Twitter followers: make them count

When creating a Twitter strategy, businesses tend to focus their efforts on increasing their followers’ counts. It is certainly emotionally rewarding to have huge numbers of followers, as it is perhaps a sign that you are doing something right. What many marketeers and social media managers forget though is to examine their followers. Asking the right questions like “who are my followers?” “Where are they located?” or “What job title do they hold?” will help you understand whether you are reaching your target audience. After all, isn’t this why you joined Twitter in the first place?

There are many corporate success stories around the use of Twitter. is Svendere, a free web platform launched in Italy that allows small and medium-sized businesses to sell items that are left on the shelf in-store. The main objective of this Twitter campaign for this site was to increase the number of relevant followers, which would in turn lead to more visits to the company’s online platform. Svendere reached out to its target audience by researching and identifying relevant handles it focused its campaign on users coming from very specific channels, such as business owner forums, and regularly engaged with them by commenting on their Tweets. As a result Svendere’s follower count grew considerably and helped it increase its web traffic by 7% during this campaign.

Another example of how to build an engaged follower base is Ting, a US mobile service provider offering no-contract phone packages. Ting provides an alternative to major carriers with a pay-as-you-go pricing model that claims to have a new approach to customer service i.e. customers can connect with its support team in real time through Twitter. Over time, its follower base grew to include both existing and potential customers, and turned into a community that shares opinions and expertise. Ting was quick to create a followers’ campaign to rapidly scale this community. Its goal was to turn prospects into followers so that it could regularly engage with them through Tweets and eventually turn them into customers. The campaign resulted in an impressive increase in the number of Ting’s followers of 75%.

But listing examples of corporate success stories on Twitter is of limited use, as every organisation is different and should have its own strategy that aligns with its unique business goals. Therefore, before revamping your Twitter presence, what’s really important is that you sit down and work out who you want your feed to attract. And here are a few tips on how to do that.

1)    Define the demographics of your existing followers

Start off by using the twitter analytics tool to define who your followers are. What are their top interests? If these are in-line with your business area that’s great. Note the percentage of followers that are interested in your industry and check back every month to ensure your Twitter strategy is working.

Another metric to note is where your followers are. It’s no use having a large chunk of followers in Russia if your product is not available there and won’t be so for a while.

2)    Write a compelling biography of your company

The bio section in your Twitter profile is extremely important to get right. Not only can users decide whether to follow you or not on the basis of what you write here, but with the right words you’ll ensure that you appear in relevant Twitter searches. Your profile description should therefore concisely explain who you are and what you do. And don’t forget to add your company’s URL and location!

On a website clicks or conversions campaign, the Twitter ad unit used is called Website Card. It features an image, a headline, and a call-to-action button to give users more context and encourages them to click-through to the website. SOS-Lapsikylä, a non-profit organisation that provides personalised care to children who cannot be supported by their biological parents, regularly updated its website cards with new copy and images. Having multiple versions of the cards enabled it to get insight into the types of content that resonated best with its target audience.

3)    Ensure you’re following the key influencers in your field

You should already be familiar with the experts, journalists, analysts and thought leaders in your field. But by looking at the ‘Influencers’ section on Twitter analytics you’ll ensure no one of importance to your campaign is overlooked (influencers are determined based on tweeted topics, influence of their tweets, number of followers and number of tweets). Once you’re confident that you’re following the right people, encourage them to follow you back by engaging with them. This can be done by responding to content they post, asking questions, or joining conversations. In this regard, Buzzstream is a good example of how to engage with the right audience. This platform offers software that helps marketeers build and manage influencer relationships to drive positive brand mentions, social sharing, inbound links and traffic to their websites. Buzzstream used Promoted Tweets with username targeting to reach people similar to the followers of nine relevant digital marketing influencers, most of which were Buzzstream contributors. The team used Buzzstream’s existing contacts to attract similar people. This way Buzzstream was able to reach an audience that was likely to be interested in its content and more receptive to downloading its free marketing guide. Thanks to this strategy, the company generated more than 1,000 downloads of the document, exceeding its goal by more than 22%.

4)    Share timely content that strikes at the heart of your target audience’s interests

Going to an industry event? Ensure you tweet about it before, during and immediately after. Levels of traffic on Twitter tend to spike just before and during an event so make sure you’re using the correct hashtag and that you tweet images too. Software company @CheckImHere is another Twitter success story. Targeting industry events and using relevant keywords and hashtags associated with them such as #SAchat (student affairs chat) and #SLchat (student leader chat), Check I’m Here saw exceptional return on investment from Twitter. In fact, using industry events gave the company an opportunity to connect with a targeted audience that was more likely to be receptive to learning about the new tools and services it offers. The result: 80% of leads gathered from Twitter completed a demo of the Check I’m Here software according to the published case study.

In terms of sharing timely content, Reuters’s Twitter strategy is a good example of best practice in initiating conversation. The challenge was to capture the day-to-day networking, conversations and online commentary taking place at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. The news agency also needed to showcase photos and videos from the event to provide deeper insight into the conference. The goal for Reuters was to identify the best articles about the Davos conference, blog posts, videos and photos so its readership could experience the event and participate in related conversations. Reuters used Twitter to capture live coverage through the eyes of event attendees by posting live comments and retweeting relevant pictures. It built a Media Wall on its website capturing all the photos and videos being tweeted from the event. On this page, people could engage with the images by commenting and sharing insights live from the conference.   

By doing so, Reuters was able to capture moments that it wouldn’t have had the chance to otherwise catch, showing a wide range of videos and photos from the event, and turning the conference attendees into real-time reporters!

5)    Be known in other parts of the web by blogging

A great way to drive the right traffic to your Twitter profile is by guest writing on authoritative websites in your industry. Many media outlets are happy to accept non-partisan, thought-leadership content. By offering guest copy, you will make valuable connections and be heard by influencers in your industry.

Needless to say, if your article is thought provoking and insightful, it will be shared, probably across a range of social networks, ensuring you reach new, relevant prospects. Guest writing is just another way to share your expertise on platforms, publications and websites that are key to your industry.  If you pen good quality content, people are likely to tweet about it and follow you. By becoming a guest author on key publications you increase your chances of attracting relevant followers.

In sum, Twitter followers are like many other connections in life: you want to be surrounded by the right people, and you want to be in touch with people you have things in common with and, sometimes, that you can have a mutually beneficial relationship with. While the number of Twitter followers your organisations has is important, the results of a corporate Twitter strategy rely largely on the quality of your followers. So make sure you do your research regularly!

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