In Random Thoughts 1 we talked about traction and the importance of building relationships with our potential audience in order to gently guide them into becoming users for our new startup. Before you can do this you need to establish an audience to build a relationship with.
IMO the best place to do this, bar none, is Twitter. Twitter is unique among all the social networks in that it allows you to actively search for relevant users that share similar interests and activities to your own and allows you to follow them. What following means is that their tweets will appear in your feed and they will be informed that you have followed them. Reasonably often they will follow you back and your tweets will appear in their feed. Following people is not quite an invitation to follow back but generally it works that way.
But before you start randomly following every account on Twitter it pays to get selective. At this stage followers are gold to you but you don’t really want any that don’t share interests or activities with you. Don’t focus on number of followers, focus on quality and relevance.
If you are already a Twitter user much of what is below you will know already. Read it anyway because it is a process that I use and it works. If you are new to Twitter this is a proven process to quickly build a relevant follower base which you can engage with and build a community of users for your startup.
Step 1 – Create your Twitter account. If you already have a personal Twitter account which you don’t use for your business create a new one for your business.
Make sure you choose the right username from the start because changing it later means your followers won’t be able to find you. If this is a business account use your company name. If you are your business and trade under your own name, use a variation of your name which indicates what you do. If your name is Sam and you do SEO you might call yourself @SEOSam for example. Try and create an easily memorable and not too formal handle which gives an indication of what you do. Spend some time on this, choose a few options and then narrow it down to the right one.
Step 2 – Set up your profile. Choose an appropriate profile image. This can be your company logo and arguably should be if you are establishing a brand. If you trade under your own name use a picture of yourself. Make sure it is a good picture and if you don’t have a suitable one use a professional photographer. It will be worth every cent. Look friendly and warm in your picture. Use a stranger to help select the best picture. This really works. Never use the default Twitter egg profile picture.
Your profile picture should be 400 by 400 pixel size. Crop your picture if necessary in any good image editing software. The cropped image must be at least the size mentioned above to maintain quality.
Select an appropriate header image of at least 1500 by 500 pixels. If you don’t have an image find one in any of the free or paid image resources on the internet. (pixabay.com stocksnap.io and unsplash.com are 3 free good sources)
Step 3 – Compile your profile bio. You have 140 characters to do this. Start with the URL to your site homepage, then give a short and concise description of what you do. Try and include 2 or 3 significant keywords and hashtag them. This will make you more findable. Don’t be “salesy” in your bio. Just paint a little picture of what you do and make it sound inviting. Avoid listing all your personal attributes and skills. This can end up intimidating people who might then be reluctant to contact you. The overall tone should be light and factual.
Your bio is very often your first point of contact with other users so spend some time on those 140 characters.
Step 4 – Start finding followers. So you are now up and running on Twitter. You could go ahead and post your first tweet but you would probably be the only person who ever reads it because it will only appear on your own page. In other words you need followers. As soon as you have a follower your tweets will appear in their feed.
Start by going to the Search box in the upper right hand corner of Twitter and put an important keyword or phrase into the text box there. Don’t be too general here, get specific. If your field of interest is getting users don’t put in the word users, put in “user acquisition” or “startup user acquisition”. Every word you add adds accuracy and relevance to the search results.
Hit Enter and Twitter will provide you with a list of tweets containing your search terms. Click “All” at the top of the page to get more results.
You are now looking at a list of tweets containing your search terms. You could, by clicking on the name of the tweeter at the top left of each tweet, see the profile of that tweeter and follow them by clicking their follow button. The Advanced Search feature in the left sidebar of the search results page will help you to refine your results, but it is still a laborious procedure to filter and follow. There is a better way.
Step 5 – The better way. What I am going to tell you about now is a shortcut which I use and which has rewritten the rules when it comes to streamlining the processes of searching, filtering, following, unfollowing and all the procedures involved in building a relevant followers list. This is a tool called Tweet Adder which can be found at tweetadder.com and is well worth the small monthly fee they charge.
