!

    I appreciate you.
    Dali Burgado

  • November 19, 2008

    Great topic and excellent pointers. I look forward to your tips for Twitter. All the best.

  • November 19, 2008

    Invaluable information, plus some good insight into some of the tools we hear about, but don’t really know how to use. Great piece ready for sharing, thanks.

  • November 19, 2008

    i’ll write a post like this :) i think i’ll take some ideas thanks =)

  • November 19, 2008

    Thank you for clarifying the necessary steps. Some I have in place and others I was a little confused about, but find I was over complicating what needed to be done.

  • November 19, 2008

    I already read your blogs on a regular basis and today I was pleased to see TwiTip on Alexas new “Hot URLS” first page. Good job, and thanks for all of your insight!

  • November 19, 2008

    Very great information. I especially like the custom tiny url deal.. never would’ve thought about that.

    You’re filled with lots of great information!

  • November 19, 2008

    Good advice! Learning so much from Twitter–and this blog!

  • November 19, 2008

    very nice.

    i’d have to agree with you on all these, great tips!

  • November 19, 2008

    I just love the article that was written about Twitter, I have never heard of this until today when one of my friends told me I should advertise my business. I would like to get the word out and this avenue would be perfect for me. If there is any advice someone could pass along to me I’d truly appreciate your professional opinions.

    Ardella Gillis

  • November 19, 2008

    I like your first two ideas, leaving the reader questioning your tweet enough to make them click the link. This is very useful in affiliate marketing as well, btw ;)

  • November 19, 2008

    Nice tips. I feel sure that these will only really work with,

    a) quite a bit of repetition thrown in and
    b) quite a lot of followers already!

  • November 19, 2008

    Just saw this on a tweet, has anyone tried it? http://be-a-magpie.com

  • November 19, 2008

    Would much prefer Twitter followers to increase than RSS subscribers!

    @RobinSue please don’t #Magpie ;)

  • November 19, 2008

    Hi Jeff, Thanks for the valuable tips. Your tips definitely boost me.

  • November 19, 2008

    Thank you for this excellent blog about Twitter, where we can learn a bit more each day (sorry for my poor english…)

  • November 19, 2008

    Good article! I do however have a different take on #5-Have your Twitter ID match your site (or something close to that-sorry to lazy to scroll back up right now)

    I started out doing that-my blog is “Frugal Upstate” which is about frugal living tips, tricks and techniques, so I was FrugalUpstate.

    But then life changed. I started getting more involved in Social Media, have picked up some consulting clients for that, have contracted to do some video blog for another (non frugality related) client and been asked to do a bit of local public speaking. Not all of these are related to frugality-and as my sphere increased, my name became increasingly inappropriate for the full scope of “me”. There were some people, because if the narrowness of my blog niche and therefore the ID I chose, that chose not to follow, or IRL when introduced assumed that I “had nothing to do with what they do”.

    So I changed it to my name so that it can grow with me in whatever direction I go.

    Now part of the problem was that my name was so specific. A name like “Dr.Wizard” above is memorable, but somewhat generic-it doesn’t pigeonhole him too deeply into one field. Ditto for some of the other folks like @genuine or @geekmommy-memorable, but not too specific.

    Also, just another quick note on usernames-if you are just starting out, consider how easy it is to type, and how many characters it uses. If you name is over 12 characters long you start taking up a lot of the tweet space, if it’s hard to spell it makes it harder for folks to @ you out of the blue, and if you have non-alphabetic characters (especially underlines or symbols) it can be a real PITA when you are on a standard cell phone for folks to type it in. And if you make it difficult, folks may just skip talking to you :)

    Lastly-the Magpie thing. If you are following 1000 folks, and each one of them tweets you a magpie ad every, oh, lets say 10 ads–how many advertisments wind up littering the timeline I’m looking at????? Let’s just say a lot. I know a few folks who have started automatically un-following anyone they find using Magpie for just that reason. . .Plus-you are letting someone else use your name, which is effectively letting someone else use your reputation. That’s not something I’m comfortable doing. . . this medium is about being real and building relationships, why would I jeopardize the very thing that I am trying to accomplish?

    (PS-See Darren-this is all your fault. You encouraged me to come out of lurkdom.)

  • November 20, 2008


    Some good advices. The one I didn’t thought of was to have a background in my Twitter account similar to my blog.

  • November 20, 2008

    Copy, past and read.

  • November 20, 2008

    A little OT but one of the comments above made me wonder how you feel about getting hooked up with magpie or any other site that pays you for your twitter space. Cheesy? Genius? How do you feel it makes the Tweeter look?

  • November 21, 2008

    Great post.

    I have had considerable success with Twitter as a marketing tool, not bad for an old (by Internet marketing standards) school vetern IM’r of 10 years.

    In fact, I see some minor areas of weakness in the Twitter model, and have created a few test-beds for improvement on it.

    The most recent is http://www.Twitter-Splitter.com , which allows marketers to better use their Twitter post space.

    I invite your comments, and the comments of your visitors on this new tool. Feel free to post them at http://www.RonaldDavies.com

    Cheers, and keep up the great work!


  • November 22, 2008

    gr8 post
    now i will try to use all of them

  • November 22, 2008

    Hey Darren,
    Nice site and I love the tips. I try to think of Twitter as a short meeting in a coffee shop..I wouldn’t want to stay too long, just long enough to get to know you, size you up, and decide whether to continue networking with you.

  • November 22, 2008

    Excellent article. I have been Twittering for some time but there still is so much to learn. I liked the tips about further branding yourself with your ID and Twitter design page. I also will be using search.twitter.com.

    Thanks for sharing ALL of these tips!



  • November 26, 2008

    Here is a neat utility I would like to add to this discussion.

    There is nothing quite like it for Twitter. It is called “TweetSig.com” and it puts your most recent tweets into an image signature for forums, email etc.

    Have a look, and let me know what you think?



    keep up the excellent posts!


  • December 4, 2008
    Ivy Clark

    Cool post! Great tips indeed, and yes, found you via Twitter too! You’re right about the spammers. Quite annoying all they talk about is their products – it’s like meeting a really desperate salesperson at a dinner party.

  • December 10, 2008

    Great post! man I just started using Twitter about 2 weeks ago and I started getting followers left & right without even trying. That’s when I truly realized the Power of this thing!

  • January 16, 2009

    Great post, excellent tips. Thanks much for sharing, be back for more! Cheers, M.

  • January 25, 2009

    I’ve just started using Twitter..I’m so glad I found TwiTip!

  • February 12, 2009

    What a very cool article keep up the good work, kind regards.

  • April 25, 2010

    Great artical, many thanks! enjoyed reading

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