There is a common misperception of Twitter and other social media channels as being an easy way to market yourself and your business. Unfortunately, even though it’s free, it’s not always as easy as you might think.
Anyone can have a presence; however, the struggle is usually how to get more followers on Twitter. While there is no overnight solution, you can definitely do it. It will require time and patience–more importantly it takes effort and a commitment to engage with other people on a regular basis.
Related: Freelancers: Get Started on Twitter
Just because you happen to be engaging online, doesn’t mean the connection is any less real than one you would make at a networking event or social gathering.
The question is: How do you encourage steady growth without hitting a wall of frustration when your follower count doesn’t seem to increase as rapidly as you’d hoped?
Quality Over Quantity
The first thing to remember is that it’s not necessarily numbers that count. It’s the quality of those connections. There are many gimmicks and methods available to increase Twitter numbers (some of which are against the Twitter Terms of Service in fact, so you have to be extremely careful), but it’s been my experience that most of them aren’t worth the time.
Sure you might gain more followers, but they probably won’t be quality followers. They might even be fake followers that will provide absolutely no value to your network whatsoever.
What’s the point in having 20,000 followers if only a handful of them bother to actually read tweets, engage in conversation, and help share your message in the form of RTs? It’s far better to have a few hundred or a thousand followers actually taking time to read, respond and interact with you.
At the end of the day, those are the people who will actually care about what you have to offer. Everyone else is just inflation.
Follow Others Relevant to Your Business and Your Interests
Twitter doesn’t have to be just about business or your industry. You can engage with people that share similar personal interests as well, and that ultimately makes for a well-rounded Twitter following that you can be both professional as well as a little more personal with.
Twellow is a great source for finding followers (aka Tweeps) you may have things in common with to follow. In many cases when you follow someone, as a courtesy they will follow you back. So by following relevant people, you can also gain a potential new follower yourself. Just don’t expect a follow back and get your nose bent when it doesn’t happen.
There are some people that simply will not follow you back unless they know you very well or know of you. That’s not necessarily an insult it’s just a testament to their commitment to keeping their Twitter following as uncluttered and engaged as they can.
Maintain Your Account
Speaking of clutter… perform regular maintenance activities on your Twitter account, especially as your following grows larger. There are tools that help you to do it; one of my favorites is Tweepi.
Some tools are better or more feature-rich than others, but it really boils down to personal preference and budget.
Maintenance activities you might perform include unfollowing Twitter users you followed that offer little in the way of engagement, or that are constantly tweeting spammy content. Or maybe they are never on Twitter anyway. Kind of pointless to follow them if they are never online, right?
Tweepi also lets you follow new people, unfollow those who have not followed you back should you wish to, and also recently released a new feature allowing you to force undesirable accounts that may be following you, to unfollow.
So if you’ve got a spam-happy follower or two and you don’t want to be associated with them, you can very politely send them on their way.
Remember That Conversation Counts
Tweet often, but remember to leave room for conversation and responding to others. The ideal tweet length, including link, is usually between 100 to 120 characters. This leaves space for 20 to 40 characters of free space where others may wish to add their own comments to the retweet. Ask questions, @reply people directly, use things like hashtags effectively, and don’t tweet links or boring quotes 24/7. Also be careful not to over-tweet as you’ll risk followers un-following you if they become frustrated that you’re clogging their newsfeed.
Social media is often called the handshake of our generation. It’s the new way to connect, relate, and converse with people you wouldn’t be able to reach any other way. But if you can’t make the effort to talk to people and implement the same social niceties you would deploy if you were face to face, why should they make the effort for you?
Related: How to Nail Your Brand Voice
Do you have any Twitter tips or tricks you’d like to add? Share your thoughts below.
This is an archived post from the FreshBooks Blog and was originally published in June 2013.
About the Author: Freelance journalist Susan Johnston Taylor covers entrepreneurship, small business and lifestyle for publications including The Boston Globe, Wall Street Journal, Entrepreneur and FastCompany.com. Follow her on Twitter@UrbanMuseWriter.