Twitter can be a fantastic tool for your business, but it all boils down to how well (and how often) you use it.
It’s like moving into a new neighborhood. If you peep out the window with a pair of binoculars and watch everyone, you may know what is going on with your neighbors in microscopic detail, but you’re a ghost. You’re invisible. No one knows you exist.
If you get out there, however, and comment on your next door neighbor’s roses, say hello to those you pass when out for your daily jog, you’ll soon meet jogging partners and be swapping plant cuttings. Next thing, you’re being invited to barbecues, your kids are playing with the kids across the road – and you’re fully involved in the community.
That’s what you need to do on Twitter too. Find out when all the other neighbors are outside. Be out there. Get involved. And do so, on a regular, daily basis.
In the meantime, to make sure you are well-introduced, let’s look at eleven methods for finding valuable “neighbors…
1. Check for Twitter Alerts
Twitter itself will tell you if you’ve missed an avenue for connection. Next time you log in, you’ll see “suggestions” just under your header.
(Example: You’re likely to see this particular message if you skipped searching through your email contacts. If you click “Search contacts”, it will ask you to sign into your Gmail account.)
2. Check for New “Followers” Daily
Every time you log into Twitter, get into the habit of glancing at your Followers tab. If the total has grown, click on it straight away to see who your new followers are.
If they look like people you would want to be neighbors with (i.e. their interests seem to be aligned to yours), go ahead and follow them back.
The importance of checking each new follower out:
Just click on a new follower’s profile photo and viewing his or her “full profile”: It will quickly become apparent that some new followers have no interest in you or your niche but are after quick numbers.
Never follow blindly back. Followers like the one blurred out above can look harmless but will only detract from the quality of your list – and the SEO/authority value of your tweets. No matter how pleasant or innocuous their initial tweet, check: You may discover they use headers or backgrounds (or post photos and include links) that are in complete opposition to your values or interests.
Even if the background is seemingly innocent, do your due diligence in checking out potential followers. And in spite of the harmless “tweet” that appeared in our sample Twitter Timeline, there were no actual tweets at all in this new follower’s feed.
In fact, the prominent, clickable link on “her” header led straight to an explicit porn site.
You can report or block spammers like this. Most of the time a follower turns out to be spammy, simply blocking them will suffice. (If you “report” too many people, insider rumor seems to suggest that Twitter may hold it against you.) But do report anyone who violates Twitter’s own definitions or who seems to really cross the line.
To report: Click on the little person-arrow icon beside their “Follow” button and check “Report” from the drop-down menu. (It will automatically block the offender too.)
Ignoring new followers means that spammy or offensive contacts may remain on your Followers list – and your Twitter power will suffer accordingly.
Always check them out!
3. Use your @Connect Button.
But what do you do when your new “Followers” numbers grow too large, and you simply can’t tell if you’ve gained new followers or not?
Click on your @Connect button to instantly see who has:
- Interacted with you (that includes new follows)\
- Mentioned you
4. Reply and Acknowledge All Mentions
If someone has mentioned you (e.g. “#BarnOwlPottery, that was a great tip about keeping clay damp”), here’s your perfect chance to acknowledge and reply – which is possibly your most important Twitter-growing strategy.
People appreciate personal notice – particularly if they’ve responded to a tweet of yours in the first place.
And, face it, Twitter is littered with people who don’t bother to acknowledge those who retweet and respond. Your interactive habits will certainly stand out! Plus people who check out your profile when you’ve just “followed” them will see that you are a friendly person who engages… and they will be more likely to follow you back. (In other words, they won’t be wasting their time on you.)
Besides, it’s more fun when you chat to everyone at the barbecue. You don’t want to make anyone feel he or she is sitting, ignored, in a corner (particularly when they brought the Smores).
5. Check In with Those You Are Following
And speaking of responding, do remember to check out the “Following” button as well, every time you log on.
See what those you follow are up to – and respond to their tweets, if any resonate with you.
Never, ever respond just for the sake of being noticed. If there’s a link, check it out and – if you feel strongly enough about what you’ve just read, heard or seen – reference a specific detail from the link destination (i.e. article or video).
