Twitter 101: The 4 Tenets of Building A Twitter Following

by Katie Morse on Aug 20, 2010

Twitter can be daunting for the uninitiated. Especially for brands jumping into Twitter for the first time.

How do you handle jumping into the conversation without seeming like the new kid on the block?

How do you even find people to talk to?

There’s often a lot of factors that go into maintaining an engaging and “good” Twitter account, but the first place to start is often the one that answers most questions – how do I start to build my following on Twitter?

1. DO NOT Get Eleventy Billion Followers!

If you’re on Twitter for any length of time, you’re bound to come across at least a few “Get 10,000 followers in 10 days!” schemes. For many brands (and people) these seem like tempting offers, since they seem easy and you don’t have to do a lot of work to get the followers.  However, this is not how to build a quality community.

Think of it this way. If you walk into a party, you wouldn’t go up soliciting business cards from everyone at the event before you said “Hi”, would you? You’d instead start by talking to one person, then get introduced to someone else and chat with them for a bit, or seek them out yourself.

It is more genuine to start talking with one person, and then organically discover who else you have something in common with and talking to them. Focus on 1 on 1 conversations.

2. DO Be Interesting!

This sounds easy, right? You’d be surprised to learn that some companies find this really hard! Why, you ask? I think that it comes down to the fact that they don’t know how to talk about anything else but themselves.

Interesting doesn’t mean pushing out content about this product or that product (though that can be included in the mix, surely). Interesting means talking about things that affect your company, are happening in your industry, and yes, are going on inside your organization.

Asking questions is one of the most basic ways you can be interesting to your community. Try it.

Think of it this way – if you were following your own Twitter account, what would you like to hear about? Use that as a starting point.

3. DO Follow People!

Some companies make the mistake of completely ignoring anyone that @ replies them or follows them. Get into a habit of looking at each of your new followers and following them back if it makes sense for your business.

Get into the habit of replying to people when they talk to you. Replies should be the majority of your Twitter activity.

Also, Twitter Search is a powerful resource. Plug in some keywords that interest you and see what pops up. Are there people already talking about things that pertain to your industry or business? If so, follow them back! I frequently use Twitter search to find out who’s talking about things I’m interested in even after being on Twitter for almost 2 years.

4. DO Be Patient!

We all want to see immediate results. I get that. You probably have a boss that wants to see immediate success, and you may even have a deadline and some goals to meet. That’s normal. But you must be patient. Set realistic benchmarks and goals from the beginning. Celebrate the small wins and share these  internally when they happen.

Going back to the original party analogy… you wouldn’t expect to be best friends with everyone after only a few short chats, so why should you expect to have a fully-developed community on Twitter when you’re just getting started?

Take it slow and remember to be patient.

Any other tips to share? Share them in the comments.

Post Author

Katie Morse is a B2B marketer with experience in public relations, marketing communications project management and social media. She's passionate about music, communications, food and traveling and regularly blogs for The Next Great Generation, Candid Katie and Social...

  • cnagle

    #3, definitely. I've gone out of my to support the brands that take the time to reply back to me. It makes me feel like you actually care about me being a customer. Great list, Katie.

  • http://candidkatie.com Katie Morse

    Thanks for the kudos and the comment! I've also done the same with brands that respond back to me. Even if it's something as simple as a service issue, the act of responding to me on Twitter and helping me solve my problem while avoiding your phone tree is something that impresses me.

    Katie
    Community Manager | Radian6

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Dan-Collins/1484143820 Dan Collins

    Well said Katie. The bottom line is certainly quantity always follows quality. You underscore the importance with your concise post of focusing first on who you are and building a community of people who find value in who you are and what you bring to the table. It all comes down to common interests, values, content and character -imo

  • http://candidkatie.com Katie Morse

    Thanks for the comment, Dan. I'm happy to see that more people (and companies!) are focusing on “quality over quantity”, and you really hit the nail on the head with your comment. “It all comes down to common interests, values, content and character” – very well-put.

    Cheers!

    Katie

  • http://www.confessionsofasocialmediamamapreneur.blogspot.com/ AlexisCeule

    It's definitely about nurturing, engagement and earning the followers you get. : )

  • http://www.facebook.com/zohdi.rizvi Zohdi Rizvi

    Katie, I truly appreciate your effort in helping the budding Entrepreneurs or better Socialpreneurs on how to focus on Quality instead of Quantity.

    One thing I would like to add, is that besides business objectives, personalizing your twitter activity can really boost your followers index. Cross-selling through emotional bonding is a best way to reach other side of shore :-)

    Zohdi Rizvi
    http://www.linkedin.com/in/zohdirizvi

  • http://www.facebook.com/zohdi.rizvi Zohdi Rizvi

    Katie, I truly appreciate your effort in helping the budding Entrepreneurs or better Socialpreneurs on how to focus on Quality instead of Quantity.

    One thing I would like to add, is that besides business objectives, personalizing your twitter activity can really boost your followers index. Cross-selling through emotional bonding is a best way to reach other side of shore :-)

    Zohdi Rizvi
    http://www.linkedin.com/in/zohdirizvi