In search of the next 250

In search of the next 250

What a ride! I am now fully three quarters of the way to my target of 1,000 followers on Twitter, and I am happy to report that I am one step above ‘quietly confident’ that I will manage to reach my goal before the end of the year.

With that said, after all that I’ve learned with this experiment, from its humble beginnings, to my midpoint achievement, it seems a bit silly to strive for a specific number of followers on any social media platform. Let alone by a specific end date. Quality must trump quantity, right? Well, that remains to be seen.

What I can tell you is that I am convinced by my simple formula for social media success: more followers equals more exposure. More exposure equals more awareness. More awareness equals more credibility or authority. And that is really the end game in this personal branding exercise – to be perceived as a credible PR and content marketing resource for industry professionals. The best part is that it transfers perfectly to any business, consumer brand or other organization looking to establish an online reputation.

Back to the experiment …

Since May, I have been playing with and testing different communications tactics to build my following on Twitter. I began with a modest objective of consistently sharing other people’s content, scheduling my tweets to ensure an even flow of activity. I saw a steady uptake in the early days which was quite gratifying.

Next, I began learning about content mix. Other people’s research had determined that a mix of original, curated and direct-sharing [retweets] is ideal for increasing your following. It seemed to work. I had reached the halfway mark and I was on track to smash my goal.

Then I hit a dry spell …

I was getting worried. I was investing more time creating my own blog content, I was targeting my tweets with appropriate hashtags, and I was reaching out and acknowledging my followers. By conventional wisdom, I was doing everything right, only to plateau and question all my previous assumptions.

Tactic 1: increase and focus tweeting activity

At the time, I was only tweeting about four times a day, keeping the schedule pretty spread out. I’ve upped it to six times a day, and it seems to have had an impact, at least for a while, but the gains have been modest. Adjusting the scheduling to be closer to my followers’ peak times produced a similar bump. Bottom line, it wasn’t enough to sustain my previous rate of growth.

Tactic 2: increase commitment to original content

The next phase of my plan was to blog more frequently. When I first started, I had the intent of posting once a month. I thought this was a reasonable investment of time and effort, affording me the ability to research and write in-depth articles. I quickly realized that 1) it wasn’t enough to generate decent traffic, and 2) would do too little, too slowly, to build my online presence. So I targeted once a week to keep a steady level of engagement. I’ve now increased it to twice a week, and it gives me a great reserve of tweet worthy topics to supplement my scheduled tweets.

Tactic 3: pin top tweets

Earlier, I briefly mentioned exposure as a fundamental part of the formula. A great way to increase the exposure of popular or otherwise important tweets is to pin it to the top of your profile page. Now that I am flush with original content, I use this feature to keep my blog content at the top, updating it with every post.

Tactic 4: expand hashtag use

This doesn’t mean using more hashtags in individual tweets, rather using a different mix of hashtags to reach a broader audience. I’ve kept it pretty focused, using #socialmedia, #contentmarketing, and #PR the most, with the occasional #protip, #lifehack or #wordsofwisdom thrown in for good measure. I started looking into providing more information about #startups, #bizdev, #writing and #design to round out my curation. This has had the strongest impact to date, getting me back on track.

The next 250

In short, there’s my roadmap. I know I will have to make adjustments along the way, but that is all part of the process. I hope that you’ll be able to take my experiences, learn from them, and use them to obtain your social media goals.

Thank you very much if you have already taken the trouble to follow me on Twitter, this blog, or connect on LinkedIn or Google+.

Have you hit a similar plateau? Did you have to do something drastic, or adjust your approach a bit? Let me know in the comments below.

photo credit: Social Media via photopin (license)

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Published by

Ashley Brown, APR

I have seen and done it all, on large and small scales, including communications planning, event coordination, print production, digital presence management, media relations, and more. Bringing in an outside perspective, with an objective set of eyes to pour over your organization's communications programs is considered best practice and yields actionable results. I gather anecdotal and empirical evidence to measure and evaluate the effectiveness of your current communications programs, and make suggestions about how to improve your planning and execution processes, as well as your communications products and materials.

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