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10 Tips to Build Your Twitter List NOW

Building a HouseThe most common question I’ve been asked recently is, “How do I build my Twitter list?” And my answer is, “That depends.” While that may not be the answer that people like to hear, it is an honest one.

Asking how to build a Twitter list is like asking how to build a house. Well, what kind of house? Who is going to live in it? Is it a vacation house or a full-time residence? Is the architecture traditional or modern. Seriously. Are we talking Frank Lloyd Wright here or Tudor? Just as there is no one right or wrong way to design and build a house, there is no one right or wrong way to build a Twitter list.

How you build your list depends on who you are and what you want. For the purpose of this article I am going to assume that you want to build a list to establish yourself as an expert in your chosen field and to promote your business, website, and blog. This should be considered an article to help out intermediate users; those who already have an account, have been tweeting for a while, and have some followers, but are looking to ramp things up a bit.

1. Be Prepared

Before you begin bulking up your follower list, you should have a purpose in mind for your Twitter account. How does it fit in to your overall marketing strategy? What are you trying to accomplish? Who is your target audience? What message do you want to share? What are you promoting? Knowing your audience will make a difference in what you share. Stop. Think. Plan.

2. Know Your Brand

Make sure that your profile reflects the image that you are trying to project. Use the same elements in your background that you use in your other marketing. Your color scheme, logo, graphics, lettering, etc. should be the same (or close to) what you are using on your webpage, blog, and print marketing materials. The look and message should be consistent throughout your marketing. Your Twitter account should be recognizable; people should feel as though all of the elements of your marketing are working together in harmony even when following a link from one format to another. (i.e. Facebook page to Twitter to blog) There’s really no point in attracting large numbers of people to your account if you aren’t proud of what you have to show them!

3. Find Your Voice

You can’t be everything to everyone. Who are you? What do you do best? What is it that you have to offer that makes you stand apart? Know who you are. Own it. Be that!

Tweet what you know. Stick to the topics and areas that fit in with your areas of expertise. It’s easier to build a community and cultivate a meaningful conversation when people know who you are and what you are about. Spend your time and energy wisely. Engage in conversations pertinent to your profession. You do what you do because you love it, right? Get in there and prove it!

Be positive! People like to listen to encouragement and praise. Successful people prefer to surround themselves with positive people who will lift them up and make them feel inspired and motivated. When you find your voice- use it to spread positive energy- and that’s what you will get in return. Win!

4. Follow People Like You

Search out and follow people who share your interests. Some people are afraid to network with their “competition”, but here’s a tip: there are enough clients out there for everyone. People are NOT a scarcity. You will attract the people with whom you are meant to work (and people who are attracted to another message wouldn’t be working with you anyway)! The support and encouragement of like-minded individuals is priceless! Twitter can carry your networking activities to a whole different dimension- if you let it.

Follow people who follow people like you. What? Look at the followers of other (more well known- perhaps) experts in your field and follow the good ones. Why? Because they already like what you have to say; they just don’t know you, yet. Some of these people will notice that you followed them, they’ll check out your tweets, and then they’ll follow you because they’re genuinely interested in what you have to offer.

Follow Your Followers. You don’t have to follow-back all of your followers, but following only a few of them is selfish and rude. Where you draw the line is completely up to you, there really is no hard-and-fast follow:follower ratio that is “ideal”, but unless you are a celebrity in your own right, then your numbers should be fairly even.

5. Participate

Tweet! It’s Twitter, people! Make sure that you tweet EVERY DAY. Twitter is a real time stream- jump in!

I recommend a 70:20:10 rule for posting content. Meaning: 70% of your tweets should be sharing relevant, timely and useful information that is pertinent to your area of expertise, but isn’t about YOU. This information could include motivational quotes, links to articles by other experts, breaking news, or any other useful tidbits that you come up with. 20% of your content should be useful information directly from yourself or your organization; usually this will be links to posts and articles from your website or blog and other helpful information that you are providing. 10% (or less) of your content should be self-promotional. Announcements about sales, promotions, events, etc. all fall into this category.

6. Don’t Be That Guy

Don't Be That GuyYou know. That guy. The guy who walks into a networking event and just doesn’t get it. We’ve all seen him (and sorry guys, but it’s usually actually a guy). He walks into the room, heads to the bar for a drink, and then either stands there alone or in a small group of people whom he already knows. Eventually, he reluctantly walks up to a group of people whom he doesn’t know and jumps into the conversation, by interrupting, with unasked advice. When no one seems terribly interested, he moves on and approaches another loner. He shakes hands and immediately starts talking about himself and his business and then hands over his business card and walks on to another victim. The next day he wonders why no one calls him and then decides that networking doesn’t work.

Um… NO. Networking works. Offline and online. The rules are the same!

Listen to what other people have to say. Respond appropriately. Be genuine. Don’t barge in and start talking about yourself and what you can do for someone whom you’ve just met and know nothing about. (You may as well just shout, “Look at me! Look at me!” like a small child trying to get the attention of a busy parent.)

