5 Ways Media Professionals Can Gain More Twitter Followers
By Justin Sablich
You may think the number of Twitter followers one has is simply a vanity metric, but the truth is that in many cases it’s an important indicator of how influential you are in your industry.
There are many ways to gain more followers on Twitter. You could buy them, but chances are those are not the kind of followers you want. (And we wouldn’t recommend that.)
As The New York Times reported in January, those who purchased massive amounts of followers from companies like Devumi, which sold more than 200 million followers to high-profile users, ended up mostly with fake followers or bots.
The good news is that any Twitter user can increase the amount of quality followers with a few simple techniques, and not spend a penny in the process. Even better, those in the media industry are in a unique position to share interesting content from their daily professional life. This is a leg up on many others looking for a strong following on Twitter.
Tweet Often, But Find the Right Balance
With platforms like Facebook and Instagram, quality over quantity is one of the golden rules to follow. With Twitter, there’s room for more.
This is not to say that you should tweet whatever pops into your head as often as you want. This will turn off your audience and could lead to folks unfollowing your account.
“Saying beyond a shadow of a doubt that X is the best number of times to post to Twitter and Y is the best number to post to Facebook would be misleading. There is well-researched data, for sure. But consider it as a jumping off point for customizing your own optimal schedule,” writes Kevan Lee of Buffer.
While many studies have been done on this, there’s no magic number for personal accounts or branded accounts. But when you take a broad look at the data, what it shows is you should aim for at least 3-7 posts per day (more for branded accounts), compared to 1-2 with many other platforms.
The thought of coming up with 7 tweets every day may seem daunting if you’re not a daily user, but there’s a wide range of possibilities to consider.
Beyond personal promotion — for journalists, this would be your own articles or those you’ve edited and other projects you’ve worked on — think about your industry and what people might find interesting. Also, re-tweet posts from those you follow that you personally find compelling. This will also build some good will with potentially influential users.
Time Your Tweets
As with quantity of posting, there’s lots of data out there to suggest when the best times are to post, though, again, there’s no one right answer.
The social media scheduling platform CoSchedule analyzed several different studies and determined the Twitter posts get the most engagement on Wednesday, with the most effective times being 12 p.m., 3 p.m., 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. A lot depends on your target audience, but if you’re looking for a starting point, you can start with this information.
The key will be to experiment scheduling posts and determining for yourself what timing works the best for you. To schedule posts, you can use a number of tools, including Tweetdeck, Hootsuite, Buffer and many others.
The More Visual, the Better
One of the few sure bets on Twitter is that posts with images and videos result in more likes, retweets and replies. Twitter’s own research shows that people are three times more likely to engage with Tweets that contain videos and photos.
Reporters on assignment have ample opportunities to share interesting visuals from their travels, but anyone is able to share strong visual content. If you’re an Instagram user, think about reposting some of your photos that may be relevant to your target audience.
Maybe you’ve come across a great infographic on the state of advertising in the news media industry? Or consider taking a screenshot of a compelling multimedia project for which you helped edit copy.
Don’t Overlook Hashtags
You may have heard competing theories on the value of hashtags. The bottom line for Twitter is, if they are used smartly, they can help your posts reach a wider audience.
The best way to think of hashtags is from an SEO (search engine optimization) perspective. They allow users to find your posts more easily by categorizing them. And trending hashtags allow you to join in on popular discussions happening around news events.
“Make your hashtags specific to the audience you’re trying to attract. The more targeted the audience, the more engaged they will be, and the better your content will be received,” writes Maddy Osman of Sprout.
As with most things in social media, everything in moderation. According to Sprout, a study found that tweets with at least one hashtag have 12.6 percent more engagement than those that do not have any. Meanwhile, another study showed that posts using more than two hashtags saw a sharp drop in engagement.
If you’re unsure of what hashtag to use, consider using ritetag.com, an intuitive web tool that helps users find and optimize popular hashtags. This one does cost $10 per month, but you can give it a try for free.
Engage, Engage and Engage!
Twitter is not a one-way street, at least not if you want to build a successful following. This means you cannot just post content and never interact with the rest of the Twitter world.
It’s tempting to isolate yourself, because there are a lot of trolls out there. But remember that you can block trolls with one click (also, it’s always [ALWAYS] better to block trolls before you start engaging with them).
If you’re a member of the NewsGuild, chances are you have an interesting job for a media organization. Other users will likely want to know your perspective, and they gravitate to those who show a willingness to have an exchange, so consider asking and answering questions.
“If you have a valuable comment or answer to offer, keep both user names in your reply. This will foster a conversation and will yield both followers and the beginning of a new online relationship. Chat it up with the thought leaders in your niche – most people are generally pretty nice on Twitter,” writes Buffer’s Mandy Kilinskis.
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