I recall Rand Fishkin once saying at an SMX Advanced that “Twitter was not useful as a marketing tool”. It was a long time ago and I hadn’t heard of Twitter at the time, but by the next Pubcon, Vanessa Fox was tweeting from the stage and in the SEO industry Twitter has been a mainstay of communication within the industry ever since. Certainly it was one of the most influential Marketing Towers for Majestic SEO over the years. But is that time over?
I can say from first hand experience that Twitter has been a foundation stone for digital marketing for at least 5 years now, as I write in November 2013. But I think there may be change on the horizon and unless Twitter changes with it, they’ll get left behind.
I have always connected different parts of my media strategy together. I initially used Social Oomph – which I still recommend as a cost effective way of streamlining one’s social media marketing, before upgrading for a while to Hootsuite, which was stringer but a bit too confusing for me… and I don’t like the lack of trend data it their reporting. I have currently settled on Sendible – a British social media monitoring tool which I commend to the house.
I don’t believe I over optimize automation. If I do a blog post on Majestic, then systems do make sure that I do not forget to mention the blog post on Twitter and LinkedIN. LinkedIN then automatically duplicates the post on Facebook and before you know it, something like 50,000 SEOs are exposed to the message.
I have mostly avoided talking anything but shop on Twitter, which has helped me be on all sorts of SEO Lists, and other SEOs choose to trust certain lists and in the process re-tweet much of the content.
But the ease of automation is becoming Twitters downfall. Here’s an example from the weekend:
None of the above handles are connected with me. As far as I know, they are real people with real opinions… but that screenshot does look somewhat suspicious. This link goes to a 404… and before I deleted the post it was literally a one liner saying “newlsetter planned”. You see, I am also a great believer in having a marketing “message calender”. Having the company, the Ambassadors, the social network accounts all having a combined message which is linked has definitely leveraged my efforts over the years. It’s a but of an aside, but I have regularly talked about this in the past:
The problem in this instance was that I am always testing new ways to work and we were looking at using our WordPress back end to manage our messaging. Whilst talking through the plans with Majestic’s Campaigns manager I was demonstrating the idea and suggested that the Newsletter was due out around the 25th of the month, so let’s mark that in the calendar, so we can see the dots connected.
When the day came, WordPress published our Placeholder – a one line “post” with no content at all. I guess if I had been thinking clearly on a Sunday afternoon I would have added the content of the newsletter to the post, but instead I took it down as soon as I saw it.
But automation had already kicked in, and the reduced value of Twitter compared to five years ago suddenly became clear. There were already dozens of re-tweets for the post, with almost none of the Tweeters taking the time to read the (lack of) content on the page before Tweeting. I am very grateful for the re-tweets – but we have to ask ourselves whether the value of a re-tweet is little more than the value of a banner add these days if all measures of “engagement” are in fact illusory?
Should we be measuring engagement by re-tweets? Especially retweets going through third party link shorteners? I decided to go back to my log files and find out. Over the weekend, apart from this inopportune blog post/Tweet sequence, we also in fact DID send out the monthly newsletter and of course the sequence also resulted in comments on Facebook as well. Twitter didn’t fair well…
Now don’t get me wrong – when Majestic HAS got something to say, then the guys at Twitter are really helpful in promoting the message to the SEO world at the speed of light, but it takes a bit more joined up thinking than a simple automated Tweet from a social media marketing tool to get real traction. The trick is not the amount of re-tweets, but WHO tweets.
There’s better ways to Measure the Power of a re-Tweet
The person that ReTweets is MUCH more important than the number of re-tweets. It turns out, as well, that the number of followers is also a poor measure. Followers are cheap and sometimes fake. More importantly, even Lady Gags’s followers may be real, but they are not focused to my world.
But at least we know that Lady gaga IS influential on Twitter. There are two extremely useful ways to see this:
1: Don’t discard Klout
Klout is probably the best known social media measurement tool out there. I hear a few negative comments from some SEOs about the score, but it’s a big challenge trying to evaluate the influence of everyone on the internet being able to give you a score between 0 and 100 instantly and from what I see, their scores are unerringly accurate considering the scale they need to operate at. They combine several social networks and the scores are powerful and (for the most part) free.
2: Don’t forget Majestic SEO
Majestic can give you a score for any Twitter profile, Linkedin profile or any other profile that has a publicly accessible link. Again it is a score between 0 and 100 and it is the “Trust Flow” score that I would urge you to look at. If a person is influential on a given profile, then people will ultimately link to the profile. That increases the Trust Flow and turns out to be a very useful way to assess the influence of an individual on any given social network, forum or blog. Now you can compare two profiles via http://twittertrumps.co.uk/ thanks to an enterprosing developer called John Doyle which I recommend trying and if you simply want a list of the top 50,000 most influential Twitter profiles, Majestic has given the list away recently after some research for a Forbes article.
Has Twitter Peaked For SEOs?
So let’s get back to the subject at hand. I do think that SEOs in particular have become largely “Link shy” on Twitter. They see something and may re-tweet it, but they are much more likely to re-tweet a link that look at it! I know I have occasionally been guilty of that, although not as much as many. My crime has been Tweeting by Rotation – getting a message out even when the message was created by mistake. At least as a result it has led to some insight into what is happening on Twitter. Hopefully I can take that knowledge and become a better marketer moving forward.