Since joining Twitter several years ago, I’ve seen many in the Twitter Universe come and go. Some are frustrated by Twitter’s rules and limits:
Every account can follow 2,000 users total. Once you’ve followed 2,000 users, there are limits to the number of additional users 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. Follow limits cannot be lifted by Twitter and everyone is subject to limits, even high profile and API accounts.
Every Twitter account is technically unable to follow more than 1,000 users per day. This is in addition to the account-based limits above. The limit is to prevent egregious abuse from spam accounts.
In addition to the basics, I’ve noticed a flood of misuse and mistakes made by Twitter users, which also hastens the frustration and abandonment of Twitter accounts. Here are seven popular ways to grow your Twitter visibility and enjoy this wonderful social media experience:
1. Make the Most of Your Twitter Profile There’s a lot to be said in 140 characters or less. Use your Twitter profile to an advantage to build followers. Telling us in three words, “I’m a writer,” as an example, speaks volumes to your writing prowess. Lack of verbiage in a profile description may also indicate to us your account is spam, even when it isn’t. Fill in the blanks. What appeals to you? Do you have hobbies? Family? Business ventures? Or, if you’re clever and funny, show us a memorable line or two. If you must keep your Twitter profile to a minimum, okay then…but do it with panache! Don’t forget to upload a photo! Even if you do not wish to show us a selfie, upload an avatar so we know you care. There’s nothing worse than a new follower with the dreaded white egg-shape where a photo should be. It’s a sure bet, I won’t follow you and I would guess there are others with the same account parameters.
2. Be Nice Sounds easy enough, right? I’m always amazed how many of the Twitter masses use their 140 character platform to launch attacks on their followers or those they follow. It’s alright to agree to disagree, but I’ve found kindness can irk even the nastiest on Twitter. A polite reply is classy and so much more gratifying!
Few put up with spitefulness online these days, nor have to, for that matter. If a Twitter account is bothersome, you have choices. Ignoring them sometimes works, but if not, instead of trading barb-like words, there’s always the option to unfollow or block their account from exposure to yours.
Be advised, using Twitter to spew negativity on a regular basis, will translate into a lot of Twitter followers leaving you in hordes. Twitter also has the option to remove your account if you become a nuisance. Followers like pleasantries. Be cordial and you will gain follower friends by the hundreds.
3. Give Back. Why Should People Follow You? I tell this story often. When I first launched my sheep related gifts website, ewephoric.com in 1998, the Internet Service Provider, who was an independent entrepreneur himself, told me something I’ve never forgotten to this day. He said, “Anyone can sell things. If you want clients to stick around and tell others about you, then give them something back.”
Where Twitter is concerned, newsy tidbits of knowledge, shared links to articles, or sound advice you have to offer are welcomed. Most internet articles can be shared on social media through icons. See something of interest? Share it!
Retweets or RT’s from other Twitter users are also an excellent forum to get the word out to your followers quickly. Not only is the link itself helpful, the author of the Tweet will appreciate the additional exposure. If you retweet, please leave the Twitter @ name on the Tweet. The Tweet came from them and they should be allowed to receive credit. You will want the same courtesy down the road for your own profound words or photos!
By all means, share beautiful pictures too! Favorite books you’ve read or want to, pet photos, scenic beauty from our world…it’s all good. Give your followers news, pictures or advice and they’ll look forward to more.
Finally, one of the best ways to grab Twitter follower attention is to offer a Giveaway Contest. Run a contest for something FREE, whether it’s a physical item or eBook. Give them a link to the contest in your Tweet. Be prepared to be noticed and retweeted!
4. Engage With Your Followers Sometimes it’s difficult to answer each and every Tweet, but polite thank you’s go a long way to getting noticed. Did you enjoy their photo? Tell the photographer by retweeting the picture and quote your delight with a few extra words. Hash Tags…# can also get you additional exposure. For writers, as an example, you can use the hash tags, #writers, #amwriting, #author, etc. You get the idea. Encounter a veteran? Thank them for their service. If you want to welcome a follower, tell them. A Twitter friend says something nice to you, answer back.
