When I entered the Twitter-sphere, I started as any novice tweeter starts: basically nonexistent, posting a few retweets of funny videos and random thoughts here and there. My efforts were anything but consistent, and I didn't see much to gain. (At one point, I even considered deactivating my account.)
Then, I started working at Influence & Co., where I live, breathe, and create content. I developed a newfound use for my Twitter account: a vehicle to share the great articles I was reading and creating. I began to see the worth of sharing content that others actually want to read and interact with. My Twitter career rose from the ashes.
As social platforms continue to evolve, it’s easy to be confused by them (or feel downright disdain for them). But if you give into those types of sentiments, you miss out on so much value.
As someone who works at a content marketing agency and understands how distribution fits into a content marketing strategy, it's my job to demonstrate the importance of sharing content with your networks — and how doing so actually helps you see more value from your content. Further, sharing that content can grow and strengthen your network so you’re not sharing it with a bunch of randos.
And I can personally vouch for how well this works. Once I started sharing valuable content, I noticed that my follower count had increased. I went from virtually zero followers to almost 2,000. Plus, I received more likes and retweets than ever before.
The more I shared great content, the more audience engagement I generated. It was clear: People liked what I was sharing.
So over the past six months, I’ve grown my Twitter following by 2,400 percent and established a flow for the types of content I share according to my audience to keep growing and engaging that following.
There are six things, in particular, that I learned that can help any content creator, marketing professional, or thought leader grow her Twitter following and get her content in front of as many of the right eyes as possible:
When it comes to first impressions, appearance matters. It’s important that your profile reflects exactly what you want to be known for. Be sure to:
You’re only working with 140 characters, so we’re going for maximum optimization here.
As for images, make sure you have a high-resolution profile photo and banner. Keep it professional so people know that you’re reliable and that you mean Twitter business.
Now that your profile looks amazing, your next priority is content. If you’re not sharing well-written, interesting content from reputable publications, you might be shortchanging your audience.
To keep followers engaged, it’s imperative to supply them with content that they want to actually explore. Put time into finding (and sharing) content that's relevant to your audience. Personally, working at Influence & Co. means I stay up-to-date in related industries like marketing and technology. I also try to engage with our clients’ content from a variety of sources.
To stay top of mind with your followers, post multiple times per day. According to Buffer, three posts a day is the sweet spot for maintaining audience engagement without seeming insincere. Avoid spamming followers with too many posts in a day. Ain’t nobody got time for that!
We all know that a lot of work goes into creating content and getting yourself published, so give a shoutout to those who made it happen — this means tagging the author, his or her company, and the publication with their respective handles.
Not only does this give credit where it’s due, but it also puts your tweet in front of as many interested eyes as possible. More eyes translates to more potential followers and more influence.
For example, if you decide you want to tweet out this article, it might look something like this:
How to grow your @Twitter #following by 2,400 percent in 6 months: [Link] by @samkern2006 via @influenceandco
The infamous hashtag. We all know it’s a staple in the Twitter-sphere, but many don’t know that there's a science to maximizing its effectiveness.
After I read an article and decide to share it, I run it through TagCrowd to create a word bubble of the most prominent words. Then, I use RiteTag, which ranks the popularity of each potential hashtag (and researches any other relevant hashtags). Be intentional with your hashtags, and use those that are popular in your industry or among your niche audience.
Another tip: Examine your list of keywords to discern whether any would make for good hashtags. These should be words that describe your content, industry, or company. Influence & Co.'s go-to hashtags are #contentmarketing, #content, and #thoughtleadership.
Beyond hashtags, though, you can use tools that help you craft the actual message of your post and maximize its performance. CoSchedule, an Influence & Co. client, actually has a Social Message Optimizer tool to help you get the most value out of your posts.
I'm somewhat selective in who I choose to follow. While it’s valuable to follow those who follow you in order to build relationships, it’s also important to keep your Twitter feed spam-free and ensure you're following people with true influence.
I've found that an account might be spam if it:
I try to follow accounts that are somewhat relevant to my job or what my clients do, such as industry leaders within the marketing and digital realms. However, if you’re in the process of growing your following, also aim to follow people who you think might actually follow you back. A CEO with 300,000 followers most likely won’t follow you back until you generate some major influence, so look for relevant users with smaller followings, too.
Although Twitter seems like just another passive social media platform, it’s still all about relationships. Followers are people, too, and in order to build a solid following, you’ve got to interact with your people.
If anyone tweets me a direct shoutout, I always reply. If someone retweets or likes my stuff, I try to follow him back if he meets my follow-back requirements. With personal direct messages, you better believe I reply unless it’s an automated direct message (i.e., my biggest pet peeve).
Let me leave you with one lasting piece of advice: Twitter isn’t some mystical being you can control with a powerful spell. You have to put in the legwork and really analyze what’s working and what’s not to get the most out of it, actually grow your following, and see engagement from your content.
If you like some of my tips and want to get your hands on more good content, follow me on Twitter.