There are an overwhelming 500 million plus accounts on Twitter (not quite as scary as it sounds, as there is some debate on how many are active), but how do you choose who to follow? If you’re not selective you can find yourself wading through a lot of dross to get to the good stuff (and sadly there is a lot of dross). Finding the right crowd is worth it because the better the quality and relevance of who you follow, the more value you will get out any time you spend on Twitter.
I know there are dozens of applications on offer that will find you the 1,000,000 people you must follow and in return they offer the 2,000,000 who will follow and hang on your every word. That is absolutely not where I am at.
I’m not into pointless extravagant numbers that you can’t really manage properly. I much prefer quality. Big brands and big celebrities may have huge numbers but as a SME, I feel it’s critical to know and understand the people you choose to follow. You can and should use Twitter to promote and develop your product/service so you can increase your value to your existing clients and of course entice new clients; making them aware of your unique business propositions.
Collecting or choosing followers is also a time issue. Especially for the small business as you always have to keep in mind why you are spending your valuable time online. Can you really develop a responsive relationship with 1,000,000 followers if you aren’t the size of Coca Cola with a marketing budget the size of the GDP of a developing nation? It’s probably not feasible. Also, really ask yourself do you want to!
If you manage a SME, then Social Media is an essential part of your marketing and communications strategy but not your core business. so quality will trump quantity every time. Follow people you are genuinely interested in, who you like and who will be of use to you. Then remember to involve the people you follow, and not neglect them. Twitter is a great opportunity for you to create a vibrant, closely-knit community in your particular niche.
If you’re like me and want to develop better business relationships then you want to engage and be engaged by Twitter. So be choosy! To help you get started here are a few of my finely tuned selection habits:
1. A really easy idea – I already connect to you in the ether by LinkedIn, Facebook, MySpace (they’re still around and rumours of a comeback!), Email, Blog etc etc. If we’re already speaking in another part of the Internet, why not talk on Twitter too?
2. I met you live and in person and:
– I liked you, or
– I feel at some point we could make beautiful music together
i.e. do business.
3. You followed me on Twitter so I checked you out and you appear to be real (not a nasty bot) and have something worthwhile to say – at least occasionally. On Twitter I don’t expect every tweet to be oozing with profound insight, there is a lot of scope for frivolity. But please do come prepared to partake in the “conversation”
4. I actually used Twitter’s homegrown tool to find people I am am interested in. Too easy that one eh?
5. I followed your blog or landed on your website – liked what I saw, so decided to follow you on Twitter.
6. My friends are noted for their impeccable taste so I (mostly) trust their recommendations. As my Twitter friends/followers are also carefully selected and scrutinized, I’ll also follow Tweeters who they think are the “bee’s knees”.
7. You’re Stephen Fry. Sorry, I just can’t help myself!
8. I came across your name somewhere in the physical world i.e. not on the Internet. I believe this does happen occasionally 🙂 In order to keep in touch with “reality”, I unplug every once in a while and have been know to read an actual newspaper!
9. Serendipity. Don’t remember how we found each other but obviously it’s meant to be. Not the greatest tip ever but true.
10. You’re the famous/legendary/earth-bound authority/expert on a subject I’m very interested in. You’re “The One”. I want to pick your brain and learn from you.
11. You’re a client and I taught you everything you know so now I have to keep an eye on you!
However, overall caveat – just because I start to follow you doesn’t mean I’ll stay. To keep my attention – keep it interesting and keep it real and I’m there for the long haul. Start committing Twitter misdemeanors and I’ll be off.
I’m a bit of a organising freak (um enthusiast) so do a radical review of my Twitter list every so often. Hey people change even online and so do I. A clear out is essential so you can get the most out of your world online.
I hope these tips help and if you have any other tips, please share.