Tracy Osborn

Tracy Osborn is a freelance web designer, developer, and social media enthusiast.

Jump-Starting Your Company’s Twitter Account

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.

Acquire followers

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!

Comments

  • July 21, 2010

    Hi Lisa,
    This was an excellent article. My company recently added FB, Twitter and YouTube to our mix. Our company accounts are handled at corp level, but there are a few of us in select US markets that were chosen to have our own “local” Twitter account to help drive business in our markets. It has taken me longer to build my following than you, but I appreciate that I was trusted to have a relatively free hand. I do a lot of reading, searching Google, talking to Social Media coaches & Tweeters and have found some apps that have helped me. Our business has such a diverse niche roster that I chose two of them to focus on first. I can’t wait to try the app you mentioned above.

    Thank you!

  • July 23, 2010

    Wow! Great info! I discovered this post and this site surfing the net, desiring to grow my music business on Twitter. I’m now gonna immediatelt apply this info to what I’m doin! Thx so much and God Bless

  • July 23, 2010

    Thank you so much for this – this is great getting started advice.

  • July 23, 2010

    Thanks for the great comments!

    I wanted to add a couple more resources that didn’t make it into the article, about writing high quality and useful tweets:
    http://mashable.com/2009/08/16/quality-twitter-tweet/
    http://smallbiztrends.com/2010/01/how-to-write-better-tweets.html

    One of the most important points is to write good quality tweets. A good example of a non good quality tweet is http://twitter.com/EducationPortal/status/18931526108 – the person is adding hash tags in a very annoying way, Avoid!

  • July 26, 2010

    What I find in this post is the awesome way to promote your friend’s tool. Anyway I find it useful, but I think that the brand jump should be made thanks to organic relationships and not to artificial “friendships”.

  • July 28, 2010

    Great tips for promoting your twitter handle..i have 15,000+ but still found some good ideas to put to work.

  • July 28, 2010

    Thanks, we are a band which most in the industry would consider a business in itself. This is hopefully going to help us gain new fans and build some great relationships.

  • August 4, 2010

    Wow, thanks for the Tweepsect tip. We’re really new to Twitter and this will help us reach our goal of 500 followers within first 2 months. Cheers

  • August 8, 2010

    Tracy this is a great article. Although I have had a twitter account for a while I have to admit it has been neglected.

    Yesterday however, I created a business account and I am thankful to have found this article before I started on the marketing track…. very very useful, so thank you.

    Oh, I did go to follow you, but noticed your follower count was at 666…. I shall come back tomorrow ;)

  • August 14, 2010
    WebAction
    @webaction

    hello Tracy,

    one may consider follow back as good strategy to gain new followers. Very often people behind accounts (even if it’s niche-narrowed) do have multiple interests, so if some dentist tweep is following you back and you are into collecting stamps, that doesn’t mean he/she don’t like stamps also :)

    I follow back almost anyone except bots and inappropriate accounts and this strategy has contributed me to have more than 10k followers.

    nice post,
    webaction

  • August 18, 2010

    Hi Lisa,

    I loved this post I have learned even more from this! Although i am quite an advanced user, I found it refreshing to see links on here to twitter products that are free to use!

    I am surprised though that you have not included a section on Apps to use like tweetdeck or hootsuite!

    On the subject of Hootsuite and they deciding to charge it’s users! I was wondering if you guys have heard of an app called MarketMeSuite? basically that brand your tweets with your own link like tweetdeck and hootsuite do?

    I have made 2 pics to show you what I mean! the first being tweetdeck: http://twitpic.com/2ftoxl
    and my tweet by using MMS: http://twitpic.com/2ftqnm

    As you can see this is very valuable realestate that helps brand your Self/Business! the app itself is very similar to tweetdeck with Facebook/Blog and Ping.FM integration!

    So can you see the power of this thing! instead of promoting products like tweetdeck, Hootsuite you are promoting your links with every tweet!

    The guys behind this is Tammy @MarketMeSuite and Alan @Wuup just wanted to leave my 2 cents worth and hope you find this useful

    Til Next Time

    -Phillip

  • August 22, 2010

    hello Tracy,

    one may consider follow back as good strategy to gain new followers. Very often people behind accounts (even if it’s niche-narrowed) do have multiple interests, so if some dentist tweep is following you back and you are into collecting stamps, that doesn’t mean he/she don’t like stamps also

    I follow back almost anyone except bots and inappropriate accounts and this strategy has contributed me to have more than 10k followers.

  • August 24, 2010

    Follow back isn’t my favorite tactic, because as I’m following people that follow me back, my “ratio” of followers is already on the high side (I’m following more people that follow me, looking like a spammer). If I also followed back everyone who followed me, that would be even worse. It’s also a slower way of getting followers, but it probably is more advantageous once you get over the hump of ~1000 followers.

  • August 31, 2010

    Great advice. You’re a great thought leader. We @ SMMC plan on implementing portions (if not all) of your strategies. Cheers!

  • September 20, 2010

    Great tips. I tried Tweepsect. When i wrote the twitter username and clicked “Enlighten Me”, i got MUTUAL (0) .. :( .. i am still having problems in getting followers. Help me out !

  • November 14, 2010

    Great post! Unfortunately I need even more detailed description of the part that describes Tweepsect- not exactly sure which “accounts” are the ones to follow. Can you go into even more detail for the absolute newbie?

  • November 16, 2010

    Hey Elau!

    Basically you want to see which accounts have nearly even followers to following (for example, 3000 followers, 2988 following) — that way you know that they auto-follow and you can gain followers quickly. That said, watch out for inactive accounts which have the “sad” face.

  • November 29, 2010

    Thank you – I have been struggling to work out how to find people to follow – your tip about tweetspect is gratefully received.

  • December 7, 2010

    Yeah, I just started my real estate twitter account. Please dont ask me why I just signed up. I dont have a logical answer for that. I have noticed the real estate guru’s at twitter are very established. Very tough field to break the ice in. But gotta keep on choogin. And yes, even though I just have real estate graphic up I do agree on being more personable. I did have a background that helped until they released the newer version. Now it is covered up. Great article. I have learned more in this blog about twitter than any other I have checked out today. I am trying to get the jump on the competition if you know what I mean. : )

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