There is much talk on social media these days about organic vs. paid content. For many of us, the word organic conjures up images of health and bounty, but in today’s world of social media metrics it means sour lemons for many account managers.
Due to the increase in algorithm-driven curation, which is a direct result of investor pressure at companies like Facebook and Twitter, less people are seeing your activity in their news feeds. Sour yet?
How can you grow your followers organically in this new Twittersphere?
To succeed at organically growing your followers, it’s important that you learn how to create the type of content that engages and excites people. If you are successful at running a non paid campaign on social, you will better understand the needs of your target market and how to communicate with them. By nurturing the people on platforms like Twitter, you can influence your audience to take an action or make a purchase.
As Ernest Hemingway said, “I like to listen. I have learned a great deal from listening carefully. Most people never listen.” Advertisers on social often get lost in the numbers sauce and report on likes and retweets, and skip discussing the conversations with business owners and what they mean to sustained growth and longevity.
So how can you maintain relevance and engage the people who like and follow your social accounts without dipping into your wallet right away? It’s going to take commitment and work but Twitter is a great place to start since it’s focus on content curation is in its infancy and you may not see algorhytmn changes affect its news feed in a major way for some time.
Here are 10 things you can do to organically stand out on Twitter and grow your following:
1. Make your profile a great representation of your brand.
Your profile and cover images are your two most important data points, so ditch the default Twitter egg and post a real photo. At a Shorty Awards Google Hangout in August, Former chief evangelist of Apple Guy Kawasaki discussed his opinion of what makes up the perfect Twitter profile. Guy thinks your profile image should have you come off as likeable, trustworthy and confident; and also show your smiling face in an asymmetrical position.
Basically, you want people to look at your photo and think, this person looks a friendly confident, smart, trustworthy person; I should follow them. If you are on Twitter as individual representing your brand, these rules would apply; however if you are on as a business or organization, you’ll want to feature your logo as your profile image. For your cover image, choose a photo that represents your brand.
You only get 160 characters in your bio, so make it count! Depending on what you do, it might be difficult to sum everything up into one tiny blurb, so you’ll have to get creative. Just make sure that it’s clear to visitors who you are and what you do.
2. Tweet relevant information on a regular basis.
You should be tweeting at least 3 to 5 times per day, but if you really want to get the most value out of your Twitter presence, tweet as often as you possibly can. The more you tweet, the more opportunities you have to engage with fans, and the more total response you will receive. Share relevant content about things that interest you and your audience, and could also broaden your reach. Check your Twitter analytics to see when you received the most engagement over the course of the month. This may help you figure out which days and times work best for you to be tweeting.
3. Keep your tweets short and sweet.
I know, it’s challenging enough to condense all your information into 140 characters, so how can your tweet get any shorter? Twitter suggests the ideal length of a tweet is 100 characters. This number comes from a report by Buddy Media revealing that Tweets shorter than 100 characters get a 17% higher engagement rate. In some cases if you include a link or attach any images this could get difficult, so you’ll need to get creative with your wording, while still including important keywords and hashtags.
4. Follow trending topics and talk about what’s already popular.
When you sign onto Twitter, you’ll see on the left hand side a section labeled “Trends.” Trends are determined by an algorithm and, by default, are tailored for you based on who you follow and your location. Because Twitter happens in real time, this algorithm identifies topics that are immediately popular, rather than topics that have been popular for a while or on a daily basis, to help you discover what’s hot in the current moment. These trends are a mixture of hashtags and frequently used keywords. But, as I said in my introduction, this may all be changing real soon to favor advertisers.
Another way to find out what’s trending is simply scanning your Twitter timeline to see what everyone is talking about. Maybe there’s a National Holiday, popular news story or topic that is getting a lot of attention. If it interests you and you think it will interest your audience and/or broaden your reach, start tweeting about it.
5. Use exclusive hashtags for your brand, events and promotions.
Exclusive hashtags will increase awareness and the visibility of your events and brand. When hosting an event, make people aware of the hashtag before you even hold it by including it in all your promotions as a way to create more buzz. When creating your hashtag, there are a few things to keep in mind. Make it unique – don’t use a hashtag that’s previously been used. Keep it short – you’re only limited to 140 characters for your tweet. Make it relevant – your hashtag should reflect your event.
Hashtags are great for when you’re having a promotion, too. Dunkin’ Donuts creates a new hashtag each time they have a promotion going on. Right know they have the DD Perks® Rewards program and use #DDPerks whenever talking about it. Fans have really caught onto it! When tweeting about their brand they use #mydunkin and #DunkinDaily. Dunkin Donuts’ hashtags are a great example of how to get creative but at the same time staying relevant.
6. Seek out conversations and jump in.
Twitter happens in real time so it’s easy to start a conversation or jump into one. If there’s a big event happening, such as The Oscars or MTV Video Music Awards, you can expect to see a whole bunch of conservations on your Twitter timeline pertaining to what’s happening during the event.
If you’re physically at an event, check Twitter to see if there is a conversation going on or TweetChat and join in by using the event’s exclusive hashtag. Other great times to join conversations are during webinars or Google Hangouts On Air. You may even find smaller conservations about specific topics among influencers in your industry. By engaging in conservations, you’ll quickly gain followers and broaden your reach.
7. Tweet with the intention to get retweeted.
You’ve seen a tweet go viral, right? It’s insane how 140-characters (or even less) could take Twitter by storm. You’ll typically see celebrity tweets go viral, which is expected since they have some of the largest followings on Twitter. Even the most simple celebrity tweets will get retweeted – for example Emma Watson’s tweet “I’ve been away but …” received 4,396 retweets.
Unfortunately, if you’re not a celebrity or a big source for news, you probably won’t be getting retweeted by hundreds or thousands. However, we do have some suggestions on how to increase your chances of being retweeted. According to Buffer, your tweets have a 12x higher chance of being retweeted if you ask for it, and 23x higher if you actually spell out the word “retweet.” Tweets that include links are 86% more likely to be retweeted. Links are more likely to increase your number of retweets than engagement rate. Retweets have been shown to be highest in the afternoon, specifically around 5 p.m. With all this being said, the most important thing to do is make your tweets sharable. What makes people share? Funny, helpful, newsworthy or inspiring content.
8. Stand out of the tweet stream noise with images.
In a constantly updating timeline of tweets, images make your content stand out. According to Buffer research, Twitter posts with photos versus without indicates that photo posts vastly outperform non-photo posts in terms of both clicks and shares. Tweets with images receive 18% more clicks, 89% more favorites and 150% more retweets. HubSpot has done some researching as well and discovered that tweets with images result in a 55% increase in leads.
9. Follow other businesses and organizations.
One thing you don’t want to do is have the number of people you’re following in the double digits. But as a business with thousands of followers, is it a good idea to follow every single person who follows you? No, it’s not. You don’t want to fill your timeline with noise from people you’ve decided to follow just because you were being courteous. Follow those who you’ve established relationships with, those you’d like to establish relationships with, experts in your industry and sources for news. Make sure to interact with your following by engaging in conversation and sharing their content. After all, Twitter is a source for connection so be sure to stay connected.
10. Don’t go overboard with promotional tweets.
No one likes a narcissist, so don’t make it all about you. Self-promotion is perfectly fine, however, don’t go overboard. Twitter is more about information and conversation, and you don’t want to come off as spammy or pushy. In between tweets about your brand or business, share other relevant content, retweet content from your following, and engage in conversation.
If you need help putting all this together, contact us.
photo: Yane Naumoski, Flickr
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