Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Youth Sport: How to Start A Youth Sports Blog (Part 4)


In Part 4, you will learn how to build traffic to your blog posts with Twitter.

Review -

In Part 1 of the series, I encouraged you to determined if you really had the motivation and passion to start a Youth Sports Blog.

In Part 2, you learned how to set up a blog and perhaps you started to write.

In Part 3, you learned how to build credibility and organic traffic (Traffic via search and referrals).

Follow the steps below and have patience it takes time and effort to build a following.

1. Join Twitter

In Part 3, we talked about joining the conversation on blogs to increase your authority and credibility about your chosen subject. Twitter is another great place to hold a conversation about your chosen topic and as a bonus Twitter can drive traffic to your blog.

I would recommend that you set up a Twitter account in association with your blog. My twitter account is www.twitter.com/Stats_Dad. I use twitter to curate, disseminate and converse about youth sports subjects. 

It's so easy to set up a Twitter account. Just go to Twitter.com and follow the very easy instructions. You can be conversing about your topic in a matter of minutes.

Of course, you need people to converse with and you need followers to see the influential thoughts you have about your topic. So, the first thing you need to do is find people to follow. A simple search on Twitter will uncover a long list of potential people to follow. First, I searched for coaches. After weeding out life coaches, I started following coaches of youth sports who had large followings (500+). I also started following moms and dads with kids, the target audience for my youth sports content. After I found people of interest though my search, I just started clicking the Follow button. You will immediately start to see a stream of tweets from the people you chose to follow.

The next thing that you need to do is join the conversation. When someone you follow says something interesting or provocative click on the rely link and voice your opinion. If you do not have anything to add to the conversation, but like the content, you can simply retweet (RT) the message by clicking on the Retweet link. This rebroadcasts the tweet to your followers. (Note: only followers see tweets) When you RT, the original writer of the post will be notified in his or her tweet stream and perhaps via email (You can set your preferences to notify you of any activity relating to you via email. I do not do this because it will take over your email. Simply look at the activity on Twitter).

Note: People love to be retweeted because it validates the sent message. RTs tell the twitter world that the writer contributed something worthwhile.

Note: In the beginning, I would recommend that you keep your replies positive and supportive.

Soon, you will start to notice that the people you are following and conversing with are following you. (It is somewhat common courtesy to follow those who follow you unless you are a celeb.) Your followers will likely start reading and replying to your Tweets. When they reply to your tweets they expose their followers to your conversation. So make your tweets worth reading and sharing and soon followers of the people you follow will start following you. It is a snowball effect.

If you want to start a new conversation with someone on Twitter simply post a message on your Twitter page with the twitter handle of the person you want to converse with - For example, if you wanted to send me a message that can be seen publicly then tweet @stats_dad I really liked your post on How to Start Youth Sports Blog. The @Stats_Dad is like my address on a letter you are sending. I will immediately see this in my activity column and most likely respond to you.

Note: You can also send me a private message or direct message (DM) via twitter. Click on my profile and if a little envelope icon is there send a message. I need to be following you for you to send me a DM.

Note, you can Tweet 135 character text messages. You can also include links to pictures, videos or websites as long as the text and the links combined are less than 136 characters. 

Advice: Tweet links to each one of your blog posts.

Before long you will have hundreds maybe thousands of people that you follow and who follow you. I have assembled 1000 followers in 10 months.

When you follow a lot of people you will notice that you cannot keep up. You will want to create lists of your favorites. I have a Dads list and a Youth Sports Coaches List. This is easy to do. Click on the person that you want to follow or are following - look for an icon of a head / bust. Click on that and then click on add to list.

Advice: It is a good idea to bond with a person who has a strong twitter following. Intrigue them and they will likely drive traffic to your Twitter page.

Note: You can and should customize your Twitter page to match your website. You can do this through settings and the design button. Use Trial and error to get the look you want - you can always reset it.



