Social Media Sunday: On The Scheduling Madness

Just hammering out an update on the scheduling madness. If you you got a link in for the blog party before I left the comment saying I was visiting and did not receive a comment from me, let me know. Seriously I did my best to visit them all, but I was in the zone and might have made a random oversight, and I am trying to get better at this thing. I’ve scheduled Tweets of all the links to go out between now and Wednesday and tagged authors if I could find Twitter accounts for them.

Just looking at what I got this week from Twitter. Twelve scheduled tweets a day isn’t worth the work that goes into maintaining that pace, until I get a lot better at composing Tweets, so I’ve easing off.

The new schedule:TwitterSuzie

  • Monday-Friday: Four afternoon tweets at two hour intervals between 1 pm and 7 pm Eastern.
  • Saturdays: Six tweets beginning at 10 am Eastern and ending around 7 pm.
  • Sundays: Six tweets beginning at 5 am Eastern and ending around 7 pm.
  • Sometimes, the links come to this blog. Sometimes they go to everyone else. Boom or bust.

With the number of tweets I still have piled up, I should be able to maintain this schedule indefinitely. I’ve got @Sourcererblog scheduled through Friday, June 5 as of this minute. It’s a mixture of links, photos, videos, shoutouts, and random stuff like Twitter-wanking and quotes from the TV Tropes Evil Overlord List.

Something I am finding: referrals go up when you get on Twitter and engage with people. We’ve done better here this week for Twitter referrals than we’ve done in a while, but not so much better for me to justify managing an around-the clock queue, and the referrals are really only up during the times I’ve actually been active on Twitter.

I’ve got my unfollowers cleaned up and am planning to delete my lists and revamp the Tweetdeck setup so I’m tweeting entirely from mentions, notifications, and hashtags soon. I know a prodigious number of good hashtags at this point, and nearly everyone who’s really interacting with me on Twitter has at least one they use often, so I can probably just keep up with most of you that way and with a couple of private lists I have for close friends and contributors.

This is an ongoing process, so will take a while, but eventually I’ll have a lighter schedule for @justgeneo and it will be for tweeting #weekendcoffeeshare, #1000Speak, and #atozchallenge links to various other hashtags.

Have a great week!

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Social Media Sunday: Facebook v. Twitter

It’s no secret around this place that we spent the winter and spring invading Facebook with our WordPress army. That’s been a success, but a somewhat costly one. I’ve spent the last ten days or so taking stock, figuring out what we’ve accomplished, and deciding where to go from here.social media

From July through November of last year, Sourcerer averaged 11.6 Facebook referrals per month and Part Time Monster averaged 20.2. During that time, I was barely using Facebook at all — just publicizing to some pages and using PMs and groups to chat with a dozen or so bloggers — and Diana was mostly using it the way non-bloggy folks use it. From December through May 12, Sourcerer averaged 71.2 Facebook referrals per month and Part Time Monster averaged 88.2.

Now, those are huge increases but they are tiny numbers. Since our pages have been doing exactly what they’ve always done this whole time, I am assuming the increase is coming from our personal timelines and shares in blogging groups.

If I’d gone big on Facebook for nearly six months hoping for a huge traffic increase, I’d be disappointed. But that’s not what it was about. It was about two things.

  1. Making friends with enough bloggers to make posting a status update on my personal timeline worth the time it takes to compose one, and
  2. getting connected with contributors and collaborators so I didn’t have to do planning stuff on the front pages of the blogs and ask people to visit and read.

That’s been a success, and has made the whole thing worthwhile to me.

Now here’s the rub. I’ve neglected Twitter this whole time. I’ve publicized links and shared and retweeted things from @Sourcererblog as I could. But I’ve barely looked at my personal account and have been lousy about answering notifications for the last few months. And Twitter is STILL outperforming Facebook in the referral department.Twitter-icon-the-bird

I’m adjusting my priorities. I’m friends with plenty of bloggers on Facebook now and happy to be friends with more, but I’m not actively looking at this point and not joining more groups. I’m using Facebook to keep up with the bloggers and groups I already know and getting back to the business of blogging.

I just figure, for the amount of time I’ve sunk specifically into various link-sharing activities over the last five months, the return isn’t that great. Not when a fairly modest Twitter following that I have given almost no engagement to over that period of time is just as happy to click my links as they’ve always been. The conversations are great on Facebook, my friends over there are awesome, and a lot of coordination is going on in Facebook groups, but the sharing of the links, in particular, seems like an inefficient use of time.

