To this point, I’ve told you what Twitter is and how to get your account set up. Now what? You are ready to go, but there is little value unless you have people Following you. This post will tell you how to build an audience.
First, it’s important to understand the culture of people that use Twitter.
- People like people that like them. Twitterers receive an email notification when someone follows them and frequently will at least look at their new Follower’s profile to see if it is someone they might want to Follow in return. There is a lot of reciprocity on Twitter and that can be a huge benefit to your organization. NOTE: Your profile should have a clear one-line bio that explains who you are and what you are all about. If you are an Asian-fusion restaurant or American period furniture store or vintage clothing store, you should have included that in your one-line bio.
- Tweet something of value. If you are promoting on Twitter, make sure your tweets have value – do not post annoying messages.
- Recycled Tweets a.k.a. Retweets. People on Twitter are all about the information flow. If your posts truly have value, with an established Follower list, you increase the odds of being Retweeted (think of it as someone forwarding your tweet to all of their friends). For example, if you announce the event of the year then I definitely want to go, but want my friends to be there as well so you get a Retweet. This amplifies your message.
- Don’t be a freak with frequency. Advertising on Twitter is fine. Also, being pretty active with your tweets is good (it keeps your name in people’s minds if nothing else), but this can be abused. Tweeting a couple of times a week is fine. Tweeting daily is fine. Even tweeting multiple times a day can be fine if the tweets have different content, but be careful. If you are filling up a Followers stream with posts that are diluting their friends’ posts, you run the risk of losing Followers.
With an understanding of Twitter culture, we can now get to the good stuff – getting Followers.
Add people from your online address books
If you have an address book on Gmail, Yahoo!, or AOL, you can have Twitter search their database to see if any of them are already members. Go to the Find People link at the top of Twitter, click on Find on Other Networks and enter in your login information for the specific network (selected on the left).
The first screen will tell you people that Twitter has found that have profiles and you can Follow them. This has the added benefit of telling these people you already know that you are on Twitter.
In the next step, Twitter allows you to specify the people that you want to invite to join Twitter. Select anyone you want to invite and encourage them to not only start tweeting, but to follow you. You don’t have to do this if you are uncomfortable about it, but it can build your Followers quickly.
Advertise your Twitter profile
Now that you have a Twitter profile, you need to make sure it is advertised everywhere you promote.
- Put it on your: business cards
- Add it to your emails (to the “sig”)
- Include it on receipts (if you are a business)
- Email it to all your friends
- Add it to your website/blog/Facebook profile, etc.
- Include it in your next direct mail campaign
Search for Twitter Followers
If you are steak house or antique store in Atlanta, then use Twitter’s search function (on your home page) to find people that are mentioning steak Atlanta or antique Atlanta. Check out the profiles of these posters and Follow them to 1) stay informed about what people are saying about your organization’s industry and 2) possibly gain a new Follower for yourself (see point 1 under Twitter Culture). Don’t be stingy with your Follows, they can pay off.
Direct Message Likely Patrons
If you come across someone that expresses a strong interest in what your organization does, send them a direct message. For instance, if you are a steak house and found someone that has a one-line bio that states “I love me some steak” or even if they posted a Tweet saying “I’m on a quest for the best steak in Atlanta,” they could be your next patron. Sending them a message along the lines of, “We would love it if you came in and tried our steak. It’s grass-fed and delicious. Good luck on your search!” Personalizing the message makes it that much more valuable.
- What is a direct message? Basically, if you put an “@” in front of the person’s twitter name anywhere in a tweet, then you are direct messaging them and they will be notified. So if I posted a tweet that said “@mcrudele and @apfurniture use twitter” then that is a direct message to me and apfurniture. Easy.
- Don’t be annoying. Personalizing a direct message to someone will most likely catch their attention and might gain you a Follower, but don’t be annoying. If they don’t respond and/or don’t Follow you, leave them alone.
Hunt for Patrons
Serious twitterers – even individuals – use the tips listed in Advertise your Twitter Profile. They promote their profile in emails, on their blog, etc. in hopes of gaining more Followers and this is great for you. If you are a restaurateur, you need to know all of the food bloggers and reviewers in your town and Follow them on Twitter. If you are a clothing store, the same goes for the fashion bloggers.
To give you an idea of how this works, I did a Google search for atlanta restaurant blog. This very quickly led me to:
- http://atlanta-restaurantblog.com/ => http://twitter.com/MHarricharan
- http://atlantafoodies.blogspot.com/ => http://twitter.com/beccamendelsohn
- http://blissfulglutton.blogspot.com/ => http://twitter.com/blissfulglutton
- http://www.chowdownatlanta.com/ => http://twitter.com/chowdownATL
… and that was just from page one of the search results.
If you Follow these influencers and direct message them a personal message, you are well on your way to gaining influence.
I mentioned that your tweets should offer value to your followers, but I want to tidy up by giving you some examples. Some tweet ideas include:
- Upcoming events
- Daily specials
- New shipments of inventory
- Organizational news – a new chef, new hours of operation, your intention to attend at an upcoming seminar/convention, and new partnerships are all tweet-worthy
- Web links to articles that are related to your industry
- Other news related to your organization’s industry – a restaurant providing info on e-coli outbreak would be fine
Keep in mind that people are following your organization, not you, so posts about the terrible traffic downtown or your political thoughts (unrelated to your organization) are annoying. Stay on message.
I hope this helps get you started, but I’m really interested in anything I might have left out. Let me know any thoughts you have!