Social media has many uses—from making contacts to performing customer service—but driving quality traffic to your site is Twitter’s secret weapon.  The big question is this: How can we get more of that lovely attention we crave?

As my recent poll shows, generating incoming traffic is the number-one need that people have right now, and for good reason. Traffic translates into:

  • Attention, engagement, conversation and recognition
  • Spreading your message far and wide
  • Prospects and subscriber opt-ins
  • Customers, increased sales and leads
  • Media and interviews, which lead to more attention

… and last but not least, an ego boost.

In a previous article here I mentioned the many benefits of Twitter for your business. Now here are seven key points you need to know if you want to get more targeted traffic from Twitter:

#1: Know your audience

Growing your traffic always starts with your audience if you want to do it right. Untargeted, uninterested “hits” are a waste of time and resources at worst, and at best just pure vanity.

  • What does your audience want and need?
  • How do they like it delivered?
  • Which topics are on their minds right now?
  • Are there trends that are growing in popularity?
  • How do these folks speak? What words and phrases do they use?

This means that driving traffic starts with listening and observing. Get to know your target so you can most efficiently engage them.

Twitter has a tool for this. Use to find what people in your niche are talking about and follow some of their conversations.

Once you get an idea of what people are interested in, join in those conversations and talk to people.

#2: Get the “right” followers

So much rubbish is thrown around about how to grow your follower count that it makes it seem that the number is all that matters. Wrong!

You need people to want to hear what you have to say. This means you do NOT want people who auto-follow because they are either:

  1. Robots and not real human beings (e.g., spam software, people trying to inflate their follower count, scrapers)
  2. Not actually reading your tweets and just following to allow you to DM them

The followers you most want are those who follow you because they are interested and think they will get value from your tweets. These people are most likely to find you via:

  • People retweeting your stuff, either within Twitter or using a TweetMeme button
  • Referrals from other Twitter users
  • Your blog; for example, your articles that say “Follow me on Twitter at @chrisgarrett and tell me what you think,” or your sidebar Follow Me button
  • Other people’s blogs, when you guest post or comment
  • Clicking your forum signature when you participate in discussions, or your email signature

Unfortunately Twitter closed off a really nice way that people used to get targeted Twitter followers. It used to be that we could “listen in” to conversations that people we followed were having, but now you have to be following both parties. This means we can’t discover new people that way. If someone puts something before they mention your @name it can still work, and I still occasionally get followers through that.

Essentially the advice is, put your Twitter name where it will be seen and encourage people to share it!

#3: Build engagement

Talk to people.

Engage your followers. Don’t just see them as a passive list of eyeballs! Treat folks as human beings and you will do much better at this stuff. It is called social media for a reason.

  • Ask questions
  • Hold conversations
  • Dip into others’ conversations
  • Encourage feedback

#4: Get clicks

So now your followers are seeing you as an interesting person and not a robotic “feed,” which means they are more likely to take notice when you tweet out a link.

Tweet Valuable Links

Whatever you do, don’t just tweet your own stuff. That is both selfish and boring!

Get into the habit of sharing anything cool, regardless of who created it. Retweet good stuff and other people are going to be more willing to retweet yours. Tweet out fun and useful links your friends send you in email or from the news. Be known as a person who tweets good stuff.


Not everyone is online at the same time. There is a whole world outside of your timezone, plus people have a different schedule than you. You know the feeling of confusion when you land in a foreign country. Not only have you got to adjust to local time, but also people seem to have their meals at a different time of day, shops open and close at strange hours, and business meetings seem to be held randomly. Twitter is like that, you can’t just look at a time zone converter and think people will be at their desk at a certain time.

  1. Tweet the same thing a few times, a few hours apart, to give your message several chances to be seen.
  2. Vary the times of day you tweet and monitor response.
  3. Watch for the peaks and troughs of activity in YOUR stream (not just what works for others).

I tend to aim to catch the peak times for Aussies, the EU/Brits, East Coast USA, and West Coast USA, but it is far from an exact science!


There are two main driving factors that affect your chances of getting a click:

  1. Your reputation
  2. The headline

Hopefully at this point #1 is taken care of, but #2 takes some work.

First of all, use my free download 102 Proven Headline Formulas as a starting point. There are 102 fill-in-the-blank templates which ought to give you a head start on writing a compelling caption.

