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How to Grow Your Twitter Followers without Being Annoying



Twitter can be an excellent platform for growing your online brand, establishing yourself as an authority, and of course, promoting your Hubs.  But before you can reach and influence lots of people on Twitter, you’ll need followers who actually see and engage with your content. There’s a lot of bad advice on the internet about how to grow your Twitter followers. Some articles suggest following people indiscriminately, even when you have nothing in common. Others advise Retweeting everything you come across or Tweeting your own Hubs over and over. Some even advocate engaging in hashtag spam (the overuse of hashtags and/or the use of unrelated hashtags in your Tweets). But the truth is, those practices will likely drive away more followers than they attract, and the followers they do attract are more likely to be other selfish Twitter users who are also looking to grow their audience at any cost.

So, how does one grow a community of like-minded followers with whom to share (among other things) Hubs on Twitter? The simple answer is to always act in the best interest of your followers. You don’t need to abstain altogether from using tools like hashtags and Retweeting, but you should do so in moderation and be sure that your content is relevant. Here are a few quick-and-dirty tips for growing your Twitter following… without annoying the pants off anyone:

  • Engage with other users… but not indiscriminately! Follow organizations and people you care about, comment on their posts, and Retweet things that you genuinely think your followers will enjoy. Following lots of people you have nothing in common with is probably not going to garner the engagement you want. But if you like to write gardening Hubs, following a gardening site, commenting, and occasionally Retweeting is likely to be rewarding.
  • Share often… but don’t spam your followers! Tweeting your own Hubs over and over will only drive people away. Your Tweets should be a mix of Retweets from the people you follow, your own thoughts and comments, and your Hubs that you think your followers will like. It’s a good idea to Tweet several times a day every day in order to keep your audience interested.
  • Drop names. Mention the people, brands, and organizations you tweet about. For example, if you want to Tweet about HubPages, use @HubPagesDotCom to tag us in your post. If we see it, we may Retweet it!
  • Use hashtags but don’t engage in hashtag spam. Only include 1-3 truly relevant hashtags that actually reflect what your post is about.
  • Care about the community. This one is the most important. You want to cultivate a community of like-minded people to engage and share with regularly, not a herd of followers to exploit for the sole purpose of propagating your Hubs. If your heart is in the right place, the rest will come naturally.

You can also encourage readers who find your Hubs to share them on Twitter with their own followers, even if you’re not an active Twitter user. Of course, what makes “Tweetable” content varies considerably depending on the niche and target audience, but in general, these tips should help you create Tweetable Hubs that people will be excited to share:

  • Use interesting, eye-catching photos. Most of the sharing on Twitter involves photos. Your Hub’s first photo should be as interesting and eye-catching as possible. The better the photo, the more people will want to share it on Twitter.
  • Write on subjects that appeal to a broad audience in a variety of situations. Your Hub on how to replace the brake pads on a 1998 Honda Accord may be a rockstar with search traffic, but it’s only useful and interesting to people with a 1998 Honda Accord who want or need to change their own brake pads (which does not apply to most Twitter users). You should totally still write that Hub, but you may also want to write one about the Top 10 Personality Traits of Honda Drivers, which will be perfect for Twitter.
  • Tweetable content has heart and meaning. A positive message is much more likely to be shared on Twitter, especially if it makes people feel good about life and themselves. Write about good things, amazing things, and heartwarming things that have inspired you, and they will be more likely to inspire your readers to Tweet. In other words, make sure your Top 10 Personality Traits of Honda Drivers are good traits (Honda drivers are economical but not cheap, Honda drivers are family-oriented, Honda drivers are dependable, etc).
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Update on Editor’s Choice Hubs



I wanted to provide an update on Editor’s Choice Hubs.  We started the program to recognize great Hubs.  Over the last nine months we have selected almost 20,000 EC Hubs and a handful are getting added every day.  We’ve had lots of great comments that Hubbers love the recognition, but the data hounds in the community say: that’s great, but do they get more traffic?

When a EC Hub is selected it gets moved from the author’s subdomain to the main HubPages.com domain.  When an older Hub is moved it can be a bit of a wild ride.  Sometimes Hubs jump way up and other times they come down.  Overall, they’re slightly up (~2%).

Over the last few months, I’ve had the opportunity to see several sites (outside of HubPages) that have done major movements like this and in some cases it has taken two years for a significant traffic shift after creating clusters of high quality content.  So, I think there is still a chance that we will see a major traffic move, and it appears that there is some slight traffic benefit in the short term on average.

I hope Hubbers stay with the program and hang in there with us for the long haul.  We are working on several improvements to the site.  I’m very optimistic about the future of HubPages.  Stay tuned Hubbers.

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Mobile Readership is Growing!



Shift to mobileLast week, our traffic was just a hair more on desktop than mobile. I suspect in the coming weeks we will permanently shift to smartphones as the dominant platform for readers on HubPages. We’ve invested in our mobile design and we will have to do more to improve it.

I strongly recommend laying out Hubs with the mobile reader in mind. The best practice for this is to use all full width capsules. In the Hubtool, there is a mobile preview button as well. Be sure to preview your Hubs before publishing if you have any floated capsules.

