social media network

Behind every social media strategy you must have a content plan and a network plan.

Most businesses are starting to understand the content part. But a network plan? That is usually overlooked, which leads to disillusionment.

“If you build it they will come” is a great line from a movie but a terrible marketing plan. To succeed on the Internet today, you have to create content that ignites and that takes an audience.

It is really, really hard to get content to move. That’s why we need to systematically, methodically, and continuously find relevant people out there with some predisposition to like what we do and share it. Don’t wait for it to happen. MAKE it happen.

A focus on Twitter

In fact, if you are a new blogger or content creator you should probably spend MORE time on developing an audience than creating your content. “But how do I build this network,” you might be asking. Well good news, good news, good news. I have 25 ideas for you … all starting with Twitter.

Why Twitter? Whether you are building an audience for a blog, podcast, or video series, I find that Twitter is the fastest way to build a targeted and relevant audience because of the variety of tools available to find these folks. Plus, unlike other social media platforms, you can build an audience on Twitter even if your contacts don’t follow you back.

If you do a good job surrounding yourself with great people on Twitter and you keep them interested through your commentary and comment, they will naturally become interested in the original content you salt into your stream.

Building your social media network

Here are 25 ideas to think about for building your own network strategy through Twitter:

1)     Basic Search. Start following people, companies, and brands you already know by looking for them on Twitter using the “Search box” at the top of your Twitter screen. This way you can find existing customers, contacts, friends and colleagues. Twitter People Search is a great starting point to find people who may already be on Twitter.  If you can’t find your friends right away, don’t be frustrated. Sometimes they are listed by their handle instead of their proper name, making it somewhat difficult to find everyone at first.

2)     Who to Follow. Look on your Twitter profile. On the left hand side, there is a little Twitter gadget called “Who to Follow.” Twitter looks at your followers, who they are following, plus companies and brands you might have mentioned in your tweets to suggest relevant people for you to connect to. Notice the “refresh” button that allows you to get new batches of recommendations.

3)     Mining Twitter Lists. Once you are on Twitter for awhile, you’ll notice that people will place you on public “lists.” Twitter Lists are a superb way to find relevant people to follow. Lists are generally categorized by a special interest or geographic location. For example, I might be on lists for “marketing experts,” “bloggers,” or “business educators.”  Once you find a relevant person to follow, dig into their Lists and you are likely to find a goldmine of interesting people to follow.

4)     Competitor Lists. If your competitors are on Twitter, check out their Lists and the people they are following and “steal” their contacts. All of these lists are public information so there are no ethical problems with this at all.

5)     Twellow. There are many apps that can help you find new followers but one of my favorite places to find targeted followers for my clients and students is Twellow.com. This useful little site is like the yellow pages for Twitter. Simply sign in for free with your Twitter information and you’re ready to find and follow targeted users.  It does not have a complete list of all Twitter users, but it’s a pretty good start. Twellow has four useful features:

  • It has an exhaustive directory of Twitter members by every category, industry and interest imaginable.
  • You can also see Twitter users by city, very useful if you only serve a special market.
  • You can search for people by interest AND city.
  • You can add yourself to up to 10 special interest categories to make it easy for people to find you.

6)     Search for related businesses. Do a Twitter search by your business interests and follow those who pop up in the results. They will likely look at your profile and become one of your followers. For example, if you are in construction, try searching by:

#construction
#building
#architecture
#remodeling

7)     Look through other social media accounts. Connect with contacts on Facebook, LinkedIn, and other social media platforms.  For example, most LinkedIn accounts now include a Twitter handle. This is a great way of finding people in your industry to follow!

8)     Go hyper local. If you log-in to www.nearbytweets.com you can observe real-time tweets within a few miles of your home, even if you don’t follow them. This is a great way to follow local conversations and find new connections if you are specifically building a local business following.

9)     Find by “prominence.” A site called www.wefollow.com enables you find and follow new Twitter friends by their “prominence” in many career categories. The user-generated directory has lists of people who associate themselves with particular keywords and interests. An algorithm then sorts into order by what the site considers thought leadership.

