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Adding Reach on Social Networks Takes Work, Tedious Work

So what’s your Twitter growth strategy?

  • Post great content.
  • Tweet great tweets.
  • Occupy a great hashtag with authority.
  • Ask for followers.
  • Buy followers.
  • Use your Twitter link in your email signature.

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Well, I can tell you, after years and years of working Twitter hard, the organic growth strategy will not produce 14 followers in one day, no matter how badass your tweet is. (Public speaking and conferences with solid #hashtags are an exception.) If you want to grow your reach, you’re going to have to reach out first. It’s a grind and it’s not very interesting, but the results are worth it.

Today, Twitter drives 1/3 of my overall traffic to this website. (1/3 organic search, 1/3 direct) And in the course of a week, that’s a lot of traffic. And it’s ALMOST free. The wear and tear on my fingers and keyboard notwithstanding. Here’s a recent snapshot of my referrers.

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And there you have it. Want more Twitter referrals you need to grow your Twitter following. Here’s how you do it.

  • Follow quality people in your segment of business. (In my case, digital marketing, social media, analytics, small and medium business)
  • Thank everyone who RT’s or responds to any of your tweets. (Good etiquette goes a long way.)
  • RT others quality content. (I’m amazed by how few people do anything but toot their own horn.)
  • Engage in conversations on Twitter when they are about a topic you care about.
  • Use hashtags randomly. (I’d say sparingly, but I think more is better. As long as they are on target with the tweet.)

Remember this a long-term growth strategy. You can’t add 2,000 twitter followers in a week. First Twitter will hit you with a speed limit violation and second, you’d be verging on spammy growth. So go gradually and steady. Follow other great tweeters. And keep following small pockets of people until you hit your Twitter limit.

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That is not a failure, it means pat yourself on the back for a job well done.

Then comes the ugly part. This is the part that your friends and followers will abhor, but you simply apologize and move along. Are you in this to make your friends happy or win over more influencers?

Unfollow your non-followers. Don’t take it personally when you unfollow Scoble for the 20th time. I’m sure he doesn’t mind or notice. Some of your friend and colleagues will ask, complain, and whine. “You keep following and unfollowing me? What’s up?”

Here’s my actual response. “I’m sorry if that bums you out. I occasionally purge all people who are not following me back. It’s not personal.”

And this local journalist said, “Oh, well, I try to keep my tweetstream very focused on topics I’m interested in.”

“Ditto.”

Of course it would’ve done no good to ask her, “Um, why after all these years of knowing each other are you still not following me on Twitter?” Because we shouldn’t really care who’s following us on Twitter, only that we’re growing our following base in a very strategic and targeted way.

Segmenting your Twitter accounts.

One other learning I’ve had over the years is about segmenting your audience. This account @jmacofearth is my main social media and marketing account. 90% of these people are interested in digital marketing. Period. I used to throw subjects in from my other blogs, and soon realized I was polluting the stream for the marketing-focused people. So I started a few other Twitter accounts for other blogs and other topics. Using a tool like Tweetdeck I can tweet, listen, and respond to all four of my main accounts at once. I really know I’m hitting a home run with a post when I can see how it stretches across all four accounts. (grin)

Follow to be followed. Unfollow to open up some more following slots. If you’re not reaching them on Twitter they might never hear about you.

Last tip. Use LISTS to keep updated on your REAL INFLUENCERS. I have a “trust” LIST that has all of my 100 Proof sources. I never miss their tweets, even if I no longer follow them.

And while this post is primarily about Twitter, the growth strategy works on most other networks. (Facebook, Pinterest, and G+ included.)

John McElhenney
@jmacofearth (also seen on Google+: jmacofearth)

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