Dive into the conversation: a guide to marketing, networking and cultivating relationships on Twitter

Twitter’s 330 million users are on the platform to have conversations. Rapid-fire conversations that begin with 280-character prompts.

While the fast-paced environment may seem overwhelming, once you learn the ropes Twitter can become a cornerstone of your marketing strategy: Twitter users adore small businesses, and are more likely than users of other platforms to follow you, purchase from you and share what you post.

Work Twitter to your advantage by learning about the platform’s algorithm, earning followers and cultivating a useful list of people to follow. Then, jump in feet first: schedule posts, participate heavily (or fine tune your current participation) and take advantage of Twitter’s promotion options and advertising campaigns.

Header basics

Of course, you need to set up an account, choose a profile picture and header that fits your brand and fill out your bio. But after that, it’s time to get a handle on the inner workings of the platform.

The algorithm

When Twitter first launched, tweets were shown in reverse-chronological order. But this shifted over time, with Twitter implementing an algorithm that decides how relevant every tweet you post is to every Twitter user, creating a score for each tweet based on each specific user’s account activity. They then display tweets in this order:

  1. Ranked tweets
  2. In case you missed it tweets
  3. Remaining tweets (still in reverse-chronological order)

The relevance score created by the algorithm is applied to the first two categories of tweets. And while a lot goes into how that score is developed, how much engagement each tweet gets, and how much the individual behind the tweet interacts with other Twitter users and followers, plays a significant role in the tweet getting pushed to the top of feeds.

Getting followers and deciding who to follow

How many followers you have, and who you follow, matters for more than the obvious reasons. Users may overlook a promoted tweet or ad if they click your profile and see that you only have three followers; likewise, they might view your entire account as one big ad if you have loads of followers but are only following three people.

Getting followers

Type “how to get more Twitter followers” in a search bar and you’re greeted with “About 59,300,000 results.”

Pretty overwhelming, right? There’s no sure-fire formula, but here are some tips to give you a jump-start so that, as you work the platform and engage with users, the followers come organically over time.

Research your competition and see who follows them. Look for accounts that are active and have a fair number of followers themselves, and then hit that follow button.

_Why it works: The individual was interested enough in your competition to follow them, which means they’re more likely to give you a follow back. _

Follow noncompetitive brands and influencers in your industry. Respond to their tweets, give them shoutouts and retweet content that you think your followers will enjoy.

_Why it works: You’re interacting with the platform without marketing (big plus), showing that you’re active in your industry (essential for brand trust) and increasing the chances of getting a bigger brand, with a larger following, to interact with you and expose you to their audience. _

Write tweets related to trending hashtags (as long as it fits your brand).

_Why it works: This opens you up to people who aren’t currently following you, and if your input is interesting or useful enough, they’re likely to click that retweet or follow button. _

Who to follow

Curating a select, strategic list of people to follow provides you with opportunities to engage on the platform and exposes you to new content to share with your followers. Some people to consider include:

  • Leaders in your industry
  • Influencers in your niche
  • Brands in your industry
  • Users currently following you
  • Media outlets covering your industry and general trending topics
  • People who follow brands in your industry and have a high follow-back rate

Setting up a schedule

Because your visibility on the platform is directly tied to how naturally and frequently you engage with users, the idea of scheduling tweets might seem counterintuitive.

But, think of scheduled tweets as a presentation or pitch—of course it’s on the calendar, and you’ll be there on time and prepared. If you look at it this way, and make sure you take time every day to hop on Twitter for “water cooler networking,” there are loads of benefits to tweet scheduling.

Scheduling allows you to:

**Get a big-picture look **at the ratio of hard marketing, content marketing and direct engagement tweets you’re putting out.

**Free up time **so you’re available to respond to followers’ @s quickly, track Twitter trends, jump in when something comes up that fits your brand and participate in chats.

**Schedule retweets **for the tweets you’re trying to promote. Retweeting your own tweet a few times, especially tweets that have a higher level of engagement than you normally get, has a compounding effect on the relevancy score of your tweet, improving its visibility each time you repromote it.

Adjust for time zone differences. If your analytics show that a huge portion of your followers are active around 2 a.m. your time, scheduling tweets lets you reach this segment without drinking coffee around the clock.

