Love it or hate it, Twitter isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. Where else can you discover news and stories happening throughout the world in real-time, directly interact with brands, celebrities, and political figures, and openly share your thoughts with thousands, even millions of other people with just a few taps of your fingers?
Indeed, Twitter has forever changed the ways in which we communicate. For better or worse, it has interwoven itself into the very fabric of modern culture and taught us what it means to be ever-connected to people and businesses across the globe.
Twitter was one of the first major social media networks, launched in 2006. More than a decade later, it remains one of the most popular social platforms, with roughly 330 million monthly active users.
Whether it was among the creators' initial intentions or not, Twitter effectively became one of the most powerful marketing tools in existence. There is great value to be had in utilizing Twitter as part of your digital marketing strategy. Here are my top 6 tips to continually grow and manage your Twitter following and maximize the ROI of your efforts on the platform.
1. Develop a Strong and Consistent Brand Image
A strong and consistent brand image is one of the most fundamental aspects of an effective social media strategy. No matter where your ideal client encounters you, you want your practice and brand to be recognizable in an instant.
The colors, imagery, and design elements used in your profile and owned content should match from one channel to the next. Likewise, it is prudent to remain consistent in the way you convey your practice’s “voice”. This is not to say that you can’t be creative and spontaneous at times. But consistency equates to stability and reliability, and can assist in maximizing positive perceptions of your brand.
These ideas may seem superfluous for a small business, but I assure you that they are not. By creating this seamless experience across all channels, it will help you to stand out from the competition. Likewise, it keeps you at the forefront of people’s minds and fosters greater trust and authority with your audience. It even makes your own employees more proud of their role and satisfied with their jobs! All of this serves to make a more lasting impression with your audience so that when they need your services, your practice will be the first they think of.
This concept also applies to your personal profiles, to varying degrees. Any goals along the lines of thought leadership and recognized industry expertise will be far more achievable by employing the aforementioned concepts.
2. Post a TON of Great Content
You can find countless articles that carefully examine the ideal timing and frequency of posts on all of the major social media platforms. On Twitter, much of it goes out the window. There really is no such thing as over-posting on the platform. This is due to the fast-paced and ever-shifting nature of the Twitter feed and the highly transient lifespan of individual Tweets. So Tweet away!
Almost any type of content that is relevant to your brand, industry, and services is fair game. Fun, humorous, and general interest posts also can get a ton of reach and engagement, but just make sure it is in keeping with your brand identity and voice.
Post plenty of original Tweets of your own, but also retweet and engage with other people’s content as well. Don’t be afraid to Retweet other professionals in your industry. This demonstrates to your audience that you are taking part in larger conversations.
While you can and should post a ton of great content at all times of the day, it’s still a good idea to regularly check your Twitter Analytics and monitor what content types and topics perform best. Try to discern any patterns in time of day, day of week, and Tweet performance. Similarly, monitor relevant and high-visibility hashtags to use in your posts and consider creating some unique branded hashtags that you can use frequently.
Lastly, consider using Twitter Ads to get more Tweet engagements and video views. Use these paid features only on your most meaningful and high-value content. Examples would be promoting an event, a special offer, a particularly strong blog post or piece of content, or some key company announcement.
3. Be Ready to Respond Quickly and Frequently
Twitter users desire quick interactions. They expect timely responses to questions, product info, inquiries, etc. In fact, when it comes to complaints, most people want a response within an hour! Twitter has essentially become a vital customer service channel. This is imperative for businesses of all sizes, and perhaps even more so for small businesses. With fewer incoming leads, you cannot afford to ignore someone attempting to contact you through social channels. You risk turning them off as a customer, or worse, risk having them write a bad review or make a public scene of how they feel wronged by your actions or inaction.
You can completely manage Twitter from right within the platform, but you might also consider using some form of social media management software (or hire an agency that does!). This will allow you to stay on top of all incoming messages and activity and closely monitor brand mentions.
Keep in mind, it’s not all about damage control. There is also a tremendous opportunity to enrich people’s lives and provide meaningful experiences. The average Twitter user follows fives businesses, and 77% of users feel more positive about a brand when their Tweet is replied to. There have been many notable examples of a brand going far above and beyond to exceed a customer’s expectations via Twitter, becoming an instantaneous viral sensation in the process. You can delight people all over the world with a highly visible display of outstanding customer service.
