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This article is part of the blog series: 7 steps to Twitter success, available here for free.
So now, hopefully you’ve read Step 1 of this series and spent some time thinking what benefits you or your organization want to get out of Twitter. Even if not, don’t worry too much because you can figure out your strategy as you go along – don’t let anything stop you.
In this article, we’re going to get our hands dirty and get all the basics in place and optimize our Twitter profile for success. This is not the most exciting part of using Twitter, but getting it right will save you much headache later, allowing you to focus on what really matters to your business – sharing valuable content, building authority, engaging with your audience and, of course, driving traffic.
Like most social media, Twitter is a free platform, but there are some paid tools (more on that below) which can save a lot of your valuable time. You can try them now, or reconsider them later as you gain more experience with Twitter.
So, let’s lay down the foundation to your Twitter success, shall we?
Table of contents
- Create a strategic username
- Set up an inviting Twitter profile
- Start getting relevant followers
- Apps and tools for better Twitter experience
Create a strategic username
Twitter allows you to pick a username (or handle) for each of your accounts, and even change it later (Although it’s not recommended as people who search for your previous username or profile may get error messages). Due to the hectic, (chiefly) textual and personal nature of Twitter, and its 140-character limit, your username will have more significance and prominance than in other networks – this is how other users will perceive you and your brand, search for you or mention you across the web (or even on TV), and even decide whether or not to follow you.
Confused? Here are a few guidelines for picking a winning Twitter username:
- If you’re branding yourself as a business owner or part of an organization, consider using your first/full name. Unless your name is common or too long (over 15 characters), this method should work well – your real name is memorable and you will be perceived as more approachable. Examples: @ChrisBrogan, @BillGates, @Beyonce.
- You can combine your first name or surname with words or numbers which convey your brand name, message, personality etc. Examples: Travel guru @JohnnyJet, @jamiemacphotos, @EkaliMusic.
- Your full name (which you entered when first joining Twitter) will still appear alongside your username, so you might as well not include it in your username and focus on your brand instead. Examples: @BestSalesTips, @LeadToday, @problogger.
- If you’re creating an account for your brand, company, organization etc. than use the brand name as the username for the main account. Examples: @Nike, @Apple, @Virgin, @linkinpark.
- Large organizations can set different Twitter accounts according to their division, location, purpose etc. For example, The Guardian has separate accounts for news, media, sports, tech, opinion etc. Virgin has separate accounts for each of the empire’s companies and brands. They also have customer support accounts such as @AskVirginMoney.
- Is your desired username taken? Well, now is the time to get creative!
- If you follow one guideline, follow this one: Make your username short, sweet, memorable, and one that serves your brand, message or personality. You can use up to 15 characters but aim for less, making it easy for others to retweet (or RT) your tweets, quote you and get to your profile.
Set up an inviting Twitter profile
I’ll keep it simple:
For personal accounts, use an awesome head-and-shoulders, or head-to-waist photo of yourself. Just you, without your dog, parrot, partner, Halloween custom etc.
For company accounts, use your business’ logo.
The picture must be clear and your face should ideally take at least a third of the space – it will be shown throughout the network as a thumbnail, and you want potential followers and those who engage with you to always recognize you!
If you’re serious about your business do invest in a professional photo. No need to wear a suite, even Bill Gates has dropped his when he left Microsoft.
A good idea is to have a clear background, be relaxed, and smile – after all, you want others to follow you, and smiling makes you more approachable and likeable. When I look for who to follow, I always prefer users who smile!
That said, your picture has to serve your brand, so if you’re an artist, musician, actor etc., you could use a photo that compliments your brand.
This is a big one. The header in your profile is basically free advertising given to you by one of the biggest social networks – it would be a shame not to take advantage of it. Look at how many profile visits I got last June – this means people do visit your profile when you’re active and peak their curiosity, so why not use the header photo to promote your upcoming book, concert, exciting blog post or show off your photography skills? Remember to test the header photo on mobile too, making sure no text goes missing on the small screen. Sounds complicated? Pauline’s tutorial has got you covered!
Here you get the chance to select your brand color to keep your profile consistent with your brand, or simply your favorite color. Again – test some color combinations, making sure your tweets are legible.
