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The other day I was asked, “Why am I not showing up in a Twitter search?” There could be any number of reasons, including the search terms used, people searching for archived versus recent tweets, optimized profile keywords and so on. But the larger question should be, “How do I grow my Twitter presence into something meaningful, engaging and useful?” Then you will have no problem showing up in a Twitter search.
Here are a few tips to organically and meaningfully grow your Twitter presence:
1. Don’t buy Twitter followers. People will try to game the system. Some even build up tens of thousands of followers, then unfollow them so they are left with a sweet follower/following ratio. (“Wow, you follow only 2,000 people but have 60,000 followers? People must really love what you have to say!” No, they don’t. You bought them.) Only celebrities and major entities will have that kind of following. Sadly, buying Twitter followers continues to be a booming business. Credibility, on the other hand, you must earn. So refrain from shopping on eBay for followers. Instead, look at the Twitter accounts of those you value to see who they follow, and check out their recent tweets. You’ll find a gold mine of Twitterers to follow.
2. Offer useful content. This takes time and effort but pays off handsomely. You’ll get retweets, mentions and favorites and will become known as someone who’s knowledgeable and generous. People will follow you to access your great content.
3. Be consistent. “I don’t have the time to tweet!” It’s a frequently cited and legitimate concern, but disappearing for a couple of weeks, then sending out a stream of tweets when you return will not gain you traction. Consider scheduling your tweets and jumping in only two or three times a day for 10 to 15 minutes to reply to tweets, and to check out your stream for useful content to learn from and retweet. A favorite application is Buffer App. Set up a daily schedule of tweets, say 5 to 10 tweets, and add your links and retweets to the queue. That’s it! It’s a huge time-saver and exposes you to new Twitter users.
4. Engage to nurture relationships. Twitter can be used as a successful broadcast platform, but relationships are not built on useful links alone. Engage. Reply to mentions. Start conversations.
5. Ask questions. Have an issue that you’re dealing with? Sure, you can go to Quora, but how about asking your Twitter followers? Some may even retweet the query to their followers. I’ve had mixed success with results, but it lets others know the topics I’m interested in and provides an opportunity to relate to Twitterers sharing the same interest.
6. Retweet with attribution. One of your followers tweets out a useful article that you want to share? Don’t do so without acknowledging her. But don’t go overboard. I’ve seen tweets go out with three words, a link and six Twitter handles. That’s not useful. Include only the original and most recent Twitter user that tweeted the article. You then get on their radar and they’re more likely to follow you back and retweet your updates.
7. Hone your 160-character bio. This is like the About page on your blog. Pay attention to it. Include keywords, but make it tell a story. Add some personality.
8. Add your profile to Twitter directories. Many go hunting in directories for lawyers and legal professionals to follow. Submit your account to directories like Twellow, Listorious and Wefollow. Legal-specific directories include Justia’s Legal Birds, LexTweet and JD Supra’s Lawyers and Legal Professionals to follow on Twitter.
9. Let people know you’re on Twitter. Add your Twitter handle to your email signature. Do you send out a monthly newsletter? Add a Twitter “follow me” icon. Put the bird on your blog and website. Include it in the brief bio that accompanies your guest blog posts. Tell your Facebook friends that you’re on Twitter; you’ll be surprised at how many also tweet.
10. Be patient. Like most things in life, the more you put into Twitter, the more you’ll get from it. And that takes time. Don’t rush to thousands of less-than-useful followers. Create a vibrant community within your own network and you’ll experience steady, meaningful growth.
The common theme among these tips, as mentioned at the beginning, is organic growth. Twitter growth, like all relationship building, is a marathon, not a sprint. It takes time, effort and consistency, and it’s ultimately very rewarding.
Follow Tim on Twitter @tim_baran.
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