7 Ways to Grow Your Twitter Following

Have you tried Twitter and given up? Do you see it as a time-wasting distraction? We sympathise. Twitter can feel like shouting into a hurricane. It takes time to schedule tweets; it takes time to find content worth sharing; it takes time to engage with others. Those 140 characters can become deceptively laborious and it’s made worse when you put in the effort and no one’s listening.

Engage with your followers as much as possible

Before you lose heart with Twitter, here’s an easy-to-follow Twitter strategy you may wish to try and a few things to consider:

  1. Name, face, bio, location. First impressions matter. Keep your Twitter handle short, memorable and recognisable. If you’re a solo expert, use a professional image of yourself – not your company logo. You’re build a personal brand, after all. You can use a company logo if you wish but only do so if it already has a degree of recognition. (You can then link your personal account to it). Write a short paragraph related to you or your product – keep it short. Make your profile compact – Twitter is about brevity. Keywords are a good idea. Location is also important – it can help you connect with people nearby and perhaps have something in common.
  2. Timing for maximum exposure. Tweet when your audience is awake, i.e. take into account your intended market’s timezone. Some statistics say that 5-6 pm EST is the optimum time for tweeting, but it might be different for everyone. You can drown in analytics trying to determine the best time. Don’t sweat it. Just post twice a day – say, once in the morning, 8-9am and once around lunch time 1-2pm.
  3. Reply, initiate conversation, stay trending. You can’t grow you following if you don’t engage with your audience. If someone sends you a query, don’t ignore it – it’s a positive sign that your market is noticing you. When you’re small and just starting out, there’s no excuse not to reply to your followers. Interactions get you seen on other people’s profiles and they’re a great way to build relationships with your tribe.
         The same applies to initiating conversations and retweeting. If you’re interested in someone’s posts, let them know and initiate a discussion, or retweet. Another way to stay visible is to participate in topics that are currently trending via hashtags. These tweets don’t necessarily have to be industry-related, although, for example, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to show that your product could be a solution to a trending problem.
  4. Share your handle. Include your Twitter link on your blog/website and other social media profiles. Some experts like to import their tweets directly onto their blog – WordPress and Tumblr both have a feature that can help you with that. However, we think this is lazy. It’s OK to promote posts on Twitter, but when it comes to your blog, focus on creating high-value content.
  5. Host chat sessions. If you have a large following, you can consider hosting chat sessions on Twitter. Reddit’s AMA (Ask Me Anything) series is one of its most popular subreddits. These sessions can serve as a way to demonstrate your expertise to your followers via a Q&A; build trust; and increase your visibility. Make sure to plan these in advance and notify your audience at least a week in advance by Twitter, email and by publishing a notice on your website. Don’t forget to mention your timezone.
  6. Host live meetups. If possible, try to engage with your local followers by following people you know in real life and their friends, and hosting a “Tweetup”. Depending on your niche, this can be an informal social event, a debating session or a lecture in which you can demonstrate your expertise as a guest speaker and engage in some networking. If you’re choosing the latter approach, make sure to plan it in advance and create a #hashtag for the event. A service called Twitvite can be of enormous help in these cases.
  7. Host contests and giveaways. Many successful commercial retailers host give-aways and contests on social networks, and there’s nothing stopping you doing the same. Make sure to let people know what they’d be winning (an e-book, or a podcast recording, for example) and who is eligible to enter, i.e. followers-only. This can both increase your number of followers and demonstrate your expertise and credibility. If you continue posting engaging content and interacting with the followers after the giveaway is over, your new followers are likely to stay with you.

Takeaway points

  1. Go where your market is. Don’t join Twitter because it’s “the done thing”. The only reason to join is if you feel your target audience gathers there.
  2. Twitter may be a more appropriate marketing channel once you have work/content on your website that you can direct people to. It’s hard to inspire people to take action when you have nothing to build an audience around.
  3. Avoid Twitter overwhelm by only tweeting and engaging twice a day, e.g. tweet in the morning, respond at lunch-time then tweet at lunch-time and respond late-afternoon. Define clear time boundaries for tweeting otherwise it will leak into your work day and hurt your productivity.

Action steps

  1. Write up a short, engaging bio for your profile and have a good photo of yourself. No obvious selfies.
  2. Be selective about who you follow. Quality definitely beats quantity.
  3. Create worthwhile content on your website/blog before reaching out to your target market. It’s easier to promote yourself when you have something to build your following around. This could be a service, a product or a mission that resonates with your tribe.

Photo credit: mkhmarketing via Flickr.com / CC BY 2.0

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