I had a small but engaged Twitter community I enjoyed, but adding new followers had been neglected and my Twitterverse wasn’t growing. Yet I knew Twitter added value to my business. For example, just prior to attending a conference a blog I promoted in Twitter using the event hashtag introduced me to five people I likely wouldn’t have met at the event otherwise. I needed to rethink my strategy.
I’d been reading a lot of testimonials about Social Quant and decided it was time for me to give it a try. In its simplest form Social Quant helps you find new Twitter followers by automating the process of following and unfollowing people based on keywords that you define. I selected this tool to experiment with for three reasons:
- You do NOT pay for twitter followers. You pay a small fee to use their algorithms.
- They offered a free 14 day trial no credit card required.
- I had a million questions and not only were they incredibly responsive, even on weekends, they were totally transparent about what they do and how.
- The keyword based approach meant, at least in theory, I’d be finding relevant followers.
It was with some trepidation I started. I’ve always had a strong belief that automating twitter activity is counter productive. And in my head I associated tools like Social Quant as taking the humanity out of my social outreach. I’m meticulous about building relationships and everything about automation feels wrong. But here’s the rub. Using Social Quant did anything but automate my social activity. In fact, I’m spending more time on Twitter than ever before and with positive results. In three weeks by Twitter following has grown three-fold. My content is being shared more, my community is engaging in interesting twitter dialog, and my stream of new people I follow are exposing me to good content I would have missed otherwise.
Here’s what I’ve learned along the journey.
#1 You can’t automate social, but you can get help. OK, I already knew that but using Social Quant validated it for me. While I can’t automate my social engagement I can use tools to help me find relevant followers. It’s my job to keep those followers engaged by being responsive, sharing helpful information and commenting on material they have produced. That part is anything but robotic.
#2 It’s OK to unfollow twitter peeps. I’ve always had an almost religious conviction that it is my job to earn my Twitter followers and that following then unfollowing those who don’t reciprocate was a cop-out. But after using Social Quant for the past three weeks I’m willing to get off my soap box and accept unfollowing those who don’t follow me is OK. It simply means they aren’t ready to engage with me and I want to focus my attention on those who want to join the conversation. It does not mean those individuals will never connect. It simply means they aren’t ready right now. There are other ways to get on their radar when the time is right by producing good content others share.
#3 Following large numbers of people on Twitter at once isn’t scary. What would happen if I followed 100 people at once? In my head I was blasting the universe and I was bound to be breaking an unspoken taboo. All that actually happened was that many of those I followed, reciprocated. That’s it. My imagination could go back to focusing on something else.
#4 I’d been too narrow in who I followed. Focus is good, but I’d been almost exclusively following people I’d met, heard speak, or authored articles I valued. While I had saved searches for topics of interest, I rarely followed the people in those streams. The net result, they rarely followed me despite sharing a passion for similar content.
#5 I hate auto generated DMs, but I hate generic thank you for following tweets even more. It’s one thing to use technology to help you find relevant community members but it’s another to use it to start a conversation. Please, please, please stop sending generic thank you for following me tweets. It just clutters the twitter stream for everyone. If you are really grateful tweet me something interesting! I love marketing, cooking, technology, my boys and milk chocolate. And you’d know almost all of that simply by reading my bio.
#6 Spending time with keywords matters, a lot. Spending time on your keywords matters a LOT. In the past three weeks I’ve gone in every couple of days and updated, changed and removed keywords. This has helped me find the most relevant, interesting conversations. Social Quant provides some good conversion metrics and the ability to back-trace followers to determine which keywords are working for you, and which are leading your community astray.
#7 You can still follow who you want, even if they don’t follow you! I make good and active use of the “Must-Follow” list in Social Quant. Must follows for me are made up of:
- People I find totally fascinating and who consistently create content I care deeply about
- Most of my clients & key influencers important to their business
- Previous co-workers with whom I have a good relationship and want to stay connected
- Brands I use on a regular basis who tweet offers and information I find useful (very few make the cut)
- Smart, talented marketers who I really want to meet someday. Groupies aren’t just for rock bands! All kidding aside, if we’re sharing a conference hashtag, we probably should be sharing tweets
- People I’ve met in person with whom we created a connection
- Most critically…people who have shared my content or engaged in a bi-directional twitter dialog.
Did you notice I didn’t once say I follow people with the biggest following? While numbers of followers is an indicator of influence, it is only one factor. Look for relevance, shared passion and engagement.
#8 I under utilize lists. I haven’t tackled using lists yet, but as my twitter community grows I can see how they will be a very helpful organization tool.
#9 You can tweet too much. I’d always thought you couldn’t tweet too much and often posted several tweets from an engaging presentation I was attending. Turns out what I was doing was fine, but you in fact could tweet too much! I’m not into shaming so I won’t post pictures but if you post/RT/share 25 pieces of content within 30 seconds I’m going to skip over all of it.
#10 TrueTwit validation might be the most annoying tool on the planet. I’ve got to give it to TrueTwit they have a strong adoption strategy. Sign up for our basic service or I’m going to annoy you with follower verification messages constantly! Honestly, I don’t see the need to verify my twitter followers are real people not bots. I’d rather have the occasional bot follow me then put up a barrier to making a new connection. For those who see it differently know I follow maybe 25% of those that force a TrueTwit validation. It’s simply annoying.
#11 I need to pay attention to my most recent 3-4 tweets When someone follows me I take a quick look at their profile and last 3-4 tweets to determine if I’m going to follow back. Since reaching out to build my community I’ve become much more conscious of my last 3-4 tweets since that is what others will use to judge our passion overlap. It’s a moving target, but it is all you have to leave an impression. Make sure they represent who you are. If you’ve taken a reprieve from standard content throw in a tweet with your more typical material to demonstrate a more normal content flow.
As much as I’ve learned there are a couple of downsides I haven’t yet figured out how to eliminate. First, 1-2% of my new followers are job boards and they are sneaky buggers. They use my keywords in their content to capture eye balls so it’s difficult to eliminate them. And while I could use “job” as a negative keyword in my search that would eliminate too many people I want in my community. Secondly, occasionally I find a non-English tweeter in my stream. While I bet their content is relevant (based on my crude translations) I’m afraid I can only operate in English and miss out on their material. For now, I address both by simply unfollowing the twitter ID.
This was an unusually long post but I hope you’ve found it helpful. I for one am glad I shook off the cobwebs that were stagnating my twitter growth.
What are you using to grow your twitter community?