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Ian Blair

13 Twitter Following Growth Hacks for Small Businesses

If you think public relations and social media are not one and the same, you’d be mistaken. Sorely mistaken. You see, both disciplines complement each other and having a good understanding of how Twitter ties into it all, can see you experiencing exponential growth.

What business or entrepreneur wouldn’t want to utilize Twitter’s full suite of marketing tools especially when the returns can be so meaningful and profitable?

To send your Twitter followership rocketing into the stratosphere, you must take the following into account.

What Do You Want to Achieve?

From the get go you need to start asking yourself questions like: For what purpose do I need Twitter? Am I only using it because my competitors are and they’re reaping the fruits?

What you want to acheive

Set clear short and long-term goals, and tailor your tweets around them. Much like any marketing activity, being clear about your Twitter goals is crucial. Without a clear and transparent goal in your sights, your tweets will likely wander off and you may end up sending the wrong signals to your followers.

Tailor your tweets and profile around feasible goals and outcomes which are to be accomplished using Twitter .

Customize Your Profile

Ultimately, your profile says a lot about your Twitter brand image. It should reflect everything your business is about. These are the elements you need to consider:

Customize Your Profile

Display Image

This should never be blank. Use your company logo or something that directly reflects your brand.

Background image

An image which signifies your product/service is ideal, something that ties in well with the message of your brand.

Description

There’s no need to play with words here. Use relevant keywords to describe your company, which resonate well with the target audience.

Location

Let’s not get too creative here by using planet Earth or sector E-9 of the Prime Nebula. Keep it clean, simple and straightforward.

Appoint a Social Savvy Person to Run Your Twitter

Interns seem to be all the rage these days in social media. “You still in college? Got Facebook? Welcome aboard! You’re the new face of our social media marketing campaign!”

If you value your social media person the same way you value other crucial aspects of your business, here’s why you absolutely should not leave this up to an intern:

  • When audience members connect with a brand, they’re expecting to interact with someone who’s been there for well over 30 days, not 30 seconds. Even though interns can identify your audience, they’re not in a position to identify ‘with’ your audience. It’s not their fault really. It just takes an experienced and more mature individual to understand the intricate nuances of the industry.
  • Almost all internships are temporary. When the reigns of your campaign get passed on from intern to intern, a uniform tone gets lost in the mix. Even if the intern has a fab personality, there’s no guarantee his/her successor will, and your followers might suffer unnecessarily.
  • Sure, an intern might please or impress you in the interview, reciting core values of the company or memorizing how it came into being. However, knowing how to recite the brochure well on Twitter does not translate into a sound social media strategy.
  • Hey, when the stuff hits the fan, you need an individual who can gracefully deal with trolls. Social media is rife with ‘unknown unknowns’. Experience plays a key role here.
  • You shouldn’t be putting the weight of your brand’s world on an intern’s shoulder; it simply isn’t fair. Social media is a medium which demands someone who truly knows how to bear all that power and responsibility.

Organize Your Lists

Use Twitter Lists to group online users together according to similar interests or characteristics.

When making use of social media philosophies, you can conveniently look for people, including addressing the right individuals who you feel will respond favorably to your updates and posts. You also get to see what these people are tweeting and join in if you wish. Here are some details you need to keep in mind:

Look for people you want to group together. Start searching actual handles of people you know, through the search field.

Organize Your Lists - Mashable

Once found, go to their Twitter profiles and click the gear icon. Next, click on “Create a list”; fill in the “Create a new list” window.

Organize Your Lists - method

Indicate the list name, privacy settings and description. Set privacy to private or public. Depending on the characteristics of people that are being categorized, you can make up to 20 Twitter Lists. The account of the individual you save is instantly added to the created list. Whenever you need something on social media, you can refer to these lists.

In addition, you can also use Twitter advanced search & Followerwonk to zero in on customers, like-minded prospects and influencers – by searching keywords related to your industry. Once you’ve accomplished that, follow and interact with them regularly.

