If you write, have a blog, or are generating content for the web then having a great publicity engine is crucial for success and Twitter is such an engine, if you leverage it correctly then it can be the Internet’s version of the Town Crier, an essential part of your publicity success and having a large following on Twitter is essential. Here are 13 tips for building a following:
1 — You don’t have to Know the Person to Connect
Many people love to build their networks involving friends, colleagues, and the people they know, but you cannot limit yourself this way on Twitter if you wish to use it as your publicity engine, there is a practical implication to building a large following. We all need new followers, don’t think it is a sign of weakness to admit you need new followers, even Twitter megastars, such as Guy Kawasaki, Rich Simmonds, Brian Solis, or Kim Garst are constantly on the lookout for new followers and connecting with people who can help their cause.
As a writer you’ll never know who may be interested in your work which by itself is a good reason the extend the size of your network, a way of finding new readers.
2 — Ask People to Follow You
Asking people to follow you may seem to be uncommonly bold, but all it takes is a Tweet:
“Hi I am Peter, specialising in X, Y, and Z. Follow me”
“I’m Peter and have a blog about X, Y, and Z Please follow me”
Many will feel this is too bold, but there are times when it is necessary to simply ask, people do so when they are looking for a job, so why not when publicising your work? There are also times when self praise is an important tactic to use, show something you have done and it will bring people in your area of interest out to follow you.
Do not ever consider purchasing followers, these schemes are designed to grab money and do not provide you with any benefit.
3 — Follow Those that Follow You
It is considered courteous to follow back and as a general rule you should follow all people back.
There are some exceptions to this rule in my view: if a person has no bio and no picture then in my experience they have no intent to stay on Twitter and it is a waste of time to follow them; if I find people showing pornography or dirty pictures on their stream then I stop following them (this is not a matter of being prudish it is because I use Twitter as a business tool); people whose Tweets are 100% in a language I do not understand are difficult to follow as you don’t know what they are saying.
4 — Follow Social Media Influencers
Sometimes they are called Social Media Whores (or Smores) because they do not discriminate about who they follow or have following them. Connecting to those having a large following can open you up to a larger group of people who can potentially hear your message. You may learn something about Social Media, blogging or your subject of interest from the things they Tweet about and you should be prepared to read their material. Truth is people know the big names of the Social Media world (and I am not talking about film, music, and TV celebrities here) but those who know how to use this medium best, they have made money using these systems.
Social media influencers are people you should pay attention to and it has been suggested that you regularly mention them in your tweets in order to build a wider audience, not a tactic I have used personally, but I am proud to have been followed by some people publicly recognised as influencers.
5 — Repeat your Tweets
You should post regularly on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google Plus, and Pinterest and there is a lot of value in re-posting your material, as on this global media people may not have seen your post the first time you tweeted it.
It is a good idea to develop a publicity plan for each post on your blog and this should operate for many weeks after the initial publication also don’t be afraid to publicise blog posts which may be a year or two old. By having a plan then your posts will continue to receive attention for weeks or months to come and the amount of effort spent on publicity can be minimal, perhaps 10 minutes per day if you use your tools properly.
6 — Use Tools to Aid You
There are many tools available which help post your work automatically be publicised while you are otherwise engaged. I use the Buffer App to buffer posts that I am sending out on social media, it allows me to spend 30 minutes setting up Tweets that will be sent out over the next few days, in the meanwhile I also interact with other people in my network, retweeting their interesting work and communicating in other ways. Tools should be used to automate an element of your posting. Other tools include:
- Automatically follow back those that follow you.
- Categorize people according to their interests.
- Automatically post new blog articles to all social sites.
- Identify people who stop following you.
7 — Don’t Act like a Machine
Having said that using tools to automate your activity is a good idea it is possible to appear as if you are a machine, an automaton without a soul through your posts. This is the negative side associated with any and all advertising campaigns people get bored by your message and this is particularly true with Twitter and can also be seen when using other social platforms. Yes you need to Tweet about blog posts but you also need to communicate with other people:
- Take time to get to know some of your new followers, follow their discussions, visit their blog, join in.
- Thank them for Likes and RTs
- Like other people’s posts and look at their blogs
- Retweet (RT) other people’s posts.
- Take time to look at the tweets other people have created and compliment their best work.
- Don’t RT things you disagree with (especially politics).
8 — Clear out the Dead Wood
With Twitter there is nothing as bad as following people that don’t follow you back. There are some that follow many people each day with the express hope that you will follow them back, but they are not interested in anything you have to say so they unfollow you within a few days, their intention is purely about gaining followers but that they don’t care about what their followers think or have to say. These are the type of people you don’t need in your Twitter network, they are dead wood and need to be removed regularly. You need to use software, like Unfollowspy or “Friend or Follow” to identify those who unfollow you and ensure you stop following them. The people you need in your network are those that continue to follow you.
9 — Use Pictures and Images
Twitter has developed and it is now possible to post pictures with everything you post, indeed it is possible to make great use of this capability to empower your tweets with enhanced messages. Pablo by Buffer, the source of this image, is a great way to create images with embedded quotes etc. Also make sure your blog posts have featured images which can be added to your tweets.
Guy Kawasaki has supported the idea of using pictures to build a Twitter following as long ago as 2008 and has even used pictures of sacred cows in Mumbai to gain followers, it is a case of being bold and adventurous and sometimes a little daring.
10 — Links should be used for 90% of your Tweets
As a blogger one of the major reasons you are using Twitter is as a part of your publicity drive, it is a way to tell people about the latest posts you have created, but it should also be a way for you to highlight articles in your specialist area produced by those you respect. You must not spend all your time on Twitter advertising material.
Spend time interacting with people, look for people asking questions about your area of expertise then respond to their questions (often here a link to a blog post can explain what to do or help solve their challenges).
11 — Avoid the Mundane
People don’t want you to say “Good morning” at the start of your day, or “Good night” when you are going to sleep. The same is true if your flight has just been delayed — you may care as may your spouse or the person you will be meeting, this is irrelevant mundane information and will switch many followers off. We have a mobile phone, email and SMS messaging for that kind of message, use the appropriate tool not a mass communications tool. There are security implications of giving out too much information.
Tweets about the mundane turn people off (unless you happen to be a TV or pop celebrity). We all have our challenges and it is true that people in our network can help solve them — we have all heard stories about people have others rescue them because of tweets sent out to people in a specific locality, but this is a rarity.
12 — Show your Passion
Showing a passion and excitement about your specialist subject should shine through in your writing and is vital to success as a writer in any genre. Blogs posts are generally short being 750 to 1250 words in length on average. Tweets on Twitter are limited to 140 characters (including the hyper-link) and can have a picture, really just enough for a headline, but they should show your passion for the subject at hand.
13 — Be a Subject Expert
In Twitter people are interested in a wide variety of things and not all will be shown in their bio. If you start tweeting about antique cars then you will start to gather followers who have some interest in that subject, you may even be added to lists for antique car collectors, this is good because you are being associated with other people having similar interests. This can help you and your blog to grow. If you tweet about antique cars and have a blog about that subject then it will draw people in, you should show your passion and expertise.
While talking about antique cars it is possible that there may be many other similar interests, those interested in the history, those interested in restoration, those interested is a specific brand, and many other groups. It is also possible to be an expert in antique cars without knowing anything about the restoration process and it is possible to be an expert where restoration is the only thing you know. Truth is that experts also have different interests and there is room for all types, what makes you tick?