Twitter: Developing a good follower list

You know, it took long enough for the traditional marketing industry to figure out just how to develop e-mail lists effectively (not that there aren’t new techniques left to be discovered). Now, with Twitter becoming an increasingly powerful communications medium–an actual element in people’s marketing strategies–now we’re having to come up with an entirely new set of rules for list development, unlike those from e-mail marketing or even snail-mail direct marketing.

This has become particularly important now that major brands like H&R Block, JetBlue, Best Buy, Intel and Comcast (to name just a scant few) are making appearances on Twitter. Not only do they have to figure out just how to communicate in this new and unique medium, they also have to figure out how to attract the right audience to hear it. Despite their billion-dollar might, these brands could tarnish their rep for some time to come if they make big mistakes on Twitter, to date still a small community which has proven decidedly gossipy.

My methods for developing Twitter follower lists

To date, my methods for developing a follower list, both on my own behalf and on behalf of clients, have been quite simple. I’m well aware that some people will villify me no matter what I say–did I mention Twitterers are touchy?–but the following seems to work:

* Begin by following just a few people who interests seem to be a great fit for you or your company’s brand or personal focus

* Just as you might do when joining an e-mail discussion list, sit and “listen” to the tweets posted by the people you’re following

* Comment on what the followers are saying, if that’s appropriate, or just introduce yourself and say what your goals are (people will find it by tweetscan)

* Make sure you connect to a few friends, not just to have a friendly audience, but also to attract followers from their list of friends. People will also find you through Twitter Friend Adder or similar apps.

* Use Tweetscan to scan for mentions of your company, name or issues you’re following closely. Then respond, though carefully. Be helpful, and be present, but don’t intrude if possible.

* Make sure you Twitter ID (with a link to an explanation of Twitter for those who don’t “get it” yet)

* I haven’t tried this yet, but what about an anouncement on the Web site promising coupons and such to those who subscribe, as well as mentioning that you can solve problems?

Now folks, I’d love to hear how you build follower lists, as I know that what I’ve suggested is pretty elementary. What’s worked for you? — Anne

P.S. Since writing this, I’ve been reminded that some people have feel they have too many followers, which is a subject for another post entirely. More to come on the techniques that are emerging to cull your Twitter list and increase its overall value.

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6 responses to “Twitter: Developing a good follower list

  1. I enjoy seeing more brands get involved in the online conversation. Spaces like Twitter really encourage interaction between companies and thier customers at a level we haven’t seen in our generation and I hope people add more to your list. Here are a couple bits of advice I’d give:

    I’ve found that as your list of followers grow, responding publicly to all the comments directed at your brand becomes difficult. While Twitter’s infrastructure by default doesn’t include your @replys in your follower’s feeds unless they also are following the person you’re replying too, posting everything publicly can quickly turn your Twitter stream into a rather disjointed mess of half conversations.

    If you DO respond publicly to someone (and I believe this is key to engaging with your followers) make sure the response reflects back the details of the initial question. No one likes to hear someone talking on the phone because they miss half the conversation. By that same reasoning, replying with, “@soandso – Absolutely great point” will just drive your followers crazy. They don’t necessary want to have to track down soandso’s great point.

  2. Thanks for this post. I am currently trying to build up my twitter followers as well.

  3. Glad the post was helpful. One addition — it seems to help a lot, as it does with standard blogging, to provide useful information from time to time. I’ve found that links to handy resources have done a lot to increase my credibility.

    Good luck building your list — and stop by to let us know how it’s going!

  4. Morgan, sorry for taking so long to say so, but thanks for your point regarding restating whatever was asked in your Twitter replies. You’re right, your followers will get tired of you fast if you don’t make it clear what you’re talking about. I hope Twitter addresses this issue in future versions, as doing this manually is a bit of a pain, don’t you agree?


  5. I’m constantly seeking out new people to “listen to” with moderation and spurts of focused targeting. For example I spent an hour or two one day just searching the word “webcomic” in order to check out other people’s webcomic projects and add them if they interested me. In some cases I’d target fans of webcomics and added them. After a week or two I was able to tell who was active and not active in “conversations”. I then use Tweeple to clean out my queue of followings of those who haven’t stood out for whatever reason. I’ve discovered that TOO many Twitter “friends” means that you actually start missing out on many conversation opportunities yourself. Just some afterthoughts!

    (Also, Anne: I caught your reply a little late about enjoying my podcast! Thanks and if you got video content and/or an idea for a Lowdown, I’d love to work with you to push it out!)

  6. Nuno:

    Thanks for your thoughtful comments. You know, I’ve never bothered to clean out my Twitter list or research my followers, but it sounds like a great way to keep the “signal” higher than the “noise” in my conversations.

    As for the Lowdown, feel free to tweet me at @annezieger and let’s chat about it…


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