I am a huge fan of Twitter — not because I think it’s a great social media network for keeping up with my friends but because it (a) is a great place to network with your readers and likeminded bloggers and (b) can be a great source of targeted referrals to your site.
There’s a lot to love about the blue bird. You can use Twitter to quickly and easily reach out to your blog’s readers. If you don’t have any readers yet, you can use Twitter to build a following out of nothing. And when it comes to utilizing effective techniques and plugins to boost visitors to WordPress blogs, Twitter is by far my preferred option.
With the above in mind, in this post I want to show you some of the ways in which I use Twitter to drive traffic to my blog.
Step 1: Building a Following
This first step isn’t WordPress specific — it should be followed by anyone looking to build a following on Twitter. However, you will need to build a sizeable following before you can take advantage of the techniques and plugins in step 2, so it only seems right that I point you in the right direction before getting onto the good stuff.
I have written a great deal about building a Twitter following in the past as it is something that I have had some success with — through 2012 I grew my own profile from around 500 followers to over 9,000. This may not be particularly impressive compared to the likes of Barack Obama or Lady Gaga, but they had a huge brand to build upon — I did not.
Step 2: Driving Traffic to Your Site
Once you have some followers you can start to think about how to drive them (and others) to your site. I’m assuming that you’ve got the basic stuff down pat; like linking to your site from your Twitter profile and so on:
With all that out of the way your strategy should be based upon two concepts.
1st Concept: Sharing Your Content Effectively
Merely hitting Publish on your latest blog post and getting on with your day isn’t going to result in anything more than a trickle of visitors (unless you are already running a well-established blog). You need to put the hard yards into promoting your content. One such avenue for sharing your content is of course social media, and more specifically, Twitter.
The first thing you should bear in mind is that it is perfectly acceptable to share each new blog post you publish more than once. So long as you are not only using your profile to promote your own content, very few of your followers are going to mind if you promote new posts two or three times, with each tweet spaced out reasonably. This also means that your post gets exposure across multiple time zones.
I have recently started using an excellent WordPress plugin which makes the process of tweeting out new posts extremely simple (automatic, in fact) — WordTwit. Whilst there is a free version I would heartily recommend that you go pro, which enables you to automatically schedule multiple tweets of the same post. With this plugin you hit Publish and it tweets out your new post automatically — you don’t need to lift a finger. There are also a bunch of additional features such as tweeting to multiple accounts, custom hashtags, and much more.
So that’s new posts taken care of, but what about your old stuff? If you are publishing evergreen content then posts that you published six months ago should be just as relevant today as they were then. Manually tweeting out old content can be a real chore, so instead turn to a plugin like Tweetily, which automatically and periodically tweets out old content via your Twitter profile.
Those are the two plugins I recommend for sharing your content via Twitter effectively. Once you have these bases covered your Twitter followers will regularly be encouraged to check your blog out. However, make sure that all of this self-promotion is consistently interspersed with useful third party content and other unique tweets.
2nd Concept: Making it Easy for People to Share Your Content
With the above measures in place Twitter should now drive a good flow of traffic to your site. However, those visitors are your Twitter followers — the next step is to find people who aren’t currently following you and drive them to your site. The best way to do this is to get your existing readers to do the hard work for you by sharing your content.
With that in mind, the key is to make sharing (1) easy and (2) inviting — easy in that people can share content in just a couple of clicks, inviting in that they actually feel compelled to share your content.
Lets start with making sharing easy. Whilst there are a huge number of popular social sharing plugins available (I’ve tried most of them), my number one recommendation is Digg Digg. It is free, well featured, lightweight and developed by the awesome guys at Buffer (if you’ve not heard of that app, you should definitely check it out). With Digg Digg installed and correctly set up, your readers will always have the option to share.
Once you’ve made sharing easy, you want to focus on making it inviting. Creating great content is obviously a great start, but that’s not all you can do. Ultimately people want to tweet something interesting, and a post’s headline is not always particularly compelling. With that in mind, I like to embed pre-populated tweets within my posts, like this:
An interesting snippet of text followed by a link back to your post — what could be simpler?
I couldn’t find a plugin that let me easily create such links so me and a friend made one — it’s called Easy Tweet Embed. The key to best utilizing the plugin (and therefore increasing shares of your content) is to include interesting pre-populated tweets so people can send out great content to their followers with just a couple of clicks. I have found that famous quotes and your own pearls of wisdom attract a lot of sharing action. Whenever I include pre-populated tweets within a post I tend to find that the number of tweets increases by 20-40% or even more.
Four Plugins = Much More Traffic
I have mentioned four plugins above, of which only one is premium. These are all I use to drive traffic to my site from Twitter and they work very well for me.