A year ago our traffic was 32% mobile. We are now 44% mobile. At this pace, in the next six months, our traffic will be 50% mobile (not including tablets). The shift is on!

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It’s Time to Upgrade Your Google Analytics Account



Universal Analytics

Hey Hubbers! Universal Analytics (UA) is the latest version of the Google Analytics platform. Many Hubbers use Google Analytics to track and analyze traffic trends to their Hubs and personal websites, and if you’re one of them, listen up! You can read all about Universal Analytics here, but here’s the gist: UA introduces a new set of features that change the way data is collected and organized in your Google Analytics account. Upgrading is a good option if you already use Google Analytics to collect data from your Hubs and want to combine your historical data with any new data you collect via Universal Analytics in the same reports. One important thing to note is that transferring happens at the property level, not at the account level.

UA is the default for newly created properties, but old properties will need to be upgraded individually. Because the upgrade process requires Google Analytics users to transfer in their respective accounts, Hubbers will need to complete Step 1 below. If you aren’t sure about whether your HubPages subdomain property is using classic Google Analytics or Universal Analytics, you can check here (click on the arrow to the left of “In your account”).

How to Upgrade

The upgrade process happens in two steps:

  1. Account holders transfer existing web properties to Universal Analytics. This is done in the Google Analytics admin interface. Please note: the transfer takes minutes to initiate, but you should allow 24-48 hours for it to complete.
  2. Developers implement the new UA tracking code on their sites. You can skip this step since HubPages will take care of implementing the code.

Here’s What You’ll See In Your Admin Analytics Page

Select the HubPages property (it will likely be ‘subdomain.hubpages.com’ in your account) from the drop-down menu, and click on Universal Analytics Upgrade.

 

If your account is not set to use UA, you should see a blue Transfer button. Click on it to begin the transfer.

If you don’t see a blue Transfer button here, that means your property is already upgraded into UA and all you need to do is visit My Account > Earnings > Settings > Analytics to confirm.

 

A ‘Transfer in Progress’ status message will appear. That message will change to ‘Transfer Complete’ within 48 hours.

 

UA_Admin_Transfer_In_Progress

We have already completed the upgrade process for our master account. However, because many Hubbers use the older version of Google Analytics, we are running both the old and new tracking codes on many pages across the site. On August 20, 2014, we plan to remove the classic Google Analytics code from the site. When you’ve completed the steps above, please confirm in My Account > Earnings > Settings > Analytics. If you have any questions, drop by the forums!

 

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The Winning Social Buttons Are Live!



Screen shot 2014-06-11 at 3.16.54 PM

Over the last two weeks we’ve been experimenting with the design and placement of the social sharing buttons on Hubs. Using a tool called Optimizely, we ran split test experiments on several variations of the buttons, with the goal of maximizing the rate of social shares. We’ve finally settled on our winner and the new buttons are already live on all Hubs!

As you might expect, there are countless things that can be tested— colors, shapes, sizes, logos, and more. We really liked the simple, sleek social logos, so we decided to start there and focus our testing efforts on the following:

Placement

  • Below the Hub title
  • Below the Hub content
  • Above the Hub Praise bar
  • Sidebar (original placement)

Colors

  • Monochrome (black and white)
  • Colors (white foreground logo on a colored background)
  • Grey with colors becoming visible on mouse hover

Shape

  • Circles
  • Squares

Counts

  • Buttons with counts
  • Buttons without counts

So, what did we learn after two weeks of design testing? Here are the highlights:

  • The sidebar placement converted twice as well as the other placements we tested. It was a clear winner.
  • Colored buttons were clicked on 20% more often than the monochrome buttons, and marginally more than the on-hover color buttons.
  • The square-shaped buttons performed slightly better than the circle-shaped buttons.
  • Displaying share counts did not have a statistically significant impact on the rate of shares. Buttons with counts were clicked on at roughly the same rate as buttons without counts.

For now, the square-shaped, colored buttons will live in the sidebar, but we intend to use the data collected on their performance in different locations to inform more significant future design changes. Stay tuned!

Lastly, and as previously mentioned by Christy, our primary reason for switching to static social buttons was to improve the load time on Hubs. Static buttons load much quicker because they don’t need to make a Javascript call to each source to retrieve the share count. Based on our observations, the new buttons perform 24% faster on the first fully-loaded view and 38% faster on repeat fully-loaded views, so it looks like they’re here to stay.

 

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Videos Can Now Include an Embedded Timestamp!



I have quite a nifty new feature to announce today. (It’s extra special, too, because it’s Oren’s first project at HubPages. Go Oren!) YouTube videos that you embed in your Hubs can now include a timestamp! For people who are less tech-savvy like me, this means that when you add videos to your Hub, you can make the video start playing at a particular time. This feature is extra useful in situations where you want to show the reader a specific part of a really long video. By including the timestamp, the video will automatically start playing right where you want it to.

