The Secret to Growing Your Twitter Audience

Earlier this week, I had the pleasure of hanging out with some of my social media friends in Nashville. We love to geek out together about social media and marketing over some tasty burgers. Not a bad idea, huh?

Luke Stokes, who’s relatively new to Twitter, asked the group for advice about how to grow a Twitter audience. We decided to go around the table and each give our best advice for building your online network.

And you know what? I thought you might learn from this too. So, here’s our secret sauce for growing your Twitter audience:

  • Be active. You can’t grow your audience if you don’t show up. Joey Strawn suggested that regularly retweeting and sharing the content of others has been a great way to get noticed and grow his audience.
  • Create goals. It’s important to determine your goals and why you want to grow your audience in the first place. For Tyler Clark, Twitter is more about developing meaningful connections, than building a sizable audience. So, his efforts have been focused on that. And, once you have goals in place, you can begin measuring the relevant metrics to see how you’re improving.
  • Make targeted connections. Once you understand your goals, you can focus on connecting with the right people. For instance, Kacy Maxwell wanted to use Twitter to connect with people locally, so he has focused his efforts on getting to know people in Nashville. By doing this, he has strengthened his network of contacts in town.
  • Join conversations. Joey and Kacy both reiterated how joining conversations have helped them meet new people online. When they find a topic or conversation of interest, they jump right in and share their thoughts. That has been a useful way for them to meet new people.
  • Determine your niche. Instead of tweeting about everything under the sun, it helps to choose topics you want to be known for online. Joel Widmer suggested that doing this will help provide focus to your efforts and help you become an authority in those topic areas.
  • Introduce yourself to a new audience. I mentioned that guest posting on blogs has been a great way for me to introduce myself to a new readership. By engaging with the audience who commented and shared my guest posts, I often develop wonderful new relationships and grow my audience as a result.

This list is by no means exhaustive. In fact, I can think of several other things you can do to that will help you grow your audience on Twitter.

But, instead of doing that, I want to turn it over to you and get your thoughts.

What have you done to grow your Twitter audience? What has worked best for you?

 

And, if you’re struggling in this area, what questions do you have? What’s holding you back?

* * *

P.S. The photo above (thanks, Joey) has nothing to do with growing your audience. However, it has EVERYTHING to do with social media done right.

Our little group tweeted that we were headed to Tavern for burgers and they definitely listened! They treated us great and even gave us a special little treat for coming out and trying their burger (gotta love s’mores over a flame). Yum. And, they encouraged us to vote for them in the Nashville Scene’s Best of Nashville poll. They are vying for best burger and wanted our vote.  How do you think we’ll vote?! Good marketing indeed. :)

About Laura Click

Laura Click is founder and CEO of Blue Kite Marketing, a Nashville-based integrated marketing firm. In addition to being the lead blogger on the Blue Kite blog, Laura is a proud Mizzou alum, avid runner and dog lover. You can connect with Laura on Twitter at @lauraclick, on LinkedIn or Google Plus.

  • http://newenglandmultimedia.com/ Michelle Quillin

    Great post, Laura! 

    I wrote about creating social media goals and making targeted connections for Jayme @Soulati:twitter a while back, in a blog post called “Finding Your Target Market Online: Are You Fishing for Tuna in a Freshwater Lake?”[ http://smbcollective.com/2011/03/finding-your-target-market-online/] 

    The mistake a lot of business owners make with social media, if they’re using it for business purposes, is they eventually end up doing all their relationship-building with people who are in the same field as they are. For example, PR folks tend to “hang out”with PR folks. WordPress and web developers tend to “hang out” with WordPress and web developers.

    You’ll be great for one another, even educational, but you won’t get much business that way.

    Speaking of Twitter specifically, when I first started out, I had a target audience in mind for New England Multimedia — small- and medium-sized businesses who were actively using Twitter (engaging with their audience), and who would at some point need one of our services (WordPress, social media profile customization, video production). I initially searched using location (New England and New England states at first), checked their profiles to see if they were either a business or doing social media for a business, then followed and listed them in private lists. That was step one. 
    Then I started building relationships with those people — “being active.” Step two.That’s how I started, and then I branched out to search for other groups, with new goals in mind. 

    2010 was our best year ever because I was thoughtful about our social media goals. Not perfect by any means (I get distracted!), but thoughtful. Measured. Targeted. 

    • http://flybluekite.com Laura Click

      This is GREAT stuff, Michelle. Thanks for sharing your experience! You’re right – when you’re intentional about your efforts, it’s amazing what can happen! 

      It’s very easy to fall into the trap of attracting like-minded folks who do what you do. I know I do. And if that’s your goal, great. If not, then you may need to re-think things. For me, since a lot of what I do is to help companies build a social presence, my target is someone who is starting from scratch or who is not active on social platforms. So, when it comes to social media for me, I’m more interested in practicing what I preach and developing great relationships with colleagues and people who can refer business to me. The bottom line is it all comes back to goals, focus and measurement.

      Well said!!!

    • http://soulati.com/blog Soulati

      Oy. My poor The SMB Collective blog needs to come out of hiatus with a better design. I don’t want to lose that blog; it’s a wonderful place to be community focused and give others a chance to GP. Thanks for nudging, Michelle.

  • http://www.socialmediawannabe.com Todd Lyden

    it’s like the Justice League of Nashville Twitter council… awesome

    • http://twitter.com/ShakirahDawud T. Shakirah Dawud

      Yes! I was thinking, wow, look who she just casually has lunch with every so often, lol!

