Mathematically, the difference between 2,000 and 1,000 is the same between 1,000 and 0.
So why doesn’t it feel that way when you’re staring at a blank small business Twitter account? Why is moving from 0 to 1,000 so hard?
The old adage in business—that the first million you earn is the hardest—is a simple way of saying that liftoff is the hardest part of launching the rocket that is your small business. That’s why we’ve put together a list of best practices for those small businesses that are either late to the Twitter game or struggling to get more followers. Here’s what you need to know to get your first 1,000 followers:
Start with a “No Free Lunch” Policy
It’s tempting to see the goal—1,000 Twitter followers—as a simple number on the board. Something that can be purchased or attained.
It’s just as easy to forget that Twitter is full of people.
People don’t follow you for their own health. Most of the time, they’ll follow you because you offer them something. According to QuickSprout’s guide for getting your first 100 followers, only some 20% of users you follow will return the favor—but 94% of Twitter users say they will follow a brand that offers discounts and promotions.
In other words, there’s no free lunch. You won’t get followers without first giving them something worth following. That means your small business has to decide how it will attract new follows. Here are a few ideas:
- Discounts and promotions. This is a strong strategy for Shopify store owners and retail outlets, but not so relevant for service-based entities.
- Creating great content. When Twitter is an extended arm of your content strategy, you can use it as a platform for delivering the latest and greatest over at your blog.
- Insights. Consider a Twitter account like Neil DeGrasse Tyson’s. He hasn’t attracted millions of followers by posting the mundane details of his life. Instead, he takes the time to craft valuable insights about the universe. Neil Patel calls this “informing, not meforming.”
Fill Out the Profile
To earn your first 1,000 followers, you should first look like a full Twitter account—a small business that’s worth following. Make full use of your Twitter presence to establish the fact that your small business is ready to engage:
- Write a bio for your profile.
- Post a link to your website.
- Post a relevant photo and background.
- Make sure your Twitter name clearly defines who you are.
- Start following other relevant people in your industry.
These are five essential steps that will help you earn those first few followers. After all, no one wants to click “follow” on an empty profile.
Get Your Tweets Noticed
All of this sounds well and good—but how do you get your Tweets in front of more eyeballs?
- Hashtags. Hashtags are the lifeblood of Twitter—they’re how you tell what’s popular and what’s not. Make sure that your tweets (along with their hashtags) still follow the “No Free Lunch” rule and you’re bound to get at least a little notice.
- Interaction. Interacting with people on Twitter means your account will be exposed to all of their followers as well. Just try to make sure it’s a positive interaction.
- Promoted tweets. If all else fails, you can always promote a tweet that you think is especially relevant or interesting for your intended audience.
Give Each Tweet a Mission
True: if you’re witty enough, you likely don’t have to have an explicit mission behind every single reply or comment you make online. But when you plan your tweets (using a platform like HootSuite or Buffer) you’ll stand a far better chance of delivering something that actively engages with your audience.
In short, what do you want this tweet to do?
Should it inform? Should it share a relevant piece of content, like a blog post? Should it engage readers—using a tool like a poll? Should it share something they’ve never heard before (insight)?
Or are you just posting to let people know about your small business’s day?
Just as you would in advertising, you have to think about the intended audience of your message if you want to maximize engagement.
Buffer did a lot of research on what gets small businesses accounts more followers on Twitter. We’ve covered a variety of them here already. But one we haven’t covered—and one method that made their “Top 10” list—can be summed up in one word:
“Staying active” was one of their top variables for achieving Twitter success, and no wonder—consistency hits on all the major points above. It puts the audience first. It ensures that you’re still contributing valuable insights and content into your followers’ lives. It ensures that you’re making your social media account a priority, and not just another gear in the machine.
Keep It Positive
According to Buffer, the tone of your Twitter’s voice can have a dramatic impact on how many followers you gain. “Debbie Downers” tend not to perform well, which means you want to keep your Twitter account uplifting and engaging.
Make it exciting. Don’t complain about the bad service you had on a flight. Instead, talk about where you’re going. Don’t ask your followers why they aren’t engaging with you—bribe them to engage with you, using a discount or coupon code.
Your Plan for Social Media Success
With the above points in mind, you’re ready to start the trek to your 1,000th follower. Here are some key steps for ensuring that happens:
- Fill out your whole Twitter bio. You want to look like an upstanding member of the community, not a bot.
- No free lunches. Don’t expect people to care about you without first caring about your tweets. Make sure you’re informing them of stuff they care about.
- Use hashtags to command attention. Once you’ve figured out informing vs. meforming, get a larger audience for your tweets by using hashtags on a regular basis.
- Use a scheduler like Buffer or HootSuite to stay consistent. You don’t have to tweet every hour of every day, but you should try to maintain a quality presence.
Put it all together and your acceleration might not be immediate. But if you keep the plan in place, you’ll attract more followers than you lose, which means you’ll log in one day to find “1,000 followers” for your small business.