There are no end of guides on how best to use Twitter out there. I’m going to reference some of them in this blog post, but I’m also going to tell you a few things that I do myself. I’m not saying that what I do is definitive best practice, but it seems to work for me and it might for you too.
My work Twitter account – @ – has been up and running for just over a month now and I surpassed the 500 Follower mark today (21/10/2015). Not bad going, huh?
How have I attracted such a large amount of genuine, organic followers in such a relatively short amount of time? An excellent question, and thanks for asking. The answer is hard work and dedication. As Roy Castle used to say, “dedication’s what you need” (ask your parents if you’re reading this and you’re under 30). OK, he meant if you want to be a Record Breaker, but, you know, the principle still applies. You don’t get 500+ followers overnight – well, unless you buy them, and you really don’t want to be doing that, for all sorts of reasons.
I’ve put the hours in during the day and in the evening for the many and varied #Hours I take part in, and I’ve just been talking to people. No cheating, no short cuts, no big secret. There are some quick and easy tips that you can follow in order to achieve this too.
Measure your Twitter success not by your number of followers, but by the quality and level of engagement.
Follow twenty people with similar interests per day. That’s not overwhelming, and reciprocal followers will add up quickly.
Don’t follow more than a couple hundred people per day. Twitter might mistake you for a spam bot and suspend your account!
Giving Tweeps what they want
Another tip I can pass on is give people something they want. This might be aggregating useful content from disparate sources into one Twitter feed, deals and discounts, or handy hints and tips. Twitter is many things to many people. Mat Fitzgerald states in his blog post ‘Why Do People Use Twitter‘:
For small and large businesses to use Twitter as a marketing tool they really need to get away from the idea that it is an advertising platform. The default position is to broadcast, announce and basically shout at people “buy my product because it is great”. With content marketing becoming the new wave (for good reason), the shift has turned from “BUY MY PRODUCT” to “READ MY BLOG”.
While this shows a steady improvement in the overall marketing IQ of the small business world it still misses the point and is still far too business focused rather than user focused. If you want to be noticed, if you want to engage people and if you want to be remembered you need to take a ‘helping mindset’ to everything you do. In order to help people you need to know what they do and why they do it, so if Twitter is your tool, consider the following:
Twitter is a news feed
Twitter is a way of socializing with friends
Twitter is a way of keeping up to date with events
People use Twitter to gather recommendations
People use Twitter as a distraction and a time filler
People use Twitter to feel good
The rest of Mat’s post is well worth reading, as it raises some interesting points around the above. He concludes with:
The real take away from [his] blog is that mindless broadcast and promotion via Twitter has absolutely zero alignment with what people (real people) are on Twitter for. If you can tie in your twitter marketing effort with what people are already doing your results will improve dramatically.
I provide a service to people. I want people to hire me to do their digital marketing and PPC advertising for them. I could bang out the same old hard sell messages via Twitter to convince them to hire me, but, that’s giving people what I want, not what they want. Sure, the odd self-promotional tweet here and there doesn’t go amiss, especially if someone is actually interested in the product or service you’re offering, but too much of it and your following will haemorrhage.
There are rules for this sort of thing. You know, the 4-1-1 rule, which states:
For every one self-serving tweet, you should re-tweet one relevant tweet and most importantly share four pieces of relevant content written by others.
It’s not a bad rule as rules go. Rules are all well and good, but rules are there to be broken. You just need to know when to do it. Having a hard and fast Twitter strategy that follows the 4-1-1 might work for you, but I prefer to be a bit looser about how I go about things, for my own Twitter account anyway.
Diana Urban again, with some do’s and don’t’s of Twitter Engagement:
Engage with others and show appreciation for their tweets by using the favorite button as a “like.”
Be responsive on Twitter, not a robot. If someone asks you a question on Twitter, answer it!
If you retweet every single tweet you’re mentioned in, followers will think you crave attention.
If someone regularly retweets or replies to you, add them to a list so you can return the favour.
Twitter is a two-way conversation. Tweet questions to encourage your followers to interact with you.
Nobody HAS to share your content on Twitter. So if someone authoritative retweets you, thank them.
Run Twitter contests using hashtags to increase engagement quickly. It’s gratifying to win!
I’d also add to this that it’s nice to be nice. Take the time to talk to people, and if it’s not appropriate to Tweet a particular conversation then use Direct Messages (DMs) instead. Be mindful of people’s feelings and privacy. Some people call it ‘Soft Skills’. I’d call it being social and considerate.
The Personal Touch
Scheduling and Tweet management tools such as Hootsuite and Sprout Social definitely have their uses. I use them to schedule tweets in advance where appropriate, and you should use them too because they’re a great time saver. However, I’m really not a fan of the automated response message. If I’ve just followed you, I don’t want my smartphone to light up like a pinball machine (ask your parents if you’re reading this and you’re under 30) with 3 different notifications for the same annoying automated response message telling me to “Like” you on Facebook as well.
Granted, I respond to new followers with a Tweet detailing what I can do for them, but the difference is that I type it out manually and tailor it to each individual follower. I don’t use automation. Sometimes I don’t even mention my services to people if it’s not appropriate to do so – I just thank them for following.
This is the personal touch, and shows people that you’re a human (or, in my case, a Cow) rather than a robot.
I can do this because I choose to do it and can just about find enough hours in the day to do so. It’s a good habit to get into when you’re new to Twitter, but I fully appreciate that not everyone has the time to do this (even if they’ve got the inclination) once activity gets beyond a certain level.
in his blog post, ‘Twitter Tips for Beginners‘, says:
Those who are longtime Twitter users with big followings might not be able to handle this volume of responses, but for us newbies? Responding to anyone and anything is a huge part of being engaged in Twitter and growing your connections.
When someone retweets you, mentions you in a tweet, or favourites one of your tweets, they are seeking a connection with you. From a certain perspective, this is a truly humbling event. Someone has valued you and your profile enough that they want to connect. It’s kind of an honour.
Everyone needs a gimmick
Lastly, here’s something I’m going to throw into the mix. Everyone needs a “gimmick” to stand out from the Twitter crowd (or should that be herd). My gimmick is the cow theme that runs through my Twitter and other social media channels, both visually and through puns and emojis. My surname is Metcalfe. Geddit?
Whilst this might not be to everyone’s taste, feedback given so far has been positive, and it gives another dimension to my Tweets and acts as a visual shorthand for brand recognition.
Other people’s gimmicks (I don’t mean this pejoratively) I’ve come across might be Superheroes (@DigitalEyes_M), or Robots (
@KaneAtron)… What’s yours? What differentiates you from your peers and competitors who are putting out the same messages or selling the same services? If you haven’t got one then you risk being lost in all the Twitter noise and chaos.
What’s your Twitter gimmick? Tweet me with it at @GilesMDigital and I’ll retweet you.
I’ve already mentioned two useful resources above, but you might also like to check out PC Mag’s post on Twitter – ‘The 15 Absolute Best Tips for Twitter‘, and this great infographic – ‘The Art of Getting Retweets‘.
If all else fails, hire a Pro
If you still can’t face Tweeting yourself, or you simply don’t have the time to do it properly, then hire a Pro. Did I mention that I can manage your social media accounts for you? Contact me to find out more.