This article will introduce you to Signal and our new feature, Beacon. Before getting to Beacon, we will cover a little lesson in social psychology and how we can start social epidemics to help our articles and other content reach more people on Twitter by creating and leveraging small, close-knit groups to seed engagement.
TL;DR: Studies have shown that tweets that have seeded engagement attract more engagement. Team up with other people who are interested in the same hashtags to retweet and like one another’s content automagically using signal beacons to drive more engagement to your tweets.
First, some background on Signal
When it comes to Twitter, Signal aims to replace your social media manager. Signal enables you to automate your tweets of your articles (and any content) in three simple steps:
- Enter the link to your article
- Signal suggests the perfect tweet and hashtags
- Set your tweeting schedule and save — e.g. “Tweet this every 3 days”
With that, Signal will tweet your article on repeat on your schedule. It’s pretty much a more powerful Buffer specifically for Twitter. Why only Twitter? Because Twitter is basically a megaphone, which means the loudest and most frequent voice has the highest chance of being heard.
Signal has helped hundreds of early users and paying customers share their thoughts frequently while spending far less time creating and sending tweets. The verdict is in: Signal increases impressions and continues to drive engagement with your tweet perpetually. Here are some other voices:
Lets start with why — a brief lesson in social psychology
“So Signal helps you tweet more in less time. Cool, but what else, Lincoln?” Good question. If you’re thinking there’s more to social media marketing than just creating and posting a wealth of content, you’re right. You need to drive engagement to your content. Now, Signal can help with that, too.
One of the best ways to drive engagement is to already have engagement.
“Catch-22, Lincoln. Catch f-ing 22, man …”
Yeah, it’s definitely a Catch-22. Forgive me, and let me explain because this is where Signal Beacon will be your new best friend or social media manager for Twitter. First we need to discuss some social psychology.
I’ve always been a huge fan of human psychology, especially as it relates to marketing. One of the most fascinating ideas I’ve come across is that of the creation and spreading of social epidemics.
In 2009, Dan Zarrella, a social media and viral marketing scientist who studies the science behind contagious information sharing, published an article about the the science of retweets in Mashable. In his study, he reached some very intriguing conclusions/observations on what drives people to retweet one tweet over another:
- The tweeter and his/her number of followers matter, but the value of the content matters more
- The timing of your tweet matters
- People like to retweet blog posts
- Calls to actions and links are important
- What he calls “ReTweet Cascades” are powerful
That last point is the key to Signal Beacon. Zarella suggests the following:
Similar to information cascading, as users observe others ReTweeting content, they become more likely to ReTweet it themselves. This may be due to the concept of social proof, repetition, or simply that seeing people ReTweet something forms a sort of implicit call to action.
By running an analysis, he found that, “The more times content is ReTweeted the more likely it is to be further spread.” That brings us back to our catch-22. So how can we solve this problem. Enter the reciprocity principle:
The reciprocity principle is one of the basic laws of social psychology: It says that in many social situations we pay back what we received from others. In other words, if John does you a favor, you’re likely to return it to him. — Nielsen Norman Group
Over the years, social media users who have a fond appreciation for this principle have engaged in actions they’ve referred to as like-for-like. In the early days, people manually engaged in the exchanges. Over the years, however, many tools have been developed for social networks such as Instagram to aid in the exchanges.
Usually, the exchange is for follows and likes. Sometimes people even exchange comments. It’s very prevalent on Instagram, and, lately, LinkedIn, with the launch of Lempod, which identifies itself as a tool that helps you “get more reach on your LinkedIn posts”. Lempod works very well; I tried it once and received a notification from LinkedIn the next day that I was trending in one of my target hashtags.
This is how you solve that catch-22 problem. Signal Beacon does for Twitter users what Lempod does for LinkedIn users.
Creating social epidemics
I know, I’m risking burying the lede, but before we get to how Signal Beacon solves the aforementioned catch-22 problem of driving engagement by already having engagement, we need to close out this lesson on social psychology by discussing the three rules of creating social epidemics as outlined by the great Malcolm Gladwell in one of my favorite books, The Tipping Point.
The rules are as follows:
- The law of the few: a small core group of people who are, sectional, related to a shared idea, doing the right things can spark an epidemic.
- The Stickiness Factor: your message needs to be memorable and galvanizing.
- The Power of Context: the conditions and circumstances of the times and places in which an epidemic occurs is critical.
That last point is the most important in solving our catch-22. This excerpt from this summary of The Tipping Point explains why very well:
Small close-knit groups have the power to magnify the epidemic potential of an idea or message. To create an epidemic you often have to create many smaller epidemics. The average person has the ability to influence about 150 other people through their social relationships. — Tim Butler
Helping you create, maintain, and leverage small, close-knit groups is what Beacon specializes in.
