Twitter is my jam. It’s the first social network that I joined, oh so many years ago, and it’s the one that I “get” the best. I love the fact that the feed is chronological, so there’s no trying out figure out a constantly-changing algorithm (hello, Facebook and Pinterest, I’m talking to you.)
There are a lot of tools, both paid and free, that will help you manage your Twitter activity. While I’ve used paid tools in the past, now I’m only using free. Here’s my complete process for being active, sharing lots of content, and being strategic with my time investment.
What’s your Twitter strategy?
Before we get into the tools, we need to look at strategy. There are several areas to think about when establishing a Twitter strategy:
- Posting frequency
- Content mix
- Using analytics
I’ll address each of these areas below and talk about the tools I use to execute that part of my Twitter strategy.
The tools that help me execute my Twitter strategy are Hootsuite, IFTTT, Google Calendar, Buffer, Google Drive, Feedly, and Twitter analytics. As I said, all the tools I use are free; some have higher levels that are paid, but the free versions meet my needs.
How often will you post?
One of the first things you should decide is you often you are going to post on Twitter. It’s important to establish a consistent schedule in order to develop an engaged follower base. You don’t want to post 10 times one day and then disappear for a week. People will forget who you are.
Also, Twitter moves fast. I’ve seen various statistics pegging the lifespan of a tweet between 18 and 24 minutes. That means you need to have content flowing in on a regular basis. Does that mean you need to be on Twitter all day long? No, that’s what scheduling tools are for and I’ll talk more about scheduling in a moment.
I tweet 8 to 10 times a day.
How did I choose this range? I picked a few top bloggers in the blogging + business niche and looked at their activity for one day. It ranged from 9 to 18 tweets. This was helpful information, but it boiled down to what felt right for me. Personally, 18 feels high. 8 to 10 feels comfortable. I will likely increase my number of tweets to 12 or 14 in a few months, but I doubt that I’ll go higher than that on a regular basis.
You should also think about how much time you have to devote to finding and scheduling content. I spend about an hour a week scheduling tweets and another 15 minutes on daily Twitter tasks.
The second strategic decision you need to make is what your mix of content will look like. Nobody wants to follow someone who only tweets their own content all the time. Your tweets should be a mix of your own and other people’s content.
I tweet approximately 60/40, with 60% being other people’s content and 40% my own. I will likely change that to 50/50, as my own library of blog posts grows. My current daily twitter mix is:
- 3 of my own blog posts
- 3 tweets of other peoples’ content
- 2 to 4 retweets daily
I also have one promotional tweet scheduled per week, and I’ve left room in my schedule to build that up as I have new products and events to promote.
I talked in the previous section about sharing other peoples’ content. How do you find content to share and how do you keep it organized?
I subscribe to a lot of blogs on Feedly and that’s where I find most of the content that I curate. When I read a post that I want to share, I save it to Pocket and then IFTTT builds out a fabulous spreadsheet for me – automagically – that has all the information I need in order to share the content on Twitter. (This post will walk you through how to set up this IFTTT recipe and spreadsheet – the author talks about Facebook, but it works just as well for Twitter).
When I get ready to batch-schedule tweets, I have a large selection to choose from in my spreadsheet. I schedule two tweets a day of third-party content from this spreadsheet and highlight tweets that have been used.
And now we come to the heart of the system. This is what makes everything work and is how I keep my time investment down to one hour a week.
I schedule my tweets using another IFTTT recipe that links up Google Calendar and Buffer. I enter all my tweets in Google Calendar. This includes three of my own blog posts and three shares of third-party content. IFTTT then sends those tweets from Google Calendar to Buffer at the appointed time.
I love that I can see all my tweets in a calendar view. I color-code the tweets (because who doesn’t love color coding?), so that I see at-a-glance if the content is mine (new or old) or third-party.
The truly awesome part of this is that I can set up repeating tweets of my own content in Google Calendar. It’s just like setting up a recurring appointment. I simply tell Google Calendar how often I want the tweet to repeat and it will continue to schedule those tweets until I stop the repeat.
For my own content, I write 5 tweets for each new post. Each tweet is scheduled once during the first six days that the blog post is live. Then I schedule one tweet per month, repeating every five months. With this system, each of my evergreen posts gets shared monthly and the tweets rotate, which keeps the feed from being too repetitive.
I can adjust this schedule according to the nature of the post. If a post is time sensitive, then I would not schedule it to repeat or I would set an end date for the repeats. For example, tweets about my 2016 Reader Survey will end in December.
I touch each tweet twice; first to schedule it the week of the blog post and next to start a repeating schedule that will go on until I decide to stop it.
This may sound complicated but never fear. I have step-by-step instructions that will walk you through setting up your free accounts, creating the IFTTT recipe, and building out your Twitter library in Google Calendar.
What time do you tweet?
Another strategic factor to consider is when your tweets are scheduled. You want them to go out when your audience is more likely to be online and engaged. Fortunately, Buffer will figure this out for you. You tell Buffer how many times a day you want to tweet and it will calculate the optimal schedule, based on your followers.
For my system, Google Calendar sends the tweet to Buffer based on the time I have scheduled in the Calendar. Once the tweets get to Buffer, Buffer slides them right into the next optimal time slot. Easy, peasy.
Resharing third-party content
We’ve already determined that the life of a tweet is short (18-24 minutes). That means that most of your followers don’t see any given tweet.
I use native Twitter analytics to determine third-party content for resharing. At the end of each month, I download a spreadsheet of my analytics and I look at the content that had the highest engagement levels. I can tell which tweets are third-party because I always include via @username in the tweet.
This is content that resonated with my audience, but it’s likely that many people didn’t see it the first time around. It’s super-easy to reshare this content. I simply copy the tweet from the analytics spreadsheet that I downloaded and paste it into my Google Calendar. I schedule one re-share per day and I can batch-schedule a whole month’s worth of re-shares in one hour.
Daily interaction and engagement
Hootsuite is my go-to tool for daily interaction and engagement on Twitter. I have numerous streams so that I can see various subsets of tweets, which makes it easier to manage Twitter’s fast pace.
I have streams for Mentions and Retweets, which makes it easy to interact with people who are sharing my content. I also have several Twitter lists, each in its own stream. This allows me to quickly zero in on content to retweet, like, or reply to.
To recap, here are the free tools that I use to execute my Twitter strategy:
- Google Calendar
- Google Drive
- Twitter analytics
This sounds like a lot, but once you have your strategy established and the systems in place, it doesn’t take much time to execute. I spend – on average – an hour a week scheduling and up to 15 minutes per day, for a total of about 2 hours per week. Twitter is the number one source of traffic for my blog, so I think the time is well spent.
Don’t forget to download the step-by-step instructions to link up Google Calendar and Buffer with IFTTT.