It’s also a good idea to make a list of the 100 most influential people within your space; we’re talking bit-time bloggers, potential partners and clients alike, leaders, journalists etc. Add these individuals to a private Twitter list and engage with them on a daily basis. Use HootSuite to make this process a little easy.

Try your best to keep the tone casual and helpful, not promotional. Building a relationship is important as is seeking opportunities to collaborate.

Use tweets as Testimonials – Embeddable Tweets

Do you know you can expand your Twitter conversations to include more people from your online community?

Embedded tweets let you do just that. You take a tweet/conversation and put it up on your blog or website. You can also share your tweets with a larger audience.

Embedded Tweets

Embedded tweets let your website visitors or blog readers:

  • Share conversations with their own Twitter community by retweeting
  • Mark tweets as “favorite”
  • Reply to tweets and join in on the conversation
  • Follow the tweet author
  • View the tweet author’s Twitter profile
  • Check out tweet replies by going into tweet date.

All of this happens smack in the middle of your website! Since Twitter throws in a little pop-up window, your visitor never leaves your blog or website. It’s a lot like having a Twitter launch pad installed right in your website.

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Embedded tweets spring up on your page since they boast graphic elements which draw in visitors. When you embed a reply, in addition to posting the reply, Twitter also posts the original tweet, providing a conversational view. Individual tweets make a lot of sense this way.

Outlined below are seven creative ways you can take advantage of embedded tweets:

1. Add Testimonials and Customer Commends to Website: Tweets are an excellent source of customer testimonials and embeddable tweets allow you to highlight one tweet at a time without having to create an entire list.

2. Share Event Invitations: This one is especially useful if you host business events. Embed invitations tweets in a blog or even a list of soon to be held events on your website. Visitors use the embedded tweet to see the event invitation, share it with their Twitter community and ask questions if they wish.

3. Add Ideas/opinions to Your Blogs: Bloggers love including quotes and opinions from other folks into their blogs. Embed tweets from others into your blogs. Embedded tweets also let readers establish connections with new contacts on Twitter and jump right into conversations from your blog post.

4. Continue a Twitter Conversation in Your Blog: Twitter conversations can inspire you to post a blog. You should embed a chunk of the conversation into your post and reach out to more folks this way.

5. Share Event Comments: Ongoing trade shows and conferences have a screen displaying Twitter conversations and comments taking place between the attendees. Embedded tweets let you capture handpicked comments and pass them around in a regular ‘wrap up’ blog or event website.

6. Share Audience Comments: Spur of the moment compliments on your products or services might be paid during a webinar or training session. Why not capture such tweets and embed them into descriptions of upcoming trainings or webinars? This will clearly demonstrate what makes them so popular and loved among attendees.

As a speaker at an event, you might find attendees sharing highlights of your talk on Twitter, praising your efforts. Share these tweets on your website as testimonials to your success.

7.  Add Tweet to Email Signature: Your business email signature provides a small space to make a sizable impact. Looking to seal the deal with a prospect? Embed a tweet with positive customer remarks or add a tweet about an upcoming event – this helps you interact with people before the event.

Use Twitter as a Customer Service Channel

You have 140 characters to maximize responsiveness. That’s all you get. Speaking of getting, let’s get this out of the way first:

Twitter’s character limit demands that your approach be focused toward relationship management. Customers expect to be heard, and an honest and timely response goes a long way in terms of retention.

Twitter for Customer Service 

To have an effective Twitter response channel, you need:

Preparation; know what customers want. Evaluate what your customers are sharing – is it a request or complaint? Are they talking about the same issues that went unresolved through the company helpline? Are tweets connected to your chosen brand handle or is the handle only being used in a tweet? Have they called or emailed you prior to sharing these tweets?

