I wrote a column for USA TODAY in which I stated that for most small businesses, Twitter might just be a waste of time. To say I was lambasted gives lambasting a bad name. I was called just about every bad name in the book, especially, of course, by the Twitteratti. Looking back, I see now that I was clearly wrong about several points I made in the column. That said, I was right about a few; most notably I think that using Twitter to grow your business requires time and consistent effort. Unless you are prepared for that investment, your marketing time may be better spent elsewhere. I still think that is the right approach.
But where I missed the boat, and where I was appropriately called out the most, was in understanding just how powerful a marketing tool Twitter can be for most small businesses. It turns out that Twitter is often a great way to
- Get your message out
- Make more contacts
- Become an influencer
- Build your business, and, yes even
- Make more money
My follow-up story about the woman who contacted me saying that, via Twitter, she had grown her PR business by 36 percent marked the turning point for when I started to come around. Clearly there was more to Twitter than my simple take: “people don’t care what you had for lunch.”
Personally, since writing that column two years ago – and then seeing the light – I went from a few Twitter followers to now, where I am getting closer to having 10,000. There are many reasons to want more Twitter followers of course: so you can meet more people and have more conversations, so you can have a farther reach and, let’s face it, so you can establish your online brand and credibility; after all, the more followers you have, the stronger online presence you have, right?
All of this then begs the question: How do you get more Twitter followers?
The standard answer, the one you have likely read before, is that the secret is to be a great tweeter; that by tweeting valuable content that people like, potential followers will organically find and follow you. And yes, that is true; it is the core of any strategy (including my own), but it is equally true that it only gets you so far. The quality of your tweets is only one factor.
It turns out that there is a lot more to it, and it’s not rocket science.
Using the techniques below, I have quadrupled my following in a little more than a year. In the last 24 hours I gained more than 100 new followers. You can do it too.
1. Follow more people: The quickest and easiest way to immediately get more Twitter followers is just to begin following more people. There is an unwritten twittiquette that it is proper to follow people who follow you. Ergo, if you follow more people, you will get more followers. Simple.
That said, a corollary to this rule is that not everyone you follow will indeed follow you back, so then what? Try this nifty trick:
2. Follow people in your field who have a high likelihood of following you back: Maybe a personal example best illustrates my point: I write about small business, so one thing I consistently do is find the best, most followed small business tweeters I can and cull their “followers” list. I figure that if someone follows one of these folks, there is a high chance that they would like to follow me as well.
I also regularly check out the list of people who follow my tweeting colleagues. From the follower’s profile, I can quickly surmise whether they might be interested in what I tweet, and then I follow them. When they do follow back, I can rest assured that they are a quality follow and not just a number; that they are someone with whom I can and will want to forge a deeper connection.
Note: I strongly suggest that you do not simply and blindly follow all followers, as this will not only create a bad list for you, but will also likely lead to a Twitter terms of service violation.
3. Use hashtags (#) to find the good followers: As you likely know, hashtags group tweets by conversation topic. Find people using hashtags appropriate to your business and follow those folks. Additionally, it is good practice to add appropriate hashtags to your tweets so that they will show up in those Twitter streams and thereby increase your chances of getting retweeted and followed.
4. Get Retweeted: Having your followers retweet your content is the best word-of-mouth advertising available today. It is like getting an unsolicited endorsement. How do you get retweeted? Tweet great stuff of course, and then…
5. Ask: It never hurts to ask, right? For instance: Please follow me at @SteveStrauss.
About Steve Strauss
Steve Strauss is one of the world’s leading small business experts. The senior small business columnist for USA Today, his Ask an Expert column is one of the most highly-syndicated business columns in the country. Steve is also the author of the Small Business Bible and his latest book is Get Your Business Funded: Creative Methods for Getting the Money You Need. A popular media guest, Steve is a regular contributor to ABC News Now and frequently appears on television and radio. His business, The Strauss Group, creates unique, actionable, entertaining, and informative multi-media small business content.