In advertising, they say your message is competing with not only every other ad, but all the messages your audience encounters. In a world of 140 million Twitter users and 300 million tweets a day, that’s a lot of competition, so what you say and do counts.
Big brands such as @Chevrolet, @ESPN, and @NakedJuice have done a great job building a Twitter following, but it doesn’t take a big team and millions of dollars to get attention on Twitter. Start small, focus on quality, and execute a solid strategy based on what the most successful brands are doing.
Here are ten big brand strategies that anyone can employ to build their following:
- Polish your image. Big brands pay attention to the visual impact of their pages. Use a high quality photo or illustration for your icon. Imagine it in the context of other users' feeds. Will it stand out — in a good way? Customize your background with something that fits you. Use a large image or a tasteful pattern. Check out Themeleon or Pixelgirl Presents for ideas.
- Follow fewer people than follow you. Successful brands don’t join Team Follow Back. If you're following more people than follow you, unfollow a few people. And optimizing your Follow Score by unfollowing will put your content in its best light and help you attract more followers. We recommend following no more than 200 people on Twitter at any time — keeping up with more is virtually impossible and makes you appear disingenuous.
- Tweet regularly but not too often. Big brands don’t deluge followers with hundreds of tweets or too many posts about extraneous topics. Use an app like Buffer to space out your tweets, and when you have a lot to say, blog it and tweet the link. Post links during the week and keep tweets mellow on the weekends.
- Keep tweets neat and tidy. This is something many companies get wrong – the idea is to provide useful content, not search bait. Don't use too many "social media marketer" tricks, like hashtags, jargon, or trite polls. Tweet conversationally. @TheRock uses hashtags, but he does so with self-conscious humor.
- Tweet more than you retweet. Choose your retweets carefully, and don’t excessively retweet praise of yourself. If you’re excited about all the great feedback you’re getting for something you’ve done, simply say that to thank your fans.
- Stay positive. Big brands typically emphasize positive things and never go on a stream of consciousness rant. When necessary, present thoughtful criticism but keep it professional.
- Stay real-time. People can tell when your account is on auto-pilot or you’re just tweeting the news of the day. Live-tweet occasionally, comment on what’s happening now, and share photos, to remind people a real person is tweeting! Yes, sometimes that includes tweeting about what you had for breakfast, no matter what some people say.
- Return replies. Thank and acknowledge people who give you positive feedback. Follow up respectfully with people who give you negative feedback. Take a look at @Starbucks for examples of how a brand deals with feedback, good or bad.
- Promote your content. Advertise your Twitter accounts and content on LinkedIn or Google. Promote specific content or create a custom "follow me" message with a why-buy, and drive to a follow intents page to make following easy. And of course put your Twitter link in your email signature, business card, and on your blog or personal website. For some people, the Twitter link is more important than the web address or phone number!
- Make your account public. Have you noticed that no brands go huge on Twitter with private accounts? Making a private Twitter account is like setting up a mailbox and putting a padlock on it. Let’s get through some hard truths. Twitter is not a private journal. There’s no reasonable expectation of privacy on the Internet anymore (so 1996). Your employer and your family can and WILL find you eventually. But if your account is private, fewer interesting people (read: potential friends, co-conspirators, and employers) will find you. Go public. The weather’s fine.
Finally, make sure to evaluate your profile occasionally — if a stranger were looking at it right now deciding whether to follow you, what would they think? Would they think you're too aloof (you don't respond to people)?
Things people look for:
- GOOD TWEETS (funny, interesting, or helpful)
- Regular, but not too frequent, tweeting
- A few replies every so often
- Whether you actually read other people's tweets (if you follow 2,000 people, no one will believe you have time to read all the tweets)