A social media response criteria needs to be put in place. Forecasting any type of issue that may arise just isn’t possible. Create buckets instead – instances where you should respond on the channel, issues that must be tackled offline and situations where an internal escalation is required. Avoid have a response script. Customers do not take kindly to canned responses, and they shouldn’t have to.

Always on; create two accounts – one Twitter handle for focusing on marketing messages and positive engagements, and the other to deal with irate customers. Post clear and transparent response times. Users should know up front how long they’ll have to wait to get a response, particularly if it’s outside business hours or over the weekend; list availability under the “bio” section.

Twitter for Customer Service - Godaddy 2

High response; delegate authority to the individuals handling the account. Educate them on everything pertaining to social approach and customer service. Then, “let em’ loose”. Customers usually expect a resolution within the first 30 minutes or less, after a complaint has been made. They do not need to wait for lengthy wait times or procedures where a manager must take over. Empower your customer service staff.

Be proactive; Twitter can be used as a bi-directional service channel through which you can make customers aware of certain issues, i.e. you’re an electrical company and there is a power interruption. Let them know about this, post regular updates and provide your level-best assurance that it’s going to be resolved in an efficient and timely manner.

Transparency; Customers enjoy knowing who’s at the other end. Share details of the individual running the account. If you deem appropriate, share their name or initials.

Twitter for Customer Service - Tranparency

Disclosure guidelines must always be shared with customers. Share with customers what they can expect when interacting with the brand channel. Let them know what info they can and cannot share and how the person operating the account, will use that information. You can share this through a link in the bio section.

Find Your Potential Customers

Use Twitter to the fullest by “listening” to the latest customer opinions, industry news, your competitor’s stance and much more.

To set up a good social listening program, you must create meaningful searches and save to review them later.

The first step requires a little creative thinking on your part. If you’re a Twitter newbie, start with the basic high-level keywords. Let’s say you own a store selling gym equipment in Chicago, you should search “gym gear” or “gym equipment” and “Chicago”; you’ll get the latest tweets on gym equipment in Chicago.

Take your advanced search to the next level: if you happen to be a store that sells barbells and dumbbells only, you can use the search field “None of these words” to add “workout machines” later. Want to search locally only? Choose your location and exclude people tweeting outside of Chicago.

Find Your Potential Customers

You can toy around with features like relevant hashtags, search for people who are particularly fond of training with barbells and dumbbells only, relevant accounts etc. You might need to go through several iterations before you find one that fits you well. There’s a fair amount of trial and error involved.

The second step demands that you save the search and keep checking in from time to time – you must watch the conversation like a hawk to make sure no developments slip by you. Hit save, and tune in to the results whenever you need.

Followerwonk

Followerwonk lets you analyze your Twitter account as well as your competitors’ accounts so that you can optimize your marketing strategy accordingly.

This tool also helps you find people you feel should know you; it allows you to see who’s following whose accounts and pit that against your own Twitter following. Followerwonk also lets you:

  • Look for users through a specific trait or keyword
  • Analyze Twitter followers on somebody else’s account, or who they are following, based on several metrics.
  • Track followers as your Twitter campaign progresses
  • Sort followers or those followed based on name, number of days on Twitter, number of tweets and more.

Increase your Twitter presence and acquire more and better targeted Twitter followers. Followerwonk’s features are organized according to Twitter bios searches and user comparisons, follower analysis, tracking as well as sorting.

Schedule Your Tweets Using Buffer App

Buffer app is a great tool that lets you schedule tweets to be posted at a future time and date. Once installed, click on “Add to Buffer” to add a post, article, tip or quote, to your Buffer. The posts then go out to your Twitter Feed (or Facebook Feed if you’ve chosen) at pre-scheduled times of the day.

Editing your Buffer lets you decide if the post should go out right away or at the next available time slot. Just top off your Buffer and there will always be posts ready to go out.

One standout feature of the app is that you can check your tweets status; see how many people clicked on your tweets or retweeted them, including favorites, mentions and the overall influence of your posts.

