Building a Twitter community is the most important skill to develop when starting a Twitter campaign. Fortunately, building a strong Twitter community is easy to do. Follow these steps and you’ll be on your way to establishing a thriving Twitter community:
- Tweet, Tweet Often and Tweet with a Purpose – Before you start your Twitter campaign begin by thinking of your purpose . . . or generate a mission statement. Our mission statement is to help business owners share their passion with others. We work with passionate business owners to help them increase their exposure, build their businesses and become positive examples for their communities. Every tweet we send out is aligned with our goal of helping business owners become successful. You won’t see tweets from us about what we had for dinner or our plans for the weekend. Be true to your mission, tweet, and tweet often. The more active you are on Twitter the faster your community will grow.
- Provide Value – Everyone says you need to provide value, but I never really understood what that meant. Value is an ambiguous term, but it still applies. My understanding of value is offering something to someone else that is a genuine effort to improve their lives. Many people online, and on Twitter post what I call, “look at me articles.” The greatest way to give value and create a more enthusiastic community is to genuinely try to help others. It helps by addressing specific people’s issues and concerns and then sharing those issues with others.
- Actively Listen – The coolest thing about Twitter in my opinion is the search feature, type in any word into the bar at the top of the Twitter page and every single tweet that had that term in it will show up. This provides marketers with an amazing opportunity to reach out to people who are actively communicating on Twitter. For our clients we actively look for users who are communicating about their product or service and we reach out to them . . . we listen to them and we alter our strategies based off of their responses. Listen actively and you will have a more engaged community.
- Don’t Sell – Don’t post “Look at Me” articles . . . most people get on Twitter and constantly post tweets that sell . . . buy this or buy that. Do that and be sure to create a non-existent Twitter community. No one wants to constantly be sold to. So, don’t sell . . . be helpful and sales will come. Use Twitter as a way to generate relationships first . . . trust second . . . a whole bunch of other things between and sales last.
- Follow Others – Follow others who post tweets that resonate with you and engage with them. The more you engage others, the more likely they are to engage with you.
- Use Your Face as Your Profile Pic – People connect more to other people so be sure to use a profile picture that shows your face and preferrably a happy face at that. We personally use a logo for our business twitter account, @WelbornMedia, but I usually connect with more people using my personal Twitter account, @ZebWelborn which has a picture of my beautiful face. It always feels nicer to know who your talking to and easier for people to develop an emotional connection with you . . . thus making your community stronger.
- Look at Other Peoples Lists. Once you find people to connect with and people who you enjoy communicating with, check out the lists they’ve created. Chances are there will be more people like them that share their passions and interests and you can connect with them thus building your Twitter community.
- Jump into Conversations – Don’t be afraid to get your feet wet. Conversations are happending all over Twitter all the time. Twitter chats are a great way to get involved. But, most importantly, don’t be afraid to respond to people . . . most people love getting responses to their tweets, so don’t be shy and meet more people.
- Followers Don’t Matter. Active Followers Do. – The amount of people following you will not matter when it comes to making sales . . . the amount of engaged followers will. There are tons of automatic following programs and Twitter has a large amount of users who don’t use the service on a regular basis, meaning a follower who is no longer using Twitter is no longer seeing your Tweets. Building an engaged following is much more important than building numbers. Don’t be obsessed with numbers, be obsessed with relationships.
- Be Consistent – I heard an analogy once that being a Twitter user is like being a farmer. Few people have the patience to be a farmer, to plant the seeds, to tend to the plants all year long and then to harvest the plants at the end of the season. A farmer can’t be absent during the process . . . if he does not tend to his crops, his crops will die before it’s time to harvest. Twitter is the same way . . . You plant seeds by initiating conversations with different people. You cultivate those relationships on a regular consistent basis and, then, and only then will you harvest the fruits of your labor. If you ignore your crops they die. If you ignore your Twitter followers they will not become your customers.
Share Stuff – As the owner of The Tutoring Solution, our mission was to help inspire students to become successful in and out of the classroom. To develop connections with other groups similar to ours we began sharing messages from other members of the #EdChat group, as a result they learned about our programs and our goals and began sharing our stuff. We then, worked together to promote our missions and our community grew.
- Use directories like Twellow, Twubble, Twits Like Me, etc. There are numerous Twitter directories that has influential Twitter users in your field, you can then use those directories to follow people who share your interests and in turn may follow you. At the least you’ll see what influential people are doing to make an impact in your community.