7. Then There are Those

Unfortunately, there are people (and bots) out there whom you’ll wish you never had to deal with. But, there they are. These are the people whom you definitely don’t want to follow (or follow-back). In my Twitterverse there are a few things someone can do that will catch my attention and cause me to take (negative) action. The severity of annoyance (or disgust) inflicted upon me by them will determine my reaction to them.

Spammers: report as spammer & block. There is just no room for these guys and interacting in any other manner just encourages them.

Bots: some of them are actually useful (weather, traffic, etc.) but for the most part they’re annoying. I just don’t follow them, but I don’t bother blocking them, either.

Adult: depending on your industry these accounts may not bother you or your audience. I choose to block every account that has anything to do with the “adult industry”. I don’t want to follow and I do not want to be followed. Thanks, but no thanks.

Misc: For whatever reason, there could be people whose message just doesn’t seem appropriate to your purpose. If you don’t like what someone has to say, then don’t follow them. If you really don’t like what they have to say and want to make sure there’s no association- block them. It’s as simple as that. Really.

Non-Participants: Those people whom I have followed who have stopped tweeting, never interact, or don’t follow-back. Eventually, you’ll reach the limit of followers set by Twitter, at which point you may do nothing or you may choose to unfollow people who are inactive and don’t follow people back to create more room in your list for active, interesting people. Guess which option I chose?

8. TGIF!

It’s Friday! Woohoo! On Twitter it’s #FF (or #FollowFriday). Take the time to recommend the people who were good to you throughout the week. Pay attention to who mentioned you, who re-tweeted (RT) your messages, and the like. Who are your cheerleaders? Return the favor! Recommend them with a #FF. You can mention a few people in the same tweet, but leave room at the end for RTs and occasionally give a reason why someone should be interested in following the person you’re recommending.

Friday is a fun day to share, but it’s not the only day, of course. You should mention, re-tweet, and interact with your community every day. The more the better, within reason, don’t overdo it!

Monkey Using Tools9. Monkeys Do It

Use tools. Yes! There are many, many tools out there to help you along your Twitter journey. There are some that I use daily and some that I use occasionally, but which tools you choose to use will largely depend on your personal preference. Here are just a few of my favorites and what I primarily use them for:

Hootsuite: Scheduling Tweets (and Facebook, Linkedin, Foursquare, etc.), saved keyword searches, monitoring lists, etc. (I have a Pro Account that I use on my iMac, MacBook, iPad, & iPhone)

Follow Friday Helper: An easy way to see who has interacted with you the most throughout the last week for #FF

TwitCleaner: Helps to sort out people from bots

Tweet Adder: Searching and autofollowing/unfollowing within set parameters. Be careful! I only recommend any automation tools for advanced users and with caution. Automation should be used sparingly. Twitter is about people- don’t be a bot!

Twitter Grader: by Hubspot: See how you’re doing!

TwitterCounter: Track your progress. After all, you are here to grow that following.

There are many more, but that ought to get you headed in the right direction… feel free to share your favorites in the comments.

10. Lather, Rinse, Repeat

Frank Lloyd Wright Home StudioKeep at it. Building a quality following will not happen overnight, but it will happen. You’ll notice I titled this article 10 Tips to Build Your Twitter List NOW, not how to build your list FAST! Be creative, be interesting, be social, and most of all be yourself. Build a house that you’ll be proud to live in, whatever your personal style. Start with a solid foundation and the rest will follow in time. I’m sure that there are short-cuts that you could take to build your list even faster, but I won’t be outlining those any time soon. What I will do, for those who are interested in more information, is expand on each of the suggestions made here in future articles. If you have questions that you would like answered, leave a comment or tweet @SocialSavvyGeek.


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Laura Pence Atencio

As Founder and CEO of Social Savvy Geek, LLC., Laura Pence Atencio is passionate about helping entrepreneurs and business owners meet and exceed their goals. She is committed to providing the most engaging and effective strategies in online marketing by combining traditional business networking and marketing fundamentals and best practices with current and engaging online marketing methods and tactics. Laura has worked with some of the top names in Internet Marketing and has consulted with entrepreneurs, businesses, and nonprofits in the US and abroad. She is the author of the popular article, 10 Tips to Build Your Twitter List Now, which has been published both online and in print in the US, Australia, and New Zealand. A lifetime student herself, Laura has achieved certification as a Computer Administrative Specialist at Beta Tech and has studied Art Education, History, Art History, and Criminal Justice at Virginia Commonwealth University. She is fascinated by learning, sharing and growing, not just in business, but in life. She participates in US Masters Swimming and has ranked in the top 25 nationally in her age group in both the 50 and 100-yard backstroke. She served in the VA Army National Guard as a Combat Engineer in the 229th Engineer Battalion. She never meets strangers, only friends not yet made– an attitude that serves her extremely well in the networking world, both online and off. She currently lives in Denver, CO with her husband, 3-year-old daughter, and German Shephard.