6 steps to growing your Twitter following

Have you ever wondered how some people seem to be able to grow their following on Twitter rapidly? I’m not talking about the latest celebrity craze here. I’m talking about business owners like you and me. You probably think it’s because they spend loads of money on Twitter ads or they bought the followers from some dodgy ‘follow’ factory. Well I went from 0 to 1000 followers in around 14 weeks (including two weeks holiday) at zero extra cost. And in today’s blog post I’m going to tell you how.

 

Step 1 Content

This is not difficult but it does require some work. If you are already marketing your business properly and have some great content to share, the extra work to grow a Twitter following is relatively small. If you are starting from scratch or need to create content then there will be more work. But creating great content to share with your prospects and clients is something every business should be doing anyway.

I post a blog article every week. They are about LinkedIn, social media and online marketing or general business good practice. When I started my new Twitter account (@allenruddock by the way) in May 2015 I hadn’t created any content so I have been building that content as I go along. I did have 1 lead magnet – an e-book (The 9 Key Points to Creating a Powerful Personal Profile – click the link and get a free copy). If you already have content it means you can accelerate the process.

You need somewhere to host your content and I’m going to assume you have a website for that. You could post all your articles to LinkedIn and tweet links to them but I prefer to own the platform my content is hosted on. That way nobody can decide to take it away or exclude me from accessing it.

 

Step 2 Who to tweet to

If you don’t have any followers, there is no one to read your tweets. But where do you start? Aside from celebrities, if you follow someone, there’s a good chance they will follow you back. So you need to start following the sort of people you want to follow you.

How do you find them?  If you have done what most marketing experts tell you to do and created your customer avatar(s) – the profiles of your ideal clients – you know the sort of person or company you are trying to follow. So searching for keywords relevant to your avatars in their bios is the first option. The second option is to look at the twitter page of someone your ideal client would follow. On their homepage you can see three statistics: The number of tweets they’ve made, the number of id’s they are following and the number of followers they have. And guess what – if you click on the word followers under that last number you can see all the accounts that are following them. Next to each is a follow button. Click on it and you will now be following that person or account.

Want to see how – sign-up and watch my “how to” video now:

6 steps to grow your twitter following video screen

To kickstart getting followers, I searched for local business networking groups and over two days, for each of my two 45 minute or so commutes into London, I sat following accounts. I managed around 1500 in those two 45 minute slots. Over 25% followed me back. Not all immediately – not everyone looks at their Twitter messages every day – but over a period of a couple of weeks.

Why didn’t I just keep following accounts to increase the follow-backs? Because Twitter has limits. You cannot follow more than 2000 accounts unless you have at least 2000 followers. It’s a system limit and can’t be got round. Once you get above 2000 followers there’s a degree of leeway – around 10%. So having got close to my follow limit, it was time to grow followers organically.

 

Step 3 Tweet automation

You grow followers organically by tweeting about interesting things – like your blog posts. Your followers see them and favourite them or retweet them to their followers. More people see them and start to follow you. Now I tend to look at my new organic followers and if they fit one of my avatars I will follow them back (that’s why I kept a bit of headroom in the number of people I followed initially). Now tweeting links to your blog posts can be time-consuming and not a good use of that time. Also, if you do it manually your tweets get sent when you send them and then nothing when you don’t. You need a scheduling tool.

There are a number of excellent tools around but the one I use is SocialOomph. It’s brilliant. I use it to schedule all my content tweets – but NEVER my engagement tweets. I send out tweets every hour of every day, mostly with images as they get a far higher level of engagement. Yes – I have a paid account – around £20§ per month. I was already paying for this for my project management business so there was no extra cost for my new venture. If you are starting out you will face the cost.

Want to see how – sign-up and watch my “how to” video now:

6 steps to grow your twitter following video screen

Don’t be worried about sending too many tweets. They will appear in people’s timelines when they get sent. Most people follow quite a few accounts so your latest tweet will soon disappear down their timeline and may not get seen because most people only check their accounts occasionally. That’s why you keep sending so that there is a chance one of your tweets will be visible in their recent timeline when they do look at it.

 

Step 4 Growing your followers

I mentioned the 2000 following limit earlier. After a while, if someone hasn’t followed you back or they did initially but then decided to un-follow you, you need to start unfollowing them so that you can follow new potential followers. That’s where the second tool I recommend comes in – ManageFlitter. This tool allows you to login to your twitter account and it will then present back to you the list of accounts you are following that are not following you back. And it shows them in order of when you followed them. So you can start to un-follow the earliest accounts you followed to free up headroom in your following capacity. There is a free version which allows a set number of unfollows per day and you can increase the number by doing a couple of simple actions. There is also a paid version. I’ve survived so far on the free service.

