Last week I was with Rob Shepherd talking to the lovely people at Hove Business Association about social media for business and Twitter in particular.
One of the aspects of Twitter that clearly concerns pre-Twitterers (those who aren’t using it yet) is the business of ‘following’ and having ‘followers’. It just sounds a bit creepy. If you’re not yet using Twitter, let me reassure you what the following thing is about.
When you first join Twitter, you’re alone – no-one is likely to see you or read what you tweet, until they follow you. (I say ‘is likely to’ because even if you have no followers it‘s not impossible for your tweets to be seen, as they may come up in keyword searches or Google searches, for example.) You need followers – enough to have meaningful conversations, but, unless you’re a celebrity or planning to use Twitter to spam people, not so many that it becomes unmanageable.
So how do you get followers?
- Start by filling out your profile page. You can use one the twitter backgrounds, although you may want a custom background at some point. Give your real name, a short biog and a link to your website. Upload a photo – not a cartoon or a logo. If you are representing a business, a logo is OK but you still should put your name to the account so people know who they are talking to.
- Find people that you would be interested in following, and click ‘follow’. That person will get an alert to say that you’re following them. Chances are, he or she may go to your profile page and want to follow you back – if they like what they see.
- Start tweeting, and do it regularly. Even a single tweet a day is better than one big burst of tweeting every two weeks. Tweet interesting stuff – be helpful, retweet others, be friendly. No more than 20% puffery/self-promotion please.
- Follow Mr Tweetfor customised suggestions of who to follow. This is a really useful service and saves you the time of trawling your followers’ contacts to see who else might be interesting.
- Add a ‘follow me on twitter’ link to your blog, website, email signature, stationery.
Remember, you choose who you follow, and can choose who follows you – you can block anyone you’d rather not have reading your tweets, or report them as spammers if they’re breaking the rules. You can even ‘protect your updates’ – which means people have to ask to follow you (rather like on Facebook), but I wouldn’t recommend that.
The whole point of Twitter is its serendipity – tweet sensibly, change your password often enjoy the delights of discovering (and being discovered by) some wonderful people you would otherwise have never met.
I haven’t talked about the many automated methods of getting more followers, mainly because I think Twitter is a tool for facilitating relationships, not a broadcast channel where ‘numbers matter’. Do you agree?