- Follow those who follow you. If someone follows you and they’re an active Twitter user, follow them back . . . not only should you follow them, but you should also reach out to them and thank them for following you. I feel honored every time someone new follows me and I want to make sure my Twitter users know how honored I truly am.
- Develop a Strong Bio – Often times, Twitter users will check out your Twitter bio to see if you’re someone they would like to follow. Be sure your Twitter bio is compelling and lets Twitter users know exactly what kind of person you are and what kind of relationship you will be creating with them. Optimize your Twitter account . . . be sure to include target keywords, links to your website, add your location and give users a reason to follow you.
- Use a Strong Brand Name – Your name is important. Use your own personal name, a name that goes with your brand, and one that Twitter users will want to connect with.
- Create Lists – You can create lists on Twitter which will help you when you start to follow too many people to keep track of. I’m involved in many Twitter discussions: SEO, Google AdWords, Social Media, and Education just to name a few. By putting your followers into groups you can then jump into their discussions by accessing the list you have created for each group.
- Introduce People to Your Followers – As you communicate with people its important to share them with others. If you know two people who share the same passion, connect them with each other. Twitter is all about building relationships . . . Help people build relationships and they will help you build your community.
- Follow People from Different Niches – Everyone has their area of expertise, but that doesn’t mean you need to limit the users you follow. If I only engaged in discussions with people who associated themselves with “Social Media,” I would be missing out on the potential to connect with new customers. As a result, I look for niches where my services could either be used or easily referred by and connect with people there.
- Reciprocate – If someone does something nice for you . . . return the favor.
- Try to Connect with Twitter Friends Offline – While working for Los Serranos Country Club, I am frequently trying to connect with golfers offline. Often, they will tell me they are headed to the golf course and I will connect with them. This gives me an opportunity to meet them and get a face to the name, but it also enhances the bond we have with each other and the golf course. I’ve always told businesses that one of the benefits of attracting people that use social media is that they have access to much more people, the people who I have met at the golf course have sent positive messages about Los Serranos Country Club to their lists of friends on Twitter, Facebook, through email and in person. If you can build those connections you’re on the right track. Check out this video of a user we connected with offline from our social media campaign – Louis Castillo on Golf at Los Serranos Country Club in Chino Hills.
- Build Up. Don’t Put Down. – Nobody likes a bully. Being negative and angry is not conducive towards building a strong community. Everyone loves people who make them feel good about themselves. Be a person who makes people feel good and your community will grow.
- Use Twitter Tools – There are enormous amounts of Twitter tools you can use to help manage your Twitter account(s). Do online searches or ask other Twitter users how Twitter tools have helped them. I’ve personally used HootSuite, TweetDeck, TweetAdder and TweetChat at different times to help me manage my Twitter accounts, but there are lots more.
- Learn the Lingo – Do you know what DM, @, RT, MT, Tweet, Tw, # mean? Ask the people on Twitter and they’ll tell you. (I can’t tell you everything)
- Pay Attention to @ Replies – (Ok, I’ll tell you this one) @ Replies are when people mention you directly in a tweet. Respond to all @ replies in order to generate a discussion and build a stronger relationship. @ replies is where I spend most of my time on Twitter . . . when you build a big enough community you will spend most of your time there too.
- Add Your Twitter ID to All Signatures – As with anything you’re using, be sure to let as many people know you’re using Twitter as possible. This means including it in any documentation you may have, in your email signatures, on your Facebook page and anywhere else you can think of.
- Read the Bios of Those You Follow – You can develop an understanding of what makes people tick by reading their profiles and then develop more meanginful relationships as a result . . . the more you care about their interests, the more they will care about yours.
- Know Who the Players Are – Know who the leaders are in your industry on Twitter . . . Follow them, learn from them and try to connect with them. By reaching out to people who are perceived as the experts in an industry you are associating yourself with the experts . . . and who knows . . . if you follow all these steps you may become the expert yourself.
- Get a Personality – Get creative with your tweets . . . the more creative you are, the more you’ll stand out and the more people will want to follow you.
The most important thing to remember when building a vibrant Twitter community is that it takes time and effort. You must work at it, but that is what makes social media so amazing . . . the small business owners have the same opportunity for success as the big guys and in some cases, when done right, can outshine the largest of competitors.
I am always happy to educate anyone who is interested in learning more about how you can use Twitter, Social Media or the Internet to reach more customers . . . If you would like me to discuss how Twitter can benefit you or your business, please send me an email – Zeb@WelbornSocialMedia.com or call me at (909) 973 – 9089.