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Twitter Tips: The Golden Rule of Social Media Self-Promotion

Want to avoid irritating the crap out of your Twitter followers, but still need to make sure the time you spend on the platform results in traffic and sales? Here’s my golden rule for self-promotion on Twitter:

Stick to a 3:1 ratio of gives versus takes.

What does this mean? This means for every single time I talk about myself, or my books, or classes, I talk about something completely unrelated to me at least three times.

Give. Give. Give. Take.

Even the 3:1 ratio is high on the promotion side. When I have no active promotions, that ratio drops down to more like 10:1, or even 20:1.

Guy Kawasaki, a well-known entrepreneur and my mentor advisor during my Writer.ly years, told me his ratio might even be much higher on the “give” side. He manages aggregate news sites and tweets a huge volume of content. For mere mortals, the 10:1 or 3:1 goal is more achievable.

How does this play out? Let’s say I am promoting a free class. Even though the class is technically a “give” as a free resource, it’s a “take” as I’m promoting one of my own products and asking people to give me their emails when they sign up.

I know that to meet my signup goals, I need to tweet about the class about three times a day. I will use Hootsuite to schedule my tweets for prime times (early in the morning, one in the afternoon, one late in the evening). I make sure to change the content so each tweet is unique.

Once my promo tweets are scheduled, I fill up the space between each self-promotion tweet with at least 3 high-interest “gives”.

What counts as a give? A give can be an article, a quote, a writing prompt, a recommendation, a joke, or links to other people’s events or books. As long as the gives are appropriate and interesting to my audience, no one seems to mind the tweets about my class. Most of my followers will miss them all, even though I spread them throughout the day.

The take is just as important as the give if you are on Twitter for business or audience purposes.

If all you post are “gives”, then your efforts will not feed your email list or sales.

If you have nothing in particular you are promoting, you can at least schedule out occasional tweets for people to come back and look at your most popular blog posts, or to sign up for your wonderful email newsletter.

It’s more of an art than a science. I break my own rules occasionally and do not always follow my own advice. Luckily, Twitter has a short-term memory. It’s easy for my followers forgive my occasional over-excitement for my own projects thanks to the all the other wonderful contents I curate for their benefit and enjoyment.

Do you need help using Twitter more effectively?

Sign up for my 3-Day course “How to Get More Followers on Twitter.” It’s free and delivered via email, so you can complete it on your own schedule.


Kelsye Nelson

Author and world traveler, dedicated to helping artists and creative entrepreneurs achieve the life of their wildest dreams. 

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June 6, 2020

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