On a quiet Sunday morning I was in bed. My head nestled into a soft pillow, eyes closed, not asleep but not entirely away either. There were two quick vibrations on my nightstand followed by the sound of a tweeting bird. The alert, which I recognized in an instant, was my phone informing me that I had received a Twitter Direct Message.
A few minutes passed and the alert nagged at the back of my mind. What if it was Brian, Jerry, or Mike trying to reach me regarding Stogie Review? What if it was a reader with a question? What if it was just a friend looking to chat? The curiosity was overwhelming. I reached out, grabbed the phone, and dragged open my eyes to see who it was that was messaging me on a Sunday morning.
I deleted the Sunday Morning DM, this is one that I received the day before.
In the past I have written an article on my Twitter and Facebook Annoyances. I realize that posts covering what is wrong with Twitter and Facebook are like beating a dead horse, but perhaps focusing on self promotion via Twitter may be beneficial.
Who I Follow
I follow a wide range of people on Twitter. The bulk of those individuals are made up of cigar people. Since I am an avid cigar smoker, I like to see what others have to say about the industry. Mixed in with consumers, there are manufacturers and bloggers. The latter are people with a brand that requires promotion, be it a small niche blog or a large company manufacturing cigars.
Behind the cigar folk are those involved with creative writing. In this group I probably have the most diversity within a given niche. These individuals range from best selling authors, to self-publishers, to writers publishing content on their blogs, to those that simply enjoy reading what others create. Because this group is made up of people from all over the world, it generates fascinating tweets.
The final segment of people that I follow is complete and utter randomness. This group contains celebrities, news organizations, retailers, and people that simply tweet things I enjoy reading. At the time of my writing this, 1,157 people make up these three roughly outlined groups.
DM Spam: The Worst Offenders
Seeing the groups of people that I follow, you re probably thinking that the most Twitter Direct Message spam comes from Celebrities and News Organizations. These people make a living in the public eye and have a brand that requires a vast amount of promotion to succeed. You may be surprised to learn that this group is the least problematic. I don’t recall ever having received an automated message, from anyone within this group, promoting their brand. Their public timeline, on the other hand, can be a very different story.
That settles it then, the vast amount of self promotion must lie within your largest group, the cigar people? Again, you may be surprised that this large group is rather tame when it comes to self promotion. Sure, there are some bloggers and manufactures out there that can get annoying, but they are generally not the largest source of spam.
That only leaves one group of people, the creative writing crowd. When it comes to direct message spam, this group is, by far, the worst offender. I find it simply amazing how a little success can turn an author in a self-promotion machine. The scenario usually plays out by them following me. The follow prompts me to check out their profile, if the excerpt of their writing looks interesting, I follow back. Within a few hours some of these authors will fire off a direct message thanking me for the follow and suggest that I visit their website (link included, for my convenience).
Begging for Clicks
I suppose that I could be considered some type of content purist when it comes to blogs. If I see new content via Google Reader, I’ll take a look if I don’t have anything else going on. I’ll read or watch the content and then consider my options. I may think about copying the link and posting it to my Twitter timeline, I may leave a comment, or I may just leave the blog without taking any action at all. The content determines what course of action I will take.
The same applies to links in Twitter, with one exception. In the event that a link is followed by someone asking for re-tweets, I generally ignore it all together. For one reason or another, I see it as someone begging for clicks. It tells me that the content probably isn’t good enough to stand on its own. Because if it were, why would the author ask for favors in promoting it? If the content were truly compelling, I wouldn’t need the author asking me to share it with my friends. I would do it because my followers might enjoy it just as much as I did.
My Twisted Philosophy
When it comes to this personal blog, I have the luxury of not relying on my content to pay my bills. Sure, it would be fantastic if my content were to go viral, but there is no pressure to try and force it. As a result, I have a more relaxed approach to getting my creative work out in the wide world.
Like many bloggers, I have this WordPress blog integrated with my Twitter account. Thats means that anytime I click the publish button, the link to the published article is pushed to my Twitter timeline. While this may seem spammy to some, I find that a single post every couple of days (or even daily) is not abrasive when mixed in with a healthy number if genuine tweets.
The Manual Link
Sometime after one of my articles is published, I like to manually link to it via Twitter and Facebook. By generating this second link, I am able to add more personality to the Tweet, rather than having a generic “New From WaltInPA” followed by a long link. Sure, two links to the same article can be a little on the spammy side, but I try to spread them out so that they do not overlay one another. This exposes me to the morning crowd and the afternoon / evening crowd later on
Back when I was more involved with creative writing, I found that one surefire way to get eyes on my content was to participate. I threw my hat into the ring for Fiction Friday as well as #FridayFlash. In addition, I would read through the writing submitted by others and comment. Most blogs allowed me to include a link back to my blog with my name and email address.
By taking the time to comment on work other than my own, often times I compelled the author to visit my blog and do the same. Over time this lead to a relationship being developed and we would routinely comment on each others writing. This also lead to genuine re-tweets and cross linking through twitter.
One of the common complaints of this system is that newcomers feel that it doesn’t work. True, as someone new you may need to put forth a great deal of effort for little return but relationships aren’t built overnight. By sticking with it and showing that you are in it for the long haul, it will slowly begin to pay off and you will eventually become one of the guys. The same applies to any niche, you do not need writing memes to actively participate in the blogging community.