So, a goodly portion of my Facebook time is reallocated to Twitter and to the blogosphere. I addition to not doing a good job with my Twitter notifications, I’ve also not been great about hitting my WordPress reader nor about visiting commenters lately. That has to change.

Here’s my plan through October.

  • Keep delivering the content.
  • Grow on Twitter, get more engaged, and do a better job encouraging my followers over there to get to know one another.
  • Remain active in the Facebook groups, share things on my timeline, answer my threads, and do just enough keep up over there until I get the Twitter sorted.
  • Once the Twitter is straightened out, go back to Facebook and form a group. The invitations to that group will originate on my timeline. I’d hoped to be setting up a group next month, but I’m not experienced enough with administering groups, nor do I have a clear enough idea of what my friends would want to feel like that’s a smart use of my time and energy just now.
  • Once the Facebook group is up and stable with 40+ members, have a serious conversation about StumbleUpon. I’m already Stumbling a few things now then and to build up a history.

In the meantime, I’m setting up my Twitter accounts to tweet around the clock at two hour intervals and I’m checking my notifications over there at least every other day. Here’s where I am with @Sourcererblog on Twitter right this minute.

twitter_S_05_15

That spike in the middle is the increase from my last big push in the fall. It’s an increase of 2,000 followers over a two-month period, and I know exactly how that is done. Note that even though I’ve not been actively growing this account since November, nor paying much attention to it, it’s still trending up. Since I shifted to Facebook at the beginning of December, I’ve seen a net increase of 800 followers without even trying.

Now I know what publicizing my links, sharing to hashtags for others on the weekends with a following of 5K, and doing minimal engagement are worth. I want to see what ramping up the engagement and getting smart about sharing our own links will do for the blog. And I want to know what it’s like to manage a Twitter following of 15K. I’m curious.

Social Media Sunday: Twitter Revisited

Last weekend I started actively growing my Twitter following @Sourcererblog again. On Friday, Sept. 26, I was sitting at 2,789 followers. As I write this post a week later, I’m at 3,014 and counting. If I’m able to pick up another 75 before Monday, I’ll have gained 300 followers in 10 days. That’s the largest single bump I’ve seen, so it’s worth discussing. The lesson I’m taking from it is that once you’re able to gain a stable Twitter following of 2500+, Twitter gets easier.

Twitter analytics run a day behind, so this doesn’t capture my follower growth since yesterday, but it will give you an idea of how my account is trending right now. The top of the blue line represents 2,980 followers when the stats rolled over on Friday. The little spike at the very end covers the period from Sept. 27 (2,816 followers) through Friday. So about 170 followers added last week. Most of those are people I followed last Friday and Saturday.

TwitterGraph 2014-10-04

Here’s a little history for folks who have joined me since the last time I did one of these Twitterblogs; then I’ll talk about how I’m managing this account and give you some demographic info about who’s following me. I started a couple of Twitter accounts last November because they were simple to set up and I wanted to use the WordPress publicize feature to tweet blog links. I branded one of them @Sourcererblog and connected it to both Sourcerer and Part Time Monster. I also set up a personal one, mainly so I could link to it in the @Sourcererblog profile to establish that there’s a real person behind the sorcerer persona.

On January 10, two months after I started, I was following about 600 accounts with @Sourcererblog and I had only 60 followers. At that point I decided I was going to have to do more than publicize links if I wanted the Twitter account to be worth anything. I started spending a little time every evening retweeting things and also tweeting to Diana (@parttimemonster) and Jeremy (@quaintjeremy) about blog stuff. Basically, I tweeted them things about the blog schedule, what posts we had going the next day, etc. I used #blogs, #Wordpress, #writing, and a lot of made-up hashtags for comic effect in those tweets.

As I was doing this I also started having conversations with WordPress bloggers who had Twitter accounts and I started unfollowing accounts that I knew would never follow me back. I weeded out hundreds of accounts that hadn’t tweeted in years, big celebrity accounts, etc. All that took a couple of weeks to have an effect, but it paid off. Bloggers started to notice me on Twitter.

