For many people, the allure of Twitter is befuddling. Some will say, “Who has time for such nonsense?” Others, having been milk fed on Facebook, will see Twitter as a grossly inferior interactive tool, which in many ways it is.
But, upon closer inspection, Twitter offers capabilities which dwarf Facebook in terms of developing new networking streams. The biggest by far is the Law Of Reciprocity. With Twitter, you can follow people you don’t know, with the hope that they’ll follow you back. This will happen if they see you have similar interests, like what you have to say, or if you happen to catch them in an uncommonly good mood. In Twitter world this is a perfectly accepted practice.
With Facebook, this is frowned upon, and if you Friend people you don’t know personally, you could get punished and even risk getting your account suspended.
Twitter allows you to have free access to your competitors’ database of followers, providing you with an easy way to mine for new prospects. Using the Law of Reciprocity, you can build a targeted following.
For example, if you’re Coca Cola, you can see who is following Pepsi. Those are people who, for the most part, are interested in soda. So they are fairly pre-qualified for Coke. By following members of the Pepsi crowd, a percentage will follow back, providing an opportunity to share all about “the real thing.”
The business benefits of this approach are obvious, but it works equally well for those who want to develop new personal relationships through Twitter. If you happen to be a basket weaving enthusiast, you’d be able to find other like-minded souls by visiting other Twitter accounts catering to people just like you.
There is a pretty good chance that those following the International Basket Weaver Association Twitter account would be open to connecting with you.
Regardless of whether your interests are business or personal in nature, you’ll want to be strategic as you develop your own community. This will provide the richest, most rewarding Twitter experience.
Here are three critical areas for effective community building with Twitter:
As opposed to building and managing eight different accounts, your follower community will end up consisting of several varying target audiences. For instance, if you sell disco balls, there will be different subgroups interested in what you are offering. You’ll want to manage your prospecting time in a way that will get you the best overall results.
Perhaps you’ll spend 10% of your time targeting followers who are ballroom dancers. Another 40% might be spent on those specifically interested in disco. You could give 5% of your effort to seek out John Travolta fans and 15% targeting those who adore the Bee Gees. Finally, the remaining 30% of your allotted time could be used to find dance hall owners.
Each of these different groups can be found out there with a little effort, so you have a fair amount of control in shaping your community. Although, it’s not a perfect science, it works pretty well.
The key to rapidly building a targeted community is having a strong follow-back ratio. If you follow 100 people, hopefully 20-30% will follow you back. If these percentages are lower, you might be doing something wrong.
Some of the factors which influence your follow-back ratio include:
Value Perception: Does it look like your Twitter account is going to be providing value to its followers, or is it just a cheesy attempt to sell product? People can sniff out a rat, so make sure you plan on providing rich content or your efforts will be wasted. Having a professional look and feel is important as well.
Relevance: Are you targeting a relevant audience? Are your Tweets relevant and consistent as well? If you’re going after classical music fans with disco ball content, you may have minimal success.
Personality: Although some people have auto-bots in place to automatically follow back those who follow them, for most it’s a personal decision. Does your Twitter page have personality and do your Tweets have appeal? This will impact your follow back ratio in a huge way.
Reputation: If you’re a rock star, you’ll have a better chance of getting followers or having people follow you back. If no one has a clue who you are, you may have to work harder in the other areas. Being a celebrity or famous brand has its advantages.
The difference between having a disconnected group of followers and a vibrant and committed Follower Community will be your level of interaction. As people follow you back, you’ll want to interact with them and make them feel valued. This can be more difficult as your numbers climb, but you should make every effort to make your followers feel a part of your community.
A Word Of Warning
Remember that Twitter has strict guidelines and limits in how many people you can follow, so make sure you don’t bend their rules or you’ll face suspension.
After following your targets, give them about a week or so to follow you back. If they don’t you should consider unfollowing them. There won’t be a great deal of value if it’s a one way conversation. Excellent online tools, such as Refollow, can help make the process go smoother. But once again, make sure you use these with prudence as they can accelerate you into suspension if you’re not careful.
If you’re patient, and you continue to build your audience through interactivity and rich content, you’ll find Twitter to be an extraordinary tool for connecting with others and getting your message out to a targeted audience.
It’s what makes Twitter such an important player in your overall Social Media strategy.