Using Signal Beacon to Seed and Drive More Engagement on Your Tweets
Signal auto-tweets your articles on repeat, on your schedule. Pair it with Beacon to get more retweets and likes by teaming up with other people around hashtags you tweet about. First, familiarize yourself with Signal, by scheduling your first tweet, because Beacon works with tweets sent via Signal. Once you understand Signal, you can join or create a beacon.
How does Beacon work?
Once you join a beacon with hashtags you’re interested in and also tweet with, when any member of the beacon sends a tweet via Signal, all members of the beacon will like and/or retweet the tweet depending on the beacon’s settings. For you to benefit from the beacon, you need to schedule your tweets via Signal and include at least one hashtag that matches those of the beacon.
That’s it. Sure, there’s more details, but that’s really all you need to know to get started. Read on for the details.
Answers to questions that will be frequently asked
This section covers selecting beacons for your tweets, what flares are and how engagements are executed on tweets, and strategies for using beacon and creating winning teams.
Selecting beacons when scheduling a tweet on Signal
When you schedule a tweet on Signal, just include hashtags that match any of the hashtags in any of the beacons you’re a member of. Given that, Signal will send out flares (explained below in What is a flare) to the beacons your signal’s tweet qualifies for. Take a look at the form below:
In that screenshot, I have entered an article link, Signal suggested the perfect tweet, and the hashtags match some beacons I’m a member of. How do I know? At the bottom of that same form, you will see something like this:
My tweet has the hashtags #SocialMediaMarketing and #Penname (case insensitive), so it qualifies for any of my member beacons that have either of those hashtags in its criteria. It’s not important which beacons match, but once you click “Schedule”, you will be able to see the flares that will be sent to the matching beacons:
From those screenshots, I can see that my signal’s tweet qualified for two of my member beacons: “Content Marketing” and “Penname Profiles”. Both of those beacons only like tweets. If one of them were set up to retweet tweets, it would show a green retweet icon.
What is a flare
Again, lets look to the real-world for guidance here. In nature, when you need help, you send out a flare as a call for help. Usually, there’s a beacon set up elsewhere to act as a guide. When someone in a beacon notices your flare, they take actions to get you the help you need. In some cases, the person and their team will send out broadcasts to other people, perhaps a rescue team, who are able to help you.
In Signal, you setup or join a beacon before you need help — in this case, the help you want is engagement on your tweets. When you schedule your tweet, Signal creates flares that will be sent out to matching beacons whenever your tweet is sent. When a beacon receives your flare, it instructs its members to schedule staggered broadcasts. The broadcasts that are created each have a specific action: one broadcast may like your tweet, and the other might retweet it.
Member engagement is staggered
Of course, to ensure all engagement isn’t sent at once, we space out each engagement a minute after the previous. You will never engage with a tweet more than once, even when the same content is tweeted more than once by Signal. When joining or creating a beacon, make sure you understand the kind of engagements that will occur.
Not all beacons are created equal
Some beacons will only like member tweets. Some will only retweet. And others will do both liking and retweeting. Everything is based on the hashtags you choose. When scheduling a new tweet on Signal, you will see the hashtags of beacons you are a member of at the bottom of the form. If your tweet includes any of the qualifying hashtags, that signal will qualify to be engaged with my the appropriate beacon members as described above.
More members equals more engagement
It’s better to join a beacon matching your target hashtags than to create a similar beacon on your own. Sure, everyone could make their own beacon, but what’s the strategy in that? Think about it. If everyone creates their own beacon, no one will join another person’s beacon. Each beacon will have only one member and no engagements will be executed. In other words, there would be no reciprocity going around, and everyone will lose.
The best strategy is to join a beacon that has target hashtags you’re interested in if such a beacon exists. That way, you will have more people who are willing to engage with your tweets in return for the same from you. If no such beacon exists, then you should go right ahead and create your own beacon. Regardless, the choice is yours.
The end of the beginning
Thanks for reading this far through what has been a long introduction to what I hope will be an even longer and beautiful story for us all. I understand if you’re tired by now, but I promise it will be worth it in the end. I believe that it is important to always start with why and fully understand the psychology behind the tools that we build and use. I wanted to take this time to share with you how I thought about all of this during the building process and how I hope it will help you, the user.
Lincoln W Daniel
Co-founder & CEO, Penname
P.S. Here's the signal tweet I scheduled for launching this product and promoting this article. It qualifies for two of my member beacons, so engagement is sure to follow:
A special thank you goes out to all beta testers and Pro customers for making this launch possible.