Twitter Strategy 101

by Violeta Nedkova

If you're here, that means you want to grow. Your wish is my command!

I've previously given a free "twitter for growth" report to subscribers of BeTweet. I've also made a list of tools that can grow you a following, fast. Today I'd like to briefly merge those into a comprehensive twitter strategy because... I like you.

I'm no Jeff Bullas or Gary Vaynerchuk, but I'll do my best. Ready?


Before you read any of the "tips and tricks" below, I want you to consider twitter's two main focus points: engagement and immediacy. Because twitter favors engagement, never ignore a mention, EVER. Also, try to answer as fast as you can.

As for immediacy, always do your best to stay on top of things. If you can identify trends or hot topics or webinars, just jump right in the discussion or contribute something of your own to go with the hype. I call it "riding the wave". You'll be noticed.

Step #1: Clean up!

Think of it as spring cleaning.

Go to ManageFlitter. Click on "inactive" - people who have not tweeted for 30 days - and then unfollow them. Then go to "fake (spam)" -> "fake following", and unfollow the accounts because they are prime suspects in being spammy.

If you want to decrease your "following" count, you can unfollow some people who don't follow you back (unless they're accounts you're really interested in). Start with the last page, so you don't accidentally unfollow someone you had *just* followed.

Repeat once in a while, it's good to keep things neat.

Step #2: Follow!

You probably have a whole list of personas. If not, read this guide.

There are two ways you can go about following: 1. Follow influencers AND follow back people who are interested in your service / have the same interests OR 2. Only follow influencers. Most businesses choose option #2. I choose #1 because I'm friendly. If we're talking about your personal account, then I'd suggest you follow like-minded people.

How do you find influencers? Easy. Go to wefollow. Insert some keywords and find all the prominent people tweeting about those things. Note: If you're planning to follow back fans as well, you should create a list of influencers, so you don't lose them.

P.S. Don't be afraid to engage them. Even if you're sitting on the toilet!

How do you find potential clients? The way I go about it is with twitter search. For example, say you're making the next big presentations tool. Question you should be answering is: Who are the people who'd want to use it and why would they?

FIRST ASSUMPTION: maybe they hate Powerpoint and they're looking for an alternative. So I would type "i hate powerpoint" and see what comes up. You can come up with a lot of things to search such as "i'm doing a presentation", "i need help with this presentation", "pretty presentation", "presentation tools", etc. Now, I am not a twitter search expert, but I'm learning. Read How to Help Anyone on Twitter to do what the title says, add location, omit keywords, etc. It's a trial-and-error process.

SECOND ASSUMPTION: the people I'm looking for are following my competitors. I know some of you will frown at the phrase "stealing your competition's followers", but when it comes to business, you really should do everything you can to get ahead. Now you can go to your competitor's twitter profile, click on followers, and follow these people. Alternatively, you can make a list of them (private), so you can keep an eye on them.

THIRD ASSUMPTION: someone, somewhere has made a kick-ass list of influencers and even fans already, so all I have to do is find and follow those. I used TacticsCloud before they discontinued it. Now I just look for lists manually.

P.S. The other day I found something awesome like "tech geeks".

Step #3: Tweet regularly!

I know you're busy, but the truth is: twitter requires long-term commitment.

That said, my twitter strategy goes like this: I re-tweet and promote others, A LOT. I also tweet relevant content that will be of value to my followers. It's important to keep a balance between self-promotion and re-tweets. Take a look at the 5-3-2 formula.

I'm using BuzzSumo to discover all-time and recently trending content, but it asks you to tweet to keep using it. Another tool that was suggested to me is Little Bird.

If you don't have time to tweet regularly (like most of us), Buffer is a must-use! On the site, you can schedule tweets that will come out at pre-determined times of the day, which you can adjust to your liking. You can top it up, so you don't have to check in every day. The free account puts a limit to your buffers, though. Best part? It gives you suggestions every few hours, including a quote and some kick-ass content.

What are you waiting for? Sign up for Buffer. Now.

P.S. Don't forget to tweet your opinion. Maybe not everyone cares what you had for breakfast (this is not facebook), but they'll appreciate an insightful comment.

Step #4: Reach out!

You can follow a lot of people, answer a lot of questions, and tweet a lot of content, and it can still not be enough, or maybe you're not growing as fast as you'd like. What I'll suggest is using a few "hacks" I've picked up from the growth hacking community.

