by guest author Mallie Rydzik
Mallie and I actually connected on Twitter years ago when we were both still studying & working in meteorology (weather geeks unite!) and then reconnected a few months back as fellow solopreneurs. When I saw Mallie sharing some big wins Twitter had brought her new biz recently–including several interview requests, new clients and business partnerships–I asked her to come and share her tips!
Twitter is an amazing social network that I have used to find tons of business opportunities. While I started using Twitter in 2009, I only began the latest iteration of my business a few months ago. During that time, I've gained over 2500 new followers and have found tons of new connections through the platform.
While it might seem overwhelming at first, here are 4 specific things you can do to grow your own following:
1. Follow the people you want following you
“Follow for follow” or “followback” are terms you may have run across while browsing Twitter. Most of Twitter’s audience is interested in growing their own following to increase their social proof, so many people will return your follow by following you back.
Be aware that Twitter caps the number of people you can follow at 2000, and they have been known to suspend accounts with “suspicious” following and unfollowing activity. Once you reach the magical 2000 number, you need 2000+ followers before you can begin following new people.
While the rules seem to change, generally the pattern seems to be as follows:
- I follow 2000 people
- I have 2000 followers
- I can follow an additional 10% to 20% of the number of followers I have (200 to 400 more people) before Twitter stops me from following more people.
A good source of potential followers is the Twitter account of someone you want to emulate. Let’s say you want to be the next Danielle LaPorte. Go to her profile, click on her followers, and begin following some of those people.
2. Unfollow people who don’t follow you back after a certain amount of time
Given the limits on followers, it does not behoove you to continue following inactive Twitter accounts or people who choose to not follow you back. You can use free tools like Unfollowers.com to see who does not follow you back within X days, and then unfollow them, leaving you free to follow more potential audience members.
I try to allow at least 3 days before unfollowing someone, especially if I follow them on a Friday afternoon and they may be offline for the weekend (I am told there are people who do that!). Now that I’ve passed 3000 followers, I tend to give people closer to a full week to follow me back before unfollowing them.
Keep an eye on your “recent unfollowers” as well, because a lot of people will simply follow you, wait for you to follow back, and then unfollow you. While this improves their follower/following ratio, this is generally considered bad Twitter etiquette.
3. Be engaged on your page
There are multiple streams of thought on how often you should post, what you should post, and the optimal times of day to post. I tend to ignore this advice and make sure I keep fairly equal portions of the following types of content on my feed throughout the day:
- Interesting content from other sites, credited to the Twitter account of the writer or article host (for example, “4 Tips For Using Twitter from @MetNightOwl: http://ctt.ec/nuz1Q+“)
- Images with quotes made on Canva
- Inspiring quotations credited to their original author (give Einstein some credit!)
- Direct retweets of other people’s content: business-related, pop-culture related, news related, or otherwise interesting or funny
- Comments or observations about my day and what I’m working on, giving my audience insight into both my personality and working process. Here’s a real tweet from this morning:
There is a woman doing standing pushups on the counter at the Bethesda Starbucks. #starbucksobservations
— Mallie Toth Rydzik (@MetNightOwl) July 15, 2014
- A handful of tweets about following me on Facebook, joining my mailing list, links to my own content, or otherwise self-promotional posts.
- Responses to almost everyone who tweets at me.
- Recommendations to follow other businesspeople on Twitter.
Notice the variety of content that I provide. No one would follow me if I just talked about myself all day, and why would they? It’s important on Twitter to provide valuable content—not just content that you created, but content that others created as well. (Note from Jackie: the 4 Pillars system will help you stock your Twitter account with this wide variety of content! Grab the free training here.)
You can’t operate in a vacuum either. After you follow people, many will tweet you to ask about your work or otherwise say hello. You should respond to all these people.
There will come a day when you have 2 million Twitter followers and you’ll have to hire out a social media manager to handle all the inquiries. Today is not that day. You are asking people to engage with you, so the absolute least you can do is respond back to people who tweet you.
It can be overwhelming to keep up with all the tweets you should send during a day, which is why I use Hootsuite to schedule things like quotations in advance.
4. Participate in the conversation
Feel free to add your two cents on conversations that people are having. You can search topics that you are familiar with via the website’s search feature. Just pay attention to the timestamp on the tweets, otherwise you may be responding to a tweet that is a month old!
TweetChats are becoming increasingly popular, particularly in the business world. I participate in Chelsea Krost’s #MillennialChat every Tuesday, because I know my audience (Millennials!) is participating.
TweetChats are generally organized by one account, and experts are often invited on to discuss the topic at hand. The organizer will tweet the first question as “Q1: What do you think about…?” and then the participants (including you!) can respond with “A1: I think….” Simple.
These conversations are great for reaching a large audience, because people will generally favorite and retweet a lot of the tweets during a chat. Just be sure to provide valuable, not self-serving content, otherwise you will turn people off of your brand.
Real ways Twitter has helped my business
Following the aforementioned 4 steps, I have had potential clients, interviewees, interviewers, and business partners find me and reach out to converse:
- After following one woman who appeared to fit my target demographic, she immediately followed me back, tweeted at me about how much she loved my stuff, and spent the next few days commenting on my blog. After a week or two of exchanging tweets (always respond!), I asked if she’d like to chat about working together. We had a phone call and she signed up for my upcoming course.
- I tweeted somebody’s article that I found interesting and he tweeted me to thank me. Upon reading my bio and visiting my site, he realized that we had a lot of goals in common, so he invited me to be on his podcast.
- I followed a woman who was not in my target demographic but appeared to be an interesting person. She reviewed my website and contacted her business partner, and the two of them reached out to have me speak at their telesummit. After our phone conversation to discuss details of the talk, they then asked me to be on their website’s advisory board for the next year.
- After following a virtual assistant, she found my email and reached out to ask if I’d be interested in interviewing her clients on my podcast. Her clients ended up being big names in the lifestyle business field!
- I followed someone with a business similar to mine, only to discover she lives where I work! We ended up having dinner together in person, and she is now an affiliate of mine.
I’m not doing anything unique here, but I am always being authentic. I’m not a used car salesman, and I love that Twitter allows me to reach out and connect to people I’d otherwise never talk to. Give it a try! Get involved in conversations, be yourself, and see where that leads you.