Twitter Experiment Results – Swapping Person To Brand

One of the ancillary benefits to keeping a community is I can conduct experiments and share results with you here (I can’t do that with client communities directly for obvious reasons). If you have a community and aren’t conducting experiments with them, consider making them a regular part of your interactions. It’s a great way to learn.

Today I wanted to talk about syndicating your blog into Twitter and share results from a quick experiemnt I conducted last month.

Before I get into it: if you are blogging on a domain other than YourName.com, you should register your blog brand name on Twitter. Then automate syndication of your blog’s content there. It’s easy and just takes a second.

Most big name blogs already do this, but even if you have a smaller blog it still makes sense to meet community expectation by offering links to content in multiple platforms under the brand name.

I registered @TheFutureBuzz on Twitter awhile ago to protect this site’s name and also because I noticed people Tweeting at a non-existing account. A few people organically followed it just because it was created, but I was curious what would happen if I flipped all the subscribe and share hooks on this site to tag to the brand handle instead of mine (@AdamSinger). So I switched all the links last month.

Thinking about it since then – it just makes sense. The focus isn’t to grow my own name, rather to grow the brand of The Future Buzz. That’s because I plan to iterate this site to be even more community-focused in the next version. Right now the community is brought into the mix through guest posts, comments and the fact that I feed back the community responses to subscribers. But I’d like to encourage increased sharing of ideas from readers with each other in addition to comments. That’s coming next.

Back to web brands. My sense is that a brand of media has a more powerful position on the web (and in the world) if the name has lots of brand awareness, social proofing and is trusted. The people behind it support that too, of course, but the media brand can become even bigger than the people producing content.

So on to the experiment results: will less people opt-in because it’s just a feed in Twitter?

The answer is no, so long as the content is still useful and followers enjoy receiving the links in their stream. It can even be more attractive to opt-in to for those who don’t want a bunch of noise in their feeds as they’ll see it’s not updated as frequently or with a bunch of responses not relevant to them. A lot of people just enjoy Twitter for the links, and that’s perfectly OK.

I doubled this blog’s Twitter following in just over a month with a single passive tactic: redirecting the links as part of the site template (note, this feed had never been promoted previously). It took a total of 5 minutes.

And this is the benefit for any brand on the web which has a self-hosted platform like a blog or high traffic website. You gain the ability to direct visitors to social outposts (or anywhere, really) for conversions. This is a huge reason to maintain a self-hosted site and a yet another reason it doesn’t make sense to yield your presence to the stream. You lose one of your highest value, most trusted marketing funnels if you do that.

Since doing this the consistency of people following my personal Twitter handle has been more erratic as there are no longer as many funnels of traffic pointing there. This is actually OK because the priority isn’t marketing myself, it is marketing my brand of media.

Also note I don’t have tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of followers on Twitter. And I don’t care to. Nearly everyone who does has engaged in spam tactics (with some exceptions). The number is silly and not fooling anyone. Instead you should focus on creating an opt-in group who made the decision to follow organically vs. using a script or manually following a bunch of people who aren’t even relevant in the hopes they’ll follow you back.

So followers aside, has there been any change in actual Tweets pointing to content on this site? Let’s look:

The answer is no change, and I wouldn’t expect it to. Because I have focused opt-in at the source (and experiment with outposts) enough of a following gets this content directly (via RSS or email) in an application with a strong signal to noise ratio. The content the community enjoys gets shared across platforms, including Twitter. But it’s not because I am well-followed or influential there, rather I am reaching people across the web by producing source content. The social web is to a good extent a problem in search of a solution. Maybe you should be the solution (end content) vs. another person pointing at it.

Takeaways

  • Users are just fine with following feeds in Twitter, so long as they’re useful.
  • Focus on your source community and you don’t really have to worry so much about Twitter (or any one network) because your content will make it into those networks anyway.
  • Grow a well-visited hub and you can direct them to any social outposts you like.
  • Think carefully about what your social links and subscribe hooks on-site lead to. Are they growing the right channels?
  • Break perceived rules, try things out and see what works for you.