If you use an interesting title and it matches your audience’s wants and needs, then you are going to get clicks.

Split test

You might not get it right the first time, so try another variation:

  • Phrase it as a question
  • Make it into a “How To” headline
  • Use curiosity versus just the facts

A lot of this is about learning what your audience reacts to best.

#5: Measure performance

When you use a link-shortener with a built-in click-tracker such as, you can see how well any of your links perform. This is useful for improving over time and to see which links get picked up virally.  As they say, what you measure you get more of!

With Twitter it’s not just the link clicks that YOU get, but the retweets and shares that really drive the real traffic. TweetMeme and can give you vital reporting about how well you do, as well as your Google Analytics.

#6: Do more of what works, but test, test, test

When you find what works for you, do more of that. Keep in mind though that if you only do the same things you will either get the same results and not improve, or you will wear out that technique. Experiment, learn and mix it up.

Trends change, techniques improve, fads go out of fashion. Do not get stuck on rails, move and flow with your audience.

#7: Encourage sharing

Once you have your initial click, your job is not done!

Make sure your article has a TweetMeme button so that anyone who likes what you shared can easily share it too.

If you want to get really fancy, give people an incentive to share, such as a random prize drawing for anyone who tweets your message. Of course, the message will contain a link back to you …

Once in a while it doesn’t hurt to actually ask for retweets. Just don’t overdo it, as you will only annoy your followers. This will make them less responsive, rather than more.

Does it really work?

Here is a case study for you. For the last Social Media Success Summit in 2009, Mike Stelzner and I ran a competition on using all the advice mentioned here in this article.

The competition post was retweeted over 1,000 times

The competition post was retweeted over 1,000 times

Using TweetMeme we can see that the competition post was retweeted over 1,000 times before it stopped tracking.

Social Media Success Summit 2009 Competition Clicks

Social Media Success Summit 2009 Competition Clicks

Just the link alone was clicked 12,753 times.

So yes, it does work.

Bottom line:

  • Gather the correct audience
  • Be awesome
  • Share cool stuff
  • Encourage other people to share it too

Does Twitter work to generate traffic for your stuff? Got any tips to share? Anything people do that annoys you? Please share—go ahead and comment below right now! 🙂

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  • Great tips mate! thanks

  • Guest

    Hello Chris!

    I realized that the number of followers on Twitter does not mean much if you do not follow people who really interested in what you have to say.It’s just an illusion of influence you have on twitter.

    My tactic is to be active on various blogs in my niche where I always leave a link to my Twitter profile. It is a good long term tactic that may affect the Google page rank of my Twitter page. Also, I noticed potential in Twitter lists that may also lead to increase in targeted traffic to my Twitter page.


  • chrisgarrett

    Glad you liked it 🙂

  • chrisgarrett

    Yeah, you have to attract people who are interested, and then keep them interested. Your content is a great place to attract them (providing you tweet about the same things you write about!). Search rankings for your twitter profile will not matter so much unless people are looking for you specifically, or your profile contains keywords they are interested in.

  • Another great article Chris!

    And I like that you focus on Targeted Traffic. I think this is a missing link for many on the net that want Quality Traffic to their blog/website from any Social Media Channel.

    I use TweetMeme for my Twitter sharing. Just recently added Facebook Share. Not 100% sure yet how I like that. Might try different options for getting my visitors to share my Articles on Facebook.

    Have seen some blogs use all kind of share buttons… Looks a bit cluttered, but maybe it works.

    Already got your Headline Formulas downloaded.. good stuff!

    Cheers.. Are

  • Hey Chris – great content nicely put together. Great to find useful tips on how to implement Twitter as this is all new to me!

    Big thanks
    Richard Anderson

  • chrisgarrett

    I am finding having a multitude of share buttons just clutters the page. The main two for me are Twitter and Delicious 🙂

  • chrisgarrett

    You are welcome 🙂

  • To steal a Twitter strategy from Scott Stratten – @unmarketing -> Tweet, Retweet, Engage

    It seems that mlost people forget the most important part ->Engage

    Great stuff Chris!

  • I’ll tell you what really works for me is helping others by answering questions, making suggestions, and providing links to truly valuable (or at least entertaining) links.

