The Twitter platform is useful for companies to connect with interested users and can help with market research, say market players who also share the dos and don'ts for businesses to increase their Twitter follower count.
Freelance marketing consultant Luan Wise noted that the social media platform is great for companies to stay in touch, either by listening, sharing and engaging, with its target audience such as stakeholders, existing customers, potential customers and key contacts within the industry including trade associations and journalists.
Leona Russell, marketing assistant at U.K.-based Palletline, added Twitter can also be used as market research. As the microblog allows an organization to engage with users who are interested in the company, she said the organization can understand more about them and the kind of market it needs to target by building relationships with followers.
As the platform is in real-time and has a 140 character limit, Russell said the information is "fresh, precise and to the point". "It forces you to be creative and unearths the more compelling tweets--great for marketing and sales people," she added.
However, not all businesses are suitable for Twitter. Erin McMahon, director of social media at Vest Advertising Marketing and Public Relations, noted that businesses should choose the platform depending on factors such as business and marketing goals, the audience, the content they will share and the resources they prepare to devote to Twitter.
For organizations already on Twitter and want to grow their Twitter follower count, McMahon said they need to understand the numbers they expect. "Trying to increase follower numbers blindly, without regard to who the followers are or whether they may help you meet your goals is of little value," she added.
The market players share 5 tips to increase Twitter follower count:
1. Be engaging
Instead of just creating an account, McMahon said businesses will need to participate more on Twitter by using functionalities such as retweets, mentions, topical conversation and hashtags.
She noted that she would follow a company's twitter account if they tweet content that makes her laugh or think, links to her topics of interest or things she can use such as discount or online resources.
Guillermo Mata, co-CEO at New York-based Web Development Group, said he would follow a business on Twitter if it posts unique content and actually engages with other members.
2. Ensure value to followers
Jeff Ferguson, CEO of Internet marketing consulting firm Fang Digital Marketing, said instead of focusing on increasing follower count, companies can focus on generating quality content and followers will come on their own.
Wise added that organizations can share content that will add value to a user's knowledge and support his or her business objectives to gain new followers.
McMahon added that organizations can leverage its existing followers and request them to recommend the business to their friends. However, she said they should not "constantly bombard" followers with requests, instead they a well-timed ask of an engaged existing follower base can be beneficial.
3. Make it easy for others to follow
Bryan Woodruff, business development manager at 360 PSG, said companies should make sure that the icon to follow on Twitter is prominently displayed on their Web site. He added that employees can also include a link to the Twitter account in their e-mail signatures.
Woodruff added that businesses should also make sure that their Twitter information is listed on social media pages and on promotional materials.
4. Participate in "trending topics"
Russell said she uses trending topics to promote the company's tweets, for example, by tweeting about the Olympic when it trends.
She added that the company also uses popular hashtags, such as #FF which stands for "Follow Friday" to promote others' Twitter account.
5. Follow key personalities
McMahon said businesses can follow the kind of people or organizations they hope will follow back.
Wise added businesses can retweet key influencers to gain their following and subsequent engagement.
Maintain account to prevent dropout
When a user follows the company Twitter account, Russell said she personally messages each new follower with a thank you message as well as links to the company Web site and LinkedIn account. She added that the message shows the followers that the account is real and not a bot.
She added that most companies fail to maintain their Twitter accounts, which could lead to followers dropping out. "By maintaining our Twitter account, reaching out and 'following' others we have gained a great following ourselves," she added.
Wise added that businesses should not be "too salesy" and only tweet about themselves or send too frequent messages.