August 27, 2012
Startups tend to create a Twitter account before they do anything else. However, your success on Twitter depends upon your goal. For most people, it’s about driving traffic to a certain webpage, and then converting that traffic into sales. The second majority wants to use Twitter to maintain a brand reputation, and either send out news, reply to support requests, or share insider information like pictures and videos.
For me, I’m a bit of both combined with a third: experimentation, such as for my new ebook, Tom’s Twitter Blueprint.
I created over a dozen accounts to test which methods work. I bought every premium software program and professional service available online. I purchased thousands of fake followers to see if that leads to organic growth, and I interviewed a host of people who had learned to gain Twitter success the hard way: through trial and error.
In this exclusive insight for Tech Cocktail, I want to show you what I learned from those people. They’re not social media “gurus,” but individuals who have gained success through trial and error: professional athletes, fashion designers, porn stars, journalists, housewives, musicians, and an electrician.
1. Do it in the bathroom
Updating your Twitter doesn’t take long. A minute at max. But what does take long is thinking what to write, or the time you then spend having to remember what you were doing before and what you needed to do after. In other words, Twitter is extremely distracting. This is the reason why the majority of people I interviewed admitted to doing their Twitter in the bathroom. “You gain something from your loss.”
2. Follow Fridays
Every Friday, there’s a Twitter phenonemon called Follow Friday or #ff. Normally, it means giving a shoutout to all your new or favorite followers, recommending them to others. For example: “Follow Friday! #ff these amazing people: @tomchurch, @stranger.” They in turn, should give you a shoutout too. So, on Fridays, do this three or four times and you can get quite a few shoutouts. Of course, corporate accounts or professional services are much less likely to do this.
3. Gain followers outside of Twitter
A top tip from the journalists: they get more followers through people clicking buttons on their sites than they do from Twitter itself. A common strategy used is to say, “Keep updated with the latest story as it unfolds by following me @journalist.”
A second strategy is to try and be the man “on the ground” for breaking news stories. There was a bomb-scare in London earlier this year, and one journalist left his office immediately to go to the scene. He tweeted pictures, and kept the public updated with live information and quotes from the police. In that one day, he gained over 5,500 followers. Now he does it wherever he can.
3. Run competitions
“To win this for free, send a tweet saying ‘XYZ, I would love to come to #this.’”
A favorite tool for musicians, giving out free tickets or back-stage passes to people who tweet about them is a sure way to gain more followers. They actually cross-promote their different social media profiles by telling their Twitter followers to like their Facebook page, and telling their Facebook fans to follow their Twitter account. The musicians I interviewed explained how they also put up screens in the venue, telling the audience to tweet requests to them with a certain #hashtag. With a big crowd, this can quickly lead to the hashtag becoming a trend that organically grows outside the event.
4. Pay with a Tweet
Something I learned and wrote about on my blog Communication is the Key is the strategy of letting people get something if they tweet about it. In my case, I gave away free WordPress tutorial videos once they clicked the Twitter button. This turns your blog readers/website traffic into Twitter followers, gaining you another channel of communication (the more channels the better). Adult actresses and porn stars (I live in the red light district of London, UK) use this regularly, helping their pictures and movies go viral.
5. Reply to everything
One professional athlete (recently in the London 2012 Olympics) explained how it’s his rule to reply to every single mention – unless they’re negative. It doesn’t matter if someone’s retweeting him or just saying hey, he’ll always reply. This does two things:
a) It makes the person feel good and more likely to send him another message.
b) It gets his followers to see that he’s being talked about, and they end up following him, too.
Very rarely does he actually post anything original, i.e., of his own making. 99 percent of the time, he’s replying to questions or mentions. He tries to keep those answers funny, so that they in themselves get retweeted and perhaps copied and pasted online.
6. Limit yourself just to Twitter
You were probably wondering when the electrician would come into the story. I met him when he came to fix my boiler and handed me a business card with just a Twitter URL on it. Amazed, I asked him why.
“It’s free for you, free for me, I can send you digital files for instructions, you can send me a picture of the problem before I come over, and through that process, I get a little bit of free exposure as well.”
By limiting his accessibility to Twitter, he gains more followers than if he had his number and a Twitter URL. Given the option, would you ever follow an electrician on Twitter?
These are some alternative techniques that have worked for the individuals in question. You can find other tips anywhere online, such as to be genuine, provide great content, and post at 9 am on a Monday. I wanted to give you some insight into the people you wouldn’t normally hear from.
I think the greatest question you have to answer for yourself is “Why should people follow me on Twitter?” Write out the answer, and then tell them, whether it be online under every blog post, or in person when you hand over your business card.
Social media is a thank you economy. You have to give them something to get a return. Being you is not enough. Whether it’s an exchange for information, skills, expertise, attention, time, entertainment, or a good, you have to give something. The next question is how you give it, and then how you advertise that you’re giving it.
It’s not easy, and it requires discipline, but in most scenarios establishing a strong Twitter presence can help you achieve business and personal goals. Take advantage of the scheduling and automated re-tweeting tools available, or do your Twitter during otherwise unproductive moments like the Bathroom Tweeters.
Guest author Tom Church is the author of Communication Is The Key and founder of London Startups. He advises global brands on their marketing strategies and graduated from University College London, UK. As a Tech Cocktail reader, you can download his new eBook, Tom’s Twitter Blueprint, for free.
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