Tweet Adder automatically scrapes and searches for you, but after reviewing the information, it’s up to you to manually review and follow each user. It has many other useful features including a buffer. In terms of streamlining the follower acquisition process and keeping your follower list tidy and relevant I have not found a better tool and I strongly suggest you invest in it. Tweet Adder will open up methods to identify potential users to follow which are simply not available in Twitters native search functionality. Once you have identified them the actual follow process is one click simple and very quick.
Tweet Adder offers several different options for search criteria. I principally use the Tweet Search and Profile Data Search functionality.
I enter search terms using the normal search operators, filter by activity levels, language etc. and sort the results by number of followers or number of tweets. I can then swiftly scan down the list and follow, mostly based on a speed read of profile data. I will typically follow about 100 to 150 users in any one session.
Three days later I open the “not following back” filter and Tweet Adder presents me with a list of all users that have not followed me back and I unfollow them. The three day window is to allow a little time to those I have followed to follow me back.
I average around 25% follow back success rate overall using this process.
I also use Tweet Adder to follow back users that have followed me. This again is a simple and rapid 1 click process.
Tweet Adder also offers “Followers of a user” and “Followed by a user” filtration which presents list of qualifying users. This seemed like an interesting option initially but I do not use it as I find it does not produce a high ratio of suitable candidates. I am not really sure why but perhaps it’s because users tend to follow high profile accounts because they are high profile and they want to be associated with them.
It is important to keep your followers list clean. Tweet Adder assists here too enabling you to unfollow users based on filters like “too quiet”, “too noisy”, “no profile image” etc. Those unfollowed may remain as followers and thus still see your tweets, but you will keep your feed free from unwanted and irrelevant tweets this way.
I regularly go through all of my followers (again on Tweet Adder) and unfollow users based largely on profile irrelevancy. These guys always seem to sneak in somehow and need to be unfollowed from time to time.
Step 6 – Now that you have followed a whole bunch of people there is a little housekeeping you need to do to prepare for the people who follow you back. In my account I have my email notifications set up to email me when virtually anything happens concerning my account. You need to do this too.
Click on the small profile picture at top right of your home screen and select “settings” from the dropdown list. In the left sidebar select e mail notifications and then select all the checkboxes and save at the bottom of the page.
As soon as you have a follow back you will be notified by email and you can open the email to check whether you are already following this user. As they probably came from your following exercise you will already be following them. If you are not, then follow them back from the dialogue in the email.
You now need to send them a thanks for following message. If you are following someone who is following you can send them a direct message. To do this open their profile by clicking on their user name at top left of the message and you will see an option to send a message or a tweet to this user. Select the message option and send them a quick message thanking them for following you. Personalise this message by using their name. This very important, you are engaging with your follower immediately and they will appreciate it.
Go back to their profile page and have a look at their tweets. Open a few and read them. If you see something you like, favourite that tweet by clicking the icon under the tweet summary. More points immediately for you. You could also retweet something of theirs if you really like it, but be sure to read it and be sure it ties in with your profile because your new followers are going to read it in their feed. If it’s good you get some credit and authenticity, if it’s not you get the opposite.
The user you are favoriting and retweeting will also be informed and like you more for it.
Step 7 – Start tweeting. Your new followers have to go to your page to follow you and you need something there for them to see. Post a quick “Hallo” tweet to start off with. Something like “Hey Twitter Users, just joined your community, would love to chat with you. #Startups #Users #Ideas
The hash tagged words at the end will make you more findable by other users.
Now trawl the web for interesting and relevant content, read it and if it’s good tweet it. You will generally find a tweet button on most articles. Do this few times to give visitors to your profile something to read.
So, that’s my quick run through of how to start your Twitter follower acquisition. This will get you a reasonable follower base in not too much time. Pay special attention to the personalization process and quickly establishing engagement and a relationship. Remember, 500 engaged followers are worth far more than 5000 followers who are just names on a list.
If you found this useful, please retweet it or share it with your friends from the left sidebar. Please tweet or message me if you have any questions.
You can find me here on Twitter @prevalidator
In my next post I will describe in greater detail how you can turn your Twitter followers into a community and from there into users for your startup.