I often get emails asking how quickly we can get someone thousands of followers. They don’t care who they are or where they come from, they just want huge numbers ASAP. The problem is that 10,000 random followers aren’t really valuable, unless you’re trying to win a popularity contest. They are not going to become your customers, because they aren’t really interested in what you do. The smarter approach is to build an audience of targeted, valuable followers that you can ultimately convert to customers.
If you build it, they might come. But probably not.
If you’re taking the “If you build it, they will come.” approach to social media, I have some news for you. You’re missing out. Big time. While you might get some customers by just having an awesome profile and sending a few tweets, if you aren’t actively searching for and engaging your target audience then you're leaving many potential customers untapped. With 288 monthly active users on Twitter, that’s a lot of people that you’re not converting.
It’s understandable that the first reaction on social media is to push content, usually your own. But to make social media really work for you, you need to be - well - social. This means making the first move by searching for and engaging with your audience. As inbound marketing shows, your ideal audience should be interested in and benefit from interacting with you. It’s a mutual relationship.
You need to keep your ear to the ground and do your research about who they are, what they’re talking about, and how they’re communicating. Only after that can you effectively target and eventually convert them.
But I want everyone on Twitter to be my customer...
Yes. We’d like every one of Twitter’s millions of users to be our customers as well, but that’s not realistic. There are many people that are just not going to be into you and you’ll waste a lot of time failing to convert if you aren’t looking at a targeted audience.
Finding that targeted audience means knowing who they are. The best way to get a tangible idea of who your audience is to analyze your business and existing customers/supporters. A good analysis will include a look from the top down (Who do I think my product or message should appeal to?) and from the bottom up (Based on actual data, who has my product or ideas proven to appeal to?)
A few questions to ask yourself:
- Who is purchasing my products/services?
- Who are my longtime and repeat customers?
- Who’s responded to my kickstarter?
- Who’s already followed me on social media?
- Who are my fans and word of mouth supporters?
The answers to these questions can give you big insights into who you should be targeting. If you still only have a vague idea of who your customers are like “young people” or “urban professionals”, dig deeper. Look at their social media profiles. Look at your own data on them. What do they have in common? What types of people are converting best?
Keep in mind that you might have more than one type of ideal customer. Maybe your tech service appeals to startup entrepreneurs that have no time to do it. Maybe it also appeals to an older generation that doesn't know how to do it on their own.
Always keep this analysis going and keep evolving. Audience, trends, and other factors may change and you need to be ready to adapt with them.
Finding a needle in a haystack.
Once you have a better idea of who your audience is, you can head over to Twitter to start the search process. Twitter has significantly improved their once so-so search algo to an awesome resource to finding your targeted audience. You can find tweets that mention hashtags or keywords, people who have keywords in their profiles, photos or video about your topic, news about your industry, and tweets that were sent near you using search terms.
¿Hablas español? Parlez-vous français? If you need more filtering, Twitter’s advanced search also gives you a myriad of options including language and location, excluding certain terms, date ranges, and smiley/frowny faces (sentiment).
Stop swimming in your own pool and jump in the ocean.
If you’re thinking “Wouldn’t it be great to get my own hashtag trending?” Again, yes that would be great but it is not realistic or a good use of your time. A huge mistake I see Twitter newbies make is trying to start their own trends to attract their audience instead of joining existing communities where their audience is already active. There are likely thousands of people who would be interested in your business already organized in one spot. You just have to tap into that conversation.
How do I jump in the convo?
The best place to start is by referencing others in your space. This can include influencers, competitors, and anyone else who is active on Twitter in your industry. Look for hashtags, keywords, industry specific terminology, acronyms, Twitter chats, Twitter lists, etc. that are being used by them. You can also look at who the influencers are following, which can lead you to finding other great people in your industry.
A few other great resources:
- Conferences and events - Who are the speakers and attendees of your industries most popular gatherings? Do they have an event-specific hashtag?
- Websites and blogs - not only are these great places to find content to share, but also a good place to see who is writing for your industry and who is being written about.
- Hashtag search engines - Rite Tag, Hashtagify, and Hashtags.org are great resources to finding hashtags related to your business.
What else are your customers interested in?
Sometimes your audience isn’t talking directly about your industry, but they still might be very interested in what you do. Taking a look at adjacent interests helps to expand your potential reach. If you have a fishing gear company, your audience might also be talking about camping and the outdoors. If you’re a organic skincare brand, maybe your audience is active in the natural living, healthy eating, and going green communities.
Part of staying relevant is keeping your finger on the pulse of what's happening on Twitter. This should include what topics are trending on Twitter - a great time to jump into a very active convo (just don’t force it if it doesn't feel genuine to your brand!)
You should also look at what is generally popular on Twitter. How are people using the platform right now? For instance, Twitter recently improved the quote tweet feature so that you can retweet someone and have still have plenty of character left for you own comment. While still new, continuing to use the old style of retweeting will eventually make you look out of touch.
Next up: In our next post we’ll talk about how to engage and nurture your new found audience.