I'll admit it: I was a Twitter hater.
A few years back, when the Ashton Kutchers of the world first started setting the Twitterverse ablaze, I remember rejecting my fellow colleagues' proclamations that it was the next big thing.
"What is it? Just Facebook status updates without the Facebook? Yeah that sounds cool…"
"Who cares what you had for breakfast this morning? What makes you think you're thoughts are so interesting anyway?"
As an editor for online publication, I resented seeing news stories broken via tweets and thought the personal thoughts and lives of professionals (particularly journalists) had no place in public expression.
Obviously, I was wrong. Twitter has long since taken over the world of social engagement, and no marketers worth their salt can claim that it's not a necessary component of any sound online marketing strategy. Your potential customers are on Twitter, and therefore so must you be —it's really as simple as that. Whether or not you totally buy into the customer engagement potential and measurable ROI that you hear from some folks, I do think Twitter is an invaluable form of brand marketing, both personal and professional.
Of course, getting your name and message out there only works if people are actually paying attention, which is why getting as many followers as possible is really the beginning and end of most companies' Twitter marketing strategies.
So how do you get more followers? The tried and true recommendations, of course, are to tweet interestingly and often, engage and share content with like-minded users, and follow others who are similar to you. And those are excellent best practices indeed for building a following. They are also tedious as hell.
Not long ago, I read a cool article by social-media marketing aficionado Jeff Bullas on how to be contagious on Twitter where he recommended a free tool called Twellow to help boost your following in a hurry. After giving up my previous "professional" Twitter account when I left my last job, I figured it was worth checking out.
What is Twellow?
Twellow is basically an enormous online directory for Twitter users. With it, you can simply run a search on your business's area of interest (cloud computing, for example), and Twellow will return every registered user listed in that category, starting with the most popular and moving on down. This is an incredibly powerful tool for online and brand marketers, as they can then easily find, follow, and engage with potential customers, thought leaders and so on. It also allows others on Twellow to find you more easily by searching the topic categories you associate your account with.
After registering with Twellow, I quickly gained 60+ new followers by the following morning, and over 500 in less than two weeks. Now keep in mind, a portion of these new followers were bots, and I lost 100 off my total soon after as those fake accounts dropped themselves off my list. But I was still left with a nice improvement over my pre-Twellow number, and that's all it took to convince me to invest more time working with the directory.
Of course, there are a lot of tools out there designed to beef up your following; this is just one that I happened to try and have some success with.
Author Brendan Cournoyer is a Marketing Associate at OpenView Venture Partners. He is an editor, content manager and marketer interested in online publishing initiatives and social media. He is focused on using journalistic concepts and editorial content strategies to help make companies more visible in an increasingly "online" world. He joined the OpenView team in the spring of 2011 and is responsible for managing most of the firm’s online content initiatives. He was previously a senior editor for TechTarget, Inc., a publishing company focused on providing news and learning resources for IT professionals. Follow him on Twitter @brencournoyer.
This post was republished with permission of OpenView Partners.
[Image: Flickr user David Reeves]