Wednesday 3 February 2016

Putting Twitter Back in the Box

(Part 3 of 3. CLICK HERE for Part 1)

Today is a big day for me. It's January 31st; the day I hang up my compulsive Twitter-er hat and revert to being, simply, a writer.

I’ve already blogged about my last 2-3 months playing with Twitter, trying to evaluate it’s marketing power. In fact, I’ve already written my conclusions on the matter, and I stick by those. But there are one or two things I discovered along the way that I did not relate. And these things are worth mentioning.

1) My final results: 
Whereas, in October, I paid Twitter $150 to generate 50,000 impressions for me, in January, I generated 350,000 impressions on my own with the only cost being 1-3 hours work a day—and very light work, at that. The total hours of work is difficult to determine as I did a lot of it in small batches, through the course of a day, jumping back to Twitter between other projects.

Here are my Twitter stats as of January 31st, 2016... 

2) How did I learn this? Credit where credit is due...
I applied basics I learned from several sources, including an ebook (How to Gain 100K Twitter Followers) I purchased from @mistersalesman (M LeMont) who runs a very popular reTweet Train Twitter account. I did not employ all of his methods, but if I were going to continue with this, I would. Everything he says I found to be entirely true. He claims that you can add about 10,000 followers a month and that seems about right, based on the amount of work I did. This means that in a year, you could have 100,000 followers, if you were dedicated and determined. If you quickly want to gain Twitter followers, then I wholeheartedly recommend his book. It’s a very easy read and describes the methodology quickly and clearly.

Another thing he claims, and which I came to believe is true, is that as your numbers climb, it gets easier because you will have more influence and be perceived as a more attractive Twitter account to follow. I noticed some of this effect as soon as I breached the 2000-follower barrier. People rely on the endorsement of others to tell them that “investing” even as little as a mouse-click is a safe thing to do. As well, they all want to reach your followers. The more followers you have, the more they yearn to reach them.

3) What exactly did I do?
The basics are simple, and I can pretty much guarantee that if you do what I did, you’re pretty much guaranteed to achieve similar results.

Read the following closely and you will learn the exact methods I used to gain 1500 followers, spending less than two hours a day, for a month. This is a brief description of the hows and whys of my methods I wrote for followers who asked:

Perhaps you are wondering why I am following and reTweeting you. Perhaps you wonder if I am a “bot.” No. When there’s action on my account, it’s really me, at the keyboard. Here’s what and why I do what I do, on Twitter…

I will follow anyone, provided they follow me back, unless they are promoting hatred or violence. So I will follow photographers, pornographers, moms, followers of Islam, Cosplay fans, gun lovers and fun lovers, spammers, faceless corporations, and even Donald Trump, because he’s funny. Everyone gets a Follow and everyone gets one free reTweet. The only exception is that I won’t reTweet hardcore porn, because it offends too many of my followers. That first reTweet is a gift; the only one I have to give. I try to find something that represents that particular Twitter account. Easiest, if it’s pinned to the top of the profile. (Which, by the way, is the best way to make sure people reTweet what you care about.) Whatever message is important to them, I will ReTweet to my followers. 

While I am there, I look for things that appeal to my own tastes, ambitions, beliefs, mood… whatever. If I find such things, I reTweet more. If I find a lot of such things, I place the account on one of my lists as generators of good content and come back, from time to time to reTweet, purely for the enjoyment of my followers. While I’m looking, I look for people who originally generated the content and follow them and give them one free reTweet. If they have good content, they may get several reTweets. Whenever you like or reTweet something of mine, I notice and try to reciprocate. Usually, it’s the only “conversation” my time allows, but I do try to answer a DM, if you’re not just trying to sell me something.

This way, I can fill my Twitter feed with more quality entertainment than promotional material. As well, my Twitter feed comes to reflect (overall) the essential me. You may be able to see by the things I choose that I prefer visuals, that I like intelligent quotes, that I like pretty women, kids, animals and nature and that I will reTweet a good cause more than once. I am particularly interested in real people tweeting stuff they find interesting for no better reason than they enjoy it.

What do I get out of this? A new follower and a small advertisement: A very small “(” which occasionally brings me a new follower who might one day buy one of my books. That’s it.

I am an independent author. And the single biggest reason I am on Twitter is to promote my work. As an author, I am very sympathetic with other independent authors, because I know what they are going through to try to promote their own work while trying to maintain the time and energy to keep writing. Most readers are not posting their preferences online, so finding readers often comes down to a time-consuming shotgun approach, and I know how difficult a task it is to balance this with the rest of life. So, if I see an author, I will usually follow them and reTweet at least their own book promo, or whatever is pinned to the top of their profile. 

In these ways, I hope to build my network while minimally spamming the Twitter-sphere. And, it all seems to be working. I get new followers each day, and the number keeps growing, quickly. My exposure through Twitter is growing even more quickly. 