It’s been my experience most followers aren’t thrilled with an auto-reply. If you’re currently using an auto-Tweet system, you may wish to reconsider. There’s nothing personal about an auto-reply which asks you to buy something or “Like” a Facebook page once you’ve decided to follow the user. I find auto messaging an annoyance and always hit the delete button. It’s a personal preference, though. If you swear by the auto-Tweet response, understand there are many who would rather not see it. Use with care. Twitter is about conversing with real people.
5. Keep Self-Promotion to a MINIMUM I capitalized the last word for a reason. Probably the worst offense on Twitter is using this media strictly as a tool for selling; selling anything and everything! Tweeting, “Buy my book,” or singing your personal praises in one form or another, several times a day or week is deadly to keeping followers. We all want to know if you have a new book coming out, or received a glowing book review on your latest work, but the “all about me” approach used too often isn’t advisable.
Sprinkle in other things like retweets from others, and use those photos. Keep it light and fun. If I encounter a new follower with nothing but self-serving tweets, they’ve lost me at the gate. I enjoy following back but avoid these types of accounts.
If you want a rapid-fire approach to promotion without looking too pushy, the giveaway mentioned earlier works wonders. Remember, it’s all about the giving back. If you can give something and get great reviews or word of mouth, your job is done.
Use your own discretion how often to promote yourself on Twitter. Once in a while, absolutely! But, tidal waves gushing, buy, buy, buy over the beach aren’t subtle.
6. Take Care of the Written Word My rule for addressing Twitter friends…If you’re embarrassed to read your Tweet to your mother, delete and begin again before you hit the Tweet button.
Habitual use of the F bomb or vile 4-letter words will get you blocked from my account. I’m sure there’s many others with the same guidelines. It all goes back to #2, Be Nice. If dropping profanity is typical vocabulary for you, I still recommend leaving it off the Twitter account.
If you can’t refrain from cursing in 140 characters or less, then I’d have to wonder, why? Why limit your followers when you can keep it clean and hang onto a greater number?
7. Use Direct Messages (DM’s) Sparingly Similar to the dreaded auto-Tweet, many Twitters users reply on Direct Messages to welcome their new followers. This practice is so rampant, many users add, NO DM’s to their profiles.
If you must Direct Message, the simple welcome which you write personally is more acceptable than the directing links to Facebook pages or websites. Let your followers get to know you first, then, if they express interest in learning more about you, ask if they mind Direct Messaging. Asking before you send them a Direct Message may get them to actually read your message!
Note: In August of 2014, I had 3,000 Twitter followers. By using these methods I was able to zoom through the barrier and gain 15,000 new followers in six short months. The more people who see your posts, the better chance of being noticed for your work or advice. Twitter is a fantastic networking platform for me and a great way to meet others of like mind. Have fun with it! If you’d like to follow me, please do so, @ewephoric. If you’re inclined to see what I’m doing on Facebook, drop in anytime: fb.me/marlenembell.
If you’d like to see our catalog products, just click on the catalog image above and request a booklet online on ewephoric.com. Feel free to leave your comments or other suggestions for using Twitter!
(How I accepted the inevitable and you should too.)
Mail order catalog junkie.
Lover of all things printed. That’s me. I fought the dot.com era with a vengeance. Mail order catalogs were the only familiar venue for purchasing unusual gifts during the pre-Internet years. Request a catalog, and poof, it arrives in the mail complete with pretty pictures to browse at your leisure.
But, loitering in the background during the 1990’s was the unique invention of the Internet. It wasn’t until I received a call from a customer requesting to buy one item in quantity that I realized there was a better way to reach thousands of potential buyers in the niche market I’d carved out for myself. The client wanted to sell my prints on eBay. What was eBay? I hadn’t heard about this new marketplace, so I went to investigate. But how could I do this when I knew nothing about searching on the Internet, nor did I have any idea what a website even looked like. Computers to me meant word processing and accounting.