  • Hey Chris,

    Thanks so much for sharing the ideas in this post. On my personal twitter account for skooloflife I made the mistake of using those mass follow tools and not having really relevant followers. As a result I wasn’t getting much out of Twitter. Then I segmented everybody who had a blog that I Read into a list and then I started finding a whole different level of engagement.

    For precisely the ideas you mention in this post, we’ve been very careful to maintain the integrity of our Twitter account for BlogcastFM. I’ve found that 50 people who are actually engaged with your brand or site are way more valuable than thousands of followers that are just part of the noise. As a result we get to really focus on highly targeted users. Thanks for sharing this. I’ll be very useful as we move forward with our new site.

  • JohnBergdoll

    Great points, Chris. I’m all for cleaning up your list to remove the ‘white noise’.
    I love ‘use curiosity versus the facts’ tip. Smart!

    Twitter @JohnBergdoll

  • merrylrosenthal

    Great article! You cover essentials that are so often forgotten.

  • Quality material will “lead” to a large audience naturally. Patience is part of the game. Finding the right people to engage with is so important. There aren’t any short cuts here, just like you can’t take shortcuts in offline relationships. I’ve always said social media will expose or promote your social skills. Don’t short cut, it’s just not worth it.

    One of the things I do to target who I’m engaging with is after I’ve determined their in my niche interest i to use the Mr. Tweet firefox plugin. It tells me the % of tweets they send out a day, the % of conversations they have (actually engaging people), as well as the % of links. This takes a little more work when looking for people to engage with me it lets me know right off the bat if they are just spreading links and zero engagement so that I don’t waste my time with them. (Or I just understand it’s a stream of information I may be interested in receiving)

    Of course from that point I’m able to engage in real world communication. RT’s & direct communication is a good start.

    Hope this tip helps anyone reading it. I know it’s helped big time in engaging real people.

  • Hi Chris. Great info and very much agree in the quality vs. the quantity of the retweets and connections. Best to you!

  • What great timing! We are having a meeting on our burgeoning Twitter strategy in a few hours.

    We are in K-12 education and it seems that our market is just beginning to use Social Media tools to further our work. We are excited to grow with our market.

    As a non-profit educational publisher, we keep our eyes on other educational entities that we admire (ASCD and Edutopia for example). This allows us to remain focused on our mission and find people with like-mindedness to actually build relationships with.

    Tracy Arrowsmith
    Manager of Social Media and Outreach

  • Karianne Myrvold

    Great content!!!


  • Great article with concise tips. Something that I get lots of good feedback doing is a quick screen sharing review video of new Social Media tools as they come out.


  • Jenni Wright

    Quality content Chris, thank you. Particularly like that you have given away something with no requirement for giving out an email address. Cool.

    Something annoying that people do? I always respond to follows personally with a DM, making sure to use the person’s name and thanking them. In about 20% of cases I receive no response, in another 20% I receive ADVERTISING. That annoys me more than the no response. The typical DM for the annoying ones goes like this: Thanks for the follow. Go here to find out how to … then a link. Quite obvious it’s a robot. I wish people would remember it’s SOCIAL media. I saw somewhere that only 10% of your posts should be advertising and the rest should be sharing personal info and something of value.

  • Great tips, Chris.
    Knowing and targeting the right audience is always a challenge — one that requires regular tweaking. I completely agree with the importance of the quality (a.k.a. relevance) of followers, but who can deny the seduction of a huge following? It poses a dilemma!

  • Very helpful and I just added the Retweet button on my blog. Thanks for the great tips!


  • Excellent tips! The insights offered are solid. I liked the reminder to test, test, test .. it is so true in anything digital & often a key piece to making real progress. Fail cheap, fail fast, but fumble forward with new learnings!! Thanks Chris.

  • Chris- great points, like most from this site. Between blogging and twittering, how do you keep your head together to get larger projects done?

