Even though it’s been a rocky year for one of the ‘big 4’ (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram – or Google+, depending on your allegiances), Twitter is likely be an integral part of your online and social media marketing strategy. So ways to grow your Twitter followers will likely be something on your agenda.
It has a lower barrier to entry than the other social networks and most business owners I work with tend to pick it up for professional use quicker than say Facebook or Instagram (nobody mention Edgerank).
Simplicity is at its core.
But how do you grow your Twitter following with a relevant, targeted and most importantly, worthwhile audience?
It’s a blend of tactics these days that tend to be effective, but it also takes time, patience and commitment. Nothing of any real value truly comes free or easily.
There are no real quick fixes on social media. Well, depending on your definition of quality and what advertising budget you are willing to throw towards your cause.
1. Follow targeted accounts by keyword search
This can be done directly from Twitter or via a third party tool (that we’ll discuss below). Go to Twitter and type in the relevant keyword in the search bar.
Then select the option ‘Accounts’ to filter your results to Twitter profiles that match your search term. This will include accounts that have the keyword in their Bio (description), name or their Twitter handle (e.g. @Jay_Perkins).
If you are searching with more than one word such as a job title, then put your search in quotation marks as this cuts out results that might not be the best match e.g. ‘Production Manager’ when searching for ‘Product Manager’.
This tactic requires you to periodically unfollow those who do not follow you back, say twice weekly.
Twitter used to allow you to follow 2,000 accounts regardless of how many follow you. Once you reached this point, it seems (more supported guesswork than confirmed fact) you are only allowed to follow 10% more than the number of people who follow you. So, if you had 3,000 followers you would be able to follow 3,300 in total.
This does seem to have changed more recently, so the floodgates seem to be opened for you to follow far more without needing people to reciprocate as they did in the past.
2. Search Hashtags
Seeking out the hashtags used by your target audience might be more difficult for some but there is a lot of opportunity for making a habit of monitoring the right ones.
These are after all, existing conversations or people actively looking for engagement around specific topics, so give people a little what they fancy.
Search these on Twitter regularly. Many industries have tweets tagged with simple hashtags such as the generic industry topic e.g. #SocialMedia or sometimes you pick up less obvious hashtags that have become adopted over the years e.g. #SocBiz (Social Business) or #smm (Social Media Marketing).
Either way, finding relevant accounts and looking through their feeds will allow you to pick out any non-obvious hashtags you want to start using.
When you find relevant accounts, follow and engage in conversation with them.
3. Publicise your Twitter account everywhere
Not just on your website but business cards, branded swag such as mugs, t-shirts or whatever else you’re slapping the company colours on 😊.
And I don’t mean just the Twitter logo, that’s not yours. Put your actual @Twitter account to make it easy for people to find you without guessing what you have called yourself.
Sharing images on social media? Then take the time to add your company logo in the corner of each image. You’re going through the effort of composing a message directed to value your target audience already, you may as well gain the branding benefits that go with any resulting reach of that post.
Putting contact details on your company car? Think about adding your core social profiles. You don’t want to list everything but the core channels you wish to grow (such as Facebook & Twitter) should be included.
The more they are seen the more familiar they become to people. Humans like that.
4. Use Visuals and Rich Media in Your Tweets
A little bit of digital eye candy goes a long way when you tweet.
Images get more shares, engagement and inevitably, more reach than text only posts. So get your visual game on point.
Mind the legal requirements of any images you use. No, you cannot just find an image on Google Image search and use the ones that take your fancy. People may own those so look for royalty free images, creative commons licence or invest in a library of your own with a photographer or illustrator.
Use websites and tools that specialise in providing high quality images to add to your tweets. The more relevant to the tweet, the better. Even if it’s a play on words (e.g. talking about web traffic, use an image of a congested road. You don’t have to be ‘Mr Creative’ every time).
Video is also worth your time and attention but if you are not creating your own, then avoid uploading someone else’s work on your own profiles.
Yes, there are many accounts online that do so and don’t seem to get into much trouble, but this is for your professional self and it’s generally frowned upon at the very least. Not to mention, not very fair or legal.
So, in the same way as you should never wear another man’s underwear, don’t passively take credit for other people’s work by uploading videos to your own Twitter account. Link to the YouTube/Vimeo page and tag the owners Twitter handle.
5. Commit Regularly
Twitter requires daily effort (whether you decide to take the weekends off or not) and there’s no escaping that. Even with a number of automation tools allowing you to streamline your efforts, you still need to be present in order to maximise your results.
It’s a social platform, so being social enables you to get more (usually anything at all) out of your time spent.
Make sure to dedicate certain times of the week to focus on executing your strategy. Put appointments in your calendar that are solely for scheduling tweets, finding relevant accounts and other core activities.
If you don’t set aside time in an organised way, chances are you will dip in and out either too little or too often, which will waste time and make your strategy ineffective.
Make sure you include time for engaging with other people online, a typically forgotten aspect of most companies social strategy. You should also ensure you read those tweets you’ve liked earlier in the day/week and forgot to come back to just yet.
6. Promote Yourself on Other Platforms
Beyond your own website, you may already have an audience on Facebook or via your own LinkedIn connections. Take advantage of this and make sure you occasionally promote your Twitter account on other platforms, but be careful not to sound desperate.
