So why should you or I care that I now have over 1000 followers? Your number of followers is merely a vanity metric (a metric that makes you feel good but doesn’t actually directly translate into more business). Twitter Engagement Rate (TER) is a directional metric (a metric that shows you people are starting to pay attention). Your key performance indicators (KPIs) are measures that directly lead to business. I started with a vanity goal of reaching 1000 followers by the end of 2015 because you need followers to create engagement, and you need engagement to achieve KPIs. Now that I have reached 1000 followers, I am starting to set KPIs. My first KPI is to engage with 5 prospects from Twitter by year-end and convert one into a paying client. As of this writing, I have my first prospect.
Here are the 7 key strategies I used to accomplish this growth.
- Create a persona for your ideal Twitter follower. Simply stated a persona is a description of characteristics or a profile of the person who is most important to your business. I am a business coach and consultant and my target clients are startups. Therefore, I am looking for followers who are founders or co-founders of an early or mid-stage startup. I enjoy working with extremely motivated individuals who are always learning. Although much of my coaching is over the phone, my ideal client is still in the Chicagoland area. These characteristics are key to which accounts I choose to follow.
- Find and follow at least 200 users per week. There are way too many Twitter tools to describe them all but after evaluating a few I landed on Crowdfire. The free version works very well for this task by using their feature called Copy Followers. You select someone who you already follow on Twitter and Crowdfire creates a list of their most active followers. You then choose which of their followers you want to follow. Did you follow that?! In my case, I first identified Twitter users that are business coaches, startup incubators, co-location spaces, and early stage venture capitalists. And since my ideal client is in Chicago, I used Copy Followers only on those individuals or organizations that reside in Chicago. I then selectively followed the Twitter users who were founders, co-founders, CEOs, entrepreneurs or executives. Bonus Tip: Make sure you have an interesting and relevant profile. Review other people’s Twitter profiles that are similar to your profile and who have thousands of followers and then create a unique profile statement for yourself.
- Send a direct message back to each and every user who follows you. Crowdfire will automate this for you for free, but every direct message ends with "via Crowdfire.” You can remove that for $9.99/month. My direct message shares a link to my blog.
- Tweet at least 5 times per day at the times when your followers are most likely to see it. I read that a Tweet has a life span of 18 minutes. Expect that each Tweet will only be seen by up to 5% of your followers. There are many tools online to help you find the optimum time to Tweet. Let a tool like Crowdfire automatically schedule your Tweets or use a tool like Tweriod to tell you the best times. Personally, I like to use a combination. As I am reading something online that I find valuable, I use Crowdfire to schedule the Tweet. I also try to read my Twitter feed a couple of times a day, during a time that is popular with my followers and retweet or create my own post. Bonus Tip: Most experts recommend keeping your Tweets to 122 characters to leave room for others to easily retweet them without having to make modifications.
- Shorten your links so you can track how many clicks you get. I chose bit.ly for this as it both shortens my URLs and provides simple analytics. Bonus Tip: Studies have shown that 2 hashtags at the end of a Tweet engage the most people.
- Use Twitter analytics to track your overall impressions and make sure your overall impressions and ideally your engagements are increasing over time. If they are not, you need to take a closer look at your number of Tweets, their time, and their content and analyze what is working and what isn’t. Twitter is not a one and done tool. You need to keep at it and keep iterating. Bonus Tip: Studies have shown that Tweets with images double your engagements.
- Use Crowdfire’s Nonfollower feature to unfollow accounts that don’t follow you back within a few days. Technically, you can follow 2000 more users than are following you but I like to keep the differential under a few hundred. Repeat this process every few days. Find 100 new interesting people to follow, give them a few days to follow you back, and if they don’t, unfollow them.
And that’s all there is to it. Now I’m off to meet with that first prospect that found me on Twitter. Wish me luck.