Tackling Tweet This Maybe: How-To And Resources
This post is a follow-up to Monday’s story of how a single tweet can make a difference in the total audience of a blog post.
When I open Google and begin to type “How to promote yourself,” the very first hit is: “How to promote yourself (without being sleazy).” My first page of results also includes “How to promote yourself without being a jerk,” and, “How to promote yourself without talking about yourself.” Suffice to say that if the prospect of having to work at getting your work seen and shared feels uncomfortable, you are in good company.
Most of us wish our work would be discovered and discussed by its own merits. Unfortunately, thanks to the pace and sheer volume of conversations online, that’s not how it actually goes. So, you can keep wishing the world worked differently, or you can accept that, for most of us, the discomfort of self-promotion is the price of visibility. As I wrote on Monday: “It’s better to think of this promotion as standing up for your ideas. Are they worth it? Then go to work for them.”
So how do you do that, exactly? There are all sorts of great resources for deeper reading—for example, yesterday alone offered this post on pitching reporters on social media, and also this… the latest advice on how to grow your Twitter following (which I especially appreciate for the underlying science). It’s fantastic to have so much advice at our fingertips. But sometimes it gets to be a lot to wade through.
For me, this all boils down to a core COMPASS goal: To connect the right people around the right ideas at the right time. For now, I’m ignoring all the longer-term strategies, tips, and tricks about how to grow an audience and increase traffic. Let’s focus instead on what you can do immediately in terms of leveraging your existing network of relationships in service of getting an idea or two out there: 1. The right people. Don’t be shy to reach out to individuals whose work you admire, those who ‘own’ key beats online, or who you’ve met and feel a connection to. You want to get your work in front of the relevant taste-makers in your topic area because they can vastly amplify your signal. However, if your only reason for pinging someone is because they have a lot of followers, you’re doing it wrong.
2. The right ideas. When you reach out, give a pithy, compelling sense of what we’ll find at the end of your link. Think about the alignment between your content and the interests of others—not everything deserves to be promoted with equal zeal. The hard truth is that this is not about the effort you put into a post, it’s what other people will get out of it. Once you’re sure it’s the right topic for the right audience, a sexy hook is great. Of course, if you over-promise and under-deliver, you’re doing it wrong.
3. The right time. There is plenty of advice out there regarding when are the ideal times to tweet or to post to Facebook. This is all handy to understand, but use your critical mind and treat promotion like an experiment. Make a plan. Execute it. Look at your analytics and see which tactics worked. See Beth Kanter’s wonderful books for more on this. If you’re not using adaptive management in your social media efforts, guess what? Yep. You’re doing it wrong.
Bottom line: You have to get out of your own way, stop feeling embarrassed, and go to work getting your ideas out there. I’d love to hear your stories and comments! Liz Neeley worked at COMPASS from 2008-2015. This post was transferred from its original location at www.compassonline.org to www.COMPASSscicomm.org in 2017.