I love the debate about broadcasting versus being social on social media. There will always be die-hards for both side of the argument and it never gets old watching these conversations play out.
Like most topics, I like to think I take a middle of the road approach, so let's settle this once and for all:
- Yes, being social on Twitter is a great way to grow your account.
- Unfortunately, the life-time of every tweet you send out is very short.
What does that mean?
Well, if you want to promote your account on Twitter via the social approach, you really need to be Tweeting all the time. That is the only way your name and content will get out there enough times to be seen, shared, and followed. As easy as that sounds, you probably don't want to be online all day playing on Twitter. So what do you do?
Well, if your ultimate goal is to get page views on your site, you're probably going to find that you have to broadcast some.
My Secret Weapon – Autotweeter Pro
I know that the treasured tool among WordPress users is the Revive Old Posts plug-in. It is great at what it does, is easy to set up, and works. But I wanted more flexibility in my marketing and that plug-in isn't there yet.
After significant research into what is out there, I purchased the Autotweeter Pro desktop app. The program is a bit different in a few ways:
- You can send out customized tweets, not just old posts in a generic format.
- Your tweets get sent out at randomized intervals between two set points.
- You only tweet when your computer is on and the program is running.
This last one was critical to me because if I was going offline for a week or two with no access to social media, I didn't want to run up a lot of possible Twitter chats without the ability to follow-up with everyone quickly. Sure, you can turn off Revive Old Posts, but would you remember to do it?
Getting started with this app is not the easiest, and for me to make two hundred tweets took about 8 hours through manual work. I figured out later on that those with knowledge of Microsoft Excel (like myself when thinking properly), could edit down an archive of old Tweets provided by Twitter much faster than doing it one-by-one. After building your tweet list and authorizing the program to post to your account, running is as simple as setting your desired tweet interval (the program tweets at a random time between your two set points) and hitting the start button.
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But as with everything, there are a few pitfalls into this program (and all automation processes, actually), such as:
- Twitter doesn't like duplicate tweets going out more than once every 24-48 hours (estimate).
- I personally don't like sending out the same article or image more than once per week (or longer if possible).
So if you are new to blogging and are looking to use this method to promote your blog, you may not be able to run at the intervals I do since you may start repeating tweets a bit too frequently than you are comfortable with (or simply just don't have that many posts to share continually).
To optimize my settings on this program, I performed a six week study.
A Six Week Twitter Automation Study
Since there is significant daily variability on Twitter, I broke up this study into week-long tests that began Monday morning each week. The tests altered the tweet intervals with the following conditions:
- Week 1: Not running (more below)
- Week 2: Tweet interval of 30 to 120 minutes (average 75 minutes)
- Week 3: Tweet interval of 30 to 90 minutes (average 60 minutes)
- Week 4: Tweet interval of 30 to 150 minutes (average 90 minutes)
- Week 5: Tweet interval of 30 to 60 minutes (average 45 minutes)
The first week we did not run the program to collect background data based on everything else we do on Twitter like sharing one-off articles, RT'ing others, talking to other users, and generated tweets from our linked Facebook and Instagram accounts (since beginning the study we disconnected Facebook but still maintain an Instagram connection).
Over the course of the next four weeks I ran the Autotweeter Pro program with different tweet intervals set within the generally accepted life-span of a tweet (typically 30 minutes to 2 hours). During this time I also used Twitter like I would do normally when it came to sharing one-off articles, RT'ing others, and talking to other users like in Week 1. To not alter the study, I did not try to improve on this aspect even though I know that I should.
The following are the results:
- Week 1 – 0 Automated Tweets – 64 Real Tweets – 11,572 Impressions – 1.52% Engagement
- Week 2 – 132 Automated Tweets – 41 Real Tweets – 59,058 Impressions – 3.23% Engagement
- Week 3 – 161 Automated Tweets – 43 Real Tweets – 52,083 Impressions – 2.71% Engagement
- Week 4- 104 Automated Tweets – 49 Real Tweets – 46,158 Impressions – 2.65% Engagement
- Week 5 -173 Automated Tweets – 54 Real Tweets – 62,091 Impressions – 2.47% Engagement
Let's show that graphically since I think that conveys the data better.
Overall, my takeaway from this is that automation does help with both impressions and engagement over what I can achieve by simply tweeting at irregular intervals as a standard user (including when extrapolating out the data to compare results). Beyond that it is hard to draw a conclusion because most measurable factors varied by such a tiny amount, although I'd say that about once an hour looks like a decent set point to work with on my account and is the setting that I am currently running with.
Adding Images Into a Tweet
Did you notice something odd about the above data? I said it was a six week study but only presented five weeks worth of data. Well, in the sixth week of the study I went back and took the best settings on the Autotweeter app and re-ran it with images in the tweets (via shortened hyperlink additions).
My feed went from being text heavy to image heavy with the click of a button.
Implementing this was a bit tricky because the automation software does not let you upload photos automatically. I had to go into Twitter, upload the photo in a tweet, and then grab the pic.twitter.com link and put it into the software. Unfortunately this was a bit time consuming and I do not know of an easier way to do this as all of the link shortening services that claimed to work with images have closed up. (Don't worry, I did it on a separate account to not screw up the study).
After adding images to about 50% of my tweets, the results looked quite different when the program was run under the same conditions:
(Note: You may notice that link clicks went down when images were added when the other metrics went up. I attribute this to an above average click-through rate on the test without images as seen in the first set of data above. You may note that the data for that metric was much better than the others relative to the trend lines. Based on average data from the trend line it looks like the addition of images increased click-throughs by 10%. This data was not repeated to verify.)
What Works for Us May Not Work For You
The best part about this test is that it is something that you can easily replicate. I cannot guarantee whether or not our test settings will work for you. You may have better results with fewer tweets or more tweets. You can easily perform this test for your own profile and test parameters by keeping tabs on your account via Twitter's analytics page (found at analytics.twitter.com).
Considering this takes just a few minutes of work each week to change settings and log results, you really don't have any excuse for not doing it.
Our next test on Twitter will be expanding on our best data using the Autotweeter service and showing how much of an improvement can be made by being more social. So if you are about to comment below about how automation is bad and you need to be personable on social media to succeed, don't worry, we've got you covered.
So, what do you think? Do you have any tips or advice to share with Twitter users out there that we didn't cover? Comment below to join the conversation and let us know!
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