(You can follow me on Twitter: @neicolec)
Twitter will shortly be releasing its new Lists feature. As I blogged about, I have hopes this will help reignite Twitter’s growth. I think bloggers can play a key role in doing that. If businesses and bloggers see enough benefits from Lists and use them right, they can be an enabler of Twitter user-growth.
In this post, I discuss how to use Lists to create a cycle: visitors to your blog follow you (via a List) on Twitter, Twitterers see your tweets, which lead them back to your blog.
- Plan to share your lists outside of Twitter
- Add yourself to your List (if necessary)
- Name your List well
- Create Lists for your target audience
- Promote and share your lists in the right manner
Note, step 4 is the one that requires the most thought, but will determine your results. Start thinking about this now, before Lists are released.
1. Plan to share your Lists outside of Twitter
Everyone is planning on sharing their lists within Twitter. But don’t stop there. Plan on sharing the links to your lists on your blog.
Lists will be accessed via a URL like this: http://twitter.com/user_name/list_name. To promote the list on your website, you’ll just add a link with the URL. And you don’t have to stop there. Why not share them on Facebook, in email, and through your newsletter?
2. If necessary, include yourself in your Lists.
I haven’t been able to use Lists myself, yet. So I’m not certain on all the details of how they are being implemented. Specifically, I haven’t seen information about whether the List creator is automatically included in the List and/or whether their tweets are automatically included. (If you’re in the beta, please comment and let me know.)
If they aren’t, then make sure to add yourself to any Lists that you promote on your blog. (I’m assuming Twitter’s feature doesn’t prohibit this. If it does, they shot themselves in the foot.) That is part of the benefit that you get from creating and sharing lists–subscribers see your tweets, too.
3. Name your Lists well
You’ll give your Lists names, and those names will be part of the URL. Naming your Lists may not be as important as choosing your Twitter handle, but it is important. You want the name to be enticing but accurate. One key type of List I’m recommending is what I call a Twitter Solution (see #4). When you create a Twitter Solution, make sure your name reflects the goal or problem you are solving for your audience.
4. Create Lists for your target audience
The first use for Lists that most people will think of is creating a “Top X” List, such as My Top Social Media Picks or Top Sports Bloggers on Twitter. Sure, you will want to create some of those lists and promote them on your blog. In fact, you should always keep Lists in the back of your mind and use them if a List makes an appropriate accompaniment to a blog post. But keep in mind that there is a limit of 20 Lists per account, so you will want to use them only for your best posts.
Aside from posts, you want to think strategically. Take a marketing approach and think of Lists as a marketing tool. Ask yourself these questions:
- Who is my target audience?
- Does my audience fall into distinct segments with different needs or interests? If so, define each segment.
- What are their goals, as they relate to the topics I blog about?
- What kind of information helps them reach those goals?
- What kind of information is this type of person generally interested in?
- Who on Twitter regularly tweets that kind of information? What Twitter resources can be valuable to this audience segment, given their goals?
Now, using the answers to that last question, create one or more Lists for each audience segment, designed to meet their goals. That’s a Twitter Solution.
5. Promote your Lists in the right place and manner
Obviously, you’ll have to decide where to put your Lists on your site. But since your blog page is the place where most users will arrive or go, you will want to put your key Lists there. Put the List link in a visible location near relevant content. If you already have a Follow Me button, you’ve probably put it in a prominent location, and that’s the same location where you’ll likely want to put your Lists.
The point of creating these Lists is to provide a valuable resource to your audience, and gain some followers in the process. As discussed, you probably already have a Follow Me button on your site. But people are going to be more inclined to follow a List than a single individual. A List, promoted as a Twitter Solution to their goal, is a lot more appealing than just little old you. Sorry.
So, promote your List as a Twitter Solution. For example, If you’ve created a list for first time home buyers, don’t just say “Use my List.” Say something like:
“I’ve created a Twitter list chock-full of Twitter resources to help first time Seattle home buyers learn more about the home-buying process, and connect with local resources. Just click Seattle Home Buyers to join Twitter and use its many resources to find your perfect home.”
Or you might use a graphic (surely we’ll see badges for Lists, soon) to highlight your List.
That’s the basic strategy for using Lists to grow your blog. I hope you have fun with Lists–and are able to find some new followers through them. I’m a contributor to the Bloggers’ Bulletin. Watch my own blog for my next post, where I’ll give you some ideas for using Lists in unique ways.