By Allison Howen, from ‘Net Features – http://bit.ly/1tCrex0
Twitter is flying high, as the social network revealed a 16 million increase in monthly active users during the second quarter of 2014 when compared to the first quarter.
This growing user base further cements Twitter as a top social network and represents new opportunities for brands and business professionals to grow their audiences on the platform. Just because Twitter’s user base is growing, however, doesn’t mean that yours is growing too.
In fact, growing an audience on Twitter typically takes a lot of time and dedication, regardless if you are just starting out or already experienced with the social network. The best way to increase followers and establish a strong presence on the social network is by working at it every day. Read below to discover six everyday tips that can help both brands and personal users grow their Twitter following and get a better return from the social network.
1. Make a good first impression.
Typically, Twitter users will look at profiles before deciding to follow someone, which is why it is important to optimize this important page to make a good first impression.
For starters, both brand and personal accounts should feature a profile picture that accurately represents them. This typically means a company logo for brands, while a headshot works well for personal accounts. In addition, users should also pick an appropriate background image and spend time writing a catchy, yet informational bio.
Take Sports Illustrated as an example. Not only does the publisher use its logo as its profile picture (which enables followers to easily recognize when the brand is tweeting), but it also features a wide variety of athletes and sport moments on its background image to represent its brand. Moreover, the publisher uses its bio section to outline exactly what type of content users can expect from its account.
2. Stay on trend.
Long before Facebook launched its “Trending” section, Twitter enabled its users to stay on trend via its customizable “Trends” section. This section displays tailored trends based on a user’s location and people he or she follows. By simply participating in conversations regarding these trends (when appropriate, of course), brands and professionals alike will quickly increase their visibility.
A tool that can help brands stay on trend is hashtags, as the most popular hashtags are usually featured in the Trends section anyway. In addition to trending hashtags, however, Twitter users should also leverage both common and niche hashtags. For example, a brand can participate in #ThrowbackThursday (or #tt, see image below) as a fun way to start conversation with their fans and to increase their reach on Twitter. Conversely, a local business could use its city name in hashtags (ex. #Chicago) in an effort to reach a targeted or niche audience. For some hashtag inspiration for your Twitter account, check out Website Magazine’s 30 Days of Social.
3. Be engaging.
Twitter is a fast-paced social network, which is why it is important for users to stand out with engaging content. The challenge, however, is finding out the best type of content to engage your specific audience.
Although testing different content types is the best way to find the highest performing content type for your audience, it is important to keep in mind that visual content usually performs best on social networks. In fact, a study from Twitter shows that tweets that include images average a 35 percent boost in retweets, while tweets that include videos average a 28 percent boost. In fact, the data shows that both photo and video tweets are more engaging than tweets that only include hashtags, as hashtag tweets averaged just a 16 percent boost in retweets. This data proves that visual content is a huge driver in engagement, and retweets result in an increase in visibility.
4. Interact with influencers.
When it comes to increasing visibility, both brands and personal users should look to interact with influencers or thought leaders, as these accounts tend to have a strong following of their own and can boost visibility and followers for those they interact with. For instance, a veterinarian looking to grow his followers could spend time interacting with pet stores or grooming centers to increase both his authority and visibility on the social network.
An example of a national brand that does this is DiGiorno. The pizza company’s Twitter page is full of witty tweets and hashtags that stay on trend with the day’s hottest topics and, of course, revolve around pizza. In addition, DiGiorno uses the Twitter handle of celebrities and brands in an effort to get a response and enhance its visibility. In July alone, DiGiorno tweeted Leonardo DiCaprio, Adrianne Curry, Chrissy Tiegen, Axe, Urban Outfitters and NASA. And although the company doesn’t always receive responses from its @mentions, its tweets do usually get noticed and engaged with by followers.
**Tip: When @mentioning someone on Twitter, don’t start the tweet with the user’s handle. Doing so will only allow people who follow both handles to see the Tweet. To prevent this, many brands will use insert a “.” before their @mention (see image below).
5. Test your timing.
Because Twitter is a fast-paced environment, you can’t expect all of your followers to see all of your posts, which is why it is important to experiment with timing to see when tweets perform the best. For instance, if tweets posted between 11 a.m.- 2 p.m. average more retweets and replies than tweets sent at other times of the day, users will want to focus on posting their best content during that specific period.
Although it can be time consuming to test different posting times, both brands and personal users can leverage social media management tools like Sprout Social or Buffer to schedule posts in advance. Not only do these type of tools ease the social posting process, but Buffer can also be used to automatically schedule posts at the best time. This is because the platform automatically schedules social posts at the times when followers are most active, which basically takes the guesswork out of determining optimal posting times.
It is also important to note that the occasional reposting of content on Twitter is a good idea. That said, users should premise reposted content with a phrase like “From earlier today” or “Hot right now.” In doing so, followers who have already seen the content will know not to click again, as this could lead to frustrated followers.
6. Promote your Twitter handle.
It’s a pretty simple concept – promote your Twitter handle anywhere and everywhere in order to grow your followers.
For brands, this means including Follow buttons on every brand asset from websites to email campaigns (check out the image of the footer from a recent Starbucks email below). For professionals trying to grow their personal following, this means including your Twitter handle on everything from your email signature to your business cards.