I can’t spend as much time engaging with Followers as I’d like, but I want you to know that I appreciate every person who follows me, whatever their reason. Also, I am totally interested in doing my part by reTweeting your messages. This applies even to the purebred spammers, because I do believe that there are people out there who are waiting for whatever they are selling and will welcome that message, no different than I do a picture of a child and his dog on a beach at sunset… in the distance, behind a girl in a bikini.

Wiliam M Dean  :^)

One thing not explicitly mentioned above is that I also un-followed anyone who did not follow me within 48 hours. I used a free online app called Crowdfire to help with this.

4) Engagement: 
I did engage in conversations when the opportunity arose and this tended to be fun, as well as popular with my followers. People will take a moment to observe if they see a Twitter exchange. My exchanges amounted to about two dozen people and was always interesting… though not always in the way I expected. 

I was unceremoniously blocked by two people who objected to me adding words to their Tweets, which I thought was hilarious because the posts they were talking about were reTweets that they had added words to. I am guessing—can’t ask because they’ve blocked communication—that they just didn’t like what I wrote. I try not to be offensive, but I do make jokes and, as I have found in the rest of my life, humour is both a funny and dangerous thing.

Another person objected to me putting my web address on everything I reTweeted. That was an odd one because I was a fan and was reTweeting her a lot. So what she did was block me and leave a message saying she considered my messages to be spam. So short-sighted. She lost a fan as well as all my followers who probably would have liked the original material she was sending out. This one made me pause a bit. I am relatively new to Twitter and thought that I may have violated an unwritten bit of Twitter culture that I didn’t know. So, I took my address off my Tweets for about fifteen minutes and watched my blog-hits plummet. I decided to decide that she was a nutbar and moved on. 

I think that a lot of this comes from a false perception of power. Many who have, say, 10K followers, do not feel that those below them are important. If they are temperamental, they may be tempted take out their frustrations on those “lower” down the pyramid. What they are forgetting is that they have no real power and are easily replaced. If you don’t want me to follow you, that’s completely ok because there are 307 million other active Twitter accounts for me to draw from. Beyond this, if I really wanted their material, I could create another Twitter account, go steal their material and repost it without any acknowledgement at all. They would never know. 

On Twitter, we all need each other.

Anyway, as with all social media, there will be idiots and trolls. They are by far the minority (about 1 in every 1000, in my experience), but steel yourself.

5) Besides followers, what did I gain?
Answer: Nothing tangible. 

When you looked at my Twitter stats and saw that I had generated 350K impressions you might have been as excited as I was. However, Twitter counts it as an impression every time one of my messages enters another person’s Twitter feed. The fact that they are probably not there to see it is not taken into account. According to M LeMont, a person is watching their feed about 1% of the time. So: 1% of 350K is 3500, which is a much more useful estimate of impressions.

Even a couple of minutes’ work on Twitter would immediately generate 2-300 hits to my blog (9500 hits in January), but the trickle-down to sales of my books was nil. I saw little evidence that anyone even read the blog, and no evidence that anyone bought a book. So this remains about as effective as any other online marketing tool: It takes hundreds of thousands of  real impressions to make a sale.

Meanwhile a mere mention on Japan Today’s Facebook page generated twelve sales, overnight. I think I prefer the targeted approach.

6) What did I lose?
Answer: Concentration.

Twitter is addictive and distracting. Besides this experiment, I was preparing and launching my latest book (I Married Japan) which involved a lot of not-too-creative grunt work, so I was able to skip back and forth to Twitter. But still, it was highly distracting and nibbled away at my time. I certainly could not concentrate enough to write well, while actively trying to build a Twitter following. 
Also, it was a lot less rewarding for me than writing something.

Previous to this, I used my Twitter feed mostly for my own material (either blog posts or original quotes) and I always felt good at creating and disseminating something of my own. Not having the peace of mind required to be creative was a bit depressing, and I felt  better the moment I stopped actively seeking out new followers. Beyond being the final resting place for what I have learned during this experiment, this hastily composed article is the first writing I have done in six weeks, and for both of those reasons, it feels amazing!

At this point, I will continue the follower-building methods I have learned, but will not go chasing new followers. I’ll just apply the system to the ones that stumble upon me. And, since I've grown fond of the community there, I'll still check it out and contribute, each day.

Still, it’s going to be depressing watching those numbers fall by 90 percent, and the compulsion to hit the Twitter-sphere will not fade immediately.

7) Why don’t I continue?
Besides the loss of concentration and time, there was one thing that M LeMont’s ebook did not mention: How to effectively turn these Twitter numbers into money.

In the final analysis, I think I am much father ahead (and happier) to keep writing, establishing a larger portfolio. Perhaps in a few years, when I have five or six books to my name, time spent on marketing will be a better investment as, then, it will benefit 5-6 possible income streams.

(This was Part 3 of 3. CLICK HERE for Part 1)


OK, my marketing experiment had limited results, 
but you can still buy my books!

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