Want to see how – sign-up and watch my “how to” video now:

6 steps to grow your twitter following video screen

Step 5 Continuing engagement

Once you start to get a following you need to engage with them. Comment on their tweets. Thank them if they retweet a lot of your content. If they look like good prospective clients so if there are other ways to broaden the engagement, maybe through LinkedIn or Facebook

 

Step 6 Getting your followers onto you e-mail list

One or more of your content pieces that you need to tweet about frequently are your lead magnets. If they like your blog content, there is a good chance your followers will sign-up for one of your lead magnets. The other way to get sign-ups is to ensure there is  an image and sign up form for your lead magnet on all your blog post pages. On my project management site I also have a pop-up sign-up form appear after the visitor has bee reading the article for a round a minute. It has a good conversion rate.

 

So there you have it – 6 simple steps to growing your Twitter following and with it your e-mail list. Sign up to my blog and watch the how to video I created to go with this post – see below:

Want to see how – sign-up and watch my how to video now:

6 steps to grow your twitter following video screen

The Fosbury Flop and your marketing

Back in the 1960’s Dick Fosbury was a 21-year-old senior at Oregon State University with a major in civil engineering, two bad feet and a worn-out body. He was unable to get on the college track or field team until he perfected an unorthodox way to clear the high jump bar higher than anyone else. You see Dick was tired of getting the same old results from the same old methods. He realised he needed to be different. To try something new to get different results. Better results. To get a gold medal at the 1968 Olympics!

Is your marketing a bit like Dick before his Flop? The same old results from the same old methods. Given that in any particular market the bottom 20% of businesses are failing and the next 60% are just getting by, how do you make sure you are in the top 20%? Well the first thing is stop behaving like the 80%.

 

Don’t do what they do….

The 80% do the standard stuff because they always have. They place the same ad in Yellow Pages but have no way of knowing if it drives any customers to them because it goes straight to the single business number they have. They do leaflet drops because they always have, with that same single number on it. They have a website, but very little traffic and no way of tracking who has been there (more in a future blog on tracking your marketing). They get excited when they get a call out of the blue offering them an 80% discount on a newspaper ad because they sense an opportunity. (they were right by the way – it was an opportunity for the sales guy to offload worthless space).

 

Be different

So take some tips from the top 20% and do things differently from the majority of your market. Know who your competitors are and sign up with the good ones. Get their marketing, learn from it then swipe and deploy in your own business. No – not copy and deploy. Swipe the ideas, adapt to your own style and message, then deploy. Look at other markets, sectors and industries to identify ways they market to their prospects and see if they can be adapted to your market. With a little imagination and ingenuity you’d be surprised what can be deployed to fantastic effect.

The owner of a car leasing company spotted an opportunity when she noticed a key contact was hiring a number of senior people that would all need company cars. To get the contact’s attention they sent him a large parcel – it got his attention!. In it was a remote controlled mini and a well-crafted sales letter. Net result – they now supply all that contact’s company cars.

Somebody else swiped and deployed the idea, send key people they wanted to have conversations with a remote control helicopter but without the remote. To get the remote they had to book an appointment when the sales guy would turn up with the remote and a nicely targeted sales pitch.

It’s about being different, being innovative, about standing out from the crown. Being in the top 205 not the bottom 80%

 

Even some of the smart guys are not doing this….

Marketing is a three stage process. Identify your target Market. Tailor your Message so that it speaks directly to their pain. Then chose the most appropriate Media to get to them. Market, Message, Media. Marketing 101.

Well what if you had a tool that could identify specific people in your target market. A tool that could get your message direct to them. A tool that allowed you to use messages, files and video media to get that message across. Wouldn’t you want that tool? How about if you could use it for free? Well you can and probably already do use it, but not for marketing. It’s LinkedIn!

With LinkedIn you can find and engage with your ideal prospects. If you have a powerful personal profile that enables you to be found, demonstrates your credibility and delivers value to the reader connecting with your prospects is a breeze. Once engaged you can explore their issues and demonstrate how you’ve helped numerous clients resolve similar situations.