Promoting on other platforms can be as simple as including your Twitter handle on images you post elsewhere, listing your Twitter handle in your contact details and email signatures or even cross-promoting posts from one social channel to the other.
But be selective when cross-promoting, each social network has its own context and popular format (e.g. Tumblr is great for .gif’s and Pinterest for Infographics). Although these work on multiple social channels, you want to stray away from sharing them in the exact same context and format on each channel every single time.
Mix it up.
7. Monitor Engagement
Keeping track of how your account is performing will help you take the right decisions about your Twitter content strategy. When deciding to launch a campaign or even when adding in a new topic into the mix, your engagement metrics will help you determine whether or not your audience is responsive to the new theme.
Click metrics, engagement rate and overall reach will paint the picture of how your content is performing. Be aware, if you are constantly changing tactics on a regular basis, changing topics you tweet about, the format of those tweets, the timing etc. then your will struggle to determine exactly what change is causing any positive/negative outcomes.
Like a recipe, if you change four small parts of the recipe, you’ll be unsure which had the greatest impact on the flavour, for better or worse.
8. Mention Other Twitter Accounts
When sharing content from third party websites, or when attributing quotes and other rich media, ensure you tag the relevant persons Twitter account.
Giving credit when it’s due will expose your account to industry influencers as well as their existing followers on the occasion when they retweet or engage with your Tweet.
9. Vary The Type of Content You Share
Most account simple share the article headline and the link to take people to that content. Vary yours to keep your audience engaged and determine which tweets get the most traction online.
Include related images to boost engagement or take a quote from the body of the article and share as a quote along with the url.
Also vary the type of content that you direct other people to – don’t just include articles to written blog posts. Include Infographics, studies, videos, webinars etc.
10. Take Part in Twitter Chats
Twitter chats are typically weekly get-togethers online where people from a specific industry or followers of a particular topic respond to questions by following and tagging their responses with a certain hashtag.
In social media and online marketing, #ViralChat and #HootChat are two popular weekly chats.
These are a goldmine for boosting your own engagement and growing a relevant network of like-minded professionals. Make sure to note those who attended the chat and separately note those who engaged with you.
Monitor the chats hashtag on Twitter and keep responding to other people’s contributions, then follow those with whom you strike up a good rapport.
11. Start An Advertising Campaign
Twitter has a range of different advertising options available to all users, so if you are looking to grow your followers, here is always a good place to consider.
The budget for your Ads can be set to remain within your resources so, you don’t have to worry about being priced out of the game, as can be the case with Google Ads.
Just like in other areas of your Twitter strategy, test and test and test again. But make simple changes one at a time to ensure you know what causes the change in results.
The results of your ‘followers’ campaign will depend on the text you use in your ad, your images and your targeting.
Without too much of a struggle, you should be reaching the average cost per follower of less than 30p when you start advertising, but this will improve as you refine your targeting options, content etc.
With that in mind, 2,000 followers would cost you £600 so start small, test to see what works (attracting the right followers, of course) and then focus on your top performing ads before opening up your budget.
Paying to attract followers may seem like you are focusing on pointless results otherwise known as ‘vanity metrics’, but if you are attracting the right audience and your content strategy is good enough, these can convert into email subscribers and eventually customers.
It all depends on the targeting, the content and the offer/call to action you promote. A simple ‘follow me’ may edge on the expensive end of the scale.
Bonus – 4 Tools To Help You Grow Your Twitter Following
These are an acquired taste that not everyone will approve of using. Automation as always brings its own hazards to deal with, especially when looking at automating the growth of your Twitter account.
These can grow your followers quickly, but you will have to trade some of the quality of your audience for that payoff.
Have you ever looked at an account that had recently followed you and been undecided on whether you should follow them back or not? Now imagine trying to write a piece of code to make that decision for you at scale – it won’t make the right choice all the time.
No quick fixes, remember?
An audience grown quickly and by using an automation tool will generally be less engaged as all you have done to attract them is followed them first, unfollowing the ones who don’t reciprocate.
Equally, the accounts that follow people back in such a short space of time may tend to be on the less engaging members who are simply looking for follower growth themselves.
I see many accounts that take part in the follow-unfollow strategy, yet all they do on Twitter is share curated articles with little to no conversation with people. Many of these even fully automate their content curation, so their complete online presence is more of a facade.
If you however make use of these tools, then proactively follow-up with relevant accounts now in your network and engage in quality conversation, you could be on to a winner.
Just be aware of the trade-offs you make when choosing to use these tools. Some work better than others, so do your research.
So, When Does the Money Roll in?
On average, about 10 days after someone follows you they will make a purchase/issue a request for proposal.
Well, it was a nice thought wasn’t it?
This in an unanswerable question and one that relies on the quality and effectiveness of your Twitter strategy, content strategy, website design and user experience, email marketing and more.
As with most things in life, it’s not whether you use them at all that demonstrates their effectiveness, it’s how you use them that determines your results and the quality of multiple touch-points in your business and marketing strategy that delivers the end results.
An Audi R8 (bias car section from me) is a beautiful and fantastic piece of engineering, but it still needs a combination of the car battery, tyres, fuel and ongoing maintenance in order to deliver on what it promises to the driver.
Just because you can get in the car, move the wheels and push the pedals, it doesn’t mean you can drive the car.
How do you attract a quality, targeted Twitter audience for your own account? Are there any core tactics you use that we’ve missed?