I think I run a decent blog, but it doesn’t get nearly the traffic I think it should. Here’s how I’m fixing that by creating content that can’t be ignored and creates traffic spikes like this one below.
I’m hoping this content doesn’t just create a spike, but leads to a more sustained increase in traffic. It’s only been one week, but as you can see my daily traffic numbers are quite a bit higher, and a second spike appears to have started as well.
As you can see, my blog doesn’t get a ton of traffic (yet). In 2015 I averaged about 2,250 visits per month. By contrast, people like Michael Hyatt, Gary Vaynerchuk, and Neil Patel get hundreds of thousands to millions of visits per month.
“But Josh, you’re not famous and you don’t have a bunch of best selling books.”
Yeah, I know I can’t beat myself up for not having traffic like these guys, but as my college art professor Leon Parson used to say, “Don’t wait until you graduate to start competing against the best or you’ll never be the best.” I’m trying to find out how to become like the guys above, not find excuses for why I shouldn’t feel bad.
The thing is, those guys get a lot of traffic because they already have a platform, audience, and community. Anything they post is going to get shared. It’s an engine that fuels itself. They could produce substandard content (not that they do) and it would still be wildly popular. If I’m going to catch up with them I can’t just produce the same stuff they do, I need to work harder and be smarter. The good news for you is that in this case, I’ve already done the hard work. You can copy what I did and with a few hours and perhaps $15 get the same results.
I’m going to show you how I used a Twitter list of CMOs (chief marketing officers) to create the blog post 2016 Top 100 Most-Followed CMOs on Twitter which caused the spike above. Whereas most of my posts get anywhere from 50-200 reads within the first week, this post has received over 3,000 unique views. Along with that has come email newsletter signups, Twitter followers, and other conversions. Here’s how I did it, and if you run a blog or create online content elsewhere you can copy my idea and use it to spike your traffic too.
Tools You’ll Need
- Twitter – To do what I did, you’re going to need a Twitter account.
- Tweepi – This tool connects to your Twitter account and allows you to do things faster, like building Twitter lists. You’ll want the $15/month “Gold” account. Trust me, it’s worth it. I’ve been using Tweepi for several months, have quit more than once, and then came back and signed up again. It’s just too useful.
- Electoral – I just found Electoral last week so for all I know there may be a better tool out there, but after trying several out it was the best I could find for exporting a Twitter list to a CSV file/spreadsheet. It also appears to have some of the features I use on Tweepi, so I’ll be comparing the two over the next few days.
- Excel or Google Sheets – Just the basics.
Building Your Twitter List
The reason I started building a Twitter list was because I was doing research for my upcoming book Chief Marketing Officers at Work. Now I’m finding the list to be a useful source for creating content like my Top 100 list. But first, you have to build your list. Yes, you could use someone else’s list, but there are a few reasons to build your own:
- You can control the quality and content of the list.
- As you use the list it will attract subscribers, and those subscribers will likely follow you as well which ain’t a bad thing.
If you wanted to build the list manually, without Tweepi, you could. Here’s how:
On the next screen:
You’ll then get a popup like this below. Fill in the information, making sure the list is public so other people can find and follow it.
Save the list, then start searching for people to add to it. Since I created a list of CMOs, I started out searching for “CMO.” Whenever I found a candidate I thought would fit the list, then I did this:
Once you click on the gear icon, then click on “Add or remove from lists…”
This will bring up your list of Twitter lists, and you check the boxes next to the lists you want to add that person to, like this:
The problem is this is a really slow way to build a Twitter list. I have over 3,000 CMOs on my list. Can you imagine doing this 3,000 times, after the effort of searching to find the right people? It would take forever. Enter Tweepi. Tweepi allows you to build lists quickly in many ways. I’ll show you my favorite three ways.
- Copying other Twitter lists
- Twitter bio search
- Follower search
Building a Twitter List by Copying Other Twitter Lists
I’ll assume at this point you’ve created a Tweepi account and have logged in. Go to “Follow Tools” at the top and then you’ll get this menu below. Click on “By list members.”
