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Introducing Your Business to Twitter: Where to Start and Ways to Build Like-Minded Followers

by Tim Rimington | January 8, 2012

Building followers on Twitter can be mind boggling especially if you don't really "get" what Twitter is all about. I have a handful of clients who struggle with Twitter, and I know they’re not alone. The concept, the engagement, the time invested – the benefits both short and long term – are quite a bag-full if you’re flying blind.

My first attempts at Twitter were fruitless. I had a basic understanding of what Twitter was trying to be, so I began writing short rants in the vain hope that somebody was actually listening. No one in our office seemed to really know, either, so I set out in establishing my own "play" account and began to follow Twitter users who shared my interest in music. Months went by and the number of users I followed began to grow but very few chose to follow me back. Speaking to clients, this is a common hurdle and in many cases is enough to send new users to Twitter packing.

Late one night (and admittedly after a few too many vinos) I scrolled through my timeline and chuckled at the antics of a user in Sydney who was also obviously engaged in a late night tipple, listening to tunes and Tweeting everything about nothing. So with a little Dutch courage, I sent this guy a message, laughing at his choice of tunes and stating that I shared a similar taste to his. For the next hour we Tweeted back and forth like we were old pals, sharing a laugh at our local.

As the weeks went by, this person began to Re-Tweet some of my rants to his 500+ followers, and because my Tweets were generally music related – and most of his followers music lovers – I began to notice a steady increase in the numbers of people following me. It was that simple. Then the process began all over again; I would strike up a chat with one of these new followers, and they too would begin the whole Re-Tweet process. And so it went on.

But after a month my number of new followers came to an abrupt halt. I was following new people but they weren’t following me back! The solution, as always, was simple – I’d stopped engaging people and instead simply Tweeted rants and simple musings that, on their own, weren’t engaging my followers. My followers, it appeared, had grown bored of my Tweets!

Late one night an Aussie sporting personality who I follow, asked his 6K+ followers their opinion on what movie to watch on TV. I responded, and I was surprised that he immediately answered me back, followed by another question directed to me. We then chatted back and forth, and this continued for days. During our conversation, my ‘Followers’ tally started to climb again. Some time later I asked this celebrity if they would follow a handful of my clients to help raise their profile. The celebrity happily obliged and my clients watched their follower numbers gradually rise that day. Bingo!

So here’s the point to this exercise: engage with like-minded users on Twitter and strike up a conversation. Over time, begin to engage users who have a high volume of followers because they’re the users who can help grow your followers. But get friendly first, don’t just jump in and demand that they Re-Tweet you. And don’t necessarily target celebrities, just try to find people who are well-established and have more than, say, 500 followers. Celebrities are difficult to engage with one-on-one because you’re typically one of many thousands doing the same thing – your chances of striking up a “friendship” probably aren’t good. I just happened to get lucky by engaging with a small number of “celebs” at the right time of day! But my first conversation and resulting “friendship” on Twitter was with a user who had just 500 followers.

My experience isn’t the be-all and end-all of Twitter, it’s just one example of how to jump in and get your feet wet. So remember, unless you’re striking up conversations, you're likely to never be in the game.

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