2. Set up TweetDeck or HootSuite or similar

There are free Twitter platforms that can help you organize and send Tweets in one view. I use TweetDeck to organize my Twitter streams - The first column is my Youth Sports Coaches list. This column has the most relevant information that I might want to explore and respond to.  The second column consists of tweets from all of the 1,500 people I follow. It is quite cumbersome. The 3rd column showcases all the tweets that @Stats_Dad is mentioned in and the 4th column shows all direct private messages (DMs) to me. Again, this one view layout makes participating on twitter easier. These platforms also make it easy to add videos and pictures and shorten URL links so that you can maximize your 135 character limit. You can also schedule Tweets using these platforms. Sending out a tweet at 2AM will not have the same impact as one sent at 12N unless you have an international following.

Twitter can do all of the above. These platforms just make it easier to see because of the one view layout.




3. Set up Buffer

In the previous posts, I talked about how important good consistent
content to attract an audience to your blog, well the same olds true for Twitter. Good consistent content is what will attract an active Twitter following. Content can be original or it can be curated from other sources.

One of the easiest ways to provide good content consistently is with Bufferapp.com Again account set up is free and easy. Once you download the app, you will notice that a new icon


 appear on your browser just to the left of the field that shows the URL.
 (The icon of stacked papers is on the right.)  

Every time you read something interesting or watch a cool video online you can click the buffer icon on your browser. This will automatically create a Tweet about the post or video and put the tweet with a link to the content in your buffer to be tweeted out on the schedule you selected when you set up the account. 

This is a very good way to curate and share content on the subject that you want to become an authority on.

3. Set up a Triberr Account

If you curate or create good content consistently and Tweet it out, you will eventually attract hundreds and maybe thousands of followers. Each twitter follow is a potential reader of your blog. So every time you tweet about your latest blog post you are advertising that post to your 1,000 or so followers. That's great, but wouldn't be better to broadcast a message with a link to your blog post to 100,000 or even a million followers. 

You can achieve that with Tribber, the Reach Multiplier. Tribber is a free service that helps like-minded people join forces to promote each other's blogs. I joined a Social Dads tribe and a Youth Sports Parents Tribe. Then I formed my own tribe of Youth Sports Coaches. As mentioned above, I have about 1,000 Twitter followers, but my three tribes have a combined 194,000 followers. So when I post a new entry into my blog, nearly 200,000 people are notified.

Here is how it works. 

First, you need to be invited to a tribe. Triberr is an invite only club, but all you need is a simple invite. You can request an invite to a specific tribe by reaching out to the tribe chief or you can post a message on the general message board expressing your interest in joining a tribe. Criteria for getting an invite are typically the number of followers you have and your topic area(s). Each tribe is limited in membership size, so tribes can be somewhat selective. I would wait until you have at least 250-500 Twitter followers before you try to join a tribe.

When you get your invite you will set up your free account and list the RSS feed to your blog. Then every time you create and publish a new blog post, a message is automatically sent to each of the members of the tribe. The tribe members can take several actions. 1) read your post, 2) approve the post and tweet out your blog post with a link to their followers, 2) give the post a thumbs up or down, 3) Submit the post to other social media outlets - Stumble Upon, Facebook, Google+ etc.

Note: Be prepared, you will also need to do the three actions above to be an active member of the tribe because you can be kicked out of the tribe to make room for someone who is more active.

Note: Tribber used to allow a tribe members to automatically approve and send out tweets from any or all other members. Complaints from Twitter about Tribber spam put a halt to this feature. Now all tribe members need to approve each post in the tribal stream manually. I do this once per day in the morning and Tribber sends out the posts every hour or so (you can set the intervals) until all the approved posts are sent.



The Main Point

Twitter can be a powerful tool to build and audience.  Traffic to my website exploded after I started doing using Twitter. I started using Twitter in March when I had 7,000 Pageviews per month on my site. I added Buffer and Triberr in June. I will close out December with 31,000 pageviews per month. Twitter works but you need to be diligent and patient.



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