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March 9, 2011

Retweet Me: How To Be A Twitter Authority – SMX West 2011

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This session talks about the importance of Twitter as a link builder, its relevancy to search and how your authority on Twitter plays into the big picture. I’m actually pretty excited about this session because, quite frankly, I suck at Twitter.

SMX West logo

Moderator: Danny Sullivan, Editor-in-Chief, Search Engine Land

Speakers:

Martin Beck, Reader engagement / social media editor, Los Angeles Times
Gabe Gayhart, VP of Marketing, WholeSolar
Jennifer Sable Lopez, Community Manager, SEOmoz

There’s a guy sitting by me that looks like Michael Cera. I kinda can’t stop staring because Cera is one of my favorite actors. Would it be wrong to ask him to recite a line from Year One? OK, I won’t do that — but only because I am clad in Bruce Clay, Inc. gear.

Danny says he wanted to do this session because, as he said in his keynote, search engines now have social signals. One of the things search engines are looking at are tweets as a signal for search. We are starting with Gabe Gayhart.

“Viva la revolucion!,” he yells into the mic. Then he asks the audience to repeat it back. He got a couple of quiet mumbles and grunts [C’mon people, act alive!]. But Twitter is a revolution, he says.

He is going to talk about what has worked for his company with Twitter. He read a study where 2/3 of businesses did not know what their social media goals were – that was surprising to him.

He just said his company has a trifecta approach to marketing [yes, trifecta]: Reach, conversion and engagement. Twitter is their mechanism of influence. His company was a startup and used that platform to build the brand.

Social influence transforms relationships.

A retweet is a social endorsement of your brand personality. Your brand is your personality. It’s how people look at you.

His company created a profile for the VP of biz dev. His professional background didn’t include much social media experience. As of today, he has more than 20,000 followers and has spoke at big industry conferences and been asked to train on social media. [That shows the power of the platform, if you’re doing it right.]

You tweet to be retweeted but you have to engage. Make sure your last tweet of the day is retweet bait.

First identify your influencers in your space. He lists Twillow, WeFollow and Ontolo as resources for that. Next, target your audience. Roughly every 10 people you follow, you get six followers back. Finally, segment your own lists to stay on top of discussions to build engagement.

He just said size isn’t everything. When it comes to followers.

Next we have Jennifer Sable Lopez. She is going to talk about ways to get retweeted outside of Twitter, and tools you can use to manage Twitter usage.

You want to make sure your content is easily sharable. Hopefully this is a given. Make it simple. She is talking about “share” buttons you can include on your Web pages.

There are other ways to share as well aside from the buttons, there’s also overlay-type installations that scroll with you. Quora allows people to share their answer through Twitter.

Tweets help pages get in the index and rank higher.

Export.ly exports tons of information about followers and Facebook fans, bnut you can’t do any of that without first tweeting about the service. That’s smart on their part and it’s also a cool app.

She thinks RSS feeds are great for retweeting. Not necessarily the highest authority users, but content is indexed quickly. Contests and promotions: a great way to get retweets out there – not always highly qualified and may not help rankings, but a great way to get your name out there.

SMX West 2011: Retweet Me Session

Don’t forget about e-mail as well. Include call-to-actions within your e-mails for Twitter. You can ask people to tweet about the service they received, for example. Think of all the new ways you can integrate Twitter into communications.

Tools (note: not an exhaustive list):

  • CoTweet (free or enterprise version). Free version does everything they need.
  • PostRank. Connect it to your RSS feed and analytics. You can see success in real-time.
  • Row Feeder. You can put in search terms and hashtags or other criteria, and it creates a spreadsheet for you. She thinks you can get up to 500 lists for free.
  • Export.ly. Even though you have to tweet that you are using this service before they give you data, it offers really interesting information. They do it for free for up to 10,000 followers.
  • Klout. Jennifer uses it often, there are others like this. You can quickly find out who the influencers are in your industry.
  • FollowerWonk. Can help you find followers based on bio searches, similar interests. You can compare users as well within your followers.

Jennifer talks about a study where they found that pages that were tweeted more were ranking above pages that were just linked to.

Next is Martin Beck. He is going to talk about his company’s (LA Times) efforts to cut through the haze and increase authority on Twitter [He has a photo of smog and references LA … gross, that’s what I breathe daily?]

He is comparing headlines for newspapers with Twitter updates. You need to get interest and make it so interesting that people will retweet it. He is helping the journalists from being a conduit of info to getting into the dialogue [I imagine that would be a tough shift – how do you stay unbiased?].

He reassures us that what he is going to share is not science, but we’re all trying to learn and help each other.

He has said the authority that has come with his company in general helped to build instant authority in Twitter, but it’s just a head start. There’s no guarantee the audience is going to follow them.

[I seriously cannot open the Press Room water bottles. Been trying the entire session, every five minutes. It’s like trying to get into Fort Knox –anyone else here having that problem?]

Resources:

  • CrowdBooster.com
  • SocialFlow.com
  • Timely.is

Interesting tidbits (HP Labs study):

  • Your Twitter audience is very choosy. Seventy-nine percent of users follow fewer than 100 accounts.
  • Only one in 318 URLs are retweeted.

Questions/Discussion

The Internet is down so we’re kinda having a free discussion, no structured Q&As like normal. The panel is talking about testing your tweets. Jennifer is saying that sometimes, they have a tweet that doesn’t get any reaction even if it’s big news. In those cases, they’ve changed the text and then it gets a lot of retweets.

Danny wraps up by saying there’s not a right way to be doing anything, do what’s right for you.

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