When it comes to Twitter, followers want to read engaging, interesting tweets. If you think of Twitter in terms of a book, readers do not keep reading the same boring books (or tweets) by the same boring authors (or tweeters). For followers, Twitter is just that: reading. For brands, Twitter is a social platform for which interacting with customers is essential, NOT marketing. Twitter is not an advertisement; it’s a conversation.
So, let’s start increasing your Twitter followers.
1) Use Twitter as a Social Outlet, Not a Marketing Tool
Consumers do not want to follow a robot. Constant product updates or release information can be monotonous and just plain boring. Be social with a variety of tweets; be interesting (and interested), funny, involved and informative. According to Socialbakers analytics, organic food chain Whole Foods is the third most followed brand on Twitter. Its #3 status is based largely on the type of posts published from the Austin, Texas based company. Sure, there are tidbits of promotional jargon evident in some tweets from Whole Foods, but customer interaction stands out as a top priority. Customer comments range from praising the company, asking questions about products and creating awareness about poor customer service. Whole Foods responds to many types of posts from followers, not just the positive ones. You experienced bad customer service? Whole Foods asks for details and in which store the problem took place. The company also posts recipe ideas, innovative tips on composting at home, living organically and many other topics. All in 140 characters or less. Pretty impressive, Whole Foods!
2) A Face to a Name
We have already thought of Twitter as a book. Now let’s try to visualize Twitter as an online department store or online dating service. How likely is a consumer to buy a sweater online without seeing a picture of it first? How likely are online daters to connect without first seeing a profile picture? This is just how humans work. Visuals are stimulating and much more exciting. Company logos are crucial for brand identity. For followers to feel connected, they must be sure they are connected to the correct network. If I want to tweet to Sony Mobile, I need to know Sony Mobile is receiving my message – and I know they will respond quickly as they are in the top 5 Socially Devoted brands! A logo is easy to recognize and gives off a professional, personalized impression to consumers. Along with a profile picture, brands need to get verified. Ensuring authenticity to your Twitter account also gives fans a guarantee that they are following the official brand. Next step: provide a link to your Twitter page on your official website. Now you’re officially official!
3) Don’t Forget the #hash
Hashtag = keyword. The Twitter hashtag is essentially a genre or category. Fans search for relevant or interesting subjects to read about on Twitter. Conversations via Twitter can be very diverse. Depending on the angle that one approaches or stumbles upon a topic, they can branch out and off into all directions, bringing people together in lively debate and discussion. You can start (or follow) a discussion on any topic from current events to important holidays, box office hits to the GOP… anything! When your brand has an important announcement, event or product release – a hashtag is a great way to drive fans toward the information; and by adding other hashtags, you broaden the conversation. It’s ok to mention your brand in the Twitter conversation every now and then. Just remember: Twitter is not for selling your product, it’s for cultivating relationships.
4) Be a leader and a follower
The best way to connect with people via Twitter is by following them. This goes for brands as well. It is not always the responsibility of the fans to seek out interaction from their favorite companies. Communicative initiative bodes very well for brands. When brands follow their fans it shows their fans are appreciated, valued and, most importantly, connected to the company. Show your appreciation by becoming “fans” of your customers. Interact with them by asking questions and providing commentary about interesting topics, not just about the company. Fans also love to be retweeted and mentioned. When followers mention brands or an event/product associated with the company, a retweet or mention creates a strong connection between the customer and the business. Even a retweet of an interesting comment entirely unrelated to the product would make the customer feel especially linked to the brand!
5) Every Follow Counts, but Some Don’t
Caution: Controversy ahead! The debate has gone back and forth among social media experts whether or not allowing spam fans (I like to call them “spans”) to set up camp in your follower list. Some say it doesn’t matter who is on your follower list, others say spans are annoying and make sifting through follower lists difficult. So, how detrimental are span camps to Twitter pages? Brands appear more organized, connected and detail-oriented when they have a follower list that is span- or semi span-free. Also, an automatic re-follow is a big no-no. This tells the customers the brand will follow anyone, giving the impression there is no exclusivity for the real fans. Sure, there is strength in numbers, but in the consumer world priority is on quality, not quantity.
We will be revealing even more social tips next week and the biggest secrets will be revealed during our Engage 2012 event!