April 15th, 2009
You may be doing all of the right things on Twitter: talking to other people, re-Tweeting folks, posting links to interesting Web sites and being helpful in general, but you may want to boost your visibility. (If anything, it may earn you a bit of breathing room with your bosses, who wonder why the hell you’re spending your time on Twitter.)
To do that, you’ll need to find some more people to follow. You’ll want to start by checking out these sites:
1. BackTweets: I recently wrote about BackTweets. It’s a site that helps you track people who post a link to your story on Twitter. Follow folks who link to you, your competition and, if you’re a local news organization, TV and radio stations, along with local blogs. If someone links to a story from your site, thank them.
2. LocalTweeps: LocalTweeps is relatively new, but it helps you find all sorts of local folks. Think of it as the “Twitter White Pages.”
3. Advanced Twitter Search: Since the main metric for local news organizations should be local unique visits, an advanced search is a great way to find folks in your neck of the woods. Need people within 10 miles of 60614? No problem. Simple.
That sounds like a lot, so here are the people you definitely want to follow:
- People who mention your news organization by name. This is self-explanatory, and you’ll be able to help troubleshoot for folks who, for example, are having problems with their subscription.
- People who re-Tweet you. This is a no-brainer. When the Chicago Tribune announced its redesign, the story got carried all around the Twittersphere:
To be honest, @ColonelTribune already followed most of the people who were mentioning the Tribune, but it never hurts to double-check.
- People who mention local issues and breaking news. In Chicago, for instance, it would behoove Colonel Tribune or @SunTimes to follow people who mention “Roland Burris” or “Rod Blagojevich.” If someone mentions a local issue, give them a follow. If they don’t follow back, you can always unfollow them.
- People who mention local landmarks. Highways, airports and restaurants are things that people love to Tweet about. And if they’re Tweeting from one of these places, chances are they’re bored. Give them a follow. You have nothing to lose.
- People who mention your competition. For instance, if I were to run a Twitter page for the New York Daily News, I would follow people who mention:
- The New York Times
- The New York Post
- Local magazines, like New York and The New Yorker
- Gothamist and a couple of other blogs
- Broadcast television and radio Twitter feeds
But there are a few things to consider before you start following lots of folks:
1. Is your profile completely filled out? If you don’t have a photo and profile description
2. Do you have a fairly solid following? If I get a random follow from a news organization that has 20 followers, guess what – I’m not following them back.
3. Do you look like a spammer? If you’re following 1,000 people but only have 100 followers, you look like a spammer. It looks like you’re on Twitter just to gain followers. And if you are, I’m not following you. A good ration is about 3:2, meaning for every three people who follow you, you should follow two back.
Here are some other things you can do to get more followers:
- Tweet content that’s relevant to your audience. This is probably the single most important thing you can do, and it’s testable. You can track the number of clicks on your URLs if you use a service like tr.im. (There are others out there, but I like this one.)
- Respond to all questions, suggestions and comments. Self-explanatory.
- Evangelize Twitter. Do you know folks who aren’t already on Twitter? Tell them about it and get them to follow you.
- Re-Tweet popular Twitter users. If something Robert Scoble says is relevant to your audience, it couldn’t hurt to re-Tweet it. If anything, it may get that person to notice you.
- Pick a good time to Tweet. On Problogger, Darren Rowse suggests you Tweet during peak hours. That’s OK, but if your followers are following many other people, they may not see your messages. Use the analytics tools at your disposal to see when you get the most clicks and Twitter search to see when you get the most responses.
- Promote your efforts. It couldn’t hurt to have a contest every once in a while. People like swag. You probably have an extra t-shirt or mug around the office somewhere. Figure out a contest and make it happen.
Two final notes: Don’t necessarily choose not to follow someone based on the number of followers/Tweets they have. If you find someone’s profile, and they just joined Twitter, you have a great opportunity to bring them into your digital fold. And if you have something important to say, you may become that person’s best friend…on Twitter at least.
Also, this post may be about how to gain Twitter followers, but Twitter — and social media — is not about numbers. (To your bosses, it may be, but you’ve got to manage their expectations.) You’re much better off having 50 followers, all of whom are highly engaged, than several hundred thousand users, 90 percent of whom you ignore. Being successful in the social media space depend on how useful and personal you are.
If I didn’t convince you, try reading these other posts:
Dosh Dosh – ‘How to Get More Twitter Followers: Some Methods That Work’
Mack Collier, Search Engine Guide – ‘How Do You Get More Followers On Twitter?’
Also, I would like to thank Aaron Brazell, Whet Moser, Mark Hopkins and Rahsheen Porter for inspiring me to tweak this post’s intro a bit. This post is designed for people who already use Twitter the right way, but I did not make that clear at first. Thanks, guys.