Twitter recently rolled out a new feature for profile pages that allows you to keep your vital content visible 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. This feature is known as Pinned Tweets, and it’s an important part of your content delivery strategy.
And you’re not using it.
You read that correctly. It’s one of the single greatest content delivery features Twitter has graced us with, and you’re completely ignoring it! How do I know? Allow me to explain (in an admittedly roundabout way).
The Old Way
Before pinned tweets, this is how your Twitter experience would work:
- You’d log in and share some content.
- Your content would be liked and retweeted a handful of times.
- Your content would quickly disappear off your profile page as you tweeted new content, forever relegated to “The Past”.
- The cycle would repeat.
Does this sound familiar to you? It should. Because 100% of the 80 profiles I randomly sampled last night (Saturday, April 4th, 2015) are still doing it this way. But I’ll get to that in a minute.
The Problem With The Old Way
That should probably read “The Problems With The Old Way”, because there are an imperial ass-ton of them. But I’ll focus on the most important: you’re missing an extraordinary opportunity to reach a metric shitload of people. (I can’t remember the conversion between metric shitloads and imperial ass-tons off the top of my head, but they’re similar in mass.)
When I get new followers, one of the first things I do is look at their profile page. I’m looking for the basics:
- What do they look like? Do they appear friendly, aloof, serious, comedic? Did they bother to add a profile image at all?
- Who are they? What’s in their bio? What do they do for a living? Do they have a blog or a website?
- What sorts of pictures are they posting? (Of COURSE I cyber-stalk people’s pictures! I’m only human! 🙂 )
- Do they have content I can quickly locate, evaluate, and retweet if my following would find it helpful/entertaining.
I placed the bullet point about content last for dramatic emphasis, but in actuality it’s the first thing I look for. I want to retweet content because maintaining relationships actively is an important part of my Twitter experience. This is, after all, a social network. And in the writing community specifically, much of our success as independent authors (and mid-list, traditionally published authors) has to do with the incredible amount of mutual support we offer one another.
I don’t only tweet about books I’ve read. That would get boring really fast. I like to use my platform, in part, to support other up-and-coming writers. And if they launch a book, or have a special offer, I’d like to spread the word and let my followers decide for themselves whether they want to buy. It costs me nothing to hit the “Retweet” button once, and the potential benefit to the person I’m re-tweeting (and myself at some future point in time) is quite large. I’m a firm believer in the saying “a rising tide lifts all boats.”
But many of you are making it extremely difficult for me to help you. Here’s an example of what I’m talking about:
Yesterday, I received approximately 400 new followers. Now it wouldn’t be humanly possible for me to retweet something from each of them, unfortunately. I’d love to, but I don’t see any way of managing that. But I did want to at least retweet something from a handful of my new followers. So I started clicking through to their profiles. If they were selling a book, I wanted to know about it so I could decide whether to retweet it or not.
But when I visited their profiles, I found a lot of random tweets filling their timeline, many of which had nothing to do with anything listed in their bio. I took some time (maybe 30 seconds per person) to scroll through each of their feeds, figuring they must have tweeted something recently about their content.
I didn’t give up. I visited more profiles. When all was said and done, I had visited 40 profiles and found nothing of any use to retweet. I thought I must have simply chosen poorly. A bad hand of poker, so to speak. Random chance had worked against me.
So I visited 40 more.
On the 81st profile visit (yes, I’m that tenacious), I found exactly what I was looking for: An author had pinned a tweet with a link to their book page at the top of their Twitter profile. BINGO! I wasted no time hitting the retweet button, and that author (who had approximately 300 Twitter followers) instantly reached a potential of more than 80k people. For perspective, and for those who like math and statistics, that’s approximately 277 times more people than their original tweet had reached. That leads me to the whole point of this post.
The Solution: Pinned Tweets
You want to be that “one author” I mentioned above. You want to make it as easy as possible for people to locate your most important content.
Here’s the reality about Twitter. Only 1% of your following is online at any one time. Let that sink in for a moment. I have upwards of 80k followers now. That means at any moment in time, only 800 of them are online and in a position to see my tweets. Only 800 out of 80k! For perspective, if you have 2000 followers, only 20 are online at any moment in time. So when you hit the Tweet button, only 20 people are going to see it directly.
Your content lives on through retweets. The more people retweet your content, the larger your content’s audience becomes!
You want your content to live as long a life as possible. One good way to accomplish this is through automation, which I talk about in my series on Using Twitter Effectively. But the best way to make sure your most important content is always visible is to pin it.
Twitter has made it very simple to pin a tweet to the top of your profile page. Here are the steps (in order):
[Update 5/24/15] It has come to my attention you can’t do this from the mobile apps yet. The following steps will work when viewing Twitter through a web browser, however.
- Navigate to your profile page.
- Find the tweet you want to pin (and feel my pain, muahahahahaha….just kidding. But seriously, if the tweet you want to pin is more than a day old, and you tweet a lot, then good luck.)
- Look for the 3 little dots on the bottom of your tweet. They look like this (I circled them):
- Click the dots to expand the menu. You’ll see something like this (I highlighted the menu item you’re looking for):
- Click “Pin to your profile page”. You may get a success message or something, but when it’s complete, you’ll see something like this at the top of your profile page:
Notice how that tweet says “Pinned Tweet”? It’s obviously a different tweet than the one in the screenshots I offered, but you get the point (I didn’t want to actually pin the #HorribleWriteTip…even though it’s totally awesome. 🙂 )
That’s it in a nutshell, but I’d like to talk briefly about performance of pinned tweets. In the example above, I decided to replace my pinned tweet when I made the decision to write this article (I realized I hadn’t globalized my book link). Before I replaced it, I viewed the tweet in Twitter Analytics. I could kick myself for not taking a screenshot of it to show you. I had pinned the tweet sometime back in August of 2014. In that time, Twitter Analytics reported it had been retweeted more than 1000 times, favorited hundreds of times, and ultimately viewed by more than a half million people.
A Half Million People.
Had I used the “old way” of doing things, the tweet would have been seen by 800 people (actually 600 at the time I originally created it), and that would have been the end. I would have had to retweet it myself more than 800 times to achieve a half million views, but eventually I’d be hitting a wall of however many people actually follow me! In other words, most of those half million would have been duplicates!
At this point, what I’m about to say is probably needless to say: If you’re not using pinned tweets, your content is not reaching its full potential.
So start pinning those tweets!
Edit: Before I go, I’d like to leave you with some words from Ken Hughes (seen in the comments below):
And it has one other advantage: if you have a really juicy image on that tweet, you’re maximizing something that’s already optimal. – Ken Hughes
Please heed Ken’s advice. Whenever you have the opportunity, add an image to your pinned tweet. It really stands out and is more likely to evoke user engagement, which is, after all, what this exercise is all about!
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