If you’re struggling to gain traction on Twitter for your business or brand, rest assured this is common for most entrepreneurs when they first start out. Fortunately, there are some constructive steps you can take to get more followers on Twitter for your new brand:
1. Pick a good example of Twitter done right as a model for you
Take a look at the Twitter profile of a brand who is a few steps ahead of where you are right now. Pick a brand you admire, e.g. one you already have heard of – not a world-famous brand but one a little ahead of you; where you realistically want to be in a year or so. Take a look at their tweets to get a feel for what it looks like when it’s done right.
Just make sure it’s the same general business model: if you sell a physical product to stores, look at a brand that does that with a different type of product; if you sell a virtual product direct to consumer, look at a brand who does business that way. Can’t easily think of a suitable candidate off the top of your head? Take a look at who is following your local SBDC or who is following the same company or entity where you may have taken any business coaching courses. Most likely you’ll be able to identify a brand similar to yours but a step ahead that you can look at for inspiration and a concrete example of what it looks like done right. You may even find from this exercise that you are doing everything right, and that’s great.
2. Use promoted tweets to get your brand in front of people
If you need to reach individual consumers or other businesses, be aware that in some fields following potential customers can come across badly for you and may even cost you a business relationship. See the article I wrote about what happened when my friend did that. It wasn’t pretty! Instead use promoted tweets to get your small business in front of your clients’ eyes. Promoted tweets aren’t free, but compared to the cost of not having that business relationship in the first place, you will probably find this a very affordable way to advertise – and certainly much cheaper than in-print advertising. As an added bonus, you may gain more followers in the process, so you’re really killing two birds with one stone here:
- Getting your tweets out there under the eyes of your potential clients
- Gaining more followers in general and therefore making your brand appear more popular.
3. Block low-quality followers, even if you have very few followers
Although it sounds counter-intuitive, go ahead and use Twitter’s blocking feature to block followers who are low-quality. By low-quality I mean people who are tweeting “adult content” or who make references to illegal activity. Even if these people are your only followers, don’t be afraid to block them. This is because other followers looking to interact with your brand may decide to check out who currently follows you, and if you have a bunch of low-quality followers this may scare off legitimate customers. In other words: It’s better to have 1 ordinary follower than 20 followers where half of them are tweeting sensitive content.
Of course, there is no need to go trigger-happy with the blocking feature: simply use it to weed out spam or sensitive-content types of followers. Unless you have a particular reason to do so, there is no need to block people whose views differ to yours, or people who you yourself would never follow back. The aim here is simply to ensure you’re not actually scaring off new followers. Legitimate potential customers will expect somewhat of a range of people to be following you, so don’t overdo it.
4. Use Twitter as a free way to do market research for your brand and position your brand well
Perhaps there is another market sector that is more interested in your product or service than the primary sector(s) you first identified. This can happen more frequently than you might think, especially with artistic types of products that are less predictable to categorize appeal-wise, but it can happen with any product or service. You can leverage Twitter to your advantage as a free way to do market research for your brand, and in the process gain more followers.
How do you do this? Simply take a look at who is interacting most with your brand, and who is following you. If it’s not the primary audience you first had in mind before getting on Twitter, that’s OK! It’s good news: It may mean that you have another sector to focus on, and you can begin targeting your product or service toward that group also. Take another look at your profile page too – it may need some minor changes in the light of that information.
As a concrete example, my friend “Mary” (not her real name), found that the people who made the most positive comments on Twitter about the look of her physical product tended to be actually from England and not from the USA where her business is. She is now considering additionally selling her product overseas in the UK instead of only the US. It could have taken months or years for her to come to that realization without Twitter.
When you are able to interact with and follow those who enjoy your product most, it becomes easier to gain more followers with no additional effort on your part. Twitter is a fantastic way to do some very basic look-and-see market research for your brand. By positioning your brand best toward those who are most likely to enjoy it and use it, you’ll find it much easier to gain new followers organically.
5. If you’d like to pay to grow your Twitter account, use a legitimate professional service
Remember what I said in step 3? If you want to grow your account and get more followers to your small business on Twitter, you’ll want to be certain that you are only attracting high-quality followers. So if you decide to pay to grow your brand’s account, avoid Fiverr! Instead use a professional publicizing service which has some sort of screening method to screen out low quality followers. (See my previous article about my friend’s big mistake trying to follow follow-back accounts – whatever you do, do NOT do that – it’s catastrophic!)
Research carefully any service you plan to use to gain Twitter followers. You are putting a lot of trust in any service you use: your brand image depends on this. I’ve never actually used a service for this, but a couple of places I would start looking into would be:
- Vic Maine’s twitter account-building service. This is an option if you want to directly build up your Twitter account. Vic Maine runs this with his business partner Scott Skinner, and you’ll soon wind up with plenty of legitimate followers in your brand’s field. They use a system based on organically growing your account – but done a lot faster than you could do it. Basically, they put in the time and effort so that you don’t have to. They do offer screening, including visual screening, depending on the plan you pick.
- If you’re trying to break into a particular geographic market, then try the SocialN group. They do more than just Twitter, but increasing local awareness via Twitter is one of their services. It’s not geared quite as directly toward beefing up the reach of your Twitter account as Vic Maine’s method; SocialN are geared more toward them promoting and tweeting your brand within a particular local community. You do stand to gain Twitter followers, but it’s not guaranteed. For a geographically-based business though (e.g. restaurant), local brand awareness is a huge help.
- There are plenty of other Twitter-building services out there. There is no need to stick with the ones I mentioned; there are other options. I have not used any of these myself; if I had I would review them for you here, but I haven’t needed these services. Do your own research and due diligence with any Twitter service you plan to use for your business.
Remember to keep it all in perspective. For the average small business, Twitter is simply one of several moving parts of your marketing strategy. Plan your time, budget, and expectations accordingly.
If you have a high overhead, it’ll probably be worth your while to spend on Twitter marketing, since the continued overhead cost of not having your brand out there could far exceed the cost of promoted tweets or paying to build up your account.
If you’re in a bootstrap-type of situation and simply can’t spend anything on Twitter marketing, that’s OK. You can still do steps 1, 3, and 4 above for 100% free.
Regardless of what situation you’re in, remember that so long as you keep putting out high quality tweets that are authentic, you should continue to gain followers organically – but it may be slower than you like. Ideally you would also use one or more of the methods I outlined above to deliver much faster results.
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