A few years ago, I made it my mission to crack the code on how to grow a following and interact with people on Twitter. I had about 100 followers at the time, which made me feel a little sheepish considering I was a social media professional. I have over 4,000 followers now (mostly social media marketing and produce industry folks) and I’d like to share my very simple Twitter tips with you.
Step 1 – Make your first impression count!
User name – Pick a good user name. If your name is available – lucky you! If not, you will need to get creative. My name was taken, so I added the initials of the state I live in @AdrienneYoungCA. Other ideas for a username include adding a "AskMe" or ItsMe" to your handle like this: @ItsMeAdrienne or @AskAdrienneYoung. Make your Twitter name easy to remember and don’t add numbers to the end of it (ex: @AdrienneYoung1973). Numbers are generally harder for people to remember than words.
Profile photo - Your profile photo should be friendly and professional. This is not Facebook, so you should shy away from couple or family pictures. A professional photograph is ideal, but if you don’t have the resources for one, enlist a friend or family member to take a nice headshot of you. And make sure to smile! You want to be friendly and approachable (just like in real life). Update your photo pretty regularly, people should be able to recognize you in person after seeing your Twitter photo.
Bio – For your bio, let folks know who you are and what you do. Some people like to include a fun quote or hobbies.
Here are a few example bios for someone in the produce industry:
Sales and Marketing manager for Acme Produce Company, specializing in citrus sourced from CA and shipped all over the globe.
VP of Promotions for the Produce Institute, passionate about increasing nationwide consumption of fruits and vegetables
Cover photo – make sure this relates to what you do. In the produce industry, we are fortunate to be surrounded by beautiful products. Your profile photo could be a field shot, a produce display at a farmer’s market, a wholesale market, or just close-up shots of the fruits, vegetables and flowers you market.
Step 2 – Develop a content strategy
Don’t let this step overwhelm you! First, decide what type of content your potential followers would be interested in. This could include any news articles about fruit and vegetable consumption, trade issues, recipes, facts about produce, links to Packer or Produce news stories, etc.
You can find great content on trade industry websites and publications.
What else do you think would interest fellow professionals? How about articles on leadership, management, and other business stories. Your Twitter followers are probably also interested in social media (why else would they be on Twitter?), so articles about what’s new on social media might interest them as well.
Now, where do you find all this great content to share? One great source that I use is All Top, an aggregate of top stories around the web where you can look for articles by category. Another great source is Buffer because you can find great content and they’ve already done the work for you by formulating tweets that you can simply schedule out.
Once you find your content, you can use Hootsuite to schedule your tweets. You don’t have to log in to Twitter five times a day to tweet all the content you find. Instead, you can schedule your tweets days or weeks in advance all at one time.
Step 3 - Grow your following
What’s the fastest way to grow your following on Twitter? Find people in your industry with similar interests and then follow them! Chances are, they will follow you back!
So, how do you find produce professionals? You can start by looking at who is following popular industry accounts like @PMA or @thePacker or @UnitedFresh. Take a look at their followers and follow people you find relevant to your industry and business. But watch out, if you follow too many users in one day Twitter will lock down your account. It’s called follower churn and following large amounts of people at a time is frowned upon. Try to only follow up to 20 people per day.
Another great way to grow your following is to use hashtags because they allow people to search for content by interest. If you tweet a business article you can use hashtags like “#biztips” or “#business” or “#startup.” For social media articles, use “#socialmedia” or “#Twitter” or “#Twittertips” (if you are tweeting about Twitter).
Take advantage of conferences that you attend and use the conference hashtag to tweet while you’re there. Oftentimes the group putting on the conference will retweet your tweet, which exposes your account to more people. Tweeting about the conference before you attend using the hashtag will also help you connect with attendees.
Step 4 – Use Twitter Lists!
Twitter has a great feature called "Lists" that will help you keep track of people you follow by topic or group. Because I follow thousands of people, important tweets can get lost. You can add people to lists and then Twitter will group their tweets together. Here are some examples of lists that I made:
1. Social Media Professionals – this is where I keep all my favorite social media thought leaders and fellow practitioners. I use this list to find great content that I can share.
2. Awesome Produce Professionals – this is where I put all the awesome produce people that I want to keep track of. Since I like to have conversations with fellow produce professionals on Twitter, this is a great way for me to find their recent tweets quickly.
3. Locals – I’m from Fresno, California, so I like to keep track of what the locals are up to and find out what people are talking (or rather tweeting) about in my hometown.
I can browse each list and check in when I have a few minutes of downtime during the day (like when I’m in the carpool lane picking up the kids from school, waiting for a dentist appointment, having coffee, etc.)
I will look through my lists so I can try and start conversations with people. For example, if a Packer writer just tweeted a new article they wrote and I found it useful, I can reply to their tweet “Great story, thanks for sharing.” Think of interacting with industry folks via Twitter as a digital networking opportunity.
I hope these Twitter tips helped you out in some way! If you have any questions, please feel free to comment on this post or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or better yet, tweet me!