It’s all about driving traffic, which is like a sport with me.
When I retweet nice things people say to me before I tell them thank you, it’s not because I’m showing off. I know last night might have seemed like that, and maybe times past have, too. I’ve been a lurker for years, and I cater to lurkers. I make it easy for lurkers. So I get up at 2:30 this morning, check my notifications, I see someone new faving those retweets down the line and then faving the thing the retweets referenced in the first place, in this case the Big Ass Spider review link tweet, and I can see immediately they went to that review ~because~ they saw other people talking it up. (I can back this up with time stamps and trackers.) When someone who doesn’t even follow me and (I find out later) isn’t a fan of something in particular but goes in a direction I point anyway (especially to a movie review full of spiders, egads), I’ve done my job right.
I have studied the greats (aka Wil Wheaton, Chris Hardwick, and top bloggers) on driving traffic. I spent a whole year reading books and tutorials by other people who figured out how to drive traffic, build followings, and amass armies. There are several ways a person can ‘grow twitter’, but the honest way is with content. We hear about content all the time in phrases like ‘media driven content’, but what does it really mean? Anyone can create content, especially out of other people’s content, but can just anyone create content that makes people click? It’s all about the click. All the analytics you see are about how many clicks you get, going in all directions, and they base projections (likelihood of more clicks) on the way past performance is trending in the stats. It’s exactly like sales projections, which I’m familiar with because I worked in a giant retail chain for five years and sat in on weekly sales projection staff meetings.
But the click isn’t enough. If you want the repeat clicks (returning IPs), you must engage. I created an authors list on twitter, and I’ve watched a wide variety of authors tweet for nearly two years. The biggest fail I see (with anyone on twitter) is tweeting continually about only one or two things, like a link to amazon to buy a book, ‘check out my website’, and no matter how clever the tweets get, it’s still the same thing over and over with very little change, which doesn’t inspire me to come back very often. Having 30,000 followers you never engage with is like throwing business cards to people on a bus but never looking at the people who are looking at you. Even Lady Gaga interacts with her fans on twitter. She tosses out goodies and calls them cute pet names and highlights and links fans she thinks are sweet or cool, even though she certainly doesn’t have to.
Twitter is the new IMDB of the masses, if you will. We are all on the stage now. Everything we do is selling something, and I don’t just mean for someone else. Everything about you as a person IS sales. You are your sales. If you can sell yourself well to the public, you get better returns. Twitter is like door to door sales in high speed. People are ‘shopping’ (browsing) for something to keep them amused, entertained, engaged. Maybe they enjoy heated arguments, or maybe they enjoy all the tiny details of woodburning, but whatever it is, if they find what they’re looking for in your twitter but then never come back and click your links, it’s because you’re boring (not engaging) or they have to invest too much of their own time into doing their own work just to get to your stuff.
Think of it like this- twitter is the candy bowl on the counter. People like fresh candy and a colorful variety to choose from. If you have the same old bowl of hard butterscotch on the counter, all you draw are the people who like butterscotch. Maybe that’s exactly what you want, and maybe you think you’re doing well with a following that reaches into the bowl only occasionally when they want another butterscotch, but if that’s the way you do things, you can hardly bluster about no one else reaching into the bowl.
Don’t be afraid to engage. There are people out there doing very well not tossing the same old business card out on the bus. Thank people who give you feedback and allow them spotlights in your timeline because lurkers like checking out the people who say something is cool (lurkers like identifying with fellow fans). My feedback people were awesome enough to drive my Big Ass Spider review up to 91 hits within a couple of hours, which is nice for new people to see when they drop in from search engines. Friends and fans are the bread and butter to your lurkers. Don’t stand alone without your friends.
I’m kinda backward in some ways because I’m not always in the same step as the mainstream flow around me, or even in step with the cool deviant-from-the-mainstream subsets. Sometimes I find it a little surprising that I’m actually onto something before other people discover it. Like, I became aware of Norman Reedus before I ever started catching up on The Walking Dead this year because I’m so into youtube and had already seen Pandorum on Syfy before I joined the tweet. Twitter is crazy about him, and guess what, he’s making loads of money at comic cons because he’s engaging the fans on twitter and in person. When I see frustrated authors who don’t understand why their book sales are low and bluster on about no one is writing reviews on Amazon or see bloggers actually threatening to close their blogs because they don’t get as many comments as they want, but then see them put as little effort into driving traffic to their content as the same old tweet schedule every single day because they think it clutters up their timelines to retweet and talk to people, I turn and walk away. Lurkers are like that.