Bio and basic details
Think of your bio as your elevator speech – your chance to present yourself or your brand in a few words. There’s a positive, light-hearted stance in Twitter, so feel free to share something personal, describe yourself as a coffee addict, hashtag abuser or ‘a developer by day, party-animal by night.’ You get the idea. Use Hashtagify to find the most relevant hashtags to you/your brand, to increase your traffic from Twitter searches. Just don’t take your bio lightly, as for many Twitter users this will be the first interaction with you, and the reason to follow/unfollow you. And change it from time to time, to reflect changes in your business.
Not all fields are mandatory, but the more you share, the more people will engage with you. If you have your own site (and if not – start one today!) then by all means enter the full URL in the right field, as you’ll get a clickable link to your site and a high-authority backlink – massive value!
Start getting relevant followers
OK so we’ve laid out the foundation and we’ve got a shiny new Twitter profile. Now what?
Well, it’s time to get some followers and some interaction going!
Twitter will give you some suggestions of who to follow so you can get started, but if you want to use Twitter for business, you’ll need to be more proactive.
There are a few major ways to get followers on Twitter:
- Be/become an a-list celebrity, famous musician, actor, U.S. President etc. – these people don’t need to do much to get followers and engagement. If you’re reading this article I’ll assume you’re not one of them…
- Follow strategically – one of the common ways of getting more followers on Twitter is by following other users in your industry/area of interest. Twitter users tend to follow their followers back, so this method is effective. The caveat – Twitter gets suspicious about intense following/unfollowing activity, especially when it’s too frequent, and identifies it with spamming. So, you can use this method sparingly, and it’s certainly not enough to build a massive following on Twitter. Once you follow 5000 people, Twitter limits the number of people you can follow, depending of the ratio of followers to following. So, what to do?
- Create valuable tweets – this is by far the best free method to grow your Twitter following. This is what I’ve been doing in my business for a while now and what most thought leaders, social media experts and successful marketers do. By sharing valuable content, frequently, you attract the right audience, and by using the right tools you this can be done almost on auto-pilot. In this system, everyone’s a winner – you build your authority as an expert and get fresh, relevant followers, who in turn enjoy valuable content and visit your sites and other quality sites. So again – traffic, authority, engagement, followers who come on their own accord – sounds good to me!
- Create a Followers campaign – if your budget permits, I would highly encourage you to create a Followers campaign on Twitter. Don’t be tempted by sneaky snake oil marketers offering you 100K followers for a gazillion $$$ – that would be a total waste of your hard-earned cash, won’t get you quality followers and could easily get your account banned. Instead – create a Followers campaign to build an engaged audience and pay only for the followers you gain. When done right, you can get high engagement and not break the bank. The guesswork is removed of the equation – pay more and get more followers, as simple as that. Twitter’s campaign platform is straightforward, much simpler than AdWords or Facebook ads, for example.
The next article in this series will be dedicated to ‘What to tweet about’ so in the meantime let’s elaborate on #2 – Follow strategically. A few places to start:
Search for leading blogs in your industry
Use blog directories such as Alltop, 9rules and Best of the Web to find leading blogs in your industry. Most serious bloggers are on Twitter – You can usually find their social media links on their homepage, About page or Contact Us, or Google their full name.
Search for influencers
I know, I know, by now you must be sick of hearing the (buzz)word ‘influencer’. So, think about it strategically – some people, such as Richard Branson, Tony Robbins and Chris Brogan have built massive engaged communities on Twitter and elsewhere. Find the influencers in your industry and get their followers’ attention too!
Found an influencer? Here’s what to do next: Follow some of their followers and some of their following (the people they follow – usually a significantly smaller amount of people). Twitter will keep giving you ‘Who to follow’ suggestions, tailored to your activity.
Apps and tools for better Twitter experience
While you can certainly use Twitter without any app/tool, there’s a host of free & paid tools which can enhance your experience and save much of your valuable time. I like to keep things simple so I’ll tell you about the tools which I use (or have used) and highly recommend.
