Building Your Twitter Audience

Picture of Aliza ShermanAliza Sherman is a web pioneer, author, and international speaker. Sherman is the author of 8 books about the Internet including The Everything Blogging Book, Streetwise Ecommerce, The Complete Idiot's Guide to Crowdsourcing and Social Media Engagement for Dummies.

Building Your Twitter Audience

Of all the popular social networks that can help you market your business, Twitter often seems to be the one that is more challenging to use. Growing an audience on Twitter can take time, but while you may try to increase your following for appearances sake, the real value of Twitter comes when your target audience actually pays attention to what you tweet.

When marketing through social media, there are several fundamental steps you need to take to be effective including:

Clearly establish your business goals. Make sure you come up with goals that can be realistically addressed through social media marketing. Twitter, in particular, is especially effective for customer service and for reaching the media.

Pinpoint the audience you’re trying to reach. Other than the media, what is the demographic of your ideal customer? Knowing whom you are trying to reach doesn’t just inform how you purchase ads on Twitter but also the kind of content you produce.

Once you have some strategy behind your Twitter use, you can work on ways to increase your following and visibility on Twitter. Here are some ways to build a more attentive following on Twitter:

1. Follow the right accounts.

Who you follow on Twitter both informs the content you see in your Twitter feed but also can affect who follows you and who follows you back. When you follow relevant accounts, they are more likely to follow you back. Who you follow also impacts the content you have available to retweet from your feed and to stay on brand and on message.

2. Reach out and interact.

Digital Marketers use the term “engagement” to mean interacting with others. In any social situation, making the first move by saying hello is a good way to start a conversation to build a relationship. Spend some time daily on Twitter to reach out appropriately to others, particularly those conversations you see happening in your Twitter feed.

3. Tweet compelling content.

Finding the right balance of marketing messages and non-commercial content that appeals to your target audience can take time. Often what you think will attract attention and get a response is very different from what actually gains traction. Pay attention to your metrics and analyze your most successful tweets to understand what your audience likes. Figure out what messages drive the most actions then use those findings as a framework for crafting future tweets.

4. Follow and use relevant hashtags.

While Twitter hashtag use pales in comparison with hashtagging in Instagram, identifying the hashtags most relevant to your brand to follow helps you identify the people who may be interested in your company and products or services. Following hashtags also provides more targeted content to retweet and conversations to enter.

If you are a florist, common hashtags might be #florist, #flower or #flowers, and #bouquet, but don’t limit your hashtag marketing tactics to the obvious. Search for #gift, #holiday, #anniversary, #birthday and other terms related to the occasions someone might want to give or receive a flower arrangement.

Following a hashtag like “#newjob” could present an opportunity to congratulate someone on getting a new job and offering them on a discount on a potted plant for their desk. Entering into hashtagged conversations is also an effective tactic for getting seen by people who are not currently following you but might be interested in doing so.

5. Join a Twitter Chat.

One way to spend an hour and gain entirely new Twitter followers is to participate in a Twitter Chat. Twitter Chats are events that take place live on Twitter where everyone who takes part uses and follows a specific hashtag and logs into Twitter on a specific day and time every week to communicate through tweets. If you’re in hospitality, you might want to participate in #FoodTravelChat on Wednesdays at 5pm Pacific Time. Gardening supplies? Check out #GardenChat Mondays at 5pm Pacific. Search Google or Twitter for Twitter chat schedules.

While you can boost the growth of your Twitter audience through advertising on Twitter, take the time to connect directly with others on the service to keep them attentive and responsive to your tweets.