Twitter is one of the fastest-moving, most direct social networks in existence. Rather than threads and lengthy comments, you’re limited in characters and your responses are direct. It has incredible power, but that power relies entirely on one thing; followers. You need to grow your Twitter account, and you need to do it naturally, ethically and quickly. The good news is, you can do that for free.
Use a Compelling Photo
Users want to identify with you. Unless you’re representing a corporation with brand recognition, you should probably use a personal photo rather than a logo. A CEO portrait works wonderfully. Make sure it’s at least 300 pixels square, even though most users only see a shrunken thumbnail; many will click through to see it full size.
Create a Powerful Bio
Your bio space is almost as limited as the space for your messages, but you have the ability to use it however you choose. A couple of catchy sentences will do you a lot of good. Users like to see a little cleverness in those they follow. Use the space well.
Specify Your Location
Users want to make sure you are who you claim to be, and who they think you are. Many small businesses share similar names with each other, or with other Twitter accounts. Specifying your location helps a user cross-check information to make sure you are who they want you to be. Additionally, a location is also valuable in local SEO. If nothing else, it can’t hurt and takes a mere moment to add.
Verify if Possible
The process to verify on Twitter is a bit arcane and a bit obtuse. Twitter doesn’t publish exact rules about when they will and when they won’t verify an account. All you can do is build an audience and submit a request. Don’t worry if they deny you; it doesn’t hurt you or restrict your ability to verify in the future. Verification simply adds a layer of trust if you can attain it.
Search for New People to Follow
You can’t use Twitter without following people. You need to have a list of people and entities your account follows so you don’t look self-centered and promotional. Additionally, Twitter is a social network. That means you need to use it in a social way. Follow industry professionals, thought leaders, celebrities and other relevant accounts. You can also follow anyone whom you might want to follow you back. You can also use some Twitter tools to scan your followers for users that follow them but not you. You can follow those users, counting on the fact that they likely share similar interests as your followers.
Subscribe to Lists
Lists are vetted by Twitter and include active, real accounts. You’ve probably experienced Twitter robots already; accounts that follow you for no purpose. These users increase your follower count, but to no value; they are not human, they don’t retweet your content and they don’t engage in discussions. They are, essentially, valueless followers. They are also occasionally removed, which reduces your follower count. Lists do not have these issues. Find lists that are relevant to your industry and interests, and subscribe.
Engage in Conversations
The most important part of Twitter is the social communication. Don’t simply post links to your Facebook and blog posts. Ask questions. Respond to questions and comments. Engage in ongoing discussions and hashtag chats. Engage with your followers and they will engage with your brand, your business and your persona. This is the most time-consuming and risky part of using Twitter, because a misstep may mean a viral storm of negative publicity. On the other hand, it’s not something you can avoid. If you don’t converse and engage users, your account will never grow.
Tweet Interesting Content
If you’re wondering what sort of content should be in your tweets, here are some ideas:
- Update your followers on ongoing trends. Google news and alerts are invaluable to monitor ongoing trends.
- Share photos of current happenings around your city or office. Users like to see community-minded companies.
- Share videos and ask for critique, shares and comments.
- Ask questions of your audience. Set up polls or just ask for single comments.
- Share your content, but also that of others. This way you don’t look entirely self-promotional in a transparent manner.
- Live-tweet current happenings, including popular media. Remember that Twitter is possibly the most casual and personal avenue you have as a business in social media.
You can even post jokes, random thoughts, inspirational quotes and anything else that catches your fancy. Just avoid anything insensitive, racist, sexist or otherwise politically incorrect. While you may see a rise in traffic with the controversy, it can harm your brand image.
The key to building a Twitter user base is to use Twitter. It may sound obvious, but the key is frequency. If you’re not using the platform frequently enough, you’re not taking advantage of the power of the tweet. Each individual tweet decays in utility after a few hours, or a day at the most. Rarely will a user respond to an old tweet. Keep up a regular flow of content, comments and conversation. Studies have shown that accounts with more than 1,000 tweets tend to have as many as 10x as many followers as those with fewer tweets. Aim for several posts each day, varying between thoughts, sharing content, answering questions and retweeting interesting comments.
Two common Twitter promotions are the raffle and the flock. A raffle is simple; advertise that you’ll give something away to a randomly selected follower after a given amount of time. If a user wants a chance at the item, they have to follow your account. A flock is similar; set milestones for follower counts or retweet counts. At each milestone, unlock an additional coupon, promotion, event or prize.
Promote on Your Website
Promoting on your website is easy. Add social sharing buttons to each blog post, in the contact page for your website and in your newsletter. If you have biography pages for important staff members, include their Twitter handles if they have them as well. Attach your Twitter handle to your email signature and print it on your business cards.
Promote on Social Media
Link your other social media accounts to Twitter. On Facebook, add your Twitter handle to your profile and include it occasionally in posts. On Google+, do much the same. LinkedIn is also a great source of followers, particularly among interested participants in your industry.
Link Facebook and Twitter
There are tools that allow you to post your tweets on Facebook automatically, and to generate an automatic Tweet when you post on Facebook. Use these sparingly, but use them nonetheless.
Avoid Buying Followers
Followers that you purchase are not engaged users. A few may be interested once they see your content, but many more are inactive accounts that won’t ever see your posts. Many more are spam accounts created by bots specifically to be sold. When Twitter discovers these accounts, they purge them. This decreases your follower count and removes your investment. It’s a waste of money, particularly when you have so many legitimate ways of gaining followers.