25 ideas for your social media network strategy

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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  • Good stuff, I’ve spent all morning trying to find good followers for @existskatestore and this popped up in my RSS feed!

  • Two thumbs up, kudos, and cupcakes! Clearest and most detailed explanation I’ve seen yet on how to grow your Twitter network. 🙂

  • Great Melanie. Glad I could be helpful!

  • Thanks for taking tohe time to comment.

  • I was at your seminar in Swansea, I’ve always hated Twitter but I’m trying to love it, haha. Facebook just isn’t cutting it anymore.

  • You might enjoy my book The Tao of Twitter. It is a great way to get you started on that platform.

  • I’m just finishing off the Social Media one then I’m going to pick up the Twitter one. Cheers!

  • I love the fact that you’re saying something that I’m doing. It’s not on Twitter though, but Google Plus. It does take a while to build an audience and when you first start out, you are so excited to start writing that it seems like that’s all you’re concentrated on. But you’re exactly right. We’ve got to build those relationships first and build our target audience so they will come to the site later.

    The tips that you describe take a lot of time to do, which is why most people fail at this whole thing. There’s no patience in farming online. Everyone wants to be a hunter.

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  • These tactics can apply to any social tool, in most ways.

    But, no offline tactics Mark? 🙂

    Talk to people, don’t be ashamed of your new brand, but instead talk about it (as appropriate, don’t become a “billboard sign”).

    Get business cards, put your Twitter account on those cards.

    Go to seminars, get involved in the conversations there (especially at the bar after presentations), talk to people … DON’T sell anything, just build relationships and again, when appropriate, bring up your Twitter account.

    Etc…

  • Kitty Kilian

    Ah, those search terms come in very handy. I should have thought of looking them up, but I haven’t. So thanks!

  • Oh, thanks. I hope you enjoy them.

  • “Everyone wants to be a hunter.” GREAT social media marketing line Wade! Love that.

  • Of course offline networking is essential. Social media only creates weak links that open doors. I have written about that quite a bit. In fact three times since March : ) Here is one you might have missed: http://www.businessesgrow.com/2014/04/29/twitter-best-practices/

  • So amazingly useful. One of the great marketing research tools of our time!

  • tracyready

    Thanks Mark, once again you’ve created a post that I am sure I will come back to many times moving forward in my own social media journey. I am glad that you put the emphasis squarely on Twitter, and I agree with you. My experience has been that Facebook is most useful as a way to keep up with friends, family and people that I already “know” at least a little bit, many of whom are not “connected” anywhere else. On Twitter, however, I have met and interact regularly with a variety of people from all over the world who I have never met and would likely never meet through any other source. Your article was a recap for me of many concepts I am already familiar with and some I had never thought of before.. thanks on both accounts. All the best, Trace

  • Awesome, Thanks for checking in Trace. Hope you had safe travels last week. Your pictures looked great!

  • Really good checklist @businessesgrow:disqus, will definitely share this with the social engagement managers that we have in our team. Quick note about Twitter chats – I’ve tried a fair amount to be a part of them, and more often than not, I make some very interesting new connections and form bonds, but a little too often I find that there are a lot of people who just keep dropping links to their website on there and to their posts. It’s a little sad.

    The shocker? A lot of these people I’ve seen mentioned as influencers, and it saddens me.

  • @mrsoaroundworld

    I just spent a morning with a new client and said most of these things. Obviously, I couldnt resist emailing them this article – they loved it. Thank you for this, Mark!

  • Awesome. Glad this was hlepful to you Ana!

  • Normally i can’t hang with Twitter chats for the reasons you mention Avtar and largely they are a wall of noise!

  • This is a great post, insightful and very shareable!

  • Thanks for letting me know Lucy.

  • Gary Schirr

    Another addition to the required reading list in my SMM classes…

  • I love this post Mark! Twitter is my baby and I’m most active there. All 25 tips are great ways to start! Twitter chats have been one of my favorite things on Twitter – I always walk away with new, quality connections to carry forward with.

  • hitasoft

    your idea is awesome.I will upload this blog to my profile.your blog always gives me some information which is helpful to the users. thanks for your information.

  • Honored sir.

  • I have never been a big Twitter Chat fan. Too many simultanous conversations makes my head spin : ) But I know a lot of people love them and certainly they are valuable connection points!

  • Hello Mark,

    Really great Twitter tips here! I have been wanting to do more with it and I think this will help me a lot.

    Thanks!

  • This is a wonderful list! Good reminders for all of us! Thank you.

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  • Excellent run-down to really target a specific audience, whether consumers or influencers. Definitely essential to build a network before posting content.

  • Herb Silverman

    Thank you for the list, Mark. I specially like the Twitter Chat and all of the aspects. Question: if there is a “chat categories” so I can see what relevant connections would be in my category, please? Thanks.

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  • Cool. Go for it!

  • Here is a tutorial about Twitter Chats Herb that should answer your question: http://www.businessesgrow.com/2012/05/08/everything-you-wanted-to-know-about-twitter-chats/

  • Paul Villagran

    Excellent list! I will definitely use this in my PR class. Thanks Mark.

  • Herb Silverman

    Perfect! Thanks for the help…

  • Looks interesting. Gotta try them all. WIll keep you posted on the results we acieve 🙂

  • Tema Frank

    The problem is not finding people to follow, but figuring out how to follow so many people in an effective way. How do you make sure you’ll see the important content in a timely way?

    I try to do this by using Hootsuite and creating streams for the people who I think are most important to me and my business. But I’m still not as good as I should be about following and interacting on Twitter. I still find the character limitation very frustrating!

  • Let me know if you ever assign one of my books in your class Paul. I would be happy to Skype in for a Q&A. I love doing that.

  • OwnStLucia

    Brilliant! A well consolidated list of easy to implement tips for growing your twitter following and tools to simplify the process, in a very reader friendly format. Thanks for sharing. I’d like to suggest Idea #26 – BLOGS. If someone is reading, following, commenting on and sharing the same blog posts as you, chances are you’ve got something in common. A great way of connecting with like minds is to follow other tweeters who have commented below. The fact that they’ve commented shows that they care about the subject matter, have demonstrated their propensity to share and may also take an interest in and share your web or blog content, or may share other related and valuable content through their social accounts.

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  • I think you have the right strategy. I have nearly 100,000 followers but I can make sense of it with HootSuite and Twitter lists

  • Thanks for taking the time to comment

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  • OwnStLucia

    I greatly appreciate your taking time out to compile this rich and very implementable list. Thank you!

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  • This is great, I would add one more 😉 Engage with people!

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  • Politwika

    Awesome! thanks for this

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  • Make tweetable moments in presentations and put your handle on your business card – love these. Social media engagement can start IRL, just like real networking can start online.

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