Twitter is a great platform for professionals because it allows you stay informed on industry trends and to share your ideas and opinions with fellow entrepreneurs across the globe. The service is also a great tool for making connections with people who might not otherwise follow you on Facebook or LinkedIn. You can build a lot of relationships in just 140 characters!
Twitter can be a great way to connect with people within your business network, but you've got to know how to approach influencers and build engagement with your followers. Here are tips to get you started.
Choose a good username
Preferably one that's as close to your real name as possible. This may be a good time to split @PartyBoy3030 off as your personal account and use @HamiltonLutherNYC as your professional account.
Optimize your bio
Your bio will be your first and possibly only impression for people who are considering following you. Make it as professional and engaging as possible.
- Use a close-up headshot as your profile picture—preferably the same one you use with your LinkedIn and Facebook accounts.
- Demonstrate your skills and uniqueness in your bio copy. Use professional descriptions ("data analyst"), not buzzwords (e.g. "thought leader").
- Include your LinkedIn and website URLs
Follow smart people
Find and connect with the influencers in your market or niche. One good way to identify important voices is to review the accounts that other people you trust follow. Your goal should be to build a targeted network that includes all of your customers or clients, as well as your competitors.
Narrow the conversation
While Twitter constantly suggests new people to follow, start with a few and add more as you become comfortable with the noise. It's easy to be overwhelmed with hundreds of voices in your feed. Also, don't be afraid to unfollow those that are no longer of interest. Regular pruning fosters better engagement.
Reference users in your tweets
When replying to or mentioning other users, be sure to include their @handle in the copy. People are more likely to engage with you when they're mentioned by name.
Share smart content that's of interest to your ideal followers, even if they're not yet your existing followers. Add commentary to links you share to demonstrate your knowledge of the industry. Be confident in your voice! And be sure to interact with your followers!
Use Buffer or a similar program to manage your posts
Don't just tweet when you have time—use a social management app to schedule strategic content shares throughout the day. And keep your queue of links full by always tagging interesting stories and news items.
Use images to increase visibility
Images now appear inline on Twitter and will make your tweets stand out. Use them when appropriate to increase engagement. You can always provide a screenshot of an article you're commenting on, especially a relevant passage or quote. This allows you to communicate characters worth of text.
Use videos… but sparingly
Images can get more attention than text, but videos can far outperform images. Twitter Video, released about a year ago, allows smartphone users to shoot clips, make cuts, and share videos up to 30 seconds in length from the Twitter app. You can also embed Vine and YouTube videos in tweets. Sound great, right? Yes, but… most users don't come to Twitter to watch long videos. Use this function sparingly.
A good way to spark a conversation—and possibly gain new follower—is to simply ask a smart question about a topic of interest, either directly to an influencer or broadly to your followers. People love to give their opinions and share their experiences! Show appreciation for responses by using the favorite / heart button as an endorsement. And always respond when somebody else asks you a question.
Retweet with confidence
Retweeting is a great way to signal to someone you're interested in their opinion. Again, try to add commentary to retweets when appropriate—even something as simple as "Great advice." After a few retweets, you can reach out and begin networking one-on-one.
Tweet frequently, but don't spam
Tweet throughout the day, especially in the morning and late afternoon when people are most likely to be on Twitter. Six to ten tweets as a day is great! Twenty or more is probably pushing it, unless you're involved in a lot of conversations with your followers.
Hashtags aren't used as frequently as they used to be, but they're still useful for associating your tweets with a particular event (like an #IndustryConference2016), news story (#StateoftheUnion), or cultural event (#KatyPerryConcert).
Don't spend all day promoting your own content and brand—try to help others as well by responding to questions with useful advice. When you develop a good Twitter reputation, your follower count will grow organically.
Search for others with similar interests
Use the Twitter search panel to find users who share your interests. Look for relevant keywords in their tweets and bios, and review their recent shares. If they seem interesting, follow them, engage with their content, and then wait for them to follow back!
Connect with influencers
Build a list of leaders within your particular industry who are popular and Twitter, and make a goal of connecting with them. To get noticed, you'll need to start sharing content from them (always including their @username) and providing an endorsement or some level of analysis. For instance, if you wanted to connect with Mark Cuban (why not aim big?!), you periodically send out a tweet like:
Mark Cuban probably isn't going to turn around follow you because of a tweet like this, but it's possible that he might retweet your endorsement, which could get you additional followers. If you use this same approach for slightly less celebrity-sphere influencers—say, journalists or podcasters who cover your industry, or cable news personalities—you might attract their attention.
To really capitalize on this strategy, you'll need to follow-up your tweets with emails. Something like:
Loved your article in Fortune. My startup is also having trouble getting investors, but my team is staying persistent and trying to monetize our operation. Do you think capital will start to flow again next quarter? Any additional tips you have would be great. Thanks!
The above example is pretty basic, but you get the idea. You want to initiate a conversation in order to build a relationship—and hopefully, gain that ever so important follow. After you've exchanged a few emails, tweets, or Facebook messages, consider connecting with them on LinkedIn.
If you stick to this strategy, you should be able to check a few big names off of your influencer list.
Monitor and adjust
Track which tweets are getting the most engagement—be it replies, retweets, favorites, or clicks. Use this data to influence future tweets and content shares.
Promote Your Account
Promote your Twitter account on all your marketing materials, including business cards, brochures, emails, and of course, your website. Include your @username on all other social media accounts, and use a follow button on your website or blog so that visitors can easily find you.
Stay up to date with changes
Just like the rest of the web, Twitter is constantly tweaking its platform to better serve its users. Make sure to tweak your strategy to prepare for upcoming changes. For example, soon handles and images will not count towards the character limit.
Secure your account
Use two-step verification so that your account never gets hacked. Nothing will get you unfollowed quicker than a steady stream of spam from black market pharmaceutical companies.