If you’re on the fence about signing up for Twitter, know this: Twitter can drive traffic to your site.
This blog is less than a year old. I’m 23 years old — hardly an established brand or identity. That’s why I only have a little more than 100 people following me on Twitter.
But Twitter drives traffic to my blog every day, and on some days it is the top non-search engine referrer to my site. Even if you don’t have a lot of followers, Twitter is very viral.
Let’s say I make a new tweet on Twitter about a new blog post. People read it and like it, and then they post that they are reading it on Twitter as well.
Some of their friends find my post through their tweets and then decide that they are going to tweet about my blog post too. And it continues. Suddenly, people who have never read my blog or knew I was even on Twitter are coming to my blog.
All with little work on my part. Now if Twitter drives traffic to my blog, imagine what Twitter could do for a large, established brand.
The secret to getting Twitter to drive traffic is to be interesting. Most news organizations have missed this point. Most news organizations use Twitter accounts to just list their most recent headlines.
Boring. Twitter is not a repurposing tool. It’s a conversation.
The most popular people on Twitter have a brand that people want to know more about. The New York Times Twitter account has about 2,400 followers. Not bad, but blogger Robert Scoble has more than 14,000 followers.
CNN has about 2,100 followers, while venture capitalist Guy Kawasaki has more than 6,500 followers. The major mistake that both the Times and CNN make is that they simply use Twitter as a headline feed. But Twitter is about conversations, not one-way pronouncements.
Before I make a Twitter post, I often talk about what I am writing about, why I am writing it and just give my general thoughts. People can then ask me questions or make comments. It’s a public conversation.
In fact, many times you’ll see me working through my thought process on Twitter before making a blog post. But it gets more people interested in my content. In fact, Twitter is a fantastic brand-building tool.
The Times probably doesn’t see a big traffic bump from 2,400 followers, but an individual like Scoble probably sees a lot of traffic originating from Twitter. Scoble is much more popular on Twitter than the Times or CNN because he uses Twitter as it was meant to be used.
So, how can news organizations use Twitter to generate traffic? First, news organization could begin using Twitter to have conversations about stories they are covering. Imagine a public page 1 meeting, where people can ask questions.
A page 1 concept could be very popular with users. Anyone at the Times who writes a blog or column should have a Twitter account where they share opinions 140 characters at a time. Employees must also be willing to interact with people on Twitter too.
Twitter is also a great way to cover live events in new ways. Many events are not broadcast, and those are good events to Twitter. Heck a reporter could even use Twitter to cover a local government meeting, and then use the tweets to write a full-fledged story.
I’ve done this before, and Twitter works pretty well as a note-taking tool. Plus, it gets people more involved in the process. All without any extra work on my part.
If you use Twitter as merely another one-way conversation tool, it will be nothing more than a really poor version of RSS. But if you use Twitter as the two-way communication tool that it is, not only will you be able to drive traffic, but you’ll most likely be able to discover new readers and users.