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How to Boost Twitter Engagement and Build a Real Audience

While Twitter never grew to truly rival Facebook, it has affected our communication and our culture in the same way. People use Twitter for marketing, to connect with like-minded individuals, network professionally, broadcast news, and discuss anything and everything going on in the world.

The most powerful part of this is that everything is public. Meaning anyone has the potential to reach millions of people and grow an audience, if their content is worthy.

In this post, I'll give you the starter guide you need to use Twitter as a platform to grow in your industry through simply following and engaging with the right people.

Discover and Implement Industry Hashtags

One of the greatest things about Twitter is that, despite being a single giant community, it can be used as a way to connect with individuals with similar professional and personal interests.

The way this is achieved on a site with billions of public messages each day is through hashtags.

Hashtags are words (or an unspaced phrases) used to group or categorize messages on Twitter. (Other sites have since adopted the features. It was originally inspired by IRC networks, which used the hash symbol (#) to organize chats by topic.)

Let’s say you wanted to get involved in the SEO community on Twitter. The easiest way to do so would be to use the "#SEO" hashtag, but you might get lost in the noise, as it's a popular hashtag.

Using Twitter analysis tool, Hashtagify, we can find hashtags that are related to #SEO to stand out a bit more. A few examples might be #ContentMarketing, #Blogging, or #Content.

You can also explore these hashtags directly on Twitter to discover others that people are using. The more hashtags you integrate into your tweets, the more people you'll reach.

Once you've got a good list put together, start implementing them. If you tweet a post of blogging tips, be sure to add the hashtag #Blogging so the community can better discover your content. A user with zero followers can build from nothing by simply utilizing hashtags properly.

Start Following and Engaging with Related Users

Now that you've got an idea of how to get more involved in industry discussion on Twitter, it's time to start following influential and active users in your industry.

If you know a few of the most influential people in your industry, you obviously want to follow them first. But the next step is to see who they follow, and also who follows them. By doing this, you'll discover more influential people, and perhaps users who are looking to break into the scene.

Not every single person will follow back, but you can follow 1,000 people a day. The issue here is, if you don't have 2000 followers, Twitter won't let you follow more than 2000 people until you get to 2000 followers.

You have to follow the right people, engage, and get noticed.

Your goal should be to reach out to all types of users, not just the most influential. Those who get hundreds of messages each week aren't likely to notice you, but someone with only a few hundred or thousand followers will.

Make separate Twitter lists for influential and active industry users to ensure you're getting tweets from both sides. This also ensures their messages don't get lost in the noise of Twitter.

So go out and retweet their best links, reply to their questions, and generally make people notice you!

Take Time to Personalize, But Work on Automation

Twitter can suck up a lot of your spare time, if you let it. You could easily find yourself spending hours each day searching for great content to post and replying to other users.

Instead of spending a ton of time overthinking Twitter, work on automating as much of the process as possible. This means using a tool like HootSuite or Buffer to schedule tweets out in advance. 

Whether that means articles you've read, tips, quotes, or questions, it saves you the time and effort of having to interrupt your daily routine to tweet.

Of course, you should set time aside to retweet, reply, and follow new users each day. This should take less than 15 minutes of your time, so you can accomplish it consistently during a mid-day break.

Final Thoughts

Anyone can build a follower base on Twitter. But numbers mean nothing without engagement behind it. Don't let follower counts distract you from your true mission: networking.

You can build a name for yourself and rub shoulders with people you would have otherwise never been able to meet in person. It's a powerful tool when used correctly, and can open up opportunities you didn't know existed!

This post originally appeared on Wikimotive's blog on March 2, 2015. 

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Comment by Mark Frost on June 12, 2015 at 7:43am

@Steve: That's a really cool tactic, but I would be careful. I experimented with something similar in Twitter's early days and was successful, but more recently found that Twitter will more than likely suspend you if a user reports the tweet as spam. Because even if you have good intent, many users hate unsolicited replies from strangers (especially businesses/salespeople).

Comment by Steve Tamulewicz on June 11, 2015 at 8:43am

One type of Twitter based campaign that I have run successfully with auto dealerships is using the search tool on Twitter and setting up notifications for certain keywords like "I need a new car" or "My car is always breaking down". Those types of key phrases on Twitter open up an obvious need. Then when those keywords show up in the geographic area that you designate, you start Tweeting to that person live and begin a soft sales pitch offering to help them and any sales person knows the rest of the process from here. Not everyone knows you can scan Twitter for Keywords however and you do need to assign one of your sales team to monitor Twitter for 1 or 2 hours of their shift. It is normally a very successful campaign. More Social Media Marketing advice from your uncle Steve. 

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