Most people think that LinkedIn is on online cv to attract recruiters or a way of keeping in touch with old colleagues. Only a few switched on business owners and sale people have cottoned on to the huge sales potential in LinkedIn. It all starts with that powerful personal profile and finding and making the right connections. If you want to join that elite group some along to my LinkedIn bootcamp. It’s an exciting journey – be part of it. LinkedIn Bootcamp.

The money is in your list

Do you have a list? That is a list of clients and prospects that have shown some form of interest in your business. Every time a prospect comes in to contact with your business your first objective should be to capture their details. Most people that come in to contact with your business won’t be ready to buy. Your job as a business owner or marketer is to know who they are and keep reminding that you are there so that when they are ready to buy, your business is at the front of their mind.

Your marketing should be designed to keep in touch with your list. To keep delivering little nuggets of value to your list, developing a relationship of trust with them. Then when they are ready to buy, they will turn to you first. You can even prompt the purchase by sending them great offers.

 

The importance of the list

To emphasise the importance of your list to your business I’ll give you an example. A very successful American businessman took his eye off the ball and ended up with a huge tax bill. The one agency you don’t mess with in the US is the IRS. Remember – they finally put Al Capone behind bars for tax evasion! Anyhow, in negotiating his way through his financial meltdown, the IRS stripped him of all his assets, including his corporate jet, but they let him keep his list. They didn’t realise the value of his list. With his list safely in his pocket he was able to restart his business career and become the huge success he is today. That is how valuable your list becomes once you work at filling it with your ideal prospects.

 

Your business, your list

So you have a great product or service. You’ve created a website and maybe you have started to run some Google Adwords campaigns to try and sell it. But things are slow and you are not getting much traffic to your website and even fewer sales. You’ve heard of e-mail marketing and you are sending messages to everyone who has contacted you but it’s a small list…. Your never going to emulate Dan Kennedy or Nigel Botterill with that size list.

So how do you grow your list? I started out by saying every time a prospect comes in to contact with your business your first objective should be to capture their details. This is a two part problem: firstly how do you get prospects to come into contact with your business and secondly, how do you persuade them to part with their contact details.

 

Getting traffic

Another thing I said in the opening of this post was to keep delivering little nuggets of value to your list. Well those same nuggets can be used to create your list. In my businesses my nuggets come in several forms but the key for driving traffic to my site is my blog.

Access to my blog is free and all posts deliver a piece of key advice or guidance that my ideal prospect would find useful. But I don ‘t just publish and hope that people will find them. For every post I create at least 4 different tweets to tempt people to read it. I post one of these tweets every three hours on a randomly recurring basis to my twitter followers. The tweets get retweeted and favourited which grows my following and followers click through to the posts to read them. There is a separate blog post describing how I grow my Twitter followers.

I also post a link to each post on my Facebook pages, my linkedIn timeline and into relevant LinkedIn Groups so I get as wide coverage as I can with paying anything.

 

Getting sign-ups

Getting traffic is one thing, but I still don’t have the contact details of the site visitors. I could just ask people to sign up for my blog e-mails but these days few people would. So I offer them something in return for their contact details. That’s where the other two key forms of nuggets come in – my e-books and videos. In return for receiving an e-book or getting access to a video, I ask for a name and e-mail address. Hey presto, they are on my list.

I also tweet and post direct links to sign-up forms offering the e-books and videos without people needing to come to the site. It just cuts out a step.

You can use Twitter or Facebook ads and Google Adwords to drive traffic to your site to get sign-ups. You need to have a really good understanding of the value of a customer and your conversion rates from clicks, to leads to clients to do this profitably. Otherwise you are simply lining Google et al’s pockets.

 

Moving from prospect to client

The next stage is to continually feed your list useful information, building a level of familiarity and trust. When the time is right, make them an offer. To grow your list effectively and send regular e-mails to it you need an e-mail marketing system. The system will automate capture of contact details and enable you to send bulk e-mails to hundred or even thousands of prospects and clients without getting your e-mail address marked as spam. These come in all shapes and sizes and cost from little or nothing right up to hundreds of $s per month depending on sophistication and the number of e-mails you want to send. I started with Aweber at the lower end of the spectrum. Similar systems include Constant Contact and Mailchimp. The higher end systems include Infusionsoft, the system I use now.

List building and e-mail marketing can be a long game. Depending on the product or service you are selling it may take time to establish the right level of trust. It also depends on the buying cycle and how you attract people to your list. If you have a good handle on the conversion rates and costs per click the buying cycle for paid traffic can be quite short.

