Promoting your Posts with Twitter

Contacting influencers is a tried and tested method for promoting blog posts. Of course, you need to find who to contact and what to say. You may simply assume that your post is so devastatingly interesting and relevant that your mails or tweets will automatically dislodge an avalanche of influential love – in the form of links on social media.

Personally (being both an introvert and, worse, a British introvert) I prefer to be sure that, if I contact someone, I am offering them more than boundless self-confidence and an unshakeable sense of entitlement.

Among the best things to offer are references from within the post you are promoting. Add high-quality relevant links (you don’t want throw in a bunch of links for the sake of being linky). A good post can use these references to provide more information – and at the same time to bolster the authority of the advice you’re giving. Then, when you’re ready to promote the post, all the articles you’ve referenced become a source of contacts.

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So, when it’s time to reach out, how do you go about translating a blog post into contact details? Sick of spam as we all are, very few people these days place their email addresses online. You may have more luck, though, looking for a feedback form – and many pages will provide links to social media accounts (though you often need to hunt about a bit). You can also paste a blog author’s name into a search engine or into Twitter’s search box and see what comes up.

Then, when you have your contact details, you can begin to mail or tweet them to let them know you’re pointing traffic their way. It’s a fair bet that some of the authors you contact will want to pass on a link to your post.

Introducing the Mention Engine

Here at Pressmonkey (and over at another couple of blogs, too) we run this process for key articles. The problem is, the richer in references your post the more time consuming the process of building a contact list. Let’s assume it takes five minutes on average to find contact details for a linked article and that you have a good ten links in your post. Well, that’s the best part of an hour you’ll have to spend – over and above the research and writing you have already done. To address this problem, we built the Mention Engine for our own use. Now, we’re making it available for everyone and for free.

So, how does it work? Consider my article about promoting old blog posts. At the Mention Engine, I paste the URL into the provided box and hit ‘attribute’.

The first thing I see is a list of links. The Mention Engine has pulled these from my article. Some of them will be relevant – and others will be false positives – navigation, or links to services. So I focus in on the links that matter.

Looking at the list above, I see at once a link to UnicornFree.com – a very useful website for bootstrappers run by Amy Hoy and Alex Hillman. So I click on the [+] symbol (actually you can click anywhere on the link and get the same effect).

This generates two tabs. The first tab shows a Twitter search based on potentially interesting words in the URL. In this case ‘unicornfree’. I see at once that @unicornfree is the link for me.

The second tab shows Twitter handles extracted from the text of the page. I might recognise a few matches at once. In some cases, though, I’ll need to do a little further research just to be sure that the handle is what I hope it is. In order to get more information, I click on the ‘look up’ button. When I’m sure about the handles that matter, I click on each one and my selections are marked out in red.

Next, I work through the remaining useful links, adding handles as I go. I can monitor my handle list on the left-hand side of the application where are two panels. The first, “Selected Handles”, shows the names I’ve picked and gives me a little control for pruning out any nicks I change my mind about. The second panel – ‘Copyable’ is just that. The same list is presented in copy friendly format with a button that saves the handles to my clipboard.

We ran a little timed experiment and pulled out eight usable handles in less than two minutes! Mention Engine is going to save us time we can spend on building more features and better products. We hope it frees you up some too!

Picture credit: Henry Burrows / whispering – (CC)