Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Building Your Twitter Family - Southern Style

Building your Twitter following can be a daunting task and keeping people interested in what you're talking about can cause frustration to abound. I don't think there's one set method that works for everyone and most of it requires trial and error. If you ask two different people they would probably give completely different answers. I've tried to come up with ideas in this post that helped me when I was starting out. Most of what I've done, I have to admit was completed without much thought at all.

I'm one of those people that loves to talk to folks. I want to hear about what's exciting in your life as much as I want to share what's going on with mine. If I had to guess, this has been one of the reasons my followers have continued to climb. If I'm following someone and all they ever do is constantly talk to me about their goals and plans I'm going to get bored pretty quickly. I think people in general want to feel like they matter and that you're not just out on Twitter trying to sell them something. So one of my first suggestions is to stop trying to sell and start getting to know the people you're talking with.

I know many people are going to disagree with me on this next point and that's their right to do so. I follow every single person that follows me. My theory on this is that I don't want to talk to someone who isn't interested in what I have to say. I don't discriminate on this point ever. If you have 10 followers or over a million I will follow you back. That being said if I take the time to follow someone I'm interested in and they don't follow back I will unfollow. To me Twitter is like a big group of friends and some will like what you say and do others won't. The ones that don't I smile and mentally wish them well. The ones that do I try to build a friendship with them. I use a great little program called Tweepi, you can google it, to manage those who follow or leave my timeline.

I started out on Twitter in 2009 and had a following of 1,800 that I kept steady at for a little over a year. During this time I wasn't writing my own books and most of the people I associated with were roleplayers. Making the switch to Author was a very frightening task for me and I lost a few friends who only followed people that roleplayed. I turned to facebook thinking that I would never find people who wanted to talk about writing on Twitter.

Someone in one of the fb groups I was in told me about a group that was talking on Twitter under the hashtag #amwriting. I went back out on twitter and followed that hashtag and was surprised to find a large number of authors to talk with. I followed them all and found myself in conversations with them that were stimulating, and about a topic I sincerely loved to discuss. I noticed that my numbers were starting to climb and found myself spending more and more time on Twitter as I made new friends. It took about a year to grow my friends list to over ten thousand. To me it's still amazing there are that many folks willing to talk to a writer from Alabama. My entire town doesn't even have that many people.

I knew about the #FF hashtag and had always sent out good wishes on Friday to people that were following me. This goes back again to connecting with your friends on Twitter. A follow Friday mention lets your friends know that you appreciate them being there. I also discovered that for authors there was a #WW hashtag just for them. I have a lot of friends on Twitter who are promoting books so I thought what better way to spread the word than to give a personal tweet to each of them. I'll be honest and say that I can't possibly mention every single author I know on Friday or give out a link to their book or site. After months of frustration of not mentioning all the people that were nice enough to mention me I finally found a little tool called Follow Friday Helper.

You can google Follow Friday Helper and thank me later for the tip. This handy little tool shows you every single person that mentioned you during the last week. When you're managing 10K friends it's pretty obvious that not all of them are going to mention you every single week. This little program even tells you how many times they mentioned you that week to give you a little encouragement on saying thank you to those that really showed their support. I truly believe that by thanking those that are nice enough to mention you is one way to continue building great relationships on Twitter.

You'll notice I say relationships again because I think that's the one point that needs to sink in if you take nothing else away from this post. It doesn't matter if you're a writer, a politician, an entertainer or a salesperson. The majority of people are going to follow a person who is willing to take the time and effort to make a relationship with them on Twitter. 95% of your time should be spent getting to know the people you're connecting with. Use the other 5% to talk about your product if you're trying to sell something. Ask yourself this? Are you more likely to buy something from a random guy off the street or someone that has taken the time to find out what you like? If you look at it from that perspective it should be really clear what works and what doesn't.

There are many people who will disagree with my method of keeping and gaining friends on Twitter. This is what has worked for me and I hope it will work for you. I wish you nothing but the best on your adventures with Twitter. Feel free to add me @MichelleHughes_ I'll be adding you back!  

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