Although I (to date) only have a small Twitter network of around 300 followers, I have still managed to use this network quite effectively. A few of the things I have achieved just through my Twitter network include getting new contacts, new job offers, and collaborations with other business owners.
I wrote an extensive guest post for Eric Wagner last week, about how to harness the power of your Twitter network, based on my personal experiences with Twitter. However, before you start networking with other users and gaining new followers, here are a few tips on how to use Twitter for business and personal branding.
Remember the social part - Social media is all too often an easy way to post things without actually engaging with people. Remember that you are having conversations with people (even large organizations have real people behind their Twitter accounts). Compliments, comments and engaging dialogue with your followers, or potential followers will go a long way.
Engage with like-minded people - Twitter is a great way to easily engage with people in the same industry, people who need your services, and even potential mentors. Try sending a comment or compliment to someone in your industry that you admire, or start (strategically) retweeting a few of his/her tweets – you never know where it might end up.
Too much promotion leaves you with less followers - There are websites and programs that allow you to automate who you do and do not follow. These websites also prompt you to unfollow the excessive self-promoter types who don’t tweet to others. People just aren’t as interested if you only promote yourself and your own content. So intentional constant promotion can result in fewer followers. Make sure you engage in conversations so that this doesn’t happen.
Sharing other users’ content goes a long way - People are usually genuinely grateful for retweets and comments, and often reciprocate, or at least thank you for sharing. Strategically sharing content and retweeting can be a good strategy to get new followers, but also to give your followers interesting new content that is still true to your brand and business.
Don’t automate direct messages - Personal preference, but sending automatic direct messages to new followers is just impersonal. I automatically question whether I should have followed that user when seeing that automated response. Some people claim it works, but when I have the time, I do it right, and often it pays off. Take a moment to do a quick check on who your new follower is – take a look at their website, their content etc. Often you will discover new content that you could retweet or an interesting person to connect with in your industry. Try finding something that connects you to each other and write a more personal thank you. Again, this might lead to very interesting opportunities.
Remember your brand - One key thing to remember is to stay true to your brand. Twitter is a great way to inject some personality into your brand and not just promote your content. Feel free to tweet about your hobbies, as long as you keep it true to your personal brand (and keep your business in mind).