Back in 2007 when I was blogging several times a week I thought twitter was dumb. 10 years later it's the platform I use the most and I no longer blog several times a week 🙂
Although some people still use twitter as just another platform to promote or publisher content from other platforms, I've grown to appreciate that it can be one of the best places to reach an audience at scale and unlike facebook, you don't have to pay for the right to reach them.
Over the past few months we've doubled down on our social strategy for our corporate handle @Purch and in going through that process I realized a lot of people still don't understand some of the basics to get the most out of their own twitter handle.
With that in mind, here are 8 tips you should adopt today if you want to grow your audience & suck less at twitter:
- You be you. Nobody wants to follow a corporate mouth piece or a profile that looks they'll just push a product or service on you – so don’t worry about talking about your favorite sports team, music, a tv show or movie or your next family adventure. Humor is ok too. With that said, nothing gets the trolls rolling more than posts that are overly political, religious or sexual.
- Personalize your profile. Have a real picture of you and choose a background image that aligns to you, your audience, or your focus of your profile. The more you make the profile seem like a reflection of who you are, the more likely people will engage & follow you back. When I curate my following list, the first thing I do is search & unfollow accounts that don't have real profile pictures. Others do the same.
- You are as good as your follower ratio. Never follow more people than are following you. It makes you look desperate. This means if you are going to bulk follow, do it incrementally and unfollow those who haven’t followed you back within a week. I also unfollow people who haven’t posted in over 3 months. Chances are they won't notice that you've unfollowed them and it helps your follower ratio. Ideally you have a following that is 25% or more than you are following. 2:1 ratios or more are even better. Try Managefilter.com (for free) as a great audience curation & discovery tool.
- Don’t be a snob. Look at your new followers at least a few times a week. If they “fit” your profile by interest, industry or topic, follow them back! If you don’t reciprocate, many will unfollow you too.
- It takes two to tango. Only publishing your own thoughts won’t get you very far. Engage with others by liking, re-tweeting, or actively engaging & replying to other content. This will help you build an engaged following and show that you are an active member of the ecosystem. High engagement means a higher influencer rating from twitter which results in more followers.
- Know your audience. Who are you trying to reach or engage? Define your audience and stick to it and in return you’ll build a relevant audience who will want to participate with you. I'm only interested in following & engaging with the digital marketing & media ecosystem - so my curation and efforts reflect this 100%. Having 10,000 followers for example who are really into cat memes is not going to help you build influence & reach if your focus is on dog memes.
- Lists are awesome. Many twitter accounts have create “lists” of other people and publish them publicly on their account. This is a great way to follow a curated list of people on one topic of focus. It’s also a great way to harvest new followers to your tribe.
- When you publish or reply to other posts, add hastags that are releant to the topic or conversation. This makes your content more discoverable in twitter search which helps you build your audience. It also allows you to jump in & participate in conversations that are happening right now.
There's no shortcut to building a big & engaged audience.
Sure you can buy followers, automate some tasks, but at the end of the day even those tactics don't work unless you spend time every day interacting, following, unfollowing and engaging with your target audience. I personally spend about an hour each day doing "house keeping" on my profile while I will engage all day long.
The good news is that it does become easier to attract & keep your audience once you start getting some scale. With that said, be sure to always manage your follower ratio.