GSME #3 :: Hard Rain

This week has been full of revelations. The most significant one by far entails what’s now happening as I try and bend Twitter to my will in terms of views:

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Trying to force things to go your way on a platform where other people define the rules will not go well. I can pretend that it matters I’m dictating content, but inevitably the best work comes when that isn’t the case. Twitter is an immensely organic space, and that’s become more apparent to me now than at any point in my current progress. However, there are those who manipulate it to suit very specific ends, but to do this successfully requires a pretty high number of followers. I’m also beginning to suspect that the rumours over exactly how many accounts are run by real people may be true: the sensible people are already jumping ship and even the President of the United States has gone quieter than usual. If your job is to fool the robots and appease the people who are using Twitter as a chat client? You’ll need to know how both parties think and operate to succeed.

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The midweek blip you can see above was caused by this tweet, which was subsequently retweeted by Mr Jonathan Pie to his 50k followers. As you can see, engagement is pretty much woeful but the number of people who at least acknowledged the tweet is significant. That magic 5% is quite hard to hit with the more followers you possess, unless you’re pushing hard with pictures and means to draw individuals in. The timing is important too: after 9 hours the tweet was forgotten, useless as an advertising tool. This is an indicator to smart people that when you Tweet is almost as important as what is in it, and why understanding your audience is an important factor in guaranteeing long term success.

This also means that in a break from normal practice, I’m following people now whose sole task it is to sell Twitter as a way to be popular. These accounts effectively offer you filler for your own feed: the virtual equivalent of a well placed designer throw or a piece of important pottery by an upcoming artist on a shelf. The accounts that offer you inspirational quotes, funny asides and carefully-selected news articles do so entirely to fuel their own pretensions of grandeur, and the more retweets they can manage, the better becomes their reach. I’ve discovered that this is what people can also legitimately claim to be a ‘job’ though I’ll freely admit, talking to robots does not sound like my idea of fun.

However, undoubtedly there is money to be had, or else why else would all these people be so desperate to keep trying to up their followers?

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Last week’s lessons are simple: don’t try too hard. By far the best work I’ve done on this platform involves not sweating anything: in fact, the more spontaneous and organic I allow things to become, the better the return for my effort. What it also means is that I’ll be rethinking a few of my approaches to other stuff this week: I am spreading myself a bit too thin, and as writing for me is the main goal here (and not becoming a new media guru ahead of that) I’ll be dropping some plans that had been considered going forward. Also, I promise I won’t start filling my feed with pointless yet cleverly structured rubbish. All of my Tweets remain 100% home produced and farmed, with letters and words purely of my own devising.

That alone should make me unique in parts of this Community for some time to come.

GSME #2 :: Look at Me

Three weeks in, and my Experiment’s not going badly at all. Let’s take a look at the numbers, shall we?

Last Week’s Standings

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Yesterday was a bust, but I think I can be allowed the odd day ‘off’ now and again, especially as it serves as a decent contrast to what came before. New contests were posted March 1st yet the higher engagement occurs on the days afterwards. My feed takes a while to pick up interest, which has historically always been true:at this point I’d also like to show total numbers for the first 6 days of March, which we’ll also use as a yardstick going forward.

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The -8 is important here for a reason: I removed people last week, and some drama ensued. Going forward, I intend to stick at a 900 follower ‘ceiling’ and won’t be looking at engaging anyone else without a compelling reason for doing so. What I am also seeing is a gradual disappearance of a number of long term followers, who aren’t happy that I’ve diversifying interests. They followed me just for Warcraft, and if I start talking about something else…? I’m used to this reasoning that people give, but the fact does remain that if you initially sell yourself as one thing and then turn into another, some of your followers will genuinely lose interest. This just makes me determined to work harder and see if I can build a more general audience based on output.

That means today I want to talk about increasing engagement: how you get people to read tweets, become interested in you as a ‘brand’ and produce content that isn’t just a recycled set of motivational quotes and you moaning about a bad day. It also means we’ll be setting a  second objective on the ‘To Do’ List: we’re not just aiming for 20k hits a day, now we’re looking for a MINIMUM of 5% engagement on each Tweet published. To make that happen? There’s some work to do, but I have some basic pointers for decent returns going forward:

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Pictures engage more than just words

The problem with a daily stream of content is that sometimes you just don’t have the time (or indeed inclination) to make the effort. The fact remains however that if I spend a minute taking a picture and then post that with text? People are more interested. However, my love of the animated .GIF only does so much to enhance this, as many people who access my content via mobiles have only so much data allowance, and so there should not be a desire to just stick one with every 140 characters. It means less random stream of consciousness posting, consideration of what goes in every tweet, and planning of long-term projects to make the most of the engagement I can get.

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Putting yourself front and centre

The biggest single surge of views + engagement last week, by quite some way, was when I broke anonymity and started selling me as myself, and not a ‘handle.’ The ‘alt’ is a major part of what I am: its on business cards, after all, and when I publish articles going forward I intend for a real name to be on all of them. Doing this inevitably opens me up to all sorts of potential issues, but as I’m a big girl now, the trick is to make sure that what gets used and said will always stand up to criticism. That means that drunk tweeting is a thing of the past (sorry those of you who enjoyed the last bout) but I’ve seen how potentially dangerous THAT can be. It also means you might see more pot-plant throwing going forward. If I’m getting frustrated with online stupidity, instead of sub-tweeting and filling my feed with drama? You’ll get this instead:

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Picking topics that your Audience enjoy

What caused a 17.2% surge of interest late week for me? This picture did:

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You don’t even need actual flesh, often the hint of it is enough to get everybody all riled up, and if you don’t know Sex Sells by now then you clearly have not been paying attention. This is however a pretty dodgy avenue to make a living on going forward… but, having said that, I have a few ideas around the topic, like this post on why you never see male pornbots selling women a good time. In more general terms however this proves that I should and will still be talking Warcraft/gaming, perhaps more than I have been of late, because the majority of my audience are receptive. However, other subjects are not off the table: food, media, photography and fitness all have interest, and I can do all of those now pretty much with my eyes closed.


That means, starting today, I’m aiming to make things matter whenever I press ‘Tweet’

Let’s see how well we can do by this time next week 😀