I received an email from a friend yesterday asking for my advice on how to get new Twitter followers; and I thought I would share my response.
It’s by no means a definitive list, but I hope that my advice is of use to Alex (follow her here NOW!) and also to any other Twitter newbies.
The topic of how to get new followers has been covered a lot – but I’m interested in seeing what other people’s answers may have been.
What have I missed? What would you add/take out if a friend asked you the same question? Indeed – are there any hard and fast rules?
I’d love to hear your comments – perhaps we can make this a definitive list after all?
So, here’s my response:
1. Twitter followers take time – a loooooong time to build up. I would say that you have to choose what you want to be known for, and stick to it where possible.
2. For example I tweet about public relations and social media – so most tweets that I post are about these subjects and share some kind of value to others who are interested in those subjects too (i.e.: links to blog posts, interesting news articles, podcasts, videos, hints and tips etc). This is where a lot of time is spent – trying to source interesting stuff to share!
3. You should also use hashtags where possible – for example if I search #PR on Twitter then loads of tweets come up from other people who have used that hashtag – you should then follow these people if they interest you (and hope they follow you back) and also start using the hashtag yourself to try and attract people to you. There’s hundreds of hashtags – play around and see what ones are suitable for your industry.
4. Search for people who work in the same field as you who you find interesting and follow them – re-tweet their posts and reply to them (try and engage them in conversation) they should then hopefully remember you and eventually follow you back.
5. Add your Twitter handle to emails/business cards/LinkedIn profile/ blogs etc.
6. Create your own content – if you have a company blog or personal one tweet this content so it’s completely fresh and you’re not always relying on third party content.
7. Try using a system like Hootsuite which allows you to shorten links (meaning when you’re sharing content you aren’t using up loads of your 140 characters) and track the statistics (so you can see what posts people are clicking on and therefore find interesting).
8. Try and get involved in a Twitter chat that’s around your industry – for example #commschat is a weekly Twitter chat about PR and communications (try Google to find suitable ones)
There’s loads more tips but hopefully that will get you started. I think it’s worth saying that it does take a lot of time but don’t get disheartened. It took me ages to understand Twitter!
On reflection I would also add the following:
9. Tweet regularly – not too much and not too little.
10. Learn how and when to use the ‘@’ signs and ‘DM’ function. I.e.: If you put the ‘@’ at the front of a tweet it will only go to the person you are speaking to – it won’t show up in the news feed of other followers. If the tweet is aimed at someone in particular but you think it would be of use to others too, use the ‘@’ function at the end or in the middle. And DMs should definitely be used when a conversation is becoming irrelevant to your other followers (organising a jolly down the pub with friends or something).
FINAL POINT: Follwers aren’t everything – like many things in life it’s quality not quantity!
Now, don’t shoot me but I’ve been feeling a bit ‘social media outed’ (yes I know that’s not a real word) over the last few days. It seems as though it’s ‘social media, social media, social media’ constantly – with Twitter being the Holy Grail for many. Or at least many who suddenly feel it’s the time to join the Twitter masses.
Yes, Twitter has its good points – and I’m enjoying starting to learn more about it and increase my own activity. But just because everyone’s talking about it doesn’t mean it’s right for you.
With that in mind here are ten reasons NOT to tweet.
1). You don’t have the time
One tweet a week is going to achieve nothing – it needs consistency, not complacency. If you don’t have the time yourself then create a team of ‘tweeters’ who can help create and post content. Vodafone does this particularly well –and signs off with initials which is a nice touch.
2). You have nothing to say
No one cares that you can’t get the kids to sleep or that you’re off to buy a chocolate bar (unless you’re planning on buying them one too). Think about what you’re saying – does it give value? The odd personal or sales tweet is fine but you also need to source third-party articles, and multi media – videos, SlideShare presentations, and podcasts. Build up a bank of websites suitable to your sector which you can draw on for content – useful for when you have nothing to say yourself that day!
3). Your customers aren’t there
If you sell microwaves would you go to a networking event for baby clothes retailers? No – because your audience isn’t there. You know your industry well enough (or should do) to know if your clients and customers are on social media. If not, why bother?
4). You don’t bother listening
You want to tweet but you don’t want to listen. Not good. Run searches for your brand and industry and respond where you can.
5). You ignore everyone
I’ve seen some classics of this the last few days. It’s basically like someone saying hello and you, at best, ignoring them and, at worst, saying ‘p*ss off’. Check your DMs and @ messages everyday and reply! RTs you can get away with although I always think it’s nice to say thanks if you can.
6). You’re not ready to let go of the approval process
If you’re going to outsource your tweeting or leave it to the marketing department you HAVE GOT TO LET GO OF APPROVAL!!! Twitter should be about instant engagement and speaking to real people – not track changes and streams of amendments. A good approach is to set out a social media policy stipulating tone and content. If there are any tricky situations – that’s where approval becomes necessary.
7). You aren’t going to evaluate
There’s still lots of talk about ROI in social media – but as a minimum at least track the rise in followers, RTs, @ mentions and DMs, as well as clicks on the links you’ve posted (check out Hootsuite which creates some great graphs).
8). You’re doing it because you feel you should
If you’re only on Twitter because everyone else is then is it really worth it? Because the likelihood is that you’ll certainly not be spending the time and effort on it that it needs to work.
9). You’re not willing to wait
It takes time. Loooots of time. Not seen a return in three months? It’s really not surprising – it’s those who persevere who will see results.