On the next page you’ll see this screen:
This is where it gets fun. How would you go about finding a Twitter list of CMOs to copy? You could look one by one at various Twitter accounts that might have such a list until you stumble upon one. Or you can just do a quick Google search in a few seconds. The search text you’ll put into Google is this:
site:twitter.com inurl:lists <cmo>
I put “cmo” in the brackets, but you’ll put whatever keywords you want. Then you’ll get search results like this:
Once you get the search results, you’ll copy the username or Twitter handle from the first or most relevant search result. In this case, we’re copying “bobonbusiness” and we’re going to go paste it into the Tweepi screen above, like this:
Once you’ve pasted that, hit “Enter” and the dropdown below will populate with all of Bob’s lists. You’re going to then select the relevant one, like this:
After you select the list, hit search, and you’ll get Bob’s list on your screen.
You may need to edit your columns to make it show like mine. This screen shows all the data I care about.
- Bio – So I can verify if this person is someone I really want on my list. I don’t want to add chief medical officers or individuals who work in the Chief Minister’s Office in Bangalore (both of these have come up a number of times).
- Location – Turns out to be handy on occasion (India instance, see #1).
- Last tweeted – I don’t like adding people to my list who haven’t tweeted within the past 90 days. If they’re inactive on Twitter, do I want them on the list? Maybe you do, if you want to analyze how many CMOs with Twitter profiles are are active on Twitter.
- Followers count – This was a key bit of data for my post.
To add individuals quickly to a Twitter list, select “Lists” and choose your list as the default:
Then start adding as fast as you can click that mouse, like this:
Once you click, the screen moves up automatically so your mouse is in the correct place to click and add the next user. This way you can build a list of hundreds in just a few minutes.
The only thing that will slow you down is making sure you’re only adding relevant profiles to your list. This can usually be accomplished by using good search terms, but to further filter your list, click on the “Add criteria” button and add criteria to hide those profiles you don’t want to add to your list.
For example, these are common filters I use:
Once you’ve built your list here, you can go back to Twitter and see the users have been added there.
Having gone through this once, you now go back to Google, copy the next username in the search results for Twitter lists, and do it again. Use the lists everyone else has created to create your own massive list to rule them all!
Now that we’ve walked through building a Twitter list by copying users from another Twitter list, the other two methods will be straightforward.
Building a Twitter List Through Bio Search
This way to build a Twitter list starts by searching through Twitter bios, the 160 characters you’re allowed to tell everyone all about you on Twitter (more on building a rock star Twitter bio here).
To get started, click on “Follow tools” at the top of Tweepi, and then “By user search.”
Then type your search terms in the box as shown above. I’m going to type in “cmo.”
Once you do this, you’re going to get a list of results just like you did above when you were copying users from other lists. I think you now know what to do?
A helpful point on bio search–because of a Twitter limitation you can only look through the first 1,000 Twitter search results. That means using different search terms in order to find more people to add to your Twitter list. I wish I could search for “cmo” and pull up every single bio on Twitter that has “cmo” in it, but I can only get 1,000, and each time I search on Tweepi I’m going to get the same 1,000. So that means I need to find other keywords that are relevant so I can get different search results. Here are a few I’ve used:
- “cmo marketing”
- “cmo entrepreneur”
- “cmo advertising”
- “cmo svp”
These searches are better than just searching for “cmo” anyway, because a bio with “cmo” in it may or may not be a chief marketing officer, but if they’ve got “cmo” and “advertising” in the bio it’s pretty safe to assume that’s the kind of CMO I’m looking for. More on Twitter limits after the next section.
Building a Twitter List Through Follower Search
Another way to build a Twitter list is to look at the followers of a certain account. For example, it’s probably safe to say that a healthy number of the followers of The CMO Club on Twitter are going to be CMO types.
Start by clicking on “Follow Tools” at the top and then selecting “By @user’s followers”:
Then enter the Twitter handle or username of the account you want to analyze. You’ll get a list of followers, and once again, you now know what to do from here. You can filter the list as needed and refine it until you can mass add those folks to your list.