  • chrisgarrett

    True! It is such a shame when people use it as a feed then complain that Twitter doesn’t “work” 😉

  • chrisgarrett

    Yup, and you do it in your email too 🙂

  • chrisgarrett

    Exactly – those “services” only offer numbers, not people

  • chrisgarrett

    No need to mass dump people, but focus on the people who are interested and you will get more traction 🙂

  • chrisgarrett

    Thanks 🙂

  • chrisgarrett

    That’s a nice approach

  • chrisgarrett

    And you 🙂

  • chrisgarrett

    Make sure you are talking to more than just peers and prospects though – this keeps you from living in an echo chamber and allowing your ideas to be tested

  • chrisgarrett


  • chrisgarrett

    That’s a nice way to stand out and offer something fresh 🙂

  • chrisgarrett

    I must admit I assume DM messages I get directly after following are automated now so I ignore them

  • chrisgarrett

    I always say I prefer a small, engaged audience rather than a big audience of people who don’t want to hear from me, but I would also happily have a large engaged audience 🙂

  • chrisgarrett

    Glad you enjoyed it 🙂

  • chrisgarrett

    One of the jokes I told a lot when people asked about Darren and my Problogger book is that we made all the mistakes already so you don’t have to 😉

  • chrisgarrett

    You will notice that my blogging is becoming more and more infrequent 😉 Also my twittering is done on coffee breaks – I go whole days, sometimes a couple of days, without a single tweet when I am really busy. It’s about really being there when you can be there, but remembering you are only as good as your last post 🙂

  • JohnBergdoll

    I agree that ‘mass dumping’ is a bit offensive. I’m trying to strike the balance of repeating valuable tweets. I’m also trying to maximize the spike in RTs on Friday at 4pm.

  • Hi Chris,
    I’m really enjoying the engagement part of Twitter. I’m constantly getting DM’s to call right now. LOL It’s amazing that people are calling me instead of commenting on my blog. They are asking me more detailed questions about my posts and I’m generating more business as a result. I’ll take the phone calls over the comments as it is creating more consulting opportunities for me. 🙂

  • bevfreeman

    Chris, your commentary and advice are always consistent, practical and always helpful. Thank you.

  • Another great article Chris –
    I’m one of those strange people who sometimes gets interesting DMs when I follow some people. I actually click the links and find wonderful people and resources along the way. It seems really clear who are the crazy spammers and who are nice normal people with something to offer. I’m pretty picky about who I follow and look for people who are using Twitter as a social environment mostly. I have great conversations on Twitter and I really love the Twitter Chats on blogging Sunday nights. I tell all my clients this little formula: “Human + Sharing + RTing + Business links = Good Social Media Citizen.” And that ratio of one out of four – for marketing seems fine.

  • whistlerheather

    I am really busy tweeting the Olympics here in Whistler while volunteering… so to write my blog today having some quick eye catching head line tips was awsome..,. not to mention the gut rentching fact that just because you have followers does not mean they are the right twit to be hooked up with you…Thx!

  • My sister owns an online beauty company at @overallbeauty Her top selling product is nail polish from a boutique brand that she is the exclusive outlet for. In order to get targeted followers for her stream, I search “nail polish” “manicure” “pedicure” and other terms that would relate. Then I will scan the results and follow anyone who seems to talk about nail polish fairly often.

    A lot of times, I’ll see tweets along the lines of “my black nail polish is flaking off.” I’ll tweet something like “Next manicure, you might try Dark Knight ( link to product). Here’s a $2 off code XXXXX” or a link to an article on her blog that address whatever question the tweeter posed. IF they respond, I try to strike up a conversation. If not, we leave them be. Now I know this is a direct sales pitch, but we have gotten orders and positive response because we send out the coupon code with it.

    We also do tweet-aways of her popular polish colors. There are done at random and usually involve a link to the product and a link to a recent blog post. To win a free bottle, they have to answer a trivia question from the blog post. This ABSOLUTELY drives traffic to her site. We’ve watched it go from 1 or 2 looking to 50-60 on her main site and over 100 on her blog over the contest time frame.

  • Hi Chris – very useful info, especially the tip about sending a message more than once for followers who are in different timezones. I would have thought that would be a no-no, but I can see that it makes perfect sense.

    Question: what twitter manager applications do you recommend?

  • Hi Chris, thank you for this useful article! I just got in charge of increasing pageviews and generating more traffic to our website, and although I use Twitter a lot with my personal account, it’s a whole other thing to use Twitter in a more business kind of way. I find it particularly hard to create a nice group of followers and to find interesting people to follow but your article gave an insight on how to use Twitter in the best way. Thank you very much!

  • Enjoyed this blog, found it very informative, especially as I am relatively new to Twitter. Number # 3 is interesting. You say to engage people, ask questions, ‘hold conversations’. Can’t agree more. In fact, when I first used Twitter that was my natural inclination, yet, my replies to tweets rarely got a response – and this includes from people who I now know are highly respected names in the social media/blogging field. I take it you are referring to ‘replies’, right?