Balancing scheduled and real-time tweets

If every one of your posts is scheduled, users quickly start to view your account as a bot. Schedule tweets to:

  • Market and share content
  • Announce product and service launches
  • Advertise sales and specials
  • Promote contests and events
  • Start conversations with questions or requests for ideas
  • Queue up retweets of other users to avoid flooding feeds
  • Plan retweets for your tweets to increase engagement

Then, break up the “planned” vibe that even the best-crafted scheduled tweets can give off with in-the-moment tweets. Check your schedule, and current Twitter trends, at least once a day to find topics and ideas.

Entrepreneur, news host and Youtuber Philip DeFranco regularly promotes his content and business, but breaks it up with funny family anecdotes:

PhilD Twitter screenshot

This Georgia-based small business keeps its feed varied by offering tips, sending out feel-good quotes and occasionally promoting a class:

Yoga studio mix

How to schedule

Scheduling can be done directly in Twitter or via a social media management platform like Hootsuite, Buffer or Zoho Social.

Second header: participating strategically

The only way to truly utilize Twitter to the fullest is to actually jump in, talk and strike up conversations with other Twitter users. At minimum, this means responding to tweets directed to you, replying to DMs and tracking your mentions to respond to praise and negativity.

But there’s so much more to it than that.

Cultivating relationships with followers

Make sure you’re following your most active followers and have a concrete vision of your brand’s voice so you can:

Respond to their most engaged-with tweets with a personal anecdote or note. It can be as simple as one of your followers asking for ideas on what to make for dinner or thoughts on what to name a new pet. By responding genuinely, you’re showing that your brand is on Twitter for much more than sales.

Answer questions and respond to their comments, especially on your own tweets. This shows that you’re not just tweeting to “hear yourself talk;” instead, you want a genuine back and forth.

Entrepreneur and writer Marie Forleo may have scheduled this inspirational tweet a few weeks in advance, but she responds to comments in real time while sticking to her brand’s voice and message:

Marie Forleo twitter screenshot

Send out birthday messages and offer up congratulations on reaching a recent career or personal milestone. These small touches not only make the specific follower remember your brand fondly, but also shows their followers that you’re a brand who’s invested in its customers, potentially leading to more followers for you.

Networking with peers and influencers

Follow or track people in your industry so you can:

Set yourself up as an expert in your field. When they send out a tweet asking for ideas, advice or opinions, you’re in a great position to offer up something valuable by responding.

Pave the way for a cross-promotion down the road. If you’ve spent a few weeks or months liking a peer’s or influencer’s tweets—and retweeting and responding to the user regularly—you’re much more likely to get a response via DM when you’re ready to pitch a promotion idea.

Advertising options

We gave a brief overview of Promoted tweets when we discussed promoting your content. In addition to that, Twitter also offers Promoted mode and advertising campaigns, as well as options to improve the overall visibility of your account.

For a flat fee every month, Twitter will automatically turn your first 10 tweets of the day into promoted tweets, targeting them to the demographic you choose. Tweets need to meet their quality requirements, and the mode doesn’t turn your retweets, quote tweets or replies into promoted tweets. However, all you have to do is tweet as usual, and the platform does the rest. Although it’s technically a subscription, you can cancel whenever you want (without any hassle).

Advertising campaigns

With advertising campaigns, you pay based on the goal you set for the campaign. For example, if you run a Followers campaign, you pay for every new follower you earn during the campaign. Pricing is determined by an auction-based system, and the campaigns are categorized by objective.

  • Followers campaigns
  • Website visits and conversions
  • Video views campaigns
  • Tweet engagement campaigns
  • App install/engagement campaigns

There are also two paid promotional options intended to increase the exposure of your entire account: promoted accounts and promoted trends. The former puts your account on users’ dashboards under “Who to follow” while the latter places a hashtag of your choosing under the Trending header for users you want to target.

**With an active plan to participate on Twitter, and a solid content marketing strategy** filled with [shareable content**](https://www.biz.me/articles/not-a-writer-or-graphic-artist-you-can-still-make-shareable-content/) that you [repurpose across the internet](https://www.biz.me/articles/recycle-repurpose-repromote-getting-the-most-out-of-your-existing-content/), Twitter can help expose your brand to new audiences, build relationships with your peers and customers, and start bumping up those sales.**


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