Businesses are jumping on twitter right and left and that’s probably a good thing. But, businesses are also jumping on thinking that’s all you need to do. Create a twitter account, create a bunch of followers, and start tweeting out this week’s lunch special. Unfortunately, it doesn’t really work that way. In fact, unless you’re a celebrity, you don’t create a twitter following, you earn it.
Even if you have lots of customers or readers don’t be surprised if you find it hard to port them to twitter just because you’ve decided to make the leap. I’m not suggesting any of this as reason not to utilize the potential of twitter, just keep your expectations and strategies in line and view twitter as a long term play that takes effort and commitment to maximize.
In my view there are three ways that people earn followings on twitter
1) A reputation for great content - People want to follow people who might share insights, resources and great content. It’s a bit hard to do this in 140 characters or less, so that great content and reputation needs to exist or be carefully nurtured in order to gain followers by virtue of your ideas. Building great content, and reputation for consistently creating great content is no easy feat and probably why so many people abandon twitter quickly. Now, Guy Kawasaki for example puts out good content, has a reputation for doing so, and garners lots of followers who value to the stories and ideas that he broadcasts. He built a following on that reputation and maintains it. Seth Godin doesn’t use twitter because he doesn’t want to, but he would have 10,000 followers the day he started using it and grow rapidly from there because he has a reputation for great content. Chris Brogan has a huge following because he creates great content on his blog, but he’s a relative newcomer and doesn’t have a string of best selling books, but he has the added catalyst of an incredible level of engagement with his followers - which, leads to the second way. If you’re not Seth Godin, Guy Kawasaki or Chris Brogan, then go to work on building your reputation for great content and the followers will come.
2) The bandwidth to give to get - The second way to earn followers on twitter is to give. Carrie Wilkerson, also known as the Barefoot Executive, seems to be on twitter all day long giving support, answering questions, pointing out other people’s content and saying hi to folks she’s met along the way. This level of engagement is incredible and allowed her to earn a large following on twitter. As I mentioned in the earlier point, Chris Brogan combines great content with tons of care and feeding of his followers. Giving advice, answering questions, pointing out great content, retweeting great content, promoting your followers’ events and content is how you gain a reputation as someone worth networking with and following. Again, bandwidth and commitment are keys.
3) A smokin hot deal - Dell Outlet recently announced they passed the $2million mark in sales from their twitter only deal feed. Others are taking note and of course this has some on twitter concerned because it may pollute the stream for those working #2, but it’s here to stay and smart folks are figuring how to use it. I would include using twitter as a public customer service vehicle in this one and let’s not forget that a smokin hot avatar may also gain you some followers, although I’m not sure it’s for the right reasons.
You may find that the perfect approach for you is some blend of these methods, but the key here is to accept that idea of earning rather than creating followers.
Image Credit: Luc Legay