I've been on Twitter for several months now, and as my list of followers keeps growing, I occasionally get asked "How do you get so many followers?" It's a bit hard to explain in 140 characters (the limit on Twitter), so I kept saying I'd write a post about it some day... Now that I've got an Active Rain account, I figured I'd make my experience with Twitter my inaugural post.
I have a SEO/Business coach, and he has been telling me for about a year that I need to get into Social Media, and I kept putting it off. I kept telling him "I have 65 agents that depend on my (web 1.0) websites and those sites are responsible for over 75% of their business volume. What do I need to waste my time on social media for?" He said "Humor me, and just set up a Twitter account. That way, your "posts" won't ever need to exceed 140 characters" OK, fine... I set up an account at http://twitter.com/joelrunner
Setting up Twitter:
Back in May of '08, I set up a Twitter account, and made a few posts. A couple random folks followed me, but I just didn't get it... I posted a tweet a couple times a week, and thought: "How in the world could this stuff be a valuable use of my time?" I gave up, and just let the account sit there.
Then, in September, I decided to give it a real shot. I made an effort to start following conversations of others in my sphere, and started contributing to those conversations. SEO questions? "Sure - I've got a valuable $.02." Adwords? "Here's a suggestion for you." Contract negotiations? That's my FAVORITE topic ever! After a while, I began to look forward to finding conversations to join in on, and did my best to add value to those conversations.
The key to getting so many followers in a short period of time? The short answer is to follow others that interest you, and ENGAGE in their conversation.
Three tips in the "DO" category:
- It's better to have a few followers who are interested in what you have to say, than to have thousands who don't even know who you are. Make sure to only add a few followers at a time, and give them a reason to follow you back by making interesting (NON-PITCHY) tweets. Remember: The objective is to get prospects and potential business parters (referring Realtors®) to follow you back and build relationships - not just get a big list of people who follow you without knowing you (or you knowing them).
- Follow a mix of others who interest you, as well as others who may be potential clients. If you're a Realtor®, the easiest way to find potential clients is to use the "find others > search" feature on Twitter, or use Twitter Local. CAUTION: Before following people in your local area, be sure to read my "DON'T" recommendations.
- There is a reason we have two ears and only one mouth. Keep that ratio in mind when it comes to passing out advice. Make sure to engage in the conversations of the people you are following by listening to the needs of others and add value only when appropriate. You can add value in many ways:
- Share your expertise.
- Tell about a similar experience
- Add humor when possible
- Add a different perspective
Three tips in the "DON'T" category:
- DON'T shamelessly pitch yourself, your website, or a post. Think of it this way: If you went to a party, what would be more appropriate:
- Whenever you meet someone, say "Do you know anyone buying or selling a home in the next 3 to 6 months?" and shove a business card in their face without introducing yourself?
- Whenever you meet someone, ask them about what they do, and what their interests are.
- Hint: The first option is going to have you looking like the photo to the left. Odds are, if you follow option 2 -- unless you have no social skills whatsoever -- they'll be compelled to ask you about what you do, and you just might get some business every once in a while without coming across as a used car salesperson. (Not that there's anything wrong with that!) Social networking (whether twitter, blogging, or whatever is the exact same thing.)
- AFTER you've build a relationship, those in your sphere will trust you, and you won't even need to pitch your services. Business will likely just fall in your lap.
- DON'T follow 2000 people, and just wait for them to follow you back. That's about as effective as pinning your business card up on bulletin boards in grocery stores. Getting a lot of Twitter followers that way may be good for your ego, but it's highly unlikely that those folks will be of any use to you in terms of getting any busin50 ess. Odds are -- those people most likely just have an "auto-follow" feature and aren't going to be reading any of your tweets anyway. In addition, a lot of your potential followers (and best prospects) will refuse to follow you because by following so many more people than are following you back, you're viewed as a spammer. As a general rule: Try to make sure you're never following 20% more people than are following you back.
- DON'T let Twitter consume your entire day. When properly used, twitter can be a lot like a leads group, or even a geographic farming area. After some time, it will generate a great amount of business for you, but don't put all of your eggs in that one basket. Trust me when I say that Twitter can become an addiction, and could very well occupy your entire day if you're not disciplined about how you use it. Treat Twitter like your parents treated TV when you were a kid. It should ONLY be used after you've done your homework. @GingerW - a Marin County CA Realtor (also known as a member of the elite "Twitterazzi") always gives herself a "power hour" and gets business at hand done before treating herself to socializing with friends/clients on Twitter.
Other Useful posts about how to use Twitter:
- Twitter basics. Tips for getting started.
- 50 Ideas on how to use Twitter for Business
- How to Twitter (5 part series by PA Realtor - Kim Wood)
- An interesting example by Jeff Turner of why Twitter is a compliment (not a replacement) to email, blogs, etc.
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