A question that we often get from clients and prospects is, “How do I get more followers/fans?” Twitter is usually the hardest to understand, especially when someone is just starting out.
My Twitter Story
I joined twitter in 2008. I didn’t even sign myself up, so I finally looked at my account about 3 weeks after it was opened. I sent out the obligatory first tweet…something along the lines of, “So, this is twitter. Whazzup.” (Kidding. My first tweet was much more lame.) I think I even followed a few people. Then I tweeted a couple more times and decided that the whole thing stunk. I walked away and didn’t come back for several months. I was in marketing and I’d heard so much about how good twitter was and I had a desire to figure out why.
My second, third, fourth and up to my twentieth visit, I still wasn’t convinced. Then, one day about eight months after I joined, it all clicked into place. I had not only a clear idea of how amazing this tool was, but I could also see exactly what kind of strategy I could implement for the business I worked for at the time. It wasn’t an easy process. I forced myself to use Twitter until I figured out what I could do with it. Every minute of that time was worth it.
Once I had figured out what I was doing, I used Twitter better. This led to some interesting interactions with brands around customer service that solidified my thoughts on how businesses could use it.
My experiences have been primarily personal up until the last year and a half. I’ve used Twitter to grow several blogs. I’ve used it to converse and build relationships with people I call my friends. I’ve used it to share my thoughts and other information that I believe is relevant to others. For most of the time I’ve been on Twitter, I have not applied a strategy to what, when or how I tweet. While that could work for businesses, it’s certainly not going to work nearly as effectively as having a solid plan.
I recently surpassed 4,000 followers, which is really not a lot considering how long I’ve been on Twitter. It is, however, a good following and you can get there too.
Here are a few things I did that went a long way to growing my following:
1) Get involved in the conversation.
There are so many awesome people on Twitter and when you start chatting with them, you can make connections. This is relationship-building at its simplest. Jump into conversations. Don’t be intimidated. Be personable and don’t make a sales pitch.
2) Twitter parties and hashtags!
I participated in a 3-days-long “Twitter party” in 2010 that was a satire of a major conference that was happening at the time. It was done in good fun and was motivated out of a desire for those of us who couldn’t attend the conference to have a good time. Hundreds of people jumped into this hashtag and I gained 250 followers in those three days.
These aren’t typical results from using a hashtag, but it illustrates how participation in a community (the hashtag) and conversing (I chatted with so many new people!) can grow your audience. Businesses have to be professional, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be personable.
3) Follow people on lists.
I guesstimate that more than half the people who follow me (and probably 2/3 that I follow) are from Ottawa or near Ottawa. I connected with many of them through a hashtag (#BOLOttawa in 2010) and later that summer, lists were rolled out. I’m on many “Ottawa” lists. I have looked at those lists to see who I’m not following and connect with them because I want to know the people in my community. I call this targeted following.
4) Face time is the best time.
I’ve attended many tweetups where I’ve met so many people. Making a connection online is a process that cannot be valued enough, but taking that online connection offline solidifies and strengthens it. Don’t forget to get out into the community and connect in person.
5) Watch others in your industry.
Maybe it’s a competitor. Maybe it’s your suppliers, distributors or other associates. Who do they follow? Who do they list? And, even better, who is following them? This is another way to do targeted following so that the audience you grow will be relevant.
Now, go get started!
It doesn’t have to take a great deal of time to do this. You can add five minutes a day to the ten you’re already spending on Twitter. Spend ten minutes today making a list of accounts to check and spend five minutes a day on targeted following. Make it a goal to follow 100 new people per month and tell us how you do!
I’d love to hear your Twitter story. Leave me a comment with how you’ve grown your audience and connected with others.