Yesterday we talked about how to come up with a Tumblr and Twitter with a unified catchy and clear name to focus on what you want to promote.
The example I'm working with is a fictional food blog. I came up with the name CheapBastardEats because it wasn't taken on Tumblr or Twitter, but I also failed to see that it's 16 characters, so of course it's not taken on Twitter. Twitter has a 15-character limit. Der.
Whenever possible, use a name that can be promoted on both Tumblr and Twitter. You have clubs like Carolines on Broadway which uses @carolinesonbway, probably because @carolines was already taken and the full name obviously doesn't fit. It's not ideal. Neither is ours here at xoJane. We have @xojanedotcom because @xojane was already registered when the site launched. Filing a trademark claim can often get it back, and this may ultimately happen with our Twitter, too.
But when you're scheming ahead of time and you have the luxury of foresight, you might as well use a name that is quick and easy. So, I've changed my fictional site to EatCheapBastard. (CheapBastardEat just didn't have as much appeal to me. Although it did sound nice and caveman-y.)
I already talked in points 1 through 5 on Wednesday about doing everything from determining a public mission statement to starting to cultivate people who can help you by demonstrating value to them. Now it's time to stay on track with our content creation on Twitter and Tumblr and in self-promotion.
6. Really know why you are doing this, and come up with a personal mission statement to keep you motivated.
This is different than the more public brand -- for EatCheapBastard I came up with: "EatCheapBastard is where cheap bastards go to eat. We deserve great food just like everyone else."
The personal mission statement answers the question: Why are you doing this? What's your ultimate goal? If you don't have this, you'll probably abandon the project. Do you want to eventually host the "EatCheapBastard" TV show? Have an "EatCheapBastard" series of seminars about how to frugally shop at the grocery store or online with FreshDirect? Does the idea of your brand get you all hot and bothered? It better, or it's smarter to abandon it and come up with one that you are legitimately excited about creating daily.
So your personal mission statement might be: "I want EatCheapBastard to be a launching point where I can be known as the Martha Stewart of delicious eating for people who are funny, foodie and jaw-droppingly cheap. And I want to make a ton of money, have a great time and be known in the culinary world as a major player who can also help people save money, enjoy eating out and in more and eventually give back by virtue of my own success."
All of that hokey good stuff? That shit is motivating!
There's a wonderful business book called "Good to Great" (you can get a taste in this article here). It helped me develop a life mission statement: "To express truths about the human condition through writing and comedy and to live a life filled with love, honesty, passion, kindness, humor, abundance and joy." Ever since I developed that, it has helped drive many of my decisions. You absolutely have to ask yourself: What do you really want to do?
Only by having these goals will we have the motivation to carve out the work. Paste it above your computer if you need to, put a copy in your wallet, make it be your screensaver. Even this small bold action will make you feel more inspired and in control as you are in that very uncomfortable state of risk and putting yourself out there as you do the unthinkable: You try.
7. Set some firm metrics for yourself. I recommend posting at least once daily on your Tumblr and your Twitter, and don't overpost on Twitter.
With Tumblr, a lot of people set themselves up for failure by starting an ambitious project and then losing interest. See if you can commit to what you want to do -- and stick to it.
In my fictional case, we have the desire is to be the go-to frugal eating guru. So I'm going to want to have one post a day. If I'm interested in talking about the band Muse is this also a good place to do it? Probably not when you're starting out. Keep it focused on the one goal and mission. Even better...
8. Develop a formula or recurring features for each of your posts so that people can have something to look forward to -- kind of like xoJane does with It Happened to Mes and Makeunders.
So, with EatCheapBastard, the formula could be: a mix of regular features such as Dive Bars We Want to Marry, Secret Grocery Store Aisle of Savings and Eat Cheap Bastard Hall of Fame. Under each there could be a subformula or subfeatures. Dive Bars We Want to Marry could be:
Name, Address, Rating, TL;DR Summary, Cheap Bastard Drink to Order, and so on. This also takes the pressure off you. You don't have to reinvent the wheel every g.d. time. And if you're doing more of an essay site, which EatCheapBastard could definitely include and be, you can also keep it confined to a certain lens, although you don't need to lay out that formula right on the blog.
So let's say Dive Bars We Want to Marry was actually an essay portion of the site. The formula could consist of the basic structure of: The Moment You Fell In Love with the Bar, A Representative Story That Embodies the Bar's Spirit and in conclusion, Why You Will Never Get Sick of the Bar Until Death Do You Part.
It's the whole sausage formula that PhD students use. Slice it up, and it ain't so intimidating.
9. Don't use your Twitter as if you are the guy at the party who thrusts his business card on you, first thing, and that's all he wants.
If you are only tweeting your links to your personal brand stuff, then that's what you are. Post awesome finds from other sites that might even be considered your competitors. Maybe even introduce via @ing on Twitter a relevant person -- like for EatCheapBastard -- a food critic at a newspaper with a chef who happens to be on Twitter and tell them why they are your dream collaboration.
Be clever and funny and constantly demonstrating value to others. Definitely promote your own stuff (lately I'm definitely pretty similar to the guy at the party thrusting his business card through my use of Twitter in promoting xoJane -- but hey, I'm trying to be better about spreading the love to other things I love, too). Just know that you'll be helping yourself if you show how awesome and charming you are on Twitter organically rather than just seeming like a robot spewing links at people.
And if you want to get better at Twitter, Favstar.fm is a great way to see what's top tweeted and you can even join for bonus features like awarding Tweet of the Day to other users, who will then probably follow you back. Engagement, yo!
I've found, personally, that tweeting a great inspiring or meaningful quote will sometimes get retweeted tons of times because it can be a nice booster shot for people reading through the dreck of the day. And obviously anything immediately timely will get retweeted a bunch -- via trending topics. Still, since you are representing your dream of the site, stay focused to the mission of what you're about. But it doesn't mean you can't make an awesome joke about a new Guy Fieri restaurant. That's on brand, baby.
10. Did you cultivate those relationships I talked about from yesterday? Great, now call in a few favors as your brand picks up steam.
I've bugged multiple people with bigger Twitter followings than me to retweet stories or performances I was promoting -- or to share something on their Facebook. Many times they're happy to because I usually try to give back as often as I can, too, and I recognize when a favor is a favor. Conversely, I also love to help people who are getting their hustle on, and I think those who've worked hard to get where they're at recognize this and are happy to do the same.
Keep it short. Keep it gracious. And be direct. I personally much prefer: "Is there any way you would tweet X; it would really mean a lot to me" rather than "How are you, Mandy? We should get drinks! Is there any way you would tweet X?" It just seems more sincere somehow. I mean if you want to get drinks, too, then great, but you know. I like as bullshit-free a zone in my communication as possible.
I've got more to say, but for now, please put your questions in these comments, and I'll do my best!