8 Tips to Help You Expand Your Twitter Community Rapidly
By Bill Miltenberg, PR News
On April 2, the @PRNews Twitter account reached a milestone of 40,000 followers. Exactly one year prior, the account had 4,400 followers.
While brand managers shouldn't view Twitter success as a numbers game or popularity contest, building a larger following can help amplify your strategic efforts—from customer service and fundraising to building awareness for your brand. And, of course, it's just plain exciting to watch a community grow.
Here are some of our lessons learned in building the PR News Twitter community.
- Don't be a droid: Show that you've got a human side, and that your account is not just an automated RSS feed. Pose questions, use varied punctuation and provide a tone and voice for your account—even if it's managed by multiple people. Give your audience—and your prospective audience—a reason to follow you on Twitter.
- Respond when people talk to you: When you receive an @ message or a direct message—with the exception of automated direct messages—respond. Simply say thank you, start a conversation and express gratitude when a connection is made. If you're worried about filling up the feed with these personal tweets and crowding the content-driven or business-goal tweets that you feel the rest of your followers would prefer, you can schedule them for off-peak times. Even then, the recipient will be notified you've responded and will be more likely to engage with you again. Speaking of scheduling tweets...
- Schedule tweets for early mornings and later hours: The social Web is a 24/7 content-consumption beast that should be fed even after you've left the office for the day.
- Give credit: With @PRNews we're fortunate to have a lot of stories of our own to link to, but if you don't have that option, showcasing others' work is a great way to build connections. Linking to a blog post, article, idea or any other type of content through another person on Twitter is a great way to show your audience you're a must-follow in your industry, and that you're not operating in your own company's silo.
- Participate in conversations at industry events: Be sure to know the hashtag of the event you're attending, and keep the tweets flowing around it before, during and after with summaries. Use direct quotes, @mentions of speakers and retweets of fellow attendees to let everyone on site know that you're worth following.
- Integrate paid and earned: Depending on your budget, placing ads on Twitter to promote either individual tweets or your account itself can provide high visibility for a relatively low cost. Dallas Lawrence, chief global digital strategist for Burson-Marsteller, says Twitter's sponsored campaigns are one of the best crisis management resources, and a way to gain more relevant followers. “Twitter’s targeted follower acquisition strategy is an effective way to go from 1,000 to 10,000 followers and can help amplify your messages,” says Lawrence.
- Bookmark and use the PR News Twitter Directory. This Twitter handle directory of PR agencies/consultants, corporations, nonprofit organizations, PR professionals and media, is sortable by category and can help you find a handle within the industry in a pinch. You can also find leading individuals and companies to follow, as well as Twitter chats to participate in to make more connections.
- Make the tweets useful. We link to useful content—both content that we create and content created by others. But not everyone has time to link through a tweet, so try to make the tweet itself valuable to your community.