Some people look to leverage the sign-up for an e-book or video by making an immediate offer for a high value product but at a low price compared to the normal selling price. It’s a one time opportunity to get the product at that price. This technique is called a tripwire or welcome mat. More on that in a future post.

 

Targeted client acquisition using LinkedIn

List building is a great strategy and really works. But as I mentioned above, it can be a bit of a long game. For prospects that join your list and show a good level of engagement, one of the best ways to accelerate them through the buying cycle is to connect with them on LinkedIn. They already know you through your list building so the connection is easy. It is then also much easier to build rapport and trust and gauge their readiness to buy.

LinkedIn is also a ready-made platform for referrals or recommendations so you can use it to provide social proof and credibility. I have links to my key e-books and videos as well as all my new blog posts on my linkedIn profile. Connect with me on LinkedIn if you want to know more: http://uk.linkedin.com/in/allenruddock

Finding your ideal client with LinkedIn

Describing your ideal client can be really hard. But if you don’t know what you are looking for, it’s very hard to find it. Lots of marketing courses will take you through creating your customer avatar – a written description of your target client. They will encourage you to go into quite a bit of detail and in areas you might not immediately think of as relevant. For example, are they married, do they have kids, what car do they drive etc. The objective is to build a clear image of the target client so that when you write your marketing material, whether it’s a sales letter or an e-mail, you make it more personal. You appeal directly to them, identifying their problems or pain points before offering your solutions.

It’s a great approach and can really work well if you can get into that mindset. But many business people struggle with the avatar approach. It feels false and somewhat trite. So what else can you do?

Your best existing clients

If you already have clients, which ones do you like working with most. What is it about working with them that you enjoy. Are these traits you could look for and identify in other potential clients. For example, if you are selling a business coaching programme, your best and most engaged existing clients will be those that really want to improve their own business skills by learning and taking action. Those that constantly come up with excuses for not doing stuff will be ones to steer clear of.

Clients you don’t enjoy working with

It’s sometimes easier to identify who you don’t want as a client than those you do want to work with. If you have been in business any length of time you will have come across difficult or awkward clients. The ones that want to pay the least and ask more fussy and irritating little questions until you wonder if they are really worth doing business with. Likewise, some potential clients might be looking for things you don’t offer.

For example, in my project management training business I don’t want to attract prospective clients that are looking for a Prince 2 qualification. I don’t offer the qualification because the training for it is geared towards passing an exam, and not focused entirely on becoming a better project manager. So I don’t want to work with people that see that as their best route to being a project manager. If they want the Prince 2 badge to meet the requirements of a recruiter but want to learn the real business of project management with me, then they are in my ideal client domain and I’ll help them understand Prince 2 and recommend courses from someone else to get them through the exams.

So now that you have a good idea of who you want to work with (or not, as the case may be), how do you find them? This is where LinkedIn comes into its own for the business to business salesman or entrepreneur. There are two distinct strategies – finding people by where they hang out and finding people by how they describe themselves.

Where they hang out

Most industries, professions or interest groups will have a number of LinkedIn Groups active in their field. You need to find and join those groups. Look at the LinkedIn profiles of your existing clients and see what groups they belong to and join them. If they require invitations, ask your existing client if they would be prepared to help get you an invitation. Once in, what and listen first before then starting to comment and contribute. Always obey the group rules and never, ever, sell directly in to the group. If you give value to the group and demonstrate your worth, they will seek you out to buy from you.

Make sure you hand out in groups that your target clients use and not those of your own industry. For example, if you are selling accounting services don’t expect to find clients in accounting related groups. Join those to keep up to date with your profession. Instead join groups relevant to the client sectors you are targeting. So if you are looking to service IT Contractors, join those sorts of groups and post useful information about IR35, claiming business expenses etc. If they are useful, you’ll soon get enquiries about your services from the group members.

How clients describe themselves

LinkedIn has a very powerful search capability. Even for users of the basic free profile you can search for people using keywords and narrow down the search by location. The results can be astonishing. If you have one of LinkedIn’s premium accounts you get up to eight additional filters which you can use to narrow down your search criteria to pinpoint your ideal targets. If you are looking for an obscure role but have target companies where you know that sort of role exists, search for the company and scroll through the employees that are on LinkedIn. Even if you don’t find the right person, you might identify a connection who could find that person for you.

So with LinkedIn you can identify the right person. If they are in an active group you can use your contributions to provide a reason to connect directly. If they are not in a suitable active group my earlier posts describe how to get connected in the right way.

That’s client acquisition sorted then!