Note: Sometimes looking at who a user is following produces a more relevant group than by looking at their followers. To look at who they’re following select “By @user’s friends” from the menu above.
Before we get to the part where we analyze the list, let’s talk about other relevant Twitter limitations you’re going to run into while using Tweepi.
Relevant Twitter Limitations
There are a few limitations I’ve run into with Tweepi, which aren’t really Tweepi’s fault but Twitter. Here are some of the common limitations of Twitter, the last two of which specifically relate to Tweepi if you’re using it to follow lots of users:
- Direct messages (daily): The limit is 1,000 messages sent per day.
- Tweets: 2,400 per day. The daily update limit is further broken down into smaller limits for semi-hourly intervals. Retweets are counted as Tweets.
- Changes to account email: Four per hour.
- Following (daily): The technical follow limit is 1,000 per day. Please note that this is a technical account limit only, and there are additional rules prohibiting aggressive following behavior.
- Following (account-based): Once an account is following 5,000 other users, additional follow attempts are limited by account-specific ratios.
More specific to this post, here are Twitter’s limits related to lists:
- 1000 lists permitted per user
- 5000 users permitted per list
- List names cannot exceed 25 characters
- List names cannot begin with a numerical character
There also appear to be limits as to how many people you can add to a list in a day, but I can’t find out what they are. The trouble with Tweepi is they don’t tell you when you’ve hit the limit. You might be merrily adding people to a list for a half hour only to find out you long ago hit the limit when you go to Twitter and notice the count on your Twitter list isn’t increasing. Just today, I was trying to add more people to the CMO list and noticed it wasn’t adding anyone anymore. I went to Twitter and tried to manually add someone to a list and got this error “Your account may not be allowed to perform this action. Please refresh the page and try again.” Twitter’s advice? Wait a few hours, maybe a day, and try again. We’ll see how that goes.
Exporting Your List For Analysis
Now that you’ve created your Twitter list, we can export it to a spreadsheet and sort it.
Create or log into your account on Electoral and then click on “Manage Lists/Follow” at the top and then “My Lists”:
This will grab your Twitter lists and show you a list of all your lists. Select the list you want to use.
On the next page check the box on the left to “select all” and then click on the export button:
This will prompt you to save a .csv file, which you can then import into Excel or Google Sheets.
Once I had my data in a spreadsheet I sorted it by followers. I then had to clean it up a bit, because not everyone on my CMO list is a CMO. Some of the accounts are CMO related, but not the accounts of CMOs themselves. I made sure the top 100 results were actual CMOs, and then I put them into my blog post and published it.
Of course my work wasn’t done. I then sent out 30+ tweets, informing everyone on the list that they had made it onto the list. I also did some general tweets about the list, and posted it to Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram.
How to Copy This
What industry are you in? Can you create a similar list of industry leaders within your space? Or is there a certain person you target with your product or service? Can you create a list of them and then do something similar? You could copy exactly what I’ve done, modifying it for your particular needs, or you could take it a few steps further.
How to Take it Further
Here are some ideas for expanding on what I’ve done here:
- Analyze the data for other lists. Electoral doesn’t allow for a lot of analysis of Twitter lists or groups of Twitter users. But there are many, many other social media analytics out there. You can bet I’ll be researching them to find out which tools can create lists like “The most engaged CMOs on Twitter” and “CMOs who respond fastest on Twitter” and “CMOs with the most engaged followers.”
- Do more with the data you have. I created a blog post. But I could have pitched the data to a journalist. I could create an infographic. I could create a more in-depth “Top 10 most followed CMOs on Twitter” and provide more info about each of them.
- Mine your list for other article ideas. Now that I have this list I could reach out to several of these CMOs and ask them how they got so many Twitter followers. That could make for an interesting post or article. Once you build a list, what questions could you ask members of your list that might turn into self-standing blog posts or articles?
I hope this post gives you some ideas about how you can use inexpensive tools and publicly available data to create content that will spike your traffic, provide sustained traffic, and bring attention to you and what you have to offer. If you have any questions or anything you’d like to add, please let me know in the comments below.
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Written by: Josh Steimle