Twitter has the potential to be a good source of traffic to your site. If you are new to to the platform it can be difficult to get started and make yourself noticed in all the Twitter noise. To help you get off on the right foot these are my tips on how to get your first 500 engaged Twitter followers. First of all a word of warning in order to keep your expectations in check.
It is increasingly difficult to get Twitter reach and engagement
You will not get successful overnight. Even if you do well and get some followers most of them will not see the content that you post. After looking at several accounts that I work with I have seen the number of impressions (how many people see your tweets) as low as 2.5% and as high as 30% of the total following.
Engagement rate I have seen as low as 0% (happens frequently to text only tweets that have no link, image and call-to-action) to as high as 9% of the people that have seen the tweet. Those highs are anomalies though and the average numbers you can expect to see are more like this:
- The average tweet will only be seen by approximately 5% of your followers
- 1-3% of people that see your tweet will actually engage with it
- The actual engagement rate is approximately 0.0-0.2% of your total followers
The facts above make it clear that the stats are against bloggers and other content creators but this is no different than the decreasing organic reach numbers you see on Facebook and other platforms. It is getting increasingly difficult to attract eyeballs to your content and the dream of going viral is almost impossible to achieve. Still it is not all doom and gloom. Following are things you can do in order to get your first Twitter followers, achieve high impressions and get better engagement rate.
Be active and tweet multiple times a day
The tweet shelf life is extremely short due to the real-time aspect of the platform, so be sure to tweet often. A few tweets every now and then during the day is a reasonable amount. Twitter Analytics data shows that only around 5% of your followers will see any one of your tweets. According to Twitter “brands that tweet two to three times per day can typically reach an audience size that’s equal to 30% of their follower base during a given week”. Don’t let your profile stay untouched for days or weeks. Some will unfollow you – others will forget you.
As only a low digit percentage of your followers actually see your tweet you should experiment with repeating the same tweet several times a day with some 3 hours in between and analyze your results. From my experience people do not notice nor complain that you repeat tweets and your repeat tweet will attract attention and clicks as many new people have logged on since your original tweet earlier in the day.
Announce your latest post in a tweet. You can set this up as an automated service through a tool like Hootsuite if you prefer. Do not only tweet your latest post – tweet also some of your older posts and introduce your audience to some of your older but still relevant and useful material.
Post shareable, engaging and conversational tweets
According to the data from Twitter Analytics less than 3% of people that actually see your tweets engage with them. Before tweeting something, do consider if what you’re tweeting is shareable. Ask yourself would you share your own tweet? People like to share content, especially if it’s valuable, entertaining or smart. Make sure to make each tweet interesting and worth reading. Try to grab the attention by thinking of your tweets as your article headlines. Make them irresistible.
Show interest in others. Start @replying people with relevant conversations. Be helpful, useful and friendly. Be genuine and write in a relatable way. Avoid selling and formal language. Look at this as networking. Say hello, join the conversation, show your expertise, answer questions, help people, and build connections. People you tweet with will become familiar with you, will check out your profile, your site and will follow you.
People like to be entertained and if you can awaken their attention by being witty, they’ll listen to you and engage. A quote, an interesting fact or a little joke go a long way. These are often some of the most retweeted tweets. Make up your own, or browse through Kindle’s most highlighted passages or quotes from GoodReads for ideas.
Add value to your followers by tweeting about what’s going on in your field – link to articles about news and new findings within your field. By linking to different quality resources, people will look at you as an expert who knows where to find the best information and who shares knowledge with their followers. These are great reasons for someone to follow you.
Add images and videos to your tweets
Twitter timeline is very visual. It auto-expands and previews pictures and videos from tweets. Tweets with images are more prominent and have a better chance of getting more retweets, favorites and clicks than tweets without images. Use images in your tweets to grab the attention of your followers and tell better stories. Use infographics, charts, and quotes on images. Image size is 438x220px and landscape mode works best.
Piggyback on hashtags, trending topics and influencers
Twitter comes alive during big cultural moments like live sporting events, award shows and TV shows. Post more timely content. Content that is real time and focused on news and happenings. Tweet about relevant and popular trending topics and tap into their popularity. By using relevant keywords and hashtags that are currently trending your tweet could be amplified and could reach a large number of new users. Mention influencer usernames in your tweets. You will never go wrong by talking to other bloggers, influencers and other power users on Twitter. By building relationships with the influencers, you stand a better chance of getting your messages spread to more people.
Ask for a retweet
Don’t be passive, ask people for a retweet. Include a “please RT” call to action in your tweet. Tweets with a call to action like this have more retweets than tweets without a call to action. You can also direct message people you have a good relationship with and that might be interested in the topic of your post and ask them to tweet it out for you.
Add Twitter cards
Twitter cards make your links more prominent and give your Twitter profile more exposure as they add thumbnail, headline, description and author information to all your links and display them within Twitter timeline. Use a plugin like WordPress SEO to help you add the meta tags to your site and then use Card Validator to verify your site. Alternatively use JM Twitter Cards to simplify this process.
Integrate Twitter follow and tweet buttons into your site
If you want your visitors to follow you and tweet your content, make it easy for them.
- Make sure to inform your existing audience about your Twitter profile. Put your link on your site, send it out to your mailing list, include the link in your other social media profiles. Simple Social Icons plugin is a nice way of putting your social links in your sidebar.
- Allow your readers to spread the word about your articles by including tweet button on your post. Make sure to attach your Twitter username to the automated tweet so every time someone retweets one of your articles they mention you as well. Mashsharer is just one of the many plugins that can help you do this. See here a list of recommended WordPress plugins.
Conversations and followers will not come to you automatically unless you are a big name and have an established audience that you can attract. Instead you must proactively seek the engagement from users. One of the easiest way to get followers is to follow people you want to follow you first. Many people check who follows them and in case you have an interesting and relevant profile a good percentage will follow you back.
Before you start following people make sure to personalize your Twitter profile with your profile picture, cover picture, background image, URL and description. Most people will check your profile to decide to follow you or not, or to learn more about you when they read some of your interesting tweets. Having a personalized profiles helps you build connection and trust with your audience. You stand a better chance of a follow if you Twitter profile looks good.
So how do you find people to follow? Take a look at some of the biggest names in your field. Look at who they follow, look at who is following them. You can also use Twitter search to see who is talking about keywords and keyword phrases relevant to your skills and your content.
Use Twitter search to look up people tweeting about topics relevant to you. Search for relevant keywords and keyword phrases to your topic and then engage and interact with people that are talking about the topic. This is a great way of introducing yourself and creating value for someone in your audience.
Keep an eye on the Twitter analytics
Twitter Analytics helps you track your follower growth and how many impressions, engagements and clicks your tweets get so it is a great place to start. You can find out what your followers are interested in, analyze which types of tweets attract your followers most, what headlines work best, and at what time of the day your tweets get most impressions and clicks. You can then use this data to improve the content that you post and to schedule your tweets to be posted at the best possible times to get more exposure, engagement and a higher number of clicks.
Reaching the first 500 Twitter followers and getting good engagement rate is not easy. It takes time and effort. Spend time on Twitter, work proactively and consistently on getting new followers and on posting better and more timely content and you will slowly get there. For a more extensive list of tools that can help you optimize your social media use, take a look at these tools that I use.