  • Thanks Chris. That stopped me in my tracks. It’s so easy just to say “Oh gosh I haven’t Twittered yet today” We are now into real strategies. Watch me improve.

  • chrisgarrett

    Certainly seems to be working for you, congrats 🙂

  • chrisgarrett

    I am very unlikely to click a link from a DM from someone I just met – too many phishing attempts and spam. Now the spam DMs are even personalising with first name and location (“Hi [Chris], how are things over in [UK]? Here is __a virus__ for you! :D”) 😉

  • chrisgarrett

    I am so jealous that you are in Whistler. We should have been there but we couldn’t work out accomodation 🙁

  • chrisgarrett

    Coupon codes are also a perfect way to track social media ROI 🙂

  • chrisgarrett

    I personally use Tweetdeck but I have clients who use Hootsuite, SocialOomph, cotweet … etc 🙂

  • chrisgarrett

    Glad to help 🙂

  • chrisgarrett

    Yes @replies but if you are ONLY talking to people who have a huge community then you will be more likely to get lost in the flow. One of my favourite people is @stephenfry – he is following 53k people as well as me, there is a vanishingly small chance of him replying to my tweet over the others. Mix it up, talk to people because they are interesting not just because they are popular or have celebrity.

  • chrisgarrett

    I will 🙂

  • susanyoung

    Right on target, as always! Engage, opt-in and the right followers are key. It’s all about quality, not quantity. Nice job Chris!


  • shereebeadwork

    I am taking your comment to heart. “It’s about really being there when you can be there, but remembering you are only as good as your last post.” and retweeting it. 🙂 Your bog is definitely one of my favorites!

  • Very very useful information. Good tips for Driving Targeted Traffic With Twitter. Thanks for sharing article.

  • Great advice about engaging your followers in meaningful conversations. It’s the first thing I check in a new follower. Does he use Twitter as a mere broadcasting platform? Then, I stay away because that means I’d be having a one-way relationship with him/her.

  • Guest

    Pretty good tips Chris. As an adjunct to your 7 steps, I’d add that knowing WHEN your Followers are online would be a good metric to know, so your well intended Tweet has a decent shot of being seen by your Followers. provides a graph and indicates the number and % of your Followers that are online. I can’t say for sure if their stats are 100% accurate, but I find myself checking this periodically before Tweeting away.

  • YourNameHerre

    Great post, thanks for the tips (:

  • You know what i like about this post? You suggested multiple times to listen. How simple! People want so much attention they vomit information all over people. No one wants to be vomited on. People do like to be engaged and speak about what they’re saying and will eventually like you. Good post. I’m glad to see someone in a higher position agrees with my methods of speaking to people.

    -Eric Saylor

  • Great Discussion. I am also agree with that thing. But i found many blogs which is related to twitter i felt facebook is also nice platform to share or promote. Anyway thanks chris to create this post.

  • Thanks Chris for the information. I also downloaded the “102 Headline-Writing Formulas”. Good stuff.

  • eirefitz

    Great info. I really like the 102 Headline tips…keep the goods coming!
    -Ian Fitzpatrick

  • It takes lot of time. IF we use twitter we haven’t time to do other social bookmarking

  • collin248

    #2 get the right followers. Oh man oh man have I ever been working hard to attract people that are targeted to my market.

  • Max

    Hi Chris, great article. With regards to #5, you should check out It’s a site similar to, but offers much more functionality for tracking and alanytic purposes, and link services. Try checking it out, shoot me an email about it if ya want to learn more

  • Hi Chrisg
    Awesome point you make here to get twitter traffic.It is also important to choose correct username and filling bio box correctly
    Thanks For Sharing

  • Excellent post. Knowing your audience is very important…!

  • Sylvie

     Great post, thanks for sharing..

  • Pingback: How To Start A Blog And Get It Right – The Blog Builders™()

  • Twitter is the ultimate weapon used by most bloggers to bring traffic to their blogs because twitter has the ability to reach out more people in less time.

  • TodaysLearnings

    Great advice on utilizing Twitter for marketing your site. I really enjoy your site as well both the look and the content. Thank you for sharing.