I'll be honest, when I first heard about the microblog, I was skeptical. So it's like facebook status updates... but just on their own? Yeah, good luck with that! But I humbly stand corrected. The microblog craze has indeed taken the web by storm, with everyone it seems; from average college students and parents to A-list celebrities and politicians broadcasting to the world in 140 character bursts.
Although some of you may not be familiar with the term microblog, you will certainly have heard of the most popular microblog service, Twitter, which has experienced phenomenal growth in the last year (812.7% according to compete.com) and is now averaging just under 6 million unique visitors per month. Other microblog sites include Tumblr.com and Plurk.com and there are even video-microblog sites popping up like 12seconds.tv which allow you to post 12 second video updates. None as yet however have managed to match Twitter's growth and popularity.
So why has Twitter become so popular, and more importantly, what does that mean for an affiliate marketer?
Twitter has allowed people to be constantly communicate with the world (particularly when used though a mobile phone or application which allows you update and be updated by Twitter anywhere), while also connecting with other interesting people. The short nature of Twitter posts, or 'Tweets' do not require the time and degree of forethought that a typical blog post would take, but still allow you deliver a pertinent message. And perhaps most importantly, with so many people updating all the time, the information on Twitter is remarkably current. When US Airways Flight 1549 made it's extraordinary crash landing in New York's Hudson river, the first news and pictures of the accident appeared on Twitter. User Janis Krums uploaded a picture from his iphone (via Twitpic, an image sharing service for Twitter) with the caption 'There's a plane in the Hudson. I'm on the ferry going to pick up the people. Crazy.' So despite the numerous posts from people informing the world what they had for breakfast what movie their going to watch tonight, there is also a lot of serious, high-quality content on Twitter. Some have gone as far to suggest that Twitter will replace some other methods of searching. Although I wouldn't necessarily go that far, there is without a doubt new and interesting content being shared through Twitter.
So how should an affiliate marketer approach Twitter. Well first of all, you can't expect to be able to just post up all your affiliate links and nothing else and expect to get anyone to follow you! (In fact, do that too much and you'll just look like the bane of every Internet user... a spammer) Twitter, like all social media, is about community. People want to see real and interesting content, so you need to be interesting! (Which I'm assuming if you're reading our blog, you're already a pretty interesting person!) There are a few things you need to consider when getting involved with Twitter:
- Am I just doing this for my affiliate business, or is this going to be a personal feed as well?
- What is my niche? What category do my affiliate products fit it?
- Who would be interested in information relating to these products.
There's nothing wrong with setting up a Twitter account just to promote your business. Twitter can be an immensely powerful promotional tool, which could drive heaps of new traffic to your site and create positive buzz about your products. The important thing to understand is that people aren't going to be interested in you just tweeting affiliate links and stuff about your products. You will also need to try and find people on twitter with similar interests to you. You can do this by signing up, filling out your profile and then going to a site like Twits Like Me, which searches for other Twitter users with similar listed interests. You can also use other services like Twellow to find people by interest categories. There are many other different sites like this available which you could find with a quick Google search, but these give you an idea.
Now it's time to start twittering! Don't be too worried about refining or editing your tweets. The whole point is to update quickly and regularly. Here are a few ideas for things to post about when you're first getting started.
- Interesting blog articles/websites you've read today
- What you're doing right now
Musings on current events
- @Reply this is when you write an update as a reply to another user. This can be a great way to make contacts on Twitter and attract a following
- RT (Retweet): this is when you simply repeat someone else's interesting post. Another great way to build followers as people can regularly check who's retweeted them.
Now there has been some debate about whether it's OK to post affiliate links on Twitter. Personally, I can see no problem with posting affiliate links if it's relevant to what you and your followers are interested in, if it's in direct response to someone's question, or if it's a product that you genuinely think people would get a lot of use out of. The problem comes when people do it too much or start spamming. It's like a lot of other online mediums we talk about here, for example posting links on a forum; if you're making a useful contribution and your link is valuable to the people reading, then there shouldn't be any issue.
So that's just a bit of an introduction. I'll post more about using Twitter and some tips to help you get started and manage your Twitter feeds (this gets really important if you have more than one). If you want an example of a Twitter feed and the kind of stuff you should post, check out the Affilorama Twitter Page and add yourself as a follower by clicking the link below.
PS: This is also my first proper blog post for Affilorama, so feel free to comment and tell me what you think!