It’s easy to get set up on Twitter, but much less straightforward to gain impressive numbers of followers. While this isn’t the be-all and end-all of the platform, it does help to garner some credibility. Here are five tips to help you boost your Twitter stream.
1. Publicise your existence on Twitter
You need to let your friends, site visitors and customers know that you’re on Twitter. If no-one knows you’re on there, no-one will follow you.
“Put a ‘follow me’ link on your website, and add your twitter handle to your email signature, business cards and any other collateral where you have your phone number and email address,” suggests Tim Barnett, managing partner of 2BInteractive. “If you want to try something a little more advanced, add a live Twitter feed on your site.”
2. Follow people of interest to you
Unless you’re Donald Trump, very few people are going to follow you simply because you have an account. Remember that Twitter is fundamentally social, so seek out account-holders of interest to you and your business, and follow them.
“Start following other people and they will often reciprocate,” continues Barnett. “Start communicating, tweet regularly and participate in other conversations – if you have something interesting to say, people will follow you.”
Particularly focus on relevant Twitter users that have significant follower-bases. If they like the look of your business and like what you’re doing online, they’ll let their followers know by responding to your input, and maybe even following you back.
3. Post engaging tweets
Once you’ve started following people, start crafting tweets that are relevant to the interests of customers and other businesses in your industry.
“Being seen as someone who’s the go-to person, or the authority on a topic, is a great way to increase a following, because other users will start recommending you. People will automatically want to engage with people who are at the top of their game,” says freelance digital strategist Emily Doig.
The 140 characters in each post needn’t be a writer’s masterpiece, and it doesn’t have to be a witty aphorism penned by you. A successful tweet could just as easily point out a pertinent piece of news, or a blog post with advice your followers would find interesting. If your followers like it, they’ll retweet it to their followers, and this impacts positively on your credibility.
“By having people reading your content, and sharing you as a Twitter user with their followers, you become someone worth following, and someone who can be trusted online,” explains Doig.
4. Be authentic
Authenticity is crucial for success on Twitter, as with all social media.
“What [Twitter] is doing is humanising an organisation for us, allowing us to ask questions directly to a human being if we want, but also allowing us to maintain our distance if we want,” says Alister Cameron, CEO of Cameron Creative. “Some people that you watch and their tweeting, blogging and Facebook behaviour tends to look like a series of headlines and cheesy quotes, and so forth. They’re just trying to establish a baseline of activity, but they’re missing the mark.”
It’s not difficult to tell if a business isn’t being authentic, and this will work against rising follower numbers.
“Potential customers study your organisation, look at your social media, and they gather a sense of what the culture of the organisation is like, a sense of what matters to you,” says Cameron. “They’re looking of those marks of authenticity. One of those is that you’re not just constantly just hammering your product, that there is evidence that you’re actually willing to engage people. When you have a reply on Twitter, you actually respond to it, you don’t just blast stuff out there.”
5. It’s not all about Twitter
It also helps to remember that Twitter isn’t the be all and end all of your online marketing strategy (unless you run a company like Curbside Cupcakes). In order for any social medium to generate new customers for a business, it has to centre around and point to a more substantial online presence like a blog or a website.
“If you don’t have a site for them to click through to, it’s probably not worthwhile engaging with people online, because you need a destination for them,” says Doig. “The whole thing is to convert them into somebody that becomes an ambassador or an advocate for you and your brand. If you don’t have anywhere for them to go, then it’s pointless.”
Without a dedicated site to direct people to, any attention gained with Twitter won’t be retained. If all of your social efforts point to a sound online presence, people will be more likely to place their faith in your business. The number of your followers, as well as the level of interaction you have with them, reflects that.
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