Here’s how it works. When you want to share a specific part of a video with your readers, follow these steps:

Screen shot 2014-06-10 at 2.16.40 PM

 

  1. Pause the YouTube video at the spot where you want it to start playing in your Hub.
  2. Click the “Share” tab below the video. Sharing options should appear right underneath the tab.
  3. Click the check box beside the “Start at:” option.
  4. Copy the link from the box into your Hub.
  5. The video in your Hub should now start wherever you paused it on YouTube.

 

To learn more about embedding your video with a timestamp, check out the HubPages FAQ entry. Happy Hubbing!

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Introducing a New HubPages Engineer, Oren Radousky



I’ve got some exciting news this Wednesday. HubPages is delighted to welcome a new engineer to the Team! Oren Radousky just joined us a couple weeks ago, and we’re very happy to have him. Oren is still settling in, but we know he’ll work hard to keep HP running, get pesky bugs fixed, and to help us develop new new features.

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Oren has kindly answered a few questions about himself to help you get to know him and see what he’s all about:

Where are you from?

I am California born and raised!

What will you be working on at HubPages?

I’ll be making everything run smoothly, and implementing awesome new features.

What made you decide to come work for HP? What’s your favorite thing about us so far?

Mostly the free food. Just kidding! (although it definitely did not hurt!) The culture at HP is very supportive and welcoming. Before I interviewed, I wrote a hub about how to ride a unicycle, and the process of writing and putting a hub together was quite enjoyable. My favorite thing so far is working alongside interesting people who are passionate about the HP community!

Do you think you’ll ever write any Hubs?

Sure! I can definitely see myself creating some hubs when inspiration strikes. Some potential topics might include juggling/circus arts, photography, music, or sports!

What do you like to do in your free time?

I like juggling, hiking, camping, photography, playing music, and stargazing.

Tell us something really unique or interesting about yourself.

As a kid, I once had a picture of me playing the violin featured in the newspaper!

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Hubber hazelbrown Interviewed on HuffPost Live



HubPages is very pleased to congratulate Hubber Angela Nilles (hazelbrown), who was recently interviewed on HuffPost Live.

Angela was approached by the folks at The Huffington Post to appear live on a panel discussing Summer Seasonal Affective Disorder ( Summer SAD) after they read her Hub, I Hate Summer: Depression, Irritability, and Summer Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). When she wrote the Hub two years ago, Angela had no idea it would eventually earn her a place on a live broadcast from major news organization. She hopes that her experience may inspire other Hubbers to keep writing. You never know when or how your Hubs may pay off or what amazing opportunities they may open up for you!

You can stream Angela’s full interview from the HuffPost Live page or watch it right here:

Happy Hubbing!

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Hub Improvement: Hubs Get Shiny New Social Buttons!



Hi there, folks! I have some exciting news. After some testing, we’ve decided to make the switch to static social sharing buttons. We’ve also redesigned the buttons to be more noticeable and attractive to readers. Here’s what the new ones will look like:

 

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So, what’s different about the buttons, other than the way they look?

Unlike the current social buttons, static buttons don’t have to make a JavaScript call to each source (Facebook, Twitter, etc) to retrieve and display the number of shares. Static buttons load as images and, when clicked on, open a share screen in a new window. This style of buttons has become increasingly popular, so it’s likely that you’ve encountered them on other sites. This change may sound like a bad thing at first, but it means that the new buttons will load much faster than the old ones. It’s much more likely that the static buttons will finish loading while your readers are still on your Hub (which was not always the case with the old-style buttons).

In this initial iteration, the new buttons will not display the share count from each source. However, we are still looking into ways to display the counts without causing a longer load time, so they may be back at some point, pending the results of further testing.

We’ve also added the Google+ sharing option back to Hubs for now, but if readers don’t end up using it, it may not ultimately make the cut. We want whatever decision we make to be backed up by solid data.

Are the new designs final?

While we expect the end result to be similar to the screenshot above, we still intend to test placement and button styles before we settle. If things look slightly different for the next couple weeks, it’s because we’re doing our best to optimize for the most social shares possible. We hope you like the new look as much as we do!

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Great Topics for Quarter 3



The start of 2014 Quarter 3 is just a couple months away, and once again we’d like to share the topic tips from our friends at Google AdSense with Hubbers. These topics are ones that historically have had higher CPMs during July, August, and September, and the people at AdSense expect that trend to continue this year. Seasonal content is also great for social media, and many social sites start sharing up to 6 weeks in advance, so we wanted to give you plenty of time to come up with ideas and get writing. Here are the topics you may want to consider incorporating into your next few Hubs:

Sports & Recreation
  • Summer vacations
  • MLB season
  • NFL previews
Personal Finance
  • Home insurance sales
  • Moving season
Fashion and Beauty
  • Fall fashion
  • Wedding fashion
Education and Science
  • Back to school
Autos
  • End-of-year car sales
  • Auto insurance sales
Holidays and Celebrations
  • Labour Day
Gender and Relationships
  • Wedding Season

If you’ve caught the summer writer’s block bug, hopefully one of these topics will get the ideas flowing. Happy Hubbing!

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