Over the last two weeks I’ve talked about why you should use Twitter and how to jump in and get started. If you’ve followed my advice you’ve been playing around a little bit, but you’re probably starting to think about numbers. How many people respond or retweet your tweets and how many followers you have.
Like all worthwhile things it takes time, patience, and a bit of dedication. The @lightboxsf account only just broke 500 followers this last month and we’ve been using it for about a year and a half.
Now that you’ve gotten the hang of how it all works, it’s time to get focused and make Twitter work for you. The key to gaining followers and influence is to contribute and connect.
The concept of lists was my first pivotal discovery. When you view a list you see only the tweets of the people that have been added to it. It allowed to me to focus, get rid of the general noise of Twitter, and participate in a more meaningful way. You can create your own lists or follow those of others. You also don’t need to be following the user to add them to a list nor are you suddenly following everyone on a list you choose to follow.
I have a list of local handmade business owners, one for outside SF, one for social media folks, one for publicity folks, and my favorite – a private list of movers and shakers. This last list is a group of people I look at as influencers and role models.
Join The Conversation
Jumping in can sometimes be intimidating, but you just gotta start. I find the easiest way is to comment on a photo or article that someone shared. Just say thanks for sharing or tell them what tidbit you got out of it. Look for questions and jump in with your two cents or even say that you also are struggling with that same issue. Ask your own questions and be sure to thank whoever responds to you. And one of the best ways of connecting, but maybe the scariest is to just introduce yourself to someone. Say hello and tell them you’ve been reading their blog for years, or are inspired by their photography, or are saving up for their next e-course. We all like a little flattery and people on Twitter are no different.
My favorite way to make new connections is to participate in a Twitter chat. I’m convinced that Twitter chats are mostly responsible for the roughly 50 new followers we gain each month. If you’ve never heard of a Twitter chat here’s a great article to read, but the quick version is: a bunch of people login to Twitter at the same time and hold a conversation using a common hashtag.
I love them because someone has already organized a bunch of like-minded people coming together to discuss a topic. Most of the ones I participate in focus on small creative business topics, but the individual chats can range in topic from networking to conquering fears to favorite time saving apps. You get to interact directly with all the participants, voice your own opinions, and ask questions of the group. If you’ve got interesting or engaging things to say, people will undoubtedly follow you and even visit your website or blog.
One of my favorites is #omhg, Thursdays at 10 am PST, hosted Jessika Hepburn at Oh My! Handmade Goodness. I will also be co-hosting a new chat for the SF Etsy community starting on March 13th, and running every Tuesday morning at 10 am PST, #sfetsy.
Figure out who you really want to connect with, do a little digging, and participate in the conversation in a meaningful way and it will all come together in no time.