It’s all about bringing value to the conversation.
Again, never retweet just for the sake of retweeting. All that will do is quickly train your followers to ignore your retweets!
If you find something highly useful or interesting to your fellow niche members, however – especially if it’s something to which comments would feel superfluous – go ahead and retweet.
7. Use Your #Discover Button
Another tab to check daily: Your #Discover button.
Click on it, and other avenues for new contacts will open up. For example, here we have clicked the Activity tab in the left-hand menu, and can instantly see that one business we are following in turn recently followed two new Twitter accounts…
If these new contacts look interesting, we can then check out their profiles by clicking on the profile photos and following them too. (This where making sure during set up that we only followed people relevant to our niche and interests really pays off.)
(And it’s always nice to see that others followed you too!)
8. Create and Use Twitter Lists
Did you know you can create and use lists on Twitter? In fact, you can make up to 1,000 lists; each containing as many as 5,000 accounts.
It’s easy to create a Twitter list. Here’s how…
- Go to your profile, and click on the “Lists” tab in your profile left-hand menu
- Click on the “Create list” button
- Name your list (25 characters or less) and provide a description. Use your keywords. Set whether or not your list will be public or private (for your eyes only) by clicking the radio button of your choice.
To add people to your list:
Twitter is all ready and waiting to help you with this task. Simply enter into the textarea search box:
- The Twitter handle of someone you already know
- Your keywords; or a niche keyword
Select people or businesses from the results, and click the people-arrow icon to access its drop-down menu.
Then select: “Add or remove from lists”.
Select the radio button beside the list you want to add your contact into.
There’s no need to click “Create a list” unless you want to create a new one. Simply checking the radio button will add your contact to that list.
You can also find and join already-established lists.
9. Organizing Your Twitter Lists
If you think of Twitter lists as content curation, you’ll grasp their purpose quickly. Each list is a straightforward collection of tweets from member, meant to be read only. All list members will see every tweet to that list (providing they are subscribed to it).
One of the most basic parts of organizing your Twitter lists: Making them easy to find.
The easiest way to access a favorite list is to bookmark via your browser toolbar. To do this:
- Open your list so you are on its feed page with all its posts
- Click on your browser’s “Bookmark” icon
- Select either the browser Bookmarks bar or another bookmark folder to keep your list bookmark in. (Tip: Create a “Twitter Lists” bookmark folder if you want to bookmark more than a couple of Twitter Lists.)
10. Finding Good Lists to Join
Finding a list to subscribe to couldn’t be easier, but it can be a painstaking process, if you don’t know the list name. (Again, this is where having a highly relevant, focused stable of people you follow can help you save time. Lists these contacts belong to are far more likely to align with your interests.)
- Search for your favorite people (ones you are currently following) and click on a profile photo
- Slide your eyes to the bottom left corner of the profile summary and click “Go to full profile”
- From within their full profile, click on the Lists tab. On the right-hand side, where tweets are normally displayed, you’ll find all lists they subscribe to.
- Click on the name of any list you want to join.
- When their profile opens, select “Subscribe”.
Lists are great vehicles for quickly keeping up with the latest niche or industry news.
- You are following the list – not individual users
- If a user you’ve blocked is on that list, you will still see their posts
- You can reply to any post on a list
- You can retweet any post on a list
- Private lists (lists checked as “private” by the owner) will not be available to you
- You may not see every tweet on the list, unless you follow every person and no one has blocked you
11. Other Ways to Follow (and Find) Followers
You can visit individual websites and blogs to connect through Twitter badges and icons displayed there. You can also find likely followers (and people you’d like to follow) by using hashtags.
A hashtag is a marked keyword – the marker being the “#” symbol.
In fact, there are many more ways to find followers and people to follow on Twitter. But your most important method of growing and managing followers? Tweet regularly and daily.
Find out when your best audience likes to tweet. Post, and hang out long enough for anyone to respond. (Don’t just post-and-run!)
After all, you’re part of the neighborhood.