How to Build Your Twitter Community

Get 10 tips on how to get your Twitter followers to interact and pay attention.

Aliza Sherman
4-minute read
Episode #87


You're on Twitter, you're tweeting up a storm, but still it feels like nobody listens. Nobody responds.

Before I share some ideas about how to build a more active and involved Twitter following.

How to Engage Your Twitter Followers

The first thing you need to know about Twitter is that it is far more effective to have fewer followers who pay attention to what you have to say and who respond to you, than to have hundreds or thousands of followers who ignore you. Quality versus quantity may sound cliché, but it's one of the keys to successful communications on Twitter.

Because less is more, avoid all of the rip-offs and scams promising you a quick boost to the number of people following you on Twitter. Yes, they may work to increase your numbers, but the more you use them, the less effective your Twitter account will become.

Keep your follower to following ratio such that you have more followers than the number of people you are following.

The second thing you should know about Twitter is that following too many people too quickly--and without some thought behind whom you follow--will make you appear like a spammer or seem like you're desperate to get people to follow you back. That will give more discriminating Twitter users pause and can reflect badly on how and why you're using Twitter. Keep your follower to following ratio more balanced. That means you should follow fewer people than the number of followers you have.

How to Build Your Twitter Community

"Engagement" in social media refers to that natural back-and-forth that comes with a conversation. When you say something, someone responds. When you suggest something, someone acts. In any conversation, we all hope that we're not just interesting but engaging. On Twitter, there are many things you can do through tweets to be more engaging. Here are 10 tips.

Listen. Anyone who is a great conversationalist will tell you that the secret to great conversation is listening. That means carefully reading through your Twitterstream and then delving deeper into the the Twitterstreams of the people you follow to understand where they're coming from and to see what is important to them.

Reply. When you see a compelling tweet that you'd like to respond to in some way, do it. Just make sure you have something thoughtful to add to the conversation. As long as you're truly interested and your response to someone else's tweet is genuine, you will soon be recognized as someone who enters conversations to add value and not just to promote something.

Retweet. If someone's tweet is really worthy of repeating, then do so. You can use the Twitter retweet button, but I still prefer the old fashioned copy/paste method with an RT in front of their Twittername and their tweet. Remember that whatever you retweet to your own followers becomes a reflection of who you are and what interests you.
Praise. When someone tweets an accomplishment or success, be the first to congratulate them. Don't be hesitant to give Twitter pep talks to others. Be positive and lavish praise on those who deserve it. Don't be gratuitous with your praise, however, or your kind words will quickly lose their value.

Recommend. When you come across someone who has done something that you feel is worthwhile, tweet about them and lead your followers to them. Be discerning about whom you recommend, even when you're participating in Follow Fridays, which is a Twitter-wide weekly event where people recommend other people to follow using the #FF or #followfriday hashtag.

DM. If you want to strengthen a connection with a follower, take a moment to send them a direct message or DM that continues a conversation or adds some more personal thoughts. Be careful not to add a link to your direct message since that is an all too common spamming technique. Use DMs for a deeper, more personal connection.

Link. Are the people you're following posting links to their articles and blog posts? Read what they're sharing, and when you come across ones that you really like, share those links with your followers and include some brief commentary of your own. Constantly retweeting other people's links can end up looking like you don't even bother to read further and that you don't have an opinion of your own. People who follow you want to hear your perspective.

List. One new way to recognize others on Twitter is to include them on a Twitter List. Be thoughtful and discriminating about how you use Twitter Lists and carefully consider whom you add to those lists. Having a large Twitter List is less important than having a carefully curated one that becomes a valuable resource for others and a real compliment to the people you've listed.
Ask. If you want to hear from your Twitter followers, ask them a question. That's similar to stimulating conversation on your blog. If you aren't asking what other people think, they simply may not tell you. And when you ask, be prepared to listen, reply, retweet, praise, and further interact with those who have taken the time to respond to you.

Respond. If someone asks you a question on Twitter or addresses you with the @ sign, respond to them. Few things are worse on Twitter than ignoring people who genuinely want to connect with you or address you in their tweets.

If you're tweeting once or twice a day, you may want to rethink your commitment to Twitter. Without frequent tweeting on a daily basis, you're going to lose momentum until your followers' interest in you wanes. I don't mean that you have to tweet dozens of times daily; however, be consistent, responsive, and active in a way that is both comfortable for you and easier for your followers to take notice.

Bottom Line: To strengthen your Twitter following and move people from listeners to talkers, or from lurkers to a more active participant, you have to take the lead. Fill your Twitterstream with good conversation starters and plain old good conversation.

Contact Me

That's all we have time for today.

Visit the show’s website at digitalmarketer.quickanddirtytips.com for links to all of the sites mentioned in the show. If you'd like to ask a question or request a topic for The Digital Marketer, e-mail me at digitalmarketer@quickanddirtytips.com or leave a message by calling 206-339-6279. You can also find me at Facebook.com/thedigitalmarketer and Twitter.com/alizasherman.

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