Summer class for the UMASS Journalism Online Program is officially in session. My course, Social Media and Public Relations, kicked off last week with the students building and branding their Twitter profiles and actively engaging in our classroom community (#UMASSPRSM). This article is in honor of their dedicated participation so far, and to further help my students and any other students and professionals who are new to Twitter and want to successfully grow their communities and follower base. Paying for followers is not an option. You have to build your community through transparency, meaningful conversations and relationships that blossom organically.
Here are five tips to help you grow your Twitter community and to find great opportunities that can materialize far beyond your Twitter feed.
- Incorporate the right hashtags into your tweets, making what you share searchable and easy to find the people interested in what you’re sharing. Hashtags, if used appropriately, help you to reach your target audience, connect you with your industry and build community. You can use the tool Hashtagify to search for related hashtags, top influencers, and usage patterns. When you use the right hashtags, you’re also able to organize your Twitter conversations and makes sense of a very noisy media landscape.
- Build relationships with Twitter influencers who drive the pressing topics and critical conversations in different communities. When you build a relationship with an influencer, and they share on your behalf, people trust the information and they are more likely to follow you. I use MentionMapp to visually identify and uncover information on people in my own Twitter network and then dig deeper to uncover who they know (individuals of influence) in their networks too. If your connection has a relationship with an influencer, then you may be able to join a conversation or leverage this friend for an introduction.
- “Listen” strategically by monitoring Twitter conversations. By constantly listening, you can learn what people want from you, answer their questions and deliver helpful content, becoming a valuable, trusted and relied upon resource. When you share good information consistently, people will want to follow you. You can monitor Twitter conversations through a number of tools including Hootsuite, Cyfe and BuzzSumo, which are all free tools or have a freemium version.
- Tech Test visual tools that help to make your tweets stand out. I started out using Pablo by Buffer and Canva and now I’m a Piktochart power user. Full disclaimer: after a year or so of using Piktochart they became one of my consulting clients. The ability to create infographics, posters, reports and templates for free, or with a premium subscription, can really make your tweet stand out in a newsfeed.
- Participate in Twitter chats. You might be thinking … Well, that’s because you’re the co-founder of #PRStudChat. Yes, I’ve forged many meaningful relationships and have learned so much from our community of PR students, educators and professionals. However, when you also decide to go outside of your own PR and marketing circles, you can find opportunity as well. I’ve also grown my own following and forged relationships with pros in different industries by participating in tweet chats that are not exclusive to PR. Here’s a list of Twitter chats that come highly recommended. A couple of chats I like that are not on the list include #WinnieSun Twitter Chat and #JustHaves Twitter Chat.
These are just a few of the tips that have helped me to build community and to take these relationships from Twitter and social media to in-person meetings and business opportunities. What are your best tips for growing community?