Over the last 30 days, I doubled down on my efforts to improve the visibility of the Nichevertising brand on Twitter. Since creating a profile for my personal brand (@chrismance) on Twitter in 2009, I more or less have been an on again off again Twitter user. However, when I created the Nichevertising profile on Twitter (@nichevertising) I decided I needed to put a concerted effort into mastering the platform.
The first light bulb that went off in my head when I created the Nichevertising profile on Twitter was that the number of followers you have is irrelevant.
So what matters if you want retweets?
What matters is the engagement you create with the followers you have. I made this conclusion based on how difficult it was to get followers on Twitter using a corporate profile. Especially when the corporate profile uses a logo instead of a personal profile picture. All Twitter experts know that people don’t prefer to follow logos, they prefer to follow people.
Even though I knew this drawback of using a logo for the profile picture, I still believe it’s the right call for a startup like Nichevertising to build brand recognition. So on day one I knew I would not get as many followers for the Nichevertising profile as I did on my personal profile.
My Key Observation
So how did this “number of followers doesn’t matter” light bulb go off as a result of this natural barrier to getting followers? This insight came through one obvious observation I made almost immediately after I started paying attention to the dynamics of retweets.
Retweets are easily the most important feature for businesses marketing on Twitter.
In its essence, a retweet is an endorsement by a person of another person’s tweet to all of their followers. The person retweeting is not only sending this twitter message out to everyone who follows them on twitter, they are also implying to all of their followers “check this tweet out, I really liked it and you will too.”
If you have a Twitter profile that doesn’t have a lot of followers, then instead of spending all of your precious time searching for new followers, it’s better to optimize your time to get endorsements from your current followers.
If one or more of your current followers has thousands of followers, if they retweet you it will go out to a huge distribution of people with their endorsement. This is the best way to build brand recognition on twitter. This is also the best way to start the process of getting your tweets to go viral on Twitter.
On the other end of the spectrum, if you have thousands of followers and everyone ignores your tweets, you are no better off than someone who has zero followers. This is why the number of followers you have really means nothing on twitter.
I may be preaching to the choir but…
With that said, since you are reading this, I can assume you know the importance of retweets, so it’s likely I am preaching to the choir. However, I also know you are reading this because you do have a pain. So here’s how to get more retweets in 5 simple steps. These steps have worked really well for me and should do just as well for you.
1. Share less about you, and more about what your followers like
The marketing goal of Nichevertising is all about getting businesses to embrace the concepts of cooperative advertising to fast track the process of going viral. However, on Twitter I only mention this a few times a week.
Instead of talking about Nichevertising on Twitter, I spend 80% of the time sharing content that will either educate or entertain our followers.
I noticed that if a follower retweets something educational or entertaining I share, they are more likely to retweet something about the Nichevertising brand. Therefore, the 80% of the time I am not talking about Nichevertising, I am instead making an investment to build up goodwill with my followers.
We notice that our followers like business oriented motivational quotes, how to articles, and sharing quips related to the day of the week or time of year.
So I stick with this for 50% of my tweets. Another 30% of tweets I retweet other people and create conversations, and the last 20% of my tweets I reserve to talk about Nichevertising.
2. Make sure you are on topic
You don’t get to decide what your followers like to talk about on Twitter. You can’t even decide who follows you on Twitter. The only two things you can decide on twitter is who you follow and what you tweet about. So these are the two things you must focus on above all else.
Who you follow: Based on a couple different factors not being discussed in this post, the people you follow have a big impact on who will follow you in the future. So I would not recommend automatically following back people who follow you as this can drag you down the slippery slope of spam and bot accounts. Focus on following people who are already tweeting about the topics relevant to you. This will help you in step two.
What you tweet about: The keywords in your tweets also dictate who will follow you in the future. So you have to twitter optimize (as opposed to search engine optimize) the messages you send on twitter for keywords. This includes finding two or three hashtags to use on a regular basis. A good strategy I use is to adjust keywords based on what I’m seeing in my Twitter stream as well as the Twitter streams of other people in my niche who get retweeted often.
3. Start conversations with people immediately after they follow you
I noticed that whenever I thank three or more people in one tweet immediately after they follow me on Twitter, at least 50% of the time one of those people will retweet the thank you. This is probably the easiest tip to get the retweet karma going. There is no reason you shouldn’t start doing this right away.
Also, the best time to engage with someone is at the moment they first follow you. Use this moment to create a conversation and learn more about this person. This could be the last time you ever engage with them or you could find a twitter friend for life. Either way, don’t miss out on this critical “first date” moment.
4. Groom your followers using a Twitter “list”
It is imperative that you use list on Twitter. Once you get past 50 or so followers, it is best to segment people onto a list. If done right, list will give you an almost slow motion effect. The twitter stream starts to move at 100 mph once you start following over 1000 people, and by that time it is almost too late to create list for everyone you follow. When you segment people into small list, things will slow down and you can make some fantastic observations about the behavior of your followers.
It’s good practice to put people onto a list right when you follow them or if and when they follow you back. You could segment people based on demographics, brand vs. person, keywords in their profile, industry, etc.
One list I recommend you create is based on step 3 above. When I create a conversation with someone immediately after they follow me, I monitor how they react. If they reply with something interesting and relevant to my industry or retweet one of my thank you tweets/conversation starters, I immediately add them to my list called social tweeps. I may even add them to an industry specific list if appropriate.
I do this for two reasons:
- I know these people are not bots. This is important because there are a lot of bots on twitter who are not real people and are not worth being bothered with.
- This allows me to follow the twitter streams of the people who I have engaged with separately so I can create more conversations with them in the future.
5. Stir in these 4 steps and then add a generous amount of authenticity
Just doing one of these four things without the other three won’t help you get more retweets. All four steps are required for you to start getting more retweets. In addition, working through these steps while also representing your authentic self is a must.
Twitter is so much more fun when you are sharing and creating conversations with other liked minded people. So be sure not to do things that pull you away from authenticity just for the sake of getting more followers or retweets. Slow authentic growth beats fast contrived growth on Twitter every day of the week.