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How to Not Suck at Twitter (Without Buying Ads)

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Most brands just starting out with Social Media Marketing focus on the two big channels, Facebook and Twitter, and rightfully so, as they’ve got the best adoption rates and presumably, the biggest opportunities for success. While every Social Media channel provides a unique set of challenges, I personally find Twitter to be the most difficult (and/or expensive) platform to conquer.

On Twitter, you’ve got a profile, a timeline and a few daunting, often expensive, opportunities to use Twitter’s Promoted Suite (Trends, Accounts and Tweets). Plus, you’ve got to consider how crowded the space already is… filled with mindless babble, relentless self promotion, and of course, millions of other brands and marketers. To the entry level social media marketer, that’s your entire arsenal.

So if you’re not ready to shell out the big bucks for Twitter Ads, what do you do to get people to connect and engage with you on Twitter? Here are a few examples of follower acquisition techniques that have not only grown brand’s follower counts, but more importantly driven sales and created brand advocacy.

1. If you want people to engage with you, engage them (with an offer!)

Pretzel Crisps has a team of 11 staffers around the country who’ve been charged with social listening – in other words, monitoring and starting conversations on Twitter.

Have you been tweeting about your snack time cravings? Or your general love of a salty snack like pretzels? Chances are good you may receive a Tweet from @PretzelCrisps, offering up a free sample of their healthy snack time treat. The good news is, once you’ve initiated a conversation with an offer, you’ve likely created some good will and potential for brand advocacy.

Pretzel Crisps takes it a step further, with doorstep deliveries of their snacks… Check out the feast they delivered to Overdrive after we spent an afternoon publicly proclaiming our love for their brand!

2. Use Retweets to give things away

Promoters like Live Nation use retweets to acquire new followers, generate ticket sales and create awareness for upcoming shows. By asking users to retweet their tweets in order to win concert tickets, Live Nation earns countless impressions and as a result, a flood of new followers with each promotion they run.

Recently, I participated in a RT contest, and won!

3. Participate in Industry Twitter Chats

It seems that these days, every industry has a Twitter chat dedicated to discussing the latest and greatest news affecting the community on at least a weekly basis. These chats often offer sponsorship opportunities that come at a much lower cost than official Twitter Advertising products. Sponsorship can include promotion of your Twitter account by chat organizers, partners and industry experts, giveaway opportunities, and a plethora of engagement opportunities that can continue on well after the chat has come to a close.

If you’re not ready to pay to host an evening of discussion, consider just piping up in one! It’s simple, follow the Hashtag and when a topic of interest emerges, just jump right in! Chats are a fantastic way to position your brand as a resource in addition to reaching a community of people who are actively engaging in conversations about your industry and often, your brand!

All you have to do to find your industry’s chat is start poking around on Twitter! Search keywords relevant to your industry and keep your eye out for hashtags! Here are a few chats to get you started: #NPtalk, #MDChat, #TNI, #TTOT, #IMchat, #JournChat… the list goes on and on.

4. Don’t Be Afraid to Use Twitter as a Customer Service Outlet

Using Twitter to address customer complaints and inquiries is a valuable method to organically grow your followers and create positive chatter around your brand. It also keeps your current customers happy, and that can’t hurt, right?

5. Attend Tweetups!

Possibly the most labor intensive method for growing your follower base (for those of us who never leave home) is to attend a Tweetup. Tweetups are gatherings of likeminded individuals who come together to network and discuss a particular topic in real life (as opposed to on Twitter).  Events are usually free and provide a fantastic opportunity to meet new, influential Twitter users and expand your follower base and overall presence on Twitter.

On Twitter, it’s a constant struggle to find ways to grow a follower base and get it talking. Even if you’ve got a good start, keeping the wheels in motion can be an uphill battle. We’ve found content to publish, now what? We’ve got followers, now what? We’ve got something to give away, now what? It’s a never ending cycle of what’s next, a race to launch the next big endeavor. A marketer’s biggest fear is letting a page lie dormant, letting the fans grow stale, letting the conversation fizzle. When you implement these easy, low budget tactics, and you’ll never have to think twice about ‘what’s next.’

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