I passed a milestone yesterday, building up 1,000 twitter followers for @everywomanUK. (everywoman‘s mission is to empower and inspire business owners and women in business. On twitter I focus on female entrepreneurs). To celebrate, in the spirit of the collaborative social web, I thought I’d share how I did it:
For everywoman, I don’t use twitter to say what I’m doing – I use it to inform, empower and inspire our community. Some people might want to know what I had for lunch, and that I spent half an hour waiting for a bus in the scorching heat, but most sign up to everywomanUK‘s updates to learn about business, entrepreneurship, running a business, others’ success stories. I’m also careful what I retweet – I always follow links and read them myself to check accuracy and value before I pass them on.
Boosting ‘the competition’
Sure I want people to visit the everywoman website, book for a conference or training programme and sign up for our online Network. And there may be others out there who are doing similar things – and I suppose there is a slight risk they’ll draw potential members away. But I don’t let that stop me posting links to these ‘competitors’ websites. That’s because my aim on twitter is to be useful to female entrepreneurs, and I know I can be more useful by circulating the best content on the web wherever it’s from. Ultimately, if a link I post is helpful to someone in our community, I hope they will remember that they got the tip from us, even if this doesn’t register as a ‘hit’ on our website.
As mentioned above I don’t only post links back to our website (it’s surprising how many do this). I vary posting discussions, articles, blog posts, competitions, events etc from everywoman, and video, news, features, tips, commentary and opinion from elsewhere. Variety of content keeps people interested, and I get retweets and new followers after all sorts of updates. I am careful not to post anything too politically charged or frivolous, but the odd mention of the weather doesn’t hurt. I’m ever aware that people who log in at different times of the day won’t see me if I always tweet at 10am. I try and login throughout the day and even send the odd tweet in the evening to reach the night owls and the Americans. I also use Hootsuite to schedule tweets.
Being nice back
This may seem obvious, but there are different ways of being nice. Some people thank others for retweeting them, but when I see someone has mentioned everywoman I tend to look down that individual’s latest updates for something of interest to our followers, and retweet that. That way, everybody wins. The person who retweeted me gets more exposure, and the entire community gets a useful piece of information. I don’t reserve retweeting to super-networkers and I don’t have favourites: I only post links based on their merits.
Finding like minds
There are several accounts on twitter that offer business advice, female mentoring and networking. None do exactly what we do, but it is a safe bet a lot of the women following such tweeters will find what I’m offering interesting. It is a simple, but time-intensive task, to run through these accounts and find women to follow, in the hope they will follow me back. I have only done this a few times but it has been very effective. Of course, there is nothing to stop tweeters doing the same back with my followers – but what gives an edge is to remember you can be unfollowed at the click of a mouse so make sure the people you follow are likely to enjoy your content, or you could end up a 1,000 following, 50 followers loser. Another way of finding like minds is searching twitter for connected keywords, and even searching twitter for profiles with relevant keywords. You can do this using Google as follows: site:twitter.com intitle:”on twitter” “bio* * entrepreneur” or search on twellow.
Listening and responding
I regularly check who has mentioned @everywomanUK (under replies) and do my best to answer any questions. If I can impress one follower with my attentiveness and helpfulness it is likely they will thank me for it, and that their followers will see the value I’m contributing. Again, if I think I can help someone by sending them to a site other than mine, I’ll do it.
Avoiding the noise
There are lots of tweeters who promise to make you rich on the Internet, offer you the secret to everlasting health or want to update you with their carnal desires. However nice it is to have lots of followers, I don’t follow these people back. When I look at the everywomanUK profile I want to be able to scroll down and find valuable content I can pass on. I can’t do that if I’m following lots of spammers and porn queens. When I go through my list of followers I only follow back the ones that look like they’re up our street. I do this by reading the tooltip that comes up over their name – and if this doesn’t give enough information, I click through and check out their latest tweets before I hit ‘follow’. It takes longer to build up contacts this way, as a lot of people use automatic ‘unfollow’ tools for when people don’t follow them back, but it’s worth it for the quality of the community you develop around you.