1. Make targeted lists with TacticsCloud!

Apart from finding lists, TacticsCloud is mainly used to make lists of people based on keywords and import those lists to twitter. Hackers do it to get the attention of people. When you're included in a list, you feel pride, so you check the person out. I used it for OMGrowth and I was happy with the results (though not as happy as I thought).

2. While you can't re-tweet everything, you can favorite most things.

Another "hack" is to favorite a lot of tweets because people will see that you did, check you out, and maybe follow. Don't go too crazy though; the new twitter design (which should kick in next week) displays the number of favorites, which is not necessarily a bad thing, but when you see 10 tweets and 1000 favorites, you think "what the?!"

(Too bad lists are not in the favorites' place. Always underestimated.)

So type in a channel, search, or open a list, and start favoriting. Only tweet things that are relevant to your interests. Don't favorite a lot of repeat tweets. No reason to act spammy. (Your favorites appear in the "discover" section of your followers!)

If you don't have time to favorite a lot of tweets, you can use one of the services that suggest tweets for you to favorite. I'm using Slingbot at the moment, happily. Basically, you start campaigns based on words, channels, phrases, etc., and it's ready to go!

3. Add a few hashtags at the end of your tweet.

That's not a hack per se, but it's vital for growing! The only way you can reach to people who are not following you is by adding hashtags to your tweets. Not just any hashtags, though. It might seem funny to use something like #killmenow, but nobody follows that (or do they?!). To reap the benefits, you must identify the most active channels.

Sign up for RiteTag and the extension will help identify  hot tags! It splits channels into: great, good, and overused, which is mighty helpful. The only downside is that it logs you off occasionally. Finally, you can audit other accounts to see what works for them.

As for the number of hashtags you can add, I'd say about 3-5 per tweet.

Step #5: Beware!

Here are some rules you have to be aware of:

1. In the beginning, you can follow up to 2000 accounts.

This is done so that you don't overdo it before enough people start following you back.

2. If you start a tweet with a @username, your followers won't see it.

You can get around that by putting a period in front, like this: .@username. Twitter does this because it assumes that you're chatting privately with this person. Without the period, only you, the person, and people who follow both of you can see the chat.

Gary Vaynerchuk explains it pretty well in this slideshare presentation.

3. If you're not careful, your account will be suspended.

There are things like "churn" and "blocking" and "spamming". Can you blame twitter for trying to get rid of those? I don't. However, I have been suspended myself a few times because I didn't understand how to properly tweet before it was too late:

  • When an account is new, mentioning people in tweets is shady. (I was shocked to be scolded for mentioning someone, but it was on one of my brand new accounts.)
  • When you follow/unfollow too many people, twitter gets suspicious. (It's called churn and it means you're probably a spambot, which is not good.)
  • When you openly spam people, they block & report you. (So don't do it!)

Don't worry if you get suspended. All you have to do is email support, and kindly explain what happened. Last time it took 2 hours for me to get un-suspended. Aww yeah.

4. If you tweet too much, you go to twitter jail.

I happen to know this because I used to tweet obsessively. My poor followers must have thought I was on the verge of a breakdown. Thankfully, they stuck with me! :D

It's something like 100 tweets-per-minute and 1000 tweets-per-day. It's possible.

5. A lot of people don't check their DM's.

I speak from experience. Seeing as every single DM (direct message) is a "thanks for following, follow me on facebook" or something spammy like that, I have long given up. The few times I'd actually liked a DM and answered, nobody wrote back. All spam.

P.S. Remember, though, you can't send DM's to people who don't follow you.

Step #6: Pick a style!

There are several ways to formulate (and even design) your tweets:

  • You can add a personal message at the beginning of your retweets. (I have found that punchy comments with a call to action and an exclamation mark work well.)
  • You can add your message at the end. (Not so good, though, the link and hashtags should be there. If you put a message there, the whole thing seems random.)
  • You can separate them on several lines. (For example, you can include the title/message on the first line and put the link and hashtags on a second line.)
  • When sharing content, you can tweet a quote extracted from it.

And on and on. Just experiment and see what works for you.

More Kick-ass Resources:

Oh My Growth!

OMGrowth is a work-in-progress growth curation for startups. If you want updates and  more free reports, sign up for early access! Tweet us at @OMGrowth.

If you want to say hi to the author, tweet her at @V4Violetta. :)

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