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How Can Small Businesses Attract Relevant Followers on Twitter?



Written by: Michael Sim 

Data overload is something that can seem a little daunting at first. What types of content do I create? Why would people want to share it? How are they even going to find it in the first place?

Paid Advertising

I’ve seen many companies try and tackle this option for the first time when approaching social media marketing. You’re guaranteed a certain amount of exposure, and if you trust paid advertising algorithms and have a budget significant enough to compete, you may be able to get some marginally satisfactory results. However, if you’ll take note of my point regarding the way social media is increasing the CPC and CTR for paid advertising, display ads are likely not the best investment.

Follow Your Target Audience

One of the top strategies that I’ve seen help companies is to go out and follow your target audience. When Twitter first started, there were a lot of tools that allowed you to do this in bulk, but due it breaking current terms of service regulations, it is no longer available (well, at least none that you’ll find with a simple Google search or that I’ll publicly mention). Today, I personally recommend that companies leverage the “advanced search” feature in Twitter. Using the OR and – (minus) operators, you can easily come up with an advanced search that is far more valuable than just entering in a simple keyword. For example:

CEO OR “marketing director” OR CMO OR CFO OR “founder of” OR “co-founder of” OR “vice president” OR “VP of” -”united states” -usa -obama

Once you’ve run the search, simply click on the “People” tab on left sidebar. Neat, ay?

I have a few very powerful search combos such as the one above that I adapt for each of the clients I work with. However, there are typically about 20 different searches that I create in total, and they can be considerably more complex. Let me know if you’d like some personal guidance with this.

Next, I’d recommend that companies follow no more than 100 people per day using this technique, and to wait at least 7 days before “unfollowing” any of the accounts that did not follow back. There are several tools out there that I personally use to streamline this process and make it much more efficient. I’d be happy to help you build your workflow if this process is something you’d like to implement.

I’ve observed anywhere from 14% to 45% follow-back ratios using these techniques. I cannot stress enough that moderation is the key to making this a successful strategy. It can easily be abused, but by using moderation, it can be an extremely valuable way for you to connect with your target audience.

Create Great Content

Getting more followers on twitter is always a nice thing to have, but making a real connection and relationship with those users is far more valuable then a simple vanity metric. In addition to personally thinking and welcoming your new followers, content is one of the best ways to add value to and attract potential customers to your social media accounts.

With that being said, the question then becomes “what type of content will get the attention of my target audience?”. I’ve personally seen wide variety of content types that perform wonderfully for user engagement. However, understanding what types of content are appropriate for your audience can be challenging when you’re first starting out.

I recommend that companies first approach this question by asking themselves “what type of content adds immediate value to my target audience? “. For most companies, some of the most readily available content of value comes in the form of relevant news and industry information that supports your products or services. However, like television, social media wouldn’t be that much fun if brands only published news and industry information from external sources. Here are a few of the other content types that have a strong engagement potential.


Motivational quotes, quotes from well respected leaders in your industry, or quotes that generally inspire or entertain typically have a high engagement rate. In addition to typing the quote out in a tweet, quotes in the form of text-on-image can see up to 2 to 3 times more engagement than the text-only equivalent.


Regardless of your target audience, photography is one of the best ways to get user engagement. From professional photography, to the pictures you take with your cell phone, images communicate far more information then you’re afforded with 160 characters. You can easily leverage advanced search operators like the one mentioned above to identify accounts on Twitter that regularly produce quality photography. From there, you can easily retweet or “classic retweet” that content (with a comment) to your audience. Check out @500px. They are one of many accounts I tap into for great visual content.


Let’s face it, everyone loves a good contest. Depending on the nature of your audience, contests can be a great way to get engagement and audience participation. Among the variety of contest types that are regularly seen in social media, those that require the audience to produce some form of content seem to be the most valuable by far (typically referred to as “crowd sourcing”). For example, creating a contest that requires your audience to take a selfie with your products, or in someway using your brand, can be a great way to create content that extends beyond social media. You could easily include all of the image submissions in a blog post, and @mention the “top 3″ individually over a series of tweets. Not only would this encourage them to visit the blog post, but it would also encourage those members to share that article with their audience.

Influencer Engagement

Building your social media community can be a very lengthy and cumbersome task. You can easily spend years growing your audience and still never reach the coveted 100,000 mark. However, leveraging the influence of top leaders and experts in your industry can be one of the most cost-effective and efficient means to reach your audience. I’ve been experimenting with a variety of influencer engagement campaigns and strategies over the past year and a half with very impressive results. I would love to work together with you to help you identify your influencers, and to create several high-powered strategies to reach out to and involve them in your marketing efforts.

While the examples above are only a few of the top performing strategies to improve audience engagement, the best way to identify what’s right for you and your audience is through research. Look at what your competitors have done, take note of their successes, and find creative ways to improve or repurpose that content for your audience. Research a few of the examples that I’ve mentioned in this article and see what other documentation has been created by other experts. And as things typically go with all things marketing related, testing is by far the best way to optimize your strategy for success.

If trial and error isn’t something that you can afford to invest during the development of your social media strategy, you might also consider reaching out to a consultant like myself to help you get up to speed more quickly.

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