Closely Monitor Trending Hashtags

You need to look at trending topics and hashtags – this will help you find a way to make an ideal connection with your brand. You see, by placing your business among trending topics, your handle will be visible when people search tweets with regard to a specific hashtag.

Closely Monitor Trending Hashtags

Tagging your posts with a relevant and trending hashtag or two will help you acquire new users. However, it is best to use hashtags sparingly, as Twitter might regard them as spam, especially when they’re overused or tied to irrelevant content.

Get More Customers through Twitter SMS Follower Feature

Twitter SMS subscription is an excellent way of hooking up your offline customers with your online marketing drive. Cell phone users can get SMS updates from any Twitter user through subscriptions; they don’t even need to have a Twitter account themselves.

For example: SMS “Follow @username” to 40404, and get all Tweets of that specific user right on your cell/mobile phone, as text messages.

Caution must be exercised: people generally don’t take kindly to receiving several hundred texts a day. The best way to use mobile subscriptions: create a separate Twitter account for those mobile subscribers and try not to send more than 2 to 3 important messages each week.

This is a great way for small businesses to stay connected with customers. It’s practically like an offline mailing list.

Find Employees Trough Twitter

Here’s how you can use Twitter to leverage your recruiting efforts:

Engage: Get into conversations, build online camaraderie, get the rapport going, you get the idea. Always include your corporate culture in the conversations. Your Twitter stream should be a medium that talks about more than just what the company does in terms of products/services. Start talking about your workplace even before reaching out to prospective recruits. Generate interest.

Search well-known job-related hashtags in your job postings as it’s going to reach a wider audience. Also monitor hashtags to know of ongoing job-related activities.

Organize Weekly Twitter Chats and Promote Your Hashtags

Twitter chats really are the best thing ever. They are an extension of your hashtag driven marketing strategy as Twitter chats are tied to specific and original hashtags through which tweets are organized and tracked.

To have a successful chat, follow these steps:

  • Set a date and time when you know most of your followers will be online. This can be determined by looking at the time and days your followers retweet, comment on your content or mark it as favorite.
  • Choose a hashtag – the same one has to be used every time a chat session is held. Keep your hashtag short and concise. Keep them memorable and unique. Don’t make em’ too complicated such as having symbols or the pound sign.
  • Setting an itinerary – you need to be a well-organized host. Since people come from different circles and join at random, they might go off-topic. Break down your Twitter chat into segments so that only certain topics can be discussed within a certain timeframe.

Before starting your Twitter chat you need to have a moderating staff in place. They’re absolutely necessary as they can keep things running smoothly and even prevent your hashtag from being hijacked.

Bring in the Tweeters – it’s time to announce and promote your chat using the designated hashtag. Start sending reminders days or even weeks prior to the chat. The rules should be easy to understand and the hashtag must be clearly labeled, along with participation instructions.

While your chat is live, use a management tool to monitor things. Arrive in advance and test the hashtag. When it’s all said and done, send a little thanks tweet to the participants. Engage in some post-production promotion.

You can also use the following tools to better organize your chats:

Here are some well-known examples of Twitter chat hashtags related to digital marketing, follow them to get the initial idea,

Monitor Your Twitter Analytics to Check Reach

Twitter’s built-in analytics let you grasp a good understanding of what resonates well with your audience, and what doesn’t. Use the analytics dashboard to judge the best days to tweet, types of content favored most by your audience and specific demographics of followers you’re attracting.

After that, you can replicate what works and reevaluate posts that aren’t making the mark.

Bonus Tip:

And here are yet more tools to squeeze out the most juice from Twitter:

Is there any tip I missed out? Let’s talk about it in detail under the comment section 🙂

Ian Blair

BuildFire Co-Founder. I'm a digital marketer by trade and an entrepreneur at heart. I'm here to help businesses go mobile and build apps more efficiently than before.