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 xâ€> 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.