A couple months back, Matt Buckley (you may have read a blog post or two written by him) came to me with the challenge of growing our Twitter following. We've built a consistent and reliable lead velocity through a few primary channels, and Matt asked that we now spend some time investing in driving traffic from social media to see if we can grow it into a more consistent acquisition channel for our business. Together, we made the decision to focus our efforts on Twitter.
Even though we're only in the second month of our experiment, I am incredibly happy we chose this modus operandi. To begin, we've chosen to focus Twitter because it tends to produce the greatest volume of traffic and leads, compared to the others for B2B companies such as New Breed.
Before we could work to garner the engagement we needed to produce the traffic and conversions we wanted, there were a number of issues that needed addressing first. Most notably:
- Not enough followers for the engagement we sought: Have you read this awesome post from Buffer on why getting more Twitter followers is important? Consider it a prerequisite to this post. To quote Daniel Sharkov on this matter, "No matter how much you engage with others and how quality your tweets are, getting results with 200 followers can hardly happen."
- Follower limit on Twitter: I found myself unable to follow back any of New Breed's new followers because we had hit the limit. Twitter imposes reasonable limits to help prevent system strain and limit abuse. It recently changed from 2,000 to 5,000 users, but once you've hit that 5,000, there are limits to the number of additional numbers you can follow. This number is different for each account and is based on your ratio of followers to following; this ratio is not published.
Even though we wanted to build our social channels to be this massive source of website traffic and leads, we needed to hone in on growing our follower base first.
5 Steps to Increase Your Twitter Follower Count
We're still working through this experiment, but we've seen great results so far and I couldn't wait to share them with you all.
The most critical advice I could give when it comes to experimenting on Twitter, or any other channel (social media or otherwise) for that matter, is to plan. Lay out the experiment you want to run: objective, hypothesis, time period, constraints and, most importantly, goals. Without this foundational information, it'll be difficult to determine your success.
For example, our objective is to grow New Breed's Twitter following as a jumping-off point for further investment and testing in Twitter as a viable lead acquisition channel. Our hypothesis is that by increasing posting frequency, we will increase our month-over-month follower growth from 3.4 percent to 4.5 percent.
Step 1: Purge following
If you're in a similar situation where you've hit the follower limit, you need to purge your following to make room for those that align with your business. This can be as simple as logging in to Twitter, manually going through your following and unfollowing those who wouldn't add value to your timeline. Twitter bios really can say a lot about a user. A more strategic approach would be to use tools such as Followerwonk to assess who follows you back (or doesn't), frequency and authority. Weighing these different factors can help clean up your following base and make room for those who matter most.
Step 2: Target following
In my experience, I've found that for every 100 followers about 25 will follow you back. A simple way to jump-start increasing your following is to follow specific users. Another great way to use Followerwonk is to identify the users who align closely with your buyer personas. Be careful not to follow more than one thousand users in a day or Twitter will take action against your account. I'd recommend following no more than 250 new users a day.
Step 3: Optimize posting frequency
You may see some sources that indicate you should not increase posting frequency to increase traffic, conversions or even engagement. But I'm here to tell you (again) to not listen to everything you read. Here's my thought process on this whole experiment that has been proving to be true so far:
- More tweets means increased searchability
- Increased searchability means greater visibility
- Greater visibility means higher likelihood of site traffic
Don't knock it until you try it. We've increased our posting frequency by 300 percent and have seen three times the amount of traffic coming to our site from Twitter.
Step 4: Curate influencer content
I find it important to mix in curated content with the original content you share on Twitter. Social media isn't a platform that should be used solely for content promotion. If that's how you're using it, you're missing out on a lot of great content and conversations. Rather, share those awesome articles, infographics and e-books you're reading. Share influencer content, just like how we share blog posts from Tomasz Tunguz, Neil Patel and Hiten Shah. When sharing influencer content, be sure to mention (@) the author and blog. This will increase not only the visibility of your tweet, but also the likelihood that the author will retweet or reply back to you.
Step 5: Use tools to optimize curated content
Lastly, use those tools! There are so many cool tools out there focused on granular aspects of the inbound methodology. I've found two in particular that can help expand your reach and content promotion on curated content, the first being start A FIRE. This tool automatically adds your presence and promotes your content with every external link you share. Right now, we're using start A FIRE to promote our Twitter account and generate new followers. So whenever we share an external link, a pop-up will appear in the bottom right-hand corner that will prompt you to follow us.
There's also Sniply, which takes this concept a step further. Sniply leverages a similar pop-up in the bottom corner but can be used with any content shared–internal or external. You can also customize the pop-up to share and draw attention to anything you'd like, giving you the ability to add a CTA on every link you share.
Anyone offering social media advice will likely tell you never to focus on growing your Twitter following, and that a following is a vanity metric. While they're not totally wrong, it isn't that cut-and-dry. To garner greater engagement, visits and conversions, you need to have the followers to do so—and qualified followers at that.