Named a Forbes Top 50 Social Media Power Influencer two years in a row, Neal Schaffer is a leading social media strategist. He is the founder of Maximize Your Social, a social media strategy consulting company. In addition to having authored several books on social media, Schaffer is the founder of the Social Tools Summit, a social media conference that focuses on best social media practices and technology. Schaffer and I talked more about ways business owners can use Twitter marketing to advance their goals. (You can read the first half of our conversation here.)
A few months ago, you had 137K followers on Twitter. I see that you now have 153K. What do you credit your success to?
I suppose a growth of 3,000 a month is pretty significant. But on the other hand, it’s a growth of two percent a month.
If you were at 100 followers, your growth ratio should be a lot higher per month. Once you get to over 1,000 that number is going to slow down. On Twitter, as with a lot of social media, the larger the number of followers you have, the more followers you attract. People see large numbers and they want to follow because they think there's value. Now I don't recommend you buy fake followers. But I do recommend that you try to create additional reach where it makes sense to do so. If you're the largest in your industry, there’s no reason to do that. But if you have competitors that are larger than you, you can obviously target their followers and try to win some of those followers over to become part of your community.
The other reason my number of followers has increased is [because] recently I got verified by Twitter. Perhaps that verification may have helped in increasing followers.
I’ve also increased my frequency in sharing content that I curated and vetted—content that I think has a lot of value to other marketers and social media marketers. Publishing at a certain frequency is one of the latest ways that seasoned Twitter users can step up their Twitter marketing efforts. It helps you get found by more people that are searching Twitter randomly. The other thing that I’ve done is Twitter chats. They definitely can help to be found by a lot of new people.
—Neal Schaffer, social media expert
I also follow a lot of people every day. Some people just won’t follow anyone back. They have 5,000 followers but they only follow 100 people. It's going to restrict the number of followers you can get unless you’re a famous celebrity. You’ve got to send social signals.
So I curate a lot of content, I re-tweet a lot of content, and I follow a lot of people. I think it’s really been a combination of those things that has helped me attract new followers.
Are there any new or underused tools and features for Twitter marketing?
I’d say Twitter Cards. Twitter Cards are something you can use once you open a Twitter advertising account, and you can use them without even advertising.
You can create a Twitter Card and ads that you use for a campaign. A Twitter ad creates a URL that you can link to in any of your tweets and attach a Card. The Card will allow people to opt into things a lot easier by automatically grabbing their email addresses or names.
I still think that Twitter ads, and all the different things you can do with Twitter ads, are underutilized but that goes beyond the scope of this interview. There’s obviously a lot of things you can do. I know from the source that Twitter advertising is starting beta for some other exciting things as well. So if you haven’t been into Twitter ads recently, I recommend that you check it out and explore the options.
What are your favorite Twitter tools?
There are a lot of Twitter tools I recommend. It's really hard to create a short list, but just thinking of the tools that I use a lot with Twitter, one would be Sprout Social. This is sort of my go-through, go-to dashboard.
I use eClincher, which is a great tool that helps me categorize my posts, as well as helps me republish content that I want to republish selectively.
Social Champ is a sort of up-and-coming tool that I've not used yet, but that I plan to use. It’s another great tool which allows you to republish content. It’s been evangelized by Guy Kawasaki.
MarketHub is a great tool which allows me to engage by sharing other people’s content.
BuzzSumo is also a great tool to help you find content to curate. It’s not just limited to Twitter, it goes beyond Twitter.
Social Quant is a great Twitter follower management tool.
If we go onto more, like, enterprise tools, I would mention something like Little Bird or a Traackr, which is more of an influencer marketing tool. It allows you to analyze who you should be following for any given industry.
What are the best times to tweet for maximum engagement?
This is going to be different for every single company, based on their target audience and based on who's following them. So once again, it’s going to come down to experimenting, just like you experiment with optimizing your content. Are there times of the day, or days of the week, where you seem to be getting more engagement than others?
In my experience, I find that Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the time zone of the area that you’re targeting, seems to bring the most engagement for me and my clients. And that’s a very broad generalization. But I will say Monday to Friday seems to get more engagement. That's the time when people are starting work or maybe it's before they go home. I do believe those times are great. But it doesn’t mean you should ignore late night or Saturdays and Sundays. These are times when there’s less supply, and, therefore, you might have a greater chance for engagement. Experiment with a few different dates [and] times and go from there. Let the data lead you to the truth that you're seeking.
Marketing on social media can be very time-consuming. What are some strategies for Twitter marketing that can help busy business owners save time and still be effective?
Well, people don’t scale. And I’m a big proponent of this. I do a lot of talking about social media operations because of this fact. You have three choices:
Either you’re going to make the investment of time to do it right—and that’s not what you should be doing unless you’re in the business of social media. Or you’re going to leverage paid social and maybe use tools like the ones I mentioned to help you scale and do more with less. Or you’re going to outsource your Twitter marketing to someone else, or hire an assistant to do that for you.
I don’t think there are any other ways of doing it. I launched my social media agency recently. I work with a lot of large companies, as well as startups and entrepreneurs. You truly get what you pay for and time is money. I think that if you’re in the mindset that social media should be free and you’re not ready to invest a few thousand dollars a month in social media, whether it be working with an agency, or investing in social advertisements, you would really need to manage your expectations as to what you’re going to get out of social media, in all honesty.
I know organic success still happens, but it's getting harder and harder. It’s supply and demand. Too many people, too much content, limited timeline space. And it goes the same for Facebook or any other social network.
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