Sometime toward the end of January, I caught a real break. I had a conversation about blog-building with Vijay of Half Eaten Mind (@HalfEatenMind) on one of his pages, and he added me to his list of bloggers on Twitter. That list had about 250 bloggers on it at the time. It took me a few days to do it without risking suspension with my small account, but over the course of the next week, I followed the entire list. It turned out to be what I’ve come to think of as a “high percentage followback” list. Well over 60 percent of the bloggers I followed from that list followed me back, and I’m still interacting with some of the people I met though Vijay’s list. The follows and the interaction I gained from following that list gave me the boost I needed to get @Sourcererblog going and keep it growing.Twitter-icon-the-bird

I started paying attention to the people who were mentioning me in Tweets. I asked questions and studied the way people with thousands of followers were interacting. I did #FollowFridays religiously for a couple of months, and when others gave me Follow Fridays, I always took care to thank them, retweet, and look at the other accounts they’d included with me. At one point I was routinely picking up 50 to 100 followers every weekend just by doing that. So many people have helped me grow my Twitter account at this point, I can’t begin to name them all, but here are five whose interactions — along with Diana’s, Jeremy’s, and ViJay’s — have been absolutely invaluable. Not all of them are even aware they’ve helped me, but they have.

I spent the next five months working to get my following above 2,000, because Twitter caps the number of people you can follow at 2,000 until you have roughly that number of followers. I passed 2K the second week of June and grew it to 2,500 over the next month.  I also wrote an eight-part blog series about it and created a page to help other bloggers figure Twitter out. In early July, I stopped actively growing it for a few reasons.

  • At the time, I didn’t see what a following of 5K would get me that I wasn’t already getting with 2,500.
  • I was starting to be squeezed for time, and the blogs are more important. I had to cut back on the other social media to keep my blogs going.
  • I wanted to see what would happen if I dialed my account activity back. I needed to know how persistent the Twitter following is and to see whether or not my follower base would collapse if I just went back to publicizing links for awhile.

TwitterSuzieAs it turned out, tweeting for 15 minutes every other day along with publicizing links and following people back was enough to keep my account growing at a minimal level. Plenty of people unfollowed me, but I still ended up with a net gain of more than 250 followers between July and September without making any effort whatsoever to actually grow my account.

Now I’m finally in a position to grow it without a ton of work, because having 3,000 followers means I can follow up to 3300 accounts. And @Sourcererblog is large enough and active enough now that I can load up my unfollowers in Manage Flitter every Thursday evening and unfollow 100 at a time without tripping Twitter’s anti-spam system and getting my account suspended. I’ve also looked at the quarterly stats from this blog, which I will share and discuss next weekend. Twitter is my third-largest source of referrals over the last 3 months. It hasn’t brought me a LOT of traffic. It’s barely noticeable in the daily stats. But it’s grown to the point that Twitter referrals are a significant number now, and it’s happened since I got my account above 2,500 followers.

My basic rules of engagement for Twitter haven’t changed, but I can already tell that keeping this account growing, going forward, is going to be a much more smooth operation than growing to 2K was. Here’s my new-and-improved growth process.

  1. Every Thursday, I load my account in Manage Flitter (@ManageFlitter, blog) and view my unfollowers in chronological order. I unfollow the last 100 on the list — the 100 who have had the longest to follow me back and not done so, or who followed me for a while and then unfollowed for whatever reason. At some point I’m going to have to start unfollowing 200 every week, but for now, this is plenty of unfollowing for me.
  2. I spend Friday afternoon and Saturday morning following to within about 50 of my “following” cap, which I presume to be my number of followers plus 10 percent. I try and do at least a few Follow Fridays every week. Once I’m loaded up, I only follow enough new people during the week to keep my “following” number within 50 the cap. I do most of my following on Friday and Saturday because Twitter is busiest on the weekends, and that’s when people are most likely to be checking their notifications there.
  3. I interact as much as I can on Twitter on Saturdays and Sundays, then tweet with a couple of dozen people who I’ve been tweeting with for months during the week. I also share quite a few links from the browser for other bloggers, and I send a link to @Mondayblogs every Monday as often as I can.
  4. When Thursday rolls around, I begin the cycle all over.
  5. I tried out the “Who to Follow” function this weekend. Up to this point, I’ve been following other peoples’ followers and following from lists when I’m added to them. I’ve had good early results with “Who to Follow,” but I didn’t use it indiscriminately. I followed people who seem to share my interests, and people who a lot of my followers are following. But it’s worked. I followed maybe 175 that way Friday afternoon, and I’m up almost 100 followers since I did it.

And here are my rules of engagement.

