It’s been a grand total of three weeks since I took my first deep dive into social media, Twitter specifically, with any sort of concerted effort. Not long enough to pretend I know it all, but enough time to say that I’ve learned a few things that are worth sharing.
BT (or Before Twitter) I had dabbled with the platform and investigated how to integrate it with the other stuff I was doing online, namely LinkedIn and Facebook. Back then, I was skeptical of its value. I was already disinterested with Facebook, preferring to spend most of my leisure hours on sites like Reddit or Digg. AT (After Twitter, or appropriately, @) I’ve discovered that there is great value to getting concise messages in front of an interested and engaged audience, and it doesn’t really demand too much of their time, or yours!
This is not a how-to guide to get more followers (quality always trumps quantity); rather it is intended to be food for thought for those looking to build their own community or online brand. I’ve felt pretty good about my progress to date, I gave myself a month to reach where I am today, but I know that I have a ways to go to reach my ultimate target of 1,000 followers in 8 months. I’ll keep you posted.
Here’s what I’ve learned …
Do the research (consider following those who you deem experts in your niche)
First up, study the subject at hand. Look into how others have done it. I followed all the best advice I could find from well-established Twitter accounts from around the world. I feel like I have clicked and scrolled my way through thousands of articles, posts and streams. Out of it all, I came away with a solid plan of attack for my burgeoning social media presence. It helped me complete and set up an effective profile, establish my purpose, and find my niche within the industry.
The transient nature of the casual Twitter user becomes problematic if you want people to actually engage with your content. If you do not appear in their stream at the exact time they are online, it is likely that you are tweeting into the ether. There are two ways to approach this. Either you tweet so frequently that, by the law of averages, you’ll catch them at some point in the day, or you can make a data-driven decision by paying attention to your analytics. Twitter provides some basic tools, and there are a few third party options out there for helping to analyze the activity of your followers. Take a look at the reports and see if any trends emerge. It will help you immensely with the next tip.
No one is inclined to follow accounts with no activity. On the flip side, unless you are a huge corporation, you can’t afford to stare at the screen all day checking for retweets, favourites and replies. In the first instance, find a social media management system that can post across accounts on a regular schedule. This will become much more relevant as your brand grows and you expand your digital footprint, but it’s good to get into the habit early. The best part about it is that you can set up your social media activity for the day, freeing you to do some writing (see next tip) and concentrate on responding to Twitter notifications as you are able. In the second instance, you can plan ahead and balance your tweets between original, curated and retweets.
Content marketing is all about providing meaningful content for your audience. However, you can’t rely entirely on other people’s efforts and simply sharing their content. To truly provide value, you’ll have to offer something original. It’s good for your reputation, it’s good for your SEO, it’s good for your followers. Set up a blog, or a YouTube channel, or a portfolio of infographics that will give your followers a definitive answer to that age-old question “What’s in it for me?” Use your platform of choice to share your thoughts and opinions, and grow your online following.
BONUS TIP: Mention your followers (reciprocation is infectious)
Everyone likes to see their name in someone else’s post, and to know that it is being seen by more people. Take the time to thank them, either as a public tweet, or in a direct message. In the early stages, I think this is practical, and I it’s something I will continue to do, so long as I’m able. The best problem to have would be to have too many followers, right?
These tactics have helped me make sense of the Twittersphere, but there’s still a long way to go to reach my goals, and increase my understanding. Have you had a similar experience? Is there something else that has had a big impact? Share your experience in the comments below.