May 23, 2017

Is Your Audience Listening?

This is a topic I’ve struggled with over the past few years. There are so many people that measure success based on the number of followers/fans they have, but I question how valuable these numbers are. Those companies that do email blasts to a billion people see success as a 2% click through rate…. they’re playing the numbers.

I’m currently in the camp that believes quality is better than quantity. I actually read the profiles and posts of people I follow on Twitter and I don’t automatically follow people that follow me. If I get a friend request on Facebook, I check to see if I know the person and, if not, I check to see what friends we have in common. The justification I have for both myself and the organizations I work with is, having an engaged audience is more valuable than the raw numbers. I equate people that blindly follow others on social media to someone grabbing one of those business card fishbowls you see in restaurants – you can add all of these people to your contact list, but will most likely never do business with any of them. What’s the point?

The counter argument is that the more people you can reach, the more likely it is that your message will fall on friendly ears. If 2% of those fishbowl contacts is actually interested in what you are doing, then that is one successful connection for every 50 cards you filch.

I like analytics quite a bit, but I think that the real measurements that have value are in absolute numbers, not ratios. How many people are actually interacting with you through retweets, mentions, direct messages, comments, likes and wall posts? If you can push these numbers up that show engagement (without annoying people) by following every single person, then your ratio is shot, but so what? If you can do it by exerting more energy to vet your audience – fantastic.

Here are what I believe are the secrets:

  1. Add value to the conversation instead of just acting as a shill for your interests. So many organizations create accounts and turn on the traditional broadcast tower … “buy my product, visit my business, enroll in my self help program, etc.” What information are you providing that help people pursue their interests versus just another advertisement?
  2. Go deep on the conversations your audience wants to have. Social Media is a two way street and your opportunity to have an ongoing conversation, build relationships, and turn bystanders into passionate patrons.
  3. Focus on the real metrics that measure if people are interested in what you have to say versus how many people are within earshot.

I’d love to know what strategies others are using. Let me know what you think.

Attracting Followers on Twitter

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.

Twitter Culture

First, it’s important to understand the culture of people that use Twitter.

  1. 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.
  2. Tweet something of value. If you are promoting on Twitter, make sure your tweets have value – do not post annoying messages.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

Adding 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:

… 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.

Tweet Content

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!