Are you looking to grow your following on Twitter?
If you run a startup, you know that building a big following on social media can help grow your brand and give you more authority in the space.
Even better, it’s a great way to build your reputation in the industry and start getting even more followers and free trial signups with your new software or app.
That’s how the team at Buffer started growing what started out as a simple, no-frills program barely anyone had heard of into one of the biggest social media apps on the web.
Perhaps more importantly, revenue followed—in July 2018, Buffer spent $3.3 million to buy out their investors.
One of the secrets to this growth was effective social media management, especially through Twitter.
Here’s how to make your startup stand out on Twitter, and like Buffer, grow an engaged Twitter account to increase distribution.
After trying many different techniques, the following 5 tips were most important to make things work for the Buffer team.
1. Promote others
I know what you’re probably thinking—“The first piece of advice is to promote others and not yourself?”
But yes, that’s really one of the best strategies to grow your Twitter following and was one of the keys to Buffer’s massive growth.
Following the words of “if you want to get noticed, notice others” has proven to be the most important factor to grow Buffer’s network on Twitter.
Naturally, as you start taking notice in others’ tweets, they will start retweeting you too.
It’s a basic principle that’s been followed for generations, we’re just applying it to Twitter here. When you pay attention to others and share what they’re doing, you built rapport.
Now it is crucial not to retweet others for the sake of retweeting them. Be sincere and honest. Include your own thoughts instead of just blindly doing copy-and-paste sharing.
Find the thought leaders in your niche and start retweeting thoughtfully if you believe it provides value for your following.
It helps to add a short comment to personalize retweets and to show others you are truly engaged with that content.
Don’t just retweet others or post plain URLs and expect to get noticed.
Instead, promote their content the right way. That is, post a link and a brief comment from yourself. And the polite thing to do is to always tag the author in the tweet with their handle.
When you show appreciation for others, they start to see that you’re not just in it for a quick boost to their own traffic but to actually help promote you and provide value to their audience.
2. Be consistent in order to build trust
Building trust amongst your followers hardly happens if you can’t commit to a regular presence on Twitter.
But this can be difficult—after all, you have a startup to run. You can’t be spending the whole day on social media, right?
Actually, it doesn’t need to take up much of your time. Use simple tweet scheduling tools to pre-write a few tweets to be sent spaced out over the whole day.
Of course, Buffer is a great example of a tool that does that well.
As you grow, you can increase your frequency and become even more active.
Creating consistency with content-rich tweets is fantastic because you can provide value for others beyond your product. This is known as content curation.
You can create a source of interesting and useful information without being too self-promotional.
It allows you to be very active in your space without referring to your own startup all the time.
3. Be focused on your niche
Early on, the Buffer team made the mistake of tweeting about every topic you could think of, starting with social media, startups, design, and whatnot.
Doing this left the brand faceless in the space, where no one could recognize what Buffer was all about.
The team needed to pull back and focus just on the most important pieces of the brand story—social media, and doing it well.
In order to get noticed, I suggest you start tweeting about topics that are tightly interconnected with your products’ focus. This keeps you on-brand but has a second benefit.
The major benefit of doing this is that as you become known as an expert voice in your space.
Once you’ve established this credibility, it makes people even more likely to start using your product. You’ve already established that you’re willing to provide value up front.
When that’s how people find out about your product, it can make a huge difference. You’ve already provided them with knowledge beforehand and you’ve built trust.
4. Be creative with your tweets
A technique I love to share is to genuinely see your Twitter account as a micro-blog. This means you think carefully about the wording of tweets posted.
Share some of your personality in the tweets and let your voice shine through. Don’t just focus on bland topics and expected tweeting formats. Do something original now and then.
Of course, I wouldn’t suggest tinkering for hours. Yet tweeting something different than the headlines of posts that everyone else is tweeting about can help you to stand out.
Try rewriting post headlines or adding your thoughts next to them. Another way to do this is to find a quote from a post you enjoyed and turn that into your headline for the tweet.
Doing this can spice up your tweets and shows your followers that you are truly engaged with the content you are tweeting about.
While you don’t need to create a masterpiece with every tweet, trying for something a little creative every once in a while can really help you stand apart from others on the platform.
5. Be fast
Finally, the speed you respond to comments and replies can help boost your image as a brand that cares about customers and is willing—eager, even—to engage and help them.
The best way to do this? By turning Twitter into your company’s own support channel.
What’s crucial here is to answer tweets in a short time window of receiving them. In general, reply to all tweets within an hour if at all possible.
It’s a good timeframe that shows you’re paying attention.
One great way to do this—and what the Buffer team did when growing—is to assign different “shifts” to social media management.
By collaborating you can make sure someone’s always there to respond to questions and feedback quickly. Buffer changed who was “on duty” every three hours.
Providing such fast customer service led to great praise and happy customers.
How has it paid off?
Buffer started out, like most startups, without a Twitter following to speak of.
Through the process of these strategies, the Buffer Twitter account hit a thousand followers, then ten thousand, then a hundred thousand—and sits at over one million followers in 2019.
But those followers come in one by one. It wasn’t some giant marketing scheme that brought them in overnight.
And perhaps the accomplish the Buffer team is most proud of isn’t lots of followers, but the consistent engagement for nearly every tweet.
Finally, like all startup founders, the financials are the lifeblood of business, and the numbers are really strong there, too.
Buffer has consistently grown, from multiple funding rounds to the point where the team was able to buy back the entire company from investors in 2018.
Buffer is a work in progress, like all companies, but Twitter has helped put Buffer on the map.
If you’re looking to boost your Twitter following, these strategies are the way to grow.
Start by being honest about what you want out of the platform. At Buffer, transparency, and honesty has always been at the forefront, so start with sharing and promoting others.
You’ll build goodwill, but more importantly, you’ll do the right thing. You can set yourself apart from the other Twitter users just out to promote themselves by focusing on others.
Next, you want to be consistent. Show up every day and deliver top-notch content. Build trust by doing what’s right again and again and over-delivering on value.
Don’t lose focus on your customers as you grow your account.
Stay laser-focused on your niche, providing helpful information for the people who want to know what you have to share, and not diluting your brand image with other fluff.
And don’t be afraid to think outside of the box with your tweets. There’s a time for “normal” tweets, to be sure, but if you never experiment you’ll never see the benefits of creativity.
And finally, be fast. Twitter is a fast-paced platform and responding quickly builds rapport with people who comment. It shows you care and are eager to help them out.
I hope these tips are helpful for you to get fully hooked on Twitter with your startup’s Twitter account.
Taking it seriously and investing a small amount of time each day can make a big difference.
Which other techniques are you using to make your Twitter account stand out?
About the Author: Leo Widrich is the Co-Founder of Buffer. Say hi @LeoWid anytime, he is a super nice guy.
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