I started a new business Twitter account and acquired 350 relevant followers in one month being relatively unknown and without spamming.
Most companies have joined Twitter by now but there are a few that have lagged behind. If you’re a part of this group (as my company was), it can be really intimidating to jump into the social media scene when your competitors already have established accounts with hundreds (or thousands) of followers. I used these techniques to jump my new account from 0 to 350 followers in one month, bypassing the awkward infancy period of a new Twitter account almost entirely.
Why should you care? Getting an established account is the best way to attract new followers, and even more importantly, more interaction with your followers and a quick intro into your local Twitter community, driving communication and clicks through to your company’s website.
Set up the account
As soon as possible, grab your business’s name on Twitter if it’s still available. Mine wasn’t, but luckily the account was inactive and we were able to file a copyright request, releasing the account over to our name. If this isn’t possible, grab an available username as close to your business’s name as possible. Avoid underscores and dashes as much as possible.
Design your twitter account to look human, like the @zappos account does above. One of the best ways to do this is to add a custom background with someone’s real picture — preferably the person tweeting from the account but you can use the founders/CEOs of the company as well. Stock photos are worse than having nothing at all. Customize the colors and the rest of the background to reflect your company’s branding.
Before any promotion of the new account, write twenty tweets to fill out the first page, spacing them at least 15 minutes apart from each other. Thereafter, continue to tweet every day, 4-5 times at max for the first few weeks, and taper (if you wish) after. We want the account to look active and get that tweet count up as fast as possible without spamming. A great tool to use is CoTweet, so you can spend 10 minutes in the morning setting up your tweets for the day, spacing them 2-3 hours between each other.
Very important: Make sure your tweets are high quality and useful to your audience. At the end of the day, your account is to promote your business, but will be more follow-worthy if you interact with the community and post about other items of interest in your field. I usually try to have three or so posts per day promoting our website, one retweet (varying between native retweets as well as non-native which can add commentary), and one link out to something interesting elsewhere. You want to emphasize that you’re a real person, not a robot.
Now that you have a follow-worthy account, it’s time to get followers. It would be easy to just let this happen naturally, but I’ve found that accounts with high follower counts are more desirable, and therefore attract more people. So while the goal is to get a high number of interactive followers, we’ll start out with finding twitter accounts (ideally in the same field) that auto-follow back.
The best way to do this is to use an online application called Tweepsect, built by my friend @shazow, that analyzes a twitter account’s “stalkers” (those that follow but the account doesn’t follow), “stalking” (those that the account follows without following back), and “mutual” (mutually following).
Find other businesses in your field on Twitter and inspect them using Tweepsect. What we’re looking for here is the “mutual” list, and then we can scroll through those mutually following accounts and find those that have nearly identical following/follower counts — sure sign of an auto-follower. Follow every one of these accounts you find for a very quick boost to your following count; if it’s over a hundred accounts, follow only about 50-100 per day to allow for your own following count to rise.
You can start promoting the account once you’ve reached about 100 followers: for example, write a post on your company’s blog, add links from your website and Facebook pages, tell your employees to promote it via their twitter accounts, etc. Why didn’t we do this first? People are more likely to follow an established account.
Bonus: Lists are another great metric, and still a fairly new feature. Use this to your advantage — inspect the lists that your competitors appear on and follow those that create those lists. Usually these creators will add your account to their lists as well. You can also go to Twibes.com and add your business’s account to lists in as many terms in your field as possible.
Find the community
Once you’ve completed these steps, it’s now time to find people in your field to follow and interact with. As large as Twitter is, I often have trouble finding where the good communities of people are. Tweepsect again comes in handy here — we used it before to find auto-follows but now we can use it more generally. Take a look at the “stalking” list in addition to the mutual list to find who other businesses in your field are following. Watch out for inactive accounts, designated on Tweepsect with a face next to account — these accounts haven’t been updated in 90 days.
Another great way to find those in your field is to use Twitter Search. Search for relevant hashtags of topics: #education, #gardening, #marketing, as well as related topics: #onlineeducation, #organicgardening, #ppcmarking, etc. Search for these topics once daily to get a snapshot of others in your field that are promoting that conversation on Twitter. While general topics are hashtagged fairly rarely, conferences almost always have a hashtag for the attendees. Specifically in the education space, #educon occurred about two weeks after we created our Twitter account and it provided a great resource of people to follow in our space.
If you find some really great accounts to follow, I would recommend creating a private list to stick these people on. As your account grows larger, it’ll become impossible to watch the feeds of 300+ people per day. Stick the highest quality accounts into one list and read that instead every morning.
Continue growing and interacting
Hopefully at this point, your account will have the valuable combination of a high amount of followers that also interact, placing yourself directly within the Twitter community and on the same level as your competitors. It’ll be a lot easier to coast your Twitter account since people finding your account will be more likely to subscribe – give months later, the account has more than 800 followers.
Any other tips? I’d love to hear them in the comments!