At the bottom of most posts here, there’s a phrase with a link to my Twitter account. I had originally added this as an informational message, but it ended up being more effective than I expected.
-Dustin Curtis (@dcurtis)
Arguments you might have in your head before you even read this post
Uggh, I hate braggart posts about your stats. I know. I’m sorry. That isn’t my intention. It’s just that I was surprised at what happened. I basically had been making a mistake and wanted to warn some folks not to do the same.
Yeah, you did this because you got lucky and on the front page of Hacker News 3 times this week. That’s very true about the Quantity of new followers I got in such a short time, but what’s important is to judge the conversion rate that I improved on. If I had done what I always do when I blog, I would have gotten a ton of visitors and traffic, but ZERO new Twitter followers. I’ve made this mistake before.
You’re so vain to care about your Twitter follower count. That’s not it at all. I really enjoy writing and blogging. If I were only just writing for myself, I’d keep this stuff in Evernote. But I want to know if what I’m writing is proving to be useful and inspiring. And one method of that is tracking what kind of Twitter audience is resonating with what I’m saying. Counting RSS subscriptions is pretty obsolete.
So I’ve never had much of a Twitter following. I’ve been stuck at about 286 followers for at least a year or two. And it hasn’t been from lack of trying.
I’ve blogged a bunch in 2009 and 2010. Both at Inkling’s blog and my pervious personal blog. With great responses on places like Twitter and Hacker News. But alas, my conversion from visitors to Twitter followers has sucked.
And any new followers I do pick up seem to always profess in their profiles how badly they want me to see naked photos of themselves or date them because they are so very lonely.
Have some more self-respect, fellow Twitter user. Keep them clothes on.
I had read Dustin’s post in 2009, but I wanted to resist it. I wanted to fool with things like Tweet/Like buttons instead as calls to action in my posts as well as making sure my blog sidebar mentioned I’m on Twitter.
If you go to my old personal blog, you’ll see my latest tweets right there and big for all the land to see. And in the past few months, I’ve even had a couple posts at my old personal blog make it to the front page of Hacker News and get a ton of traffic and visitors.
In fact, I had 3,984 visitors on Feb 15 on my old blog. Number of new Twitter followers?
For a stunning 0.05% conversion rate.
Then I start blogging on the SVBTLE network on April 6. I start getting a little bit of traffic pretty soon. Between April 6 and April 16 I get 1,791 unique visitors. Number of new Twitter followers?
0.16% conversion rate. Splendid.
And I’ve got such a beautiful design on this blog because of Dustin. That @natekontny link in the sidebar looks so clickable doesn’t it?
But people have sidebar blindness now. Probably, thanks to ads usually placed there. Here’s even more evidence of sidebar blindness.
In the past week I’ve had 3 posts that I’ve gotten some great responses from and people emailing me about. However, 3 of those people who tried to contact me, told me they couldn’t figure out a good email for me to thank me for the post.
There’s a “Say Hi!” button right in that sidebar! And it’s not like they were too lazy to find it. Because these folks went to some great lengths to find alternative emails for me. They emailed the generic contact address at Inkling. They even sent me LinkedIn private messages.
So what’s the point?
I decided to finally start experimenting with a message at the bottom of my post. Definitely inspired by Dustin’s post from 2009. But I used my own language and voice to fit what I’d probably tell you face to face:
P.S. You might dig following me on Twitter.
The results have been staggering to me.
In a 7 day period, I had 24,646 unique visitors. In that time, I’ve made about 1000 new Twitter followers. Conversion rate:
A 2400% increase! :)
So unless you get tons of traffic in 7 days, you might not get 1000 new followers, but the lesson to take from this is:
A call to action to have someone follow you on Twitter really can be a super effective way to get new followers. Don’t trust that damn sidebar. No one sees it. Also I wouldn’t outright trust the generic button that Twitter has to “Follow me”. I’ve seen bloggers much more proficient and prolific than me using them, and they seem to be stuck with a Twitter follower count similar to my old one.
But as always, experiment! Don’t copy me or Dustin’s advice in a cargo cult fashion. My conversion rate still pales to what Dustin was seeing. I need to test some variations to see if I can improve it too. So see what works for you. Use your own voice and writing style. Fool with getting rid of those “tweet this/like this” buttons. What would you rather have: A higher probability of a new Twitter follower, or a low probability of getting a retweet/like?
P.S. You might dig following me on Twitter.