10)   Twitter Chats. Twitter Chats are regularly-scheduled online meetings based on special interests. Watch who is attending and then “follow follow follow!” Click here to find a post with everything you need to know about Twitter Chats.

11)   Find Friends. At the top of your Twitter profile page you will see a tab that says #Discover. If you click that tab, a new set of options appears on the left side including “Find Friends.” This can help you find your current email contacts if they are on Twitter.

12)   Popular accounts. While you are still on that #Discover tab, check out the option on the left for Popular Accounts. This is not necessarily going deliver relevant new business followers, but it can provide access to some of your favorite celebrities, athletes and business leaders. And who knows … maybe one of them will even follow you back!

13)   Activity Leads. Also on the #Discover tab you will see an option for “Activity.” This is very busy area but one of the things it will display is new people that your followers are following. There’s a good chance these would be good contacts for you too.

14)   Link to other accounts. Link to your Twitter profile from your other social profiles across the web. On your Facebook page include a link to your Twitter profile in the Websites section. On YouTube you can link to your Twitter profile in your bio, and in the description section for videos. Mention your Twitter username in your videos, or watermark it as text on top of the video.

15)   Business cards. Include your Twitter handle in your email signature and on your business cards. I have links to all of my social accounts on the back of my business card.

16)   Tweet consistently. To attract Twitter followers, you need to be present. You’re not going to attract engaged followers if you only tweet once a month. Provide value.

17)   Make tweetable moments in presentations. When you give a talk to a relevant business audience, include your Twitter handle at the bottom of every slide. One popular speaking tip these days is to actually spoon-feed the audience tidbits they can easily tweet along with your presentation. Some speakers even have short sayings from their speech in slides to encourage tweeting and new followers.

18)   Live tweeting. If you are attending an industry event, there might be a “hashtag” for the event.  People who cannot attend the event, might be following the proceedings on the hashtag. Providing relevant content from an event like this can increase relevant industry followers. Be sure to look for opportunities to engage with these new industry connections during and after the event.

19)   Hold a contest. Giving away something valuable is a good way to get new people to follow you and re-tweet your contest to other potential connections.

20)   Team up. Double your return without doubling your effort. If you’ve developed a promotion with another business, brand or media partner, share content back and forth between your respective Twitter accounts. Connect and consolidate by using the same hashtag. Give followers a reason (exclusive content, discounts, insider access) to pay attention to your conversations.

21)   Integrate with advertising. Many companies are displaying Twitter handles or conversational hashtags in their normal TV and print advertising to encourage new followers who might be interested in their business.

22)   Promoted Accounts. Twitter has an advertising option specifically designed to get new people to follow you. Here is an explanation of Promoted Accounts on the Twitter site.

23)   Watch your followers. Who are your followers talking about? Who are they tweeting? Who are they mentioning in #FollowFriday recommendations as great people to follow? These might be contacts to add to your audience.

24)   Advanced Search. Twitter has an extremely useful advanced search function but the only problem is finding it! It’s not easy to see on the main Twitter site. The menu-driven search application can find people to follow a variety of ways including keyword and location and it can be found here: Advanced Twitter Search.

25)   Learn to use specialized search prompts. You can unlock the basic search functionality right on the Twitter screen by learning a few of the specialized prompts. Follow this link if you want a complete tutorial on Twitter search.

Well if you made it through all 25 ideas you are either charged up or totally confused!

If you loved this post, this is just a glimpse of the tips and wisdom you will find in the all-new edition of The Tao of Twitter, now available online and where fine books are sold. Good luck building a plan to expand your relevant social media network!

twitter book

Illustration courtesy Flickr CC and Andy Lamb

This post was brought to you by IBM for Midsize Business and opinions are my own. To read more on this topic, visit  IBM’s Midsize Insider. Dedicated to providing businesses with expertise, solutions and tools that are specific to small and midsized companies, the Midsize Business program provides businesses with the materials and knowledge they need to become engines of a smarter planet.
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