      • http://flybluekite.com Laura Click

        I’m pretty lucky to know some awfully smart folks in Nashville! :)

    • http://flybluekite.com Laura Click

      Oooh! I like it! :)

  • http://twitter.com/ShakirahDawud T. Shakirah Dawud

    I’m not so good at it, but when I do, I notice joining conversations has a marked effect on my relationships. I feel like I’m intruding or trying to call attention to myself in all but a few instances, but often it’s fun, stimulating, and not at all awkward.

    • http://flybluekite.com Laura Click

      You’re right – it can feel awkward at times. But, I think you have to be willing to jump in in order to meet new people. If you don’t, you’ll just be left on the sidelines. You can do it! :)

  • Nancy VanReece

    First – please let me in on when this going to happen again so that I can join you!

    I think one of the most important things that you can do is to listen to the online conversation first. Search for topics and follow some lists. Once you can get a feel for how your content can add value to the conversation – start tweeting!

    • http://flybluekite.com Laura Click

      Roger that. And yes, listening is key. That’s why we have two ears and one mouth, right?! ;) Thanks for weighing in, Nancy!

  • http://soulati.com/blog Soulati

    I can’t speak enough about engagement. I noticed yesterday I’d not been engaging many places due to a serious deadline, and immediately the Twitter traffic dropped. It’s also important to remember that Twitter is NOT a one-way street. You must comment on others’ blogs AND make a point to read the stream on occasion and shoot out a note. This goes farther than just finding new peeps to follow.

    • http://flybluekite.com Laura Click

      So true, Jayme. If you put it on autopilot, people can tell. I do automate some things, but you have to show up. If you don’t, why should people check you out?

  • Anonymous

    Great job on this post Laura. Don’t worry, you will not be the stenographer moving forward. Love learning and sharing with you guys.

    I also like Todd Lyden’s idea of the Justice Twitter League and hope that I am not one of the Wonder Twins or Aquaman. 

    • http://flybluekite.com Laura Click

      Thanks, Kacy! I had good inspiration. :) 

      And yes, I’m with you – @tlyden:disqus might be on to something with this Justice League thing! Ironically, I’m already in a Triberr tribe called PR Justice League. But, I suppose there can be two. So, if you don’t want to be one of the Wonder Twins or Aquaman, who WOULD you be? I’ll have to ask @garthclick:twitter about the Justice League. I guess does that mean I’m Wonder Woman?? 

  • Anonymous

    Imagine that, actually having a strategy. My online life is so different than my business life it amuses me at times. I’m in sales and I have goals, plans, strategies, measurement, etc. Online, I just show up and it’s remarkable I have had any success at all.

    I guess I’m at a point I would like to be more strategic with my online presence and this will help with twitter.

    Thanks for sharing and hope you have had a great day. Burgers………..yum, had a fantastic one at lunch today.

    • http://flybluekite.com Laura Click

      Hi Bill – It’s amazing how we don’t tend to think about goals sometimes with social media. We get in here and have so much fun that we forget at times that we need to be strategic about it. You’re certainly not alone in this. 

      Glad you stopped by! And yes, it was a darn good burger. Hope yours was too! :)

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  • http://www.erjegarimbao.com Elpidio

    I tweet regularly every time that i have a new post but i don’t engage with discussion, may this part is really need for me to do. What do you think?  

    • http://flybluekite.com Laura Click

      I think engaging in discussion is important. I would definitely recommend that. It also helps to comment on other blog posts – once you do that, people are more likely to come back and check out yours. Good luck!

  • http://www.erjegarimbao.com Elpidio

    I tweet every time i have a new post but sad to say that i didn’t engage to discussion. What can you say with i’m doing, is this helpful to increase my audience. Thanks.

  • http://twitter.com/adamtoporek Adam Toporek

    These are great tips Laura! After reading the Tao very early on, I dumped a follow back strategy, accordingly my follower growth has been slow. Part of it is that growing quality connections is a slow process and takes focused effort.

    I am going to work on some of the above. The only thing I am working on that I have read about elsewhere is using lists more effectively as an outreach tool, though I can’t speak for whether it works or not.

    • http://flybluekite.com Laura Click

      Thanks for the kind words, Adam. I’m lucky to hang out with some pretty smart folks. 

      I think slow follower growth is okay – especially if you’re focusing on attracting the right kinds of followers. I think it’s easy to get bogged down into getting your numbers to move quickly. But, that’s not always the right course. For instance, you could always use automated following tools or play follow/unfollow games to grow your numbers quickly. But, do you want a huge list that isn’t engaged or a smaller one that may actually want to connect and buy what you’re selling. As mentioned above, it all comes back to goals.

      I’m not sure about using lists to grow followers, however, I use them a lot to better manage those that I follow. I will say that putting people on lists is a great way to put you on their radar. 

      Hope this helps!

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  • http://www.ltc-associates.com/ LTCA INC

    Hi Laura,

    Yesterday we participated in one of the best ways we know of to both expand visibility, enhance our reputation– and grow our audience. It’s also one of our favorite online activities! We participated in an hour-long Twitter Chat. (This speaks to your point above about engagement.)

    By diving right in and participating to the fullest extent possible, we always come away with new followers afterward (and sometimes a few thank-you’s and compliments), and better yet– our contributions are archived permanently in the form of Storify’s. Yesterday there were no less than 3 versions created of the chat log.

    Not to mention– we learned something : )

    • http://flybluekite.com Laura Click

      Yes, Twitter chats can be invaluable! So glad you found that it was useful to you guys.

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