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Building an engaged audience on Twitter

Posted by Kristi Hines
Social media marketing
Building an engaged audience on Twitter from Wordtracker, the leading keyword research tools

Now that you know the basics about Twitter and have hopefully crafted a strong profile, we’re going to move into the next phase of your Twitter strategy. In order to share your message and see results, you have to have an audience to share it with. And not just any audience, but one that is going to really care enough to follow your updates!

Finding the right followers for your Twitter profile

First off, you have to find and attract the right audience to follow you on Twitter. One of the best things about Twitter is that you don’t have to really know someone like you do on Facebook or LinkedIn to connect with them and they don’t have to follow you in order for you to interact with them. This means you can start by following your target audience on Twitter, then engage with them to really get their attention. Here are some places to start searching for the right followers.

Followerwonk

Followerwonk search results

Followerwonk is a Twitter search engine that allows you to search for Twitter users by keywords in their bio. You can also use the 'more options' link to add additional filters to your results such as location, follower count, following count, and number of tweets. Sign in to this tool with your Twitter account to follow people directly from search results.

Twellow and WeFollow

Twitter directories allow users to add themselves under the categories they fit best in. Two good ones to start searching within are Twellow and WeFollow.

Twellow search results

Twellow allows users to add themselves to several categories and subcategories from 'Activism' to 'Web Analytics'. Users can also add additional details to their listings including links to other social networks - this way you can connect with them on multiple social sites. Be sure to add your own listing under relevant categories to start attracting new followers!

WeFollow screenshot

WeFollow is a Twitter directory where users list themselves by sending out a tweet with keywords and their location. WeFollow will then list them according to those keywords and their city (if applicable). Again, you will want to get yourself listed here so that other people can follow you based on your common interests.

Twitter Grader & Twitter Counter

Local businesses will want to find Twitter followers who not only share the same interests, but live in the same region as their business.

Twitter elite

Twitter Grader offers a Twitter Elite list for top cities in the world. Profiles are ordered by those who have scored 100 in the Twitter Grader system, then by popularity. This list will likely show you some of the most influential users in your area.

Twitter Counter screenshot

Twitter Counter, on the other hand, offers a list of most followed Twitter users which can be filtered by location. It’s also a great tool to use to measure your overall growth in Twitter followers.

Keyword searches

Twitter keyword search

One of my favorite search strings to use on Twitter is ...

keyword ? -filter:links lang:en

... just pop it into the main Twitter search box. What this search does is pull up the latest people asking a question with a particular keyword with no links (most of the time at least) and in English. The result is the chance for you to find more people talking about your niche or industry and getting the chance to follow and engage with them by answering their question. Use the dropdown shown to save these searches to your Twitter account for future reference.

Competitors

Twitter followers

Ever wanted a peek into your competitor’s list of customers, leads and fans? On Twitter, it’s easy. Simply go to their profile and click on their followers.

Better yet, use the Twitter relationship managing tool Refollow

Refollow screenshot

It allows you to load followers of a particular Twitter account, then add additional filters to narrow followers down by last activity, keywords in bio, and more. I would suggest only using this tool to find profiles and manually follow them, as mass following with third party apps can lead to a Twitter TOS violation

Commun.it

Commun.it screenshot

Speaking of relationship management tools, Commun.it is one to try. It allows you to keep track of the most influential and engaged members of your Twitter community as well as create keyword-based lists. Commun.it will then go out and find influential users that you should be following based on those keywords. Since you have to choose to follow them, you don’t have to worry about an automated service breaking the rules of Twitter’s TOS.

Attracting your audiences from other communities to Twitter

You don’t always have to go out and follow people to get followers. You might have a huge community willing to follow you, if only they knew about your Twitter profile. Be sure to do the following to attract followers to your Twitter account from your other website properties.

Twitter retweet button

  • Use the Twitter Follow Button on your website to encourage other Twitter users to follow you while they are visiting your website.

  • Use the Twitter Retweet Button on your blog content. After someone tweets your content, the button will automatically suggest they follow you on Twitter as shown in the image above.

  • Add your Twitter profile to other social networks by either connecting them or adding the direct link. You can do this on Google+, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Facebook, and other top social networks.

  • Add your Twitter profile link to forum profiles that you participate upon. Better yet, add it to your forum signature so those who read your posts can get to know you better on Twitter.

Engaging with those you want to follow you

Did you know you can do all of the above things and still not grow your Twitter audience? That’s because there is one more thing you need to do, and this is the most important thing. You need to engage with your audience. Engagement happens not just when you send tweets out, but when you have conversations with others directly using their @username in public mentions or privately send them direct messages (note that you can only send direct messages to those who are following you).

There are tons of ways you can tweet people in your target audience to really get their attention. And when you do so, and they notice you are following them, you will increase the odds that they will follow you back. Here are some great engagement starters.

Adding to a Twitter list screenshot

  • Add people you want to follow you back to a Twitter list by going to their profile, clicking on the dropdown next to the follow/following button, and adding them to a list (as shown in the image above). Then monitor your Twitter list regularly and respond to people who post questions and retweet people who share something that you think your followers would like as well.

  • Connected with people on your Facebook profile who you would like to follow you on Twitter? Watch the birthday list in the upper right hand corner of your Facebook dashboard. Instead of, or in addition to, wishing them a happy birthday on their Facebook profile, say it on Twitter!

  • If people in your target audience are bloggers, be sure to follow their blogs and occasionally tweet posts that your followers like. Be sure to include their username in the tweet. If they write for sites that are not their own, still make sure to include their username by saying the post is “via @wordtracker by @author” so that you can get noticed by both.

  • If your target audience starts to tweet your posts, be sure to thank them. Everyone loves to be appreciated.

  • Invite people to participate in answering a question. If it’s non-promotional, people will like the fact that you are asking them for their opinion.

  • Don’t send automated direct messages, but feel free to thank new followers for following you via public @username mentions or private direct messages.

  • As mentioned earlier, keyword searches can be quite powerful. Set up some that include your brand name as a keyword - this way, you can monitor and respond to people who mention your company but don’t necessarily mention your @username in the tweet. Chances are if they were not following you before, they will now that they see you're paying attention to their conversation.

This is the second in our Twitter series. Also read:

Getting started with Twitter
Manage & Analyze your Twitter account with the top Twitter tools