The long journey forward brought me to my local ISP (Internet Service Provider) who dramatically changed the direction in marketing my catalog-based business. It was a change for the better, but it didn’t start out that way. David guided me though the ins and outs of having an Internet presence. And I struggled hard against it. My fear of the dreaded computer virus or bug kept me from fully understanding the gravity of worldwide, all day, every day marketing. I was afraid to venture into potentially dangerous searches on search engines, and back then, there were lots of them.
Two years went by as I slowly, carefully, indoctrinated myself into the world of buying and selling on eBay, eventually putting up a basic website for my business. Ah, it began to sink in. More potential customers visited my site for catalog requests and I was even able to reach other countries for the first time. From this point, there was no choice but to forge ahead with a shopping cart, merchant account for accepting credit cards, and offer a third alternative for the online shopper, using a PayPal account for purchases. (The latter we’ve found to be the safest.)
Since our maiden website launch in 1998, we’ve redesigned at least seven different times. Each designed by a new web developer. Today, you can design your own website easily through templates from a wide array of software peddlers. Personally, I believe it’s money well spent to leave the website design to a professional. There’s nothing worse than visiting a site with broken links or error messages. If you want to lose clients quickly, launch a poorly designed site. Find a professional, and stick with them. You won’t regret it.
Remember, you literally have seconds to hold your website or blog visitor. Quick and instant gratification is what the visitor wants. If they don’t get it, they move on. Just like marketing your book to the avid reader, your site has to hold their interest.
Although at times it’s still hard for this dinosaur to comprehend, social media is surpassing older forms of communication. Print media such as magazines and especially newspapers are fading away at a rapid pace. Today, if you can’t find yourself on a hand-held device, in some cases, you’ve cut out a large share of your marketing ability. (Unless you’re from the baby boomer generation who still watches TV and buys paperbacks and hard bounds. Smart phones and tablets are relied upon less by them.)
Facebook is an ideal way to have an Internet presence. Many of us already have a personal page. If you’re an author, however, the business page is important as well. You can invite your personal friends to the new business site and build your followers from Likes on your page. Twitter allows quick connections 140 characters at a time. I have to admit, Twitter is my favorite social media outlet. If you want to reach others that read, write, take photos, do artwork, or whatever your interest, it’s easy to hook up on Twitter.
It’s also recommended to add a Blog page to your website. Giving others tidbits of helpful information and passing along personal stories and your experiences work well there. Other sites like LinkedIn for business professionals, and Pinterest to share photos are also options. New social media sites are popping up all the time, but those mentioned here are the most commonplace.
There are several books available on the subject of social media and building a platform to promote yourself. One book I found to be most helpful was, “Create Your Writer Platform” by editor and author, Chuck Sambuchino. He explains all aspects of today’s social media requirements for self-promotion. If you are an aspiring author, I highly recommend reading Chuck’s book and adopting his recommendations.
What To Take Away From This Post
It’s human nature to stay where it’s most comfortable. Change is uncomfortable. Overcoming resistance to change has to take place in order to grow and thrive in today’s society. Take it from me, no matter how hard you resist, one day you’ll have to break down and conform, with one caveat; Social media attracts a younger crowd, for the most part. You still have loads of potential readers and writers in the post WWII generation, so try not to leave them out. And how they love to read!
I believe in the all over marketing approach:
- Direct mail ~ mail order catalog (If you sell gifts or an array of items)
- Full color or black and white display ads in print magazines
- Classified ads in periodicals
- Email blast newsletters to your mailing list
- Professionally designed website with shopping cart
- Facebook, Twitter & LinkedIn site presence
- And by all means, print professional looking business cards!
Marlene is a twenty-nine year veteran of the mail-order industry. To see more of her sheep related gift line, visit her sister website: www.ewephoric.com