  • Be genuine and be nice. Twitter has a dark side just like every other social media network. But my Twitter network runs on giggles and smileys. Aside from landing at the bottom of my unfollowers list when I need to free up capacity, there are only three ways to get unfollowed by me. 1) Posting things that are Not Safe For Work; 2) Flagrant spamming; and 3) Being mean. When I unfollow for any of these three reasons, I also block the accounts.
  • If you aren’t tweeting, you aren’t present. This doesn’t mean you have to tweet all the time, because tweets circulate for hours and sometimes days. It does mean you need to spend at least a few minutes every other day tweeting things other than your own links. And that you need active people to tweet with. Maintaining a few lists also helps. People appreciate list adds.
  • If you want a lot of people to follow you, you must follow a lot of people.

Finally, some interesting facts about my Twitter following for my fellow stat geeks.

  • My following is 67% male and 33% female, but anecdotally, my active, engaged following includes many more women than men.
  • Fifteen percent of my following is concentrated in five cities: Washington D.C., New York, London, Los Angeles, and Philadelphia.
  • The USA accounts for 51% of my following. Half of those are in five states: California, Texas, Virginia, Florida, New York, and Illinois. If you’re wondering why this is so, take a look at an electoral map of the U.S. These are all states with a both a lot of electoral votes and a lot of big cities, which means large populations and relatively strong economies.
  • Half of my followers outside the U.S. are from six countries: the U.K., Canada, Australia, India, Germany, and Brazil. These are all countries with large English-fluent populations and Internet schedules that overlap with my blogging schedule.
  • The rest (about 1500 followers total) are from the other 45 U.S. states or from other countries. So half my Twitter followers are from five U.S. states and six other countries.
  • My followers’ “interests” are dominated by books and writing. The only non-book related interests on my list are Leadership, Marketing, Entrepreneurship, and Photography. The most popular single interest among my followers is Romance Books, and it’s the only one that rates above 50%. I find this very interesting because I’m not that into romance books. But on the other hand, I know quite a few romance authors. I’ve also been pretty clear about the facts that I don’t discriminate by genre when it comes to judging artistic merit and I love to see writers succeed regardless of the genres they choose to work in.

I hope you’ve found all this intersting, if not helpful. I’ve watched my Twitter account on another monitor while I wrote this. I’m at 3,022 now. Eight new followers in the time it took to put together this post. That’s not bad at all for an two hours when I wasn’t even tweeting.

 

TwitterBlog: How Many Followers Do You Need?

The short answer is: It depends on what you want to get out of your Twitter experience. I decided awhile ago to stop growing my Twitter following as rapidly as possible, for a few reasons which I will discuss below. I’ve been wondering if TwitterSuziethat was the right move for a couple of weeks. A conversation I had last weekend with Conrad of The Wine Wankers on one of my blogging threads convinces me that it is. I’ll  explain.

If you’re looking to see a significant number of referrals to your blog every day through your tweeted links, I think you need 20,000+ followers. I know how to organically grow a Twitter account from 0 to 20K. I’ll tell you, it’s not that hard, but it will require quite a bit of your time even if you’re efficient about it.

If you’re just looking to have fun, you need as many followers as it takes to find a few people to Tweet with. That could mean 100, if it’s the right 100 people.

Here’s why I’m no longer growing my Twitter account at a rate of 25-50 per day. I have around 2400 followers and that gives me tons of people to Tweet with. If I don’t look at my account for a whole day, when I come back to it, I usually have 50 or more notifications and three or four new followers.

That’s not a very high level of activity for a Twitter account, but I’m happy with it. I find it useful to have a following that size, especially since it includes a ton of bloggers. But I don’t want to grow my account to 20k any time soon because I’m Twitter-icon-the-birdnot sure how I’d manage it, even with Tweetdeck. And since I’m not trying to make it really big, I don’t see what an account with 5,000 followers will get me that my account with 2400 isn’t getting me already. So I am content for it to grow slowly.

This is not to say I’m about to stop giving followbacks, answering notifcations, looking at shoutouts and Follow Fridays, or following new bloggers when I run into them and have a good conversation. Just that I’m not following new accounts by the hundreds any more. I need to put the time and energy I’ve been spending on Twitter growth into other things for a while.

And here’s the great thing about it. I know how to grow a Twitter account. I can have another 1,000 followers anytime I want them. So, as long as I remain active enough to keep from losing large number of followers, and as long as I keep up with the people who actually tweet with me, I lose nothing at all by slowing it down for awhile.