10). You can’t take anyone seriously who speaks the Twitter language
If you hear someone saying the words ‘Twitter’ ‘Tweet’ ‘Tweeters’ etc, and you instantly think the word ‘tw*t’ then the whole thing probably isn’t for you! In fact I’ve had a fair few conversations with people where part of the reason they aren’t on Twitter is because it ‘sounds ridiculous’. Which, you can’t argue – it really does.
I read with interest earlier in the week the announcement of a new social networking site which is launching – Path.
Referred to by some as ‘the anti-social network’ and by itself as ‘the personal network’ it promises to limit friends to just 50 people.
On its blog Path says;
‘Because your personal network is limited to your 50 closest friends and family, you can always trust that you can post any moment, no matter how personal. Path is a place where you can be yourself.’
Bit full on for my liking, but I get where they’re coming from.
On Twitter there is a constant pressure that you need to impress – you have to be funny and intelligent, and source amazing articles, and engage with strangers without sounding pushy or false. Everyone who’s on it wants to be an industry ‘expert’ and, no matter how many blog articles there are saying that ‘it’s quality not quantity’ when it comes to followers, there is still that pressure that you should have more.
Then there’s Facebook – where you have a constantly updated stream of boring ‘I’m eating a sandwich’ or ‘I hate my boyfriend’ status updates and over-shares. Plus, you have the constant de-tagging of hideous photos to worry about, which instantly appear on your profile even if you don’t want them to.
The idea of only having 50 of your closest friends is very appealing.
But it does make me wonder if it will truly work.
It is very easy to limit the size of your existing social networks – you simply IGNORE the random friend requests from old school friends and the weirdo you met down the pub last Saturday.
But the fact is that the majority of people don’t ignore them.
Perhaps its people’s natural curiosity – they like spying on their ex and seeing how much weight they’ve put on, they enjoy nosing on the school ground bully and seeing that she’s now an unemployed chav with a bad taste in bomber jackets.
On Twitter – people like the idea that they are being followed. Indeed even the name ‘followers’ makes you feel special, like some kind of cult leader, or perhaps Jesus.
So, for these reasons I’m intrigued.
Has Path got staying power or will people get bored of just seeing the same 50 people?
The fact its launching on iPhone I see as a good thing – iPhone owners already feel slightly holier-than-thou, so the fact they will now have their very own social network (for the time being at least) will no doubt only serve to be benificial. And a great way to test if the concept works.
And besides, with social networking heavyweights behind the project including former Facebook senior platform manager Dave Morin, Macster co-creator Dustin Mierau and Napster co-founder Shawn Fannin I have a feeling that they won’t take fail as an option.
What do you think – are you going to sign up to Path? Or would you miss the banalities of other networking sites?
Everyone who is anyone in the industry should be on Twitter by now, or so we are led to believe by the countless blog posts and news articles.
But it’s all well and good being ‘on’ Twitter – but how can it actually help you to build relationships with journalists or get coverage for your clients?
The Guardian recently reported that more journalists than ever are using social media as a way to research stories.
Here’s a few tips to make sure you don’t miss out:
1. Follow the publications you target
Whether it’s national consumer press, trade titles or regional publications and newspapers that you’re interested in, many of them can be found on Twitter, opening up a whole new method of communication and research. Check out the list of Twitter accounts here or search Twitter for publications in your area. Following publications can give you a good idea of what they’re covering and some even use their account as a way of asking for information or interviews.
2. Search effectively
Freelance journalists have been using Twitter for a while now to help them find content for stories. However, it can be a nightmare navigating though Twitter to find the right posts. Many have started using the hash tag #journorequest. Search for this every day on Twitter to make sure you don’t miss any opportunities for your clients.
3. Follow journalists
Follow journalists relevant to your area. Ste Davies (previously PR Blogger) has done an amazing job at compiling a list of UK journalists on Twitter. Don’t expect them to all follow you back though – unfortunately it doesn’t work like that! It’s also worth checking out Muck Rack, which gives easy access to journalist’s latest tweets.
4. Don’t spam
Just because you’re following a journalist or a publication on Twitter doesn’t mean you should spam them and send them links to every press release or feature you write. Use Twitter to listen to them and monitor what they want and how they interact with other users.
5. Make your own Twitter account interesting
Post links to your press releases on your Twitter site and have links through to your company’s website too. If it’s interesting enough then you may just get journalists following you too.
6. Be nice
Building relationships on Twitter is hard and time consuming and its best to start with the journalists you already have a relationship with in the real world. It’s always nice to promote someone’s Twitter account – a good way to do this is ‘Follow Friday’ where people recommend fellow Twitter users to their followers. Check out hash tags #ff or #followfriday to see how it works. This is a bit sneaky but a good way to make first contact with journalists without being overtly sales driven.
7. Pitch carefully
Twitter, in the grand scheme of things is still a fairly new platform for the industry, and it is yet to be decided if pitching stories directly to journalists via this medium is OK or not. Play it by ear and use your PR instinct.
8. List it
A new tool on Twitter is ‘lists’ which allow you to create lists of Twitter users from the same industry, or who tweet about the same topic. It’s a great way to find new Twitter users to follow. EConsultancy has put together a great list of some of the best ones to follow.
9. How not to do it
Another hash tag worth checking out is #PRfail – posts usually written by disgruntled journalists who have been on the receiving end of some bad PRs. Take note – bad PR is talked about, so don’t make the mistakes in the first place!