How do you instantaneously get the word out to millions of people a day that you have written a new article for Associated Content, and possibly make some friends at the same time? Social media site Twitter.
I had some experience using Twitter as an editor and so had an idea of how it worked. However, our site at the newspaper requires readers to pay if they want to view any of the local stories we publish. With Associated Content, the idea is to get as many readers to your stories as possible, so spreading the word is vitally important.
Before taking the AC Twitter challenge I had already set up a personal account on Twitter (http://twitter.com/BrianKoeller), which is free. At that time, I mostly used Twitter to broadcast to other, random Twitter users which articles had been published, along with a shortened URL address for it. Twitter only allows 140 character messages, so describing what the story is about and including a lengthy Web site address is difficult. Luckily, there are Web sites that have sprung up that create shortened URL addresses from the long ones. I use Tiny URL, but there are others. You can then post the story address in your “tweet” (message) and have more room to include descriptions or search terms.
However, taking the challenge pushed me to do what I should have been doing with Twitter all along: consciously seeking out other Twitter users with similar interests as mine, interests related to articles that had been published or, perhaps most importantly, other writers (especially other Associated Content writers).
Since a couple of my first stories were published in late September and were Halloween -oriented, I was lucky enough that Halloween was a search topic several times on Twitter. Twitter keeps a list of “trending topics,” which shows what people are tweeting about most often. Halloween has been a trending topic for quite a while, so each day it is I make sure to tweet the articles on Halloween music and beverages I have had published. Initially, this led to a couple of Halloween costume sellers (including @halloweenstuff, @costumesnow and @gorify) to begin following my tweets, meaning every time I send out a message, these people, or companies, see it.
This leads to a couple of other possibilities. If they like it and “retweet” it, then the same message and link goes out to all their followers, who then may decide to click on the link. For example, @halloweenstuff has 715 followers, @costumesnow has 522 followers and @gorify has 3,162 followers. Combined, that’s another 4,399 people, all of whom presumably are interested in Halloween topics, that may at least be made aware of my Halloween-themed articles and may visit them. By the way, I currently have a mere 64 followers, though they are each very helpful.
In addition, by clicking on someone else’s account, you can view who is following them, which could provide other leads. At times, if you choose to follow someone else, they may return the favor and follow you.
This became especially helpful after discovering Associated Content had several writers already using Twitter also. Some of these could be found by searching #AC. If the #-sign is put in front of a word or phrase, then any messages containing that designation can be searched and gathered in one place. For instance, any Associated Content contributor who tweets a new story they have published is encouraged to add #AC somewhere in the message. Then, if someone searches #AC, anything containing that comes up on the search. I used this to find several other Associated Content writers already using Twitter, a process that would have been very time consuming otherwise. I then began following several of these writers, which informed me when they had articles published. Some of them then began following me, which meant they (and possibly their fans) learned when I had articles available. In turn, I believe the same process has been used by other AC writers who have begun following me.
So, what’s the benefit of following some other writer or having them follow you? Quite simply, it’s the same benefit as explained above of having someone with similar interests being alerted when you have a new article. The AC contributor circle on Twitter is a very friendly and helpful one. I have retweeted when writers who are following me have a new article, and they return the favor. Once again, this opens up new potential audiences.
For example, @ruby3881 has about 480 followers, @AKLark has about 80 followers, @LangleyCornwell has about 545 followers and @afshively has almost 350 followers. These are just a few of the helpful contributors from AC on Twitter who are followers of mine, and, in return, I follow them. Granted, many of their followers may overlap, but not all of them will and any opportunity to open a new contact is a good one. Together, we all spread the word about new articles.
Also, some of those who began following me on Twitter have also become fans of mine on Associated Content, and I’ve become fans of theirs.
Twitter is reported to receive 6 million unique visits per day and 55 million a month, which is a lot of people you can instantly let know you have an interesting article for them to read at Associated Content. Take a little time and make a few friends on the site, a little “I’ll rub your back if you rub mine,” and you can find a dedicated audience that will help you get the word out to even more people and increase those page views.