This concept can also extend to your personal Twitter profile. The more active and engaged you are and ready and willing to actually communicate with people in a timely manner, the more likely you are to quickly grow your following.
4. Practice Good Follower/Following Management
When it comes to your actual follower count, the goal should be to continually grow your following of engaged users. One of the easiest and most effective ways to achieve this is to simply start following more relevant accounts! Many users adhere to the “follow back” rule, i.e. “you follow me, and I’ll follow you.” If you follow 100 people, you are in turn likely to get a handful of new followers.
It’s easy to get caught up in the numbers. At the end of the day, having 100 followers who are truly interested in your content will be more valuable than having 1,000 followers who couldn’t care less about what you have to say. There is, however, a certain vanity component whereby users are more likely to follow someone with a higher number of followers than accounts they are following. Likewise, people are less likely to follow someone who follows many accounts, but have very few followers of their own.
More often than not, a high follower count indicates a high-level influencer, or celebrity/public figure status. Likewise, popular brands are likely to have huge followings. For less notable businesses and individuals, you want to shoot closer to a 1:1 ratio of followers to following. It’s important to work towards maintaining this ratio. Services like CrowdFire and Twitonomy allow you to easily manage and clean up your following (and allow you to do other really useful and interesting things on the platform).
Watch this screenshot video (requires Flash), as I use Twitonomy to unfollow immaterial accounts. I view all of the people we are following, add a filter to show people who are not following us back, and then sort by date of their last Tweet.
There is no sense in following inactive accounts that don’t follow you back, and/or haven’t Tweeted in a long time. And if a person doesn’t even bother to create a profile picture, forget about it! Exceptions can be made for friends, family, or accounts you personally find value in staying connected to, even if they don’t follow you back.
The last thing I will say is, don’t buy followers. Ever.
5. Identify High-Engagement Opportunities
Twitter is a bustling public forum with countless conversations happening every day on every topic under the sun. Part of what makes Twitter so unique and exciting is that you can chime in on every one of them at any time! These high-engagement opportunities are everywhere and provide a viable means to get more visibility, more engagement, and more followers.
Twitter chats are a fantastic example. Twitter chats are recurring real-time conversations on Twitter, that are facilitated via a unified identifying hashtag. There are chats happening on literally every topic imaginable. They are typically hosted by a company or organization in the industry and happen at the same time and day each week (sometimes bi-weekly or monthly). And again, anyone can participate simply by Tweeting with the chat’s hashtag. There’s no better way to instantly engage with people interested in the same industry, content, subjects, etc. as you.
Another good strategy is to monitor the “trends” list on your Twitter homescreen. This can be set to monitor trends just in your local area, other specific cities, or the top trending topics across all of Twitter. There is nothing wrong with “riding the wave” from time to time, especially if a trending topic happens to coincide with your local area, industry, or products and services.
6. Utilize Smart Automation (with Care!)
Automated services and Twitter have had a long and sometimes rocky past. There was a time when you couldn’t follow anyone without having your inbox bombarded with automated direct messages pushing this ebook, pitching this service, etc. Luckily, the collective Twitter conscious has in large part veered away from these practices. Also, Twitter itself has taken great strides to remove spammy and fake accounts, bots, “trolls”, and the like.
There are a great number of impressive services available to marketers that help connect all of your apps and automate certain workflows. There is no reason not to incorporate some form of automation into your strategy. It may be as simple as auto-publishing your new blog posts and content directly to your Twitter feed via an RSS trigger, or sending new followers a brief “thanks for following me” Tweet. You might consider connecting multiple social platforms together to ensure ample cross-posting.
The objective here is to use the convenience and efficiency of automation to streamline various menial tasks without taking away from the personal, genuine aspects of social media. The moment your Twitter account looks and feels like a robot, you’ve gone too far. Use automation to free up more time for you to focus on meaningful, lasting engagement.
But as the saying goes, your mileage may vary. Always experiment, and be sure to always track and analyze your progress to discern what is and isn’t working.