Many independent authors lean heavily on Twitter for their marketing strategies, sharing links to their books on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or even their own personal websites. While pushing these links may be necessary to drive potential customers into your sales funnel, you may have noticed these tweets generate less engagement than your other posts.
You might think this is because there’s an oversaturation of authors pushing their product in people’s timelines. Or, maybe you think it’s something wrong with your book (Do I need to make a more eye-catching cover? Is my blurb really that uninteresting?). But what it actually boils down to is this: Twitter doesn’t want people to leave their website and its algorithm punishes any tweet that might drive traffic to another site.
Imagine you’re the owner of a store and a customer comes in looking for a product and your employee directs them to another store down the street, prompting the customer to immediately leave. This isn’t a great business model and Twitter isn’t the first, or only, social media site to implement this type of procedure into its algorithm. Facebook, for example, will not serve your external-linking posts to as many customers compared to those which will keep customers on Facebook.
So, how do we know this? Well, we can thank Hootsuite‘s Global Social Engagement Specialist, Nick Martin for noticing this engagement trend:
As noted in his tweet, Nick had a hunch that tweets without any linked content: websites, photos, .gifs, videos, polls, or call-to-action. performed better in regards to reach and engagement than those with linked content.
To test this hypothesis, the Hootsuite marketing team continued its normal social media strategy, then analyzed the metrics of their tweets from October 2020 through January 2021. After removing data from any non-organic tweet (retweets and replies) they discovered that 88% of their posts contained linked content during this 15-week span.
The results? More than half of their most engaged tweets contained absolutely no links to external media. In fact, the number one performing tweet (more than double the number of likes than the next best performing post) was a very simple linkless tweet with only 11 words and 67 total characters.
Out of the top eight tweets from this timeframe, five contained no links and the other three were boosted through paid advertising. Martin believes that if they hadn’t boosted those three posts, they would not have performed nearly as well as they did.
So, what does this mean?
Well, to put it simply, it looks like Twitter is more likely to show a tweet in your follower’s timeline if it’s a simple, organic tweet that won’t force its users to hop to another platform. But, there’s more to it than just the algorithm. A lot of what drives engagement on posts is the same as what drives the customer.
Calls-to-action are cold and heartless
For example, calls-to-action have long been a standard in most social media campaigns because you, as a business, want to drive those customers into the sales funnel but as you probably know: people don’t really like to be told what to do. “click here” or “like this” can come across as demanding and create hesitation for the reader to follow through.
Linkless tweets need to be your foundation
Social media is meant to be a tool for communication. If your marketing strategy relies too heavily on linked media and “buy my book” tweets, you’re going to see engagement go down. However, if you bolster your timeline with messages aimed at starting a conversation with your potential customers, than the engagement will eventually roll over to your linked tweets, too.
Add personality to give your account some life
As an author, you are a business and need to keep a business mindset when developing your social media strategy, but people seldom respond well to “corporate talk”. Remember that you are your brand and you should let a little bit of you shine through.
Images aren’t the lifeline they once were
For years, marketers knew the best way to grab a potential customer’s attention was through an eye-catching image. This may still be the case on many platforms, but it looks like Twitter is moving away from this idea and focusing its algorithm on boosting text-only tweets. According to Nick, this may also be the case with #hashtags, too.
Less is more
Yes, we’ve all seen threads go viral. Like most things, there are exceptions, but this seems to be a pretty solid rule for 2021: be brief. Keep your tweets short and to the point.
Social media can often be a confusing and wonderful place. Things we consider throw-away content can spread far and wide, while tweets we pour our heart and soul into can fall flat and die quick. I hope the information in this blog help you round out your social media strategy for this year, but remember to toss in a few cloves of luck, a splash of good timing, and a pinch of current trends for good measure.