Between you and me, I think most people out there don’t understand Twitter. I think they’re confused by the RT #hashtag @mention mumbo jumbo. But truth be told, it can be an insanely powerful business tool and can help spread your brand’s message like a wildfire.
Think of it like this: on Twitter you can chat with someone without being their “friend”. You’ve never been able to do that on Facebook. I’m not hating on Facebook, it’s amazing for so many things, but Twitter is a completely open arena for two-way communication.
The problem with Twitter is that people who aren’t confused by it sometimes abuse it. This is mostly by companies or people trying to sell you something. Realtors are a great example. Do you follow any real estate agents on Twitter? Don’t bother. All they do is Tweet house and apartment listings. Isn’t that what you already do on your website, Facebook page and blog? Don’t show me the same listings on 3 or 4 different channels and expect that to get my click. Say “Hi” to me or link me to an article you wrote on how awesome a particular neighborhood is. Would you ever meet someone in person and just start shouting real estate listings at them without saying anything else or even listening to them? Then don’t do it online either.
Twitter, more than any other social network, is more like a modern-day AOL Instant Messenger. Remember when people used that? The key is that it’s a conversation tool and shouldn’t be used to broadcast a one-way message. You are not a billboard, sir.
So how do you grow your following on Twitter? Well wait, why is having a big following important?
It depends on your intentions. What will Twitter function as within your business? It should definitely have a unique purpose and not just be an extension of your Facebook page or regurgitate the same information as your blog; otherwise, what’s my incentive to interact with your brand on multiple platforms? A lot of people are using Twitter for customer service. Dealing with compliments, complaints, questions, and overall brand mentions are easy to track and practically instantaneous. You want a big following in that instance, to take care of as many customers through that interface as possible. If you’re using it for feedback and customer interaction, a bigger following means a bigger data set. In both these instances, a bigger following also means a larger reach when you post the occasional promotional tweet.
Now let’s figure out how to grow your following. I’ve basically already told you, but I’ll say it again: Talk to people. Be interesting, produce or link to cool content, and sound like a human. Have a profile photo and an “about” blurb, and make them both awesome; now start using Twitter’s search feature to find people that would be interested in the content you produce. Say “Hello”. Wash. Rinse. Repeat.
This may sound like common sense, and that’s because it sort of is. If you’re providing value, entertaining or educating your followers, they will love you for it, and probably spread your message to their friends as well. The problem a lot of people face is they don’t see instant results and they give up. Let’s dispel the myth of overnight Twitter success right now. This is going to take time and effort. You should be spending at least a couple hours per day on Twitter (spread out throughout the day) if you want this type of growth. For example, I spend my morning checking my feed and finding some interesting content to post throughout the day. After that I check in every 1-2 hours for about 20 minutes and have a few conversations, and explore other people’s content. It sounds like a lot of work, but the return is fantastic. When you’re active and followed by many, you can participate, influence and help control your brand’s message, even when you’re not the one Tweeting about it. What company wouldn’t want that?
Keep an eye out for a post within the next few weeks about how powerful a simple Twitter search can be for your business.