What follows are the slides and notes from my presentation at MicroConf 2016 at the Palms in Las Vegas: Creative Twitter Automation (in 15 Minutes a Week).
The reason I am speaking on this subject is because I have found Twitter to be an incredibly useful tool in acquiring website traffic, especially when paired with a content marketing strategy on your marketing site. However, not even that is necessary for an effective Twitter marketing strategy.
Some people scoff at the idea of Twitter automation, seeing as how this tactic is now overused by spammers and bots. Let’s take a look at the current state of Twitter by the numbers:
Here we see that:
- There are 1.3 Billion Accounts on Twitter
- 44% of those have never even tweeted
- 43% tweeted over a year ago
These stats don’t look good, so why focus on Twitter?
- The same study showed that 29% of Twitter users check their feed multiple times per daily
- This amounts to 377 Million people using Twitter multiple times throughout the day
Capturing some of this traffic has been a leading source of traffic for my own personal blog, where I also promote a SaaS Marketing Book that I’ve written.
A full 33% of my traffic comes directly from Twitter, with the rest mostly being email links and search results.
My main strategy for Twitter automation boils down to 3 goals:
- Get people to notice
- Get them to follow
- Convert them (to customers, subscribers, or viewers)
There are several ways to get noticed on Twitter. Sometimes a tweet of yours will be retweeted by someone influential, and you’ll get some new followers. There are also some pro-active ways that you can show up on someone’s radar assuming they still have notifications turned on:
Fortunately, there are some ways to fully or partially automate some of these activities. The one activity that I highly suggest not automating is Direct Messages. This is the worst kind of Twitter spam, everyone hates it, and it makes you look like a tool.
For the others, however, I have used a couple of tools in order to get on a lot of radars fairly quickly:
IFTTT: This tool allows you to connect your Twitter account and create a recipe that automates some list building. For example, if your target audience is people in the waste industry, you can create a list called “Waste Industry” and automatically add anyone who tweets news from a few industry news sources. This will give them a notification when you do so, and potentially get them to check out your profile, follow you, and perhaps click through to your website to learn more about you.
Crowdfire: This tool allows you to rapidly follow or unfollow people, with targets such as “everyone who follows X account”. This can be a way to get on the radar of people who follow an account of someone else with your target audience. If, after a few days, people don’t decide to follow you, you can choose those people to unfollow, while holding on to those who have reciprocated. You’re going to want to keep following those who have followed you back, as this will lead to further interaction down the line as you interact with those on your feed (plus it allows DM’s to go back and forth).
I used these two tools for a while until I came across this excellent resource, recommended to me by my friend Justin McGill:
This book taught me how to use Python scripting to execute a whole host of Twitter activities with one terminal command.
Now I could follow, unfollow, & favorite (or like) tweets en masse. Of course, I’d want to do this within a certain limitation in order to prevent getting banned by Twitter.
However, I still wasn’t happy at this point. I started off strong, hitting my terminal command every day. After a while, I started slacking, and sometimes went a whole week without executing the command. I wanted something fully automated, so I set out to find a hosted Python script service where I could trigger a scheduled execution.
Fortunately, I found just that with the service PythonAnywhere:
Now I was automatically executing a slew of commands to manage my Twitter account. My personal recipe includes the following:
So, no we’ve discovered some ways to automate the “Getting Noticed” part.
In order for someone to follow you, you need to have helpful or interesting content. Here are a few tools you can use to automate the posting of tweets:
- Buffer - Load up a bunch of tweets at once, release them over time.
- Edgar - Load up various types of content and have them repeat after a given period.
- Quuu - Curated content automatically published to your Buffer account.
- IFTT - Convert new posts in an RSS feed into a tweet automatically.
A nice trick with Buffer is to peruse some interesting article sources your audience might like, and using the Buffer browser extension, clicking to share an image right from the browser window, which gives you a nice photo tweet.
One of my biggest challenges was growing the Twitter following of a company that serves the waste industry, but even in obscure niches there are people out there following, favoriting, and retweeting…expanding your reach.
Whether you are trying to grow your email list, sell products or services, or simply trying to get more traffic to your site, you can optimize your profile by doing the following:
- Have a URL link associated with your profile.
- Link to your URL also in your bio.
- Pin a Twitter Card that allows 1-click signups to your list. There are tutorials for doing this with both Drip and ConvertKit.
If you only have 15 minutes to devote to growing your Twitter audience each week, after implementing some of these automations, then I suggest the following:
- Buffer up some relevant content (either your own or articles of interest to your audience)
- @mention others, it’s social karma
- Monitor a private “engage with” list that you fill with people that you would like to network with
- reply personally to @mentions
Just to make things interesting, I challenged myself to spin up a new Twitter account targeting freelancers. I did this 1 week before MicroConf, using the same strategies I have outlined in this article (with a couple extras). Here is what I did:
- Came up with a name that sounded interesting and wasn’t already taken: @FreelanceKick
- Created a quick logo using a gradient with text in Photoshop.
- Grabbed a hipster-approved, royalty-free background image from Pexels.
- Spun up a Facebook fan page with the same name, connecting both the Twitter and Facebook pages as each other’s URL (hey why not try to gain traction there as well?)
- Linked a free Buffer account, setting the schedule to their default 5 times per day, chosen by their algorithm for best times of day for my audience.
- Joined Quuu and subscribed to the “Freelancing” and “Productivity” channels to automate a minimum of 2 tweets each day.
- Nobody wants to follow someone with 0 followers, so I headed over to Fiverr and bought 500 “real” followers for $5 (I know, these are all fake accounts and they don’t amount to squat…except that initial lift from 0 followers).
- Found about 20 of my favorite articles on freelancing and threw those into Buffer with images, hashtags, mentioning the author, etc.
- Set up a Google alert to send me any recent news on freelancing “As it happens”.
- Created an RSS folder for this account that subscribes to 20 quality freelancing-related feeds (fodder for filling Buffer)
- Set up a Python script at PythonAnywhere to do the following and favoriting.
- Set up an IFTTT to add freelancers to various lists based off of what they tweet.
- Set up an IFTTT to add inspiration quotes from an RSS feed to the Buffer queue.
Then, I simply sat back and watched for a few days.
While the previous list only took me about an hour, in the end I was provided with an active Twitter account that was already getting favorites, retweets, and a growing following.
Why would I do this? Honestly, I do plan on engaging with people using this account, and growing it to something that the freelancing community finds value with. In addition, if I happen to tweet out articles from Harpoon’s Blog (my SaaS company for freelancers), and that grows our following and customer base, well then that is a resource worth having.
I’d love to hear them. Do you think this is brilliant marketing strategy that leverages technology or is it despicable spam that makes the world worse place. I’m open to either opinion :)