Twitter mobile app
It may sound obvious these days, but I’m still mentioning it – Twitter is mobile at its core, probably more than any other social network. Because of its up-to-date and fast-paced nature, being able to tweet and read tweets anywhere, at any time, is what Twitter is about. And the app is pretty good, so not installing it will be missing the point…
You want to make it easy for your blog visitors to share your content. There are many WordPress plugins which install sharing buttons of your sites. I’m currently using & recommending Ultimate Social Media Plus. This is a great plugin because it guides you through the icon creation process and gives you flexibility when it comes to location, design etc. A good idea is to have sharing icons at the button of each post (at least) and your normal social icons (leading to your accounts) in the sidebar, or at the top of your site. Some bloggers provide sharing icons only to Twitter and Facebook. Remember to test on mobile as well – gigantic icons could look bad on small screens.
I’m also testing an auto-posting plugin called AccessPress Social Auto Post. This paid plugin ($20) will automatically post all your new posts/pages to one or more of the following networks: Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and Tumblr. When you blog frequently you’ll realize how much time is wasted on posting your content on social media – therefore AccessPress is a godsend (I’ll share my experience soon).
Social management tools
Hootsuite – I LOVE HootSuite. I’ve been using for a few years. While there are many other similar tools, HootSuite is one of the best as it allows managing various social media accounts, efficiently, and its mobile app works well. You can gets started for free, but if you’re serious about Twitter you’ll need to get at least the basic pro plan.
I use HootSuite to schedule most of my tweets, to get performance reports and more. They provide Chrome extensions and integration with many platforms and tools. Some of the cool features – ‘Bulk upload’ a few hundred tweets using a spreadsheet, and auto-scheduling your tweets when you’re in hurry. HootSuite will find the optimal time to tweet according to your audience, tweeting frequency and more.
ManageFlitter – This is by far one of the most serious Twitter management tools out there. They’ve been around since the early days of Twitter and they are true experts. With ManageFlitter you can easily find out who follows you back, and engages with you, and who doesn’t, spring-clean your account by unfollowing fake and inactive accounts, get in-depth analytics, and much more. Whether you’re managing your own account or various accounts – this is the tool for you. You can start free, and unlock all the features by getting the pro plan ($12 per month) or the Business ($49/month) allowing you to manage multiple Twitter accounts. Check it out!
No, RSS is not dead! And if you’re curating a lot of content you’ll need to use RSS, otherwise you’ll waste hours browsing through webpages, opening and closing tabs. With RSS, you can get all the latest & greatest content in one convenient place, and easily pick what you want to tweet about. Bliss!
There are various RSS readers out there, I personally prefer The Old Reader. It’s fairly priced ($6 per month for up to 1500 subscriptions). I prefer to pay because such free services tend to die because there’s no business model. (The Old Reader had almost died but luckily was purchased at the last minute).
The Old Reader looks good on mobile too.
You’ll also need an RSS browser extension to find if the site has RSS, and to easily subscribe. I use RSS Subscription Extension (by Google).
Image editing tools
You’ll need some graphic tool to create header photos. Images are gaining importance on Twitter, so you may also want to create graphics to go along with your tweets, or edit your photos. So if you’re a pro, obviously Adobe Photoshop is the best tool out there but that may be an overkill.
Canva is another great tool, more tailored for bloggers and marketers. It works well, it’s fun, fast and straight-forward even if design is not your forte. Canva has a free plan though they charge for some graphics and there’s a pro plan with benefits like using your custom fonts, unlimited team members, ‘magic resize’ and more. If you need a simple, free tool, use Pixlr. Not the best but certainly gets the job done. (The interface is pretty similar to Photoshop but the functionality it’s not nearly as good).
So, we’re super-excited to see your shiny new Twitter profile – feel free to brag about it in the comments!P.S Creating this article has taken me more than 10 hours – if you think it was worth the effort, please share it with your friends on social media. P.P.S Thanks a lot! 😊
So, we’re super-excited to see your shiny new Twitter profile – feel free to brag about it in the comments!
And – stay tuned for the next steps, coming soon!
P.S Creating this article has taken me more than 12 hours (and counting) – if you think it was worth the effort, please share it with your friends on social media.
P.P.S Thanks a lot! 😊