5 FREE super charged tools and the process that I used to grow my small business twitter account from 5 to 2500 local users in less than 180 days - Part 1

September 14, 2015

Some studies calculate that approximately 70% of small businesses are run by a single person - and if you are one of the 70%, then I hope this blog will help you out. I also fall into that category, and as we know it's not easy or even possible to follow every marketing guru and social media pundant to find the best tactics, processes and software to use for our businesses. Being the chief cook and dish washer sometimes we have to make tough decisions regarding our time, because at the end of the day we need to get each of our many jobs done.

 

Now, I have a small confession to make;  the headline above is 50% miss-leading. Not all of my 2500 Twitter followers are local, only approximately half of them are and I wrote it that way to get my point across - connecting with qualified, local followers is our highest priority in social media as a small business! So, with that off my chest, I apologize and hope you will forgive me.

 

In return, I'm going to share with you the specific process and tools that helped me to build my twitter network from 5 users to 2500 in less than 180 days. More importantly, almost half of my followers and potential clients are located within 100 miles of my Vancouver office.

source: Twitter Analytics for PalbergWERX account

 

If you follow this process, there is absolutely no reason why you should not have a very high ratio of local followers as well - which is likely what you want as a one-person business operator.

 

My story is probably not very unusual. Many companies, but large and small, began outsourcing a number of their previously in-house creative roles or devalued these roles due in large part to a misinterpretation of how they effected their bottom line. These days there are numerous online solutions that can supply you with written content or artwork in the form of third world temporary workers, freelance employees or low cost creative subscription services. Thusly, senior executives and management - looking from the perspective of short term savings on investment - mistakenly assume this to be an opportunity. However, in my opinion, if business feels that a generic identity and brand is good for their bottom line, then they are mistaken as they will shortly find their competitive advantages lost due to an equal loss of distinction within the marketplace.

 

That's when I seriously began considering starting my own business. In short, I earnestly started putting the pieces together in early 2015 and specifically to this article, I began my social media strategy in late March.

 

 

Strategy.

I planned to build my social networks by providing quality creative and marketing information that I believed my potential customers would find truly useful and help to establish me as a 'thought leader'. This is one of those hot marketing words currently in vogue and just defines someone as an expert in their field as well has having reach within that field. Being a one-man operation, there was no way that I would be able to supply the amount of original content regularly required, so I choose to curate most of it and I would supplement that with my content.

 

Lets talk Content Tactics.

There are numerous ways to find content that you can curate and I use a variety of sources from my already existing RSS feeds that meet the content criteria as well as some interesting content curation search tools.

 

1) I use scoop.it to find a wide variety of content that meets my requirements. It has a free service that is more than adequate for my needs. I set up my account and then created numerous keywords for the search list as you can see on the left side of the image below.

 

TIP: Always add your biography and identity to all your online profiles and make them consistent across all channels.

 

The resulting articles derived from the search are shown in the centre and on the right are some statistics indicating the popularity of each article.

 

Source: Scoop.it account for PalbergWERX

 

I face two choices of how to use this content. I can immediately 'scoop it' (green button) in which I can add my insight and the article will appear on my scoop it page. Additionally, when I am scooping this article I can send to my extended social feeds on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or Google +.

I very seldom do this. If I was to curate my content in this fashion, I would have to find 10-20 articles each day and scoop them. This takes up too much time out of my day, so what I do is go to the article itself and copy the URL and Headline and Image to my Hootsuite account (more about Hootsuite below). This takes a minute longer per article - but - I then schedule the same article every 2-3 weeks during the course of the year. Now I have leveraged a single article up to 24 times having spent little more effort than if I had just scoop it once.

 

2) Hootsuite is the tool I use to schedule all my social media posts. Hootsuite, at this time, offers a free service that will allow you to link 3 of your social media accounts. That restricting factor has allowed me to narrow my social efforts. Sometimes having a limit is a benefit as now I am not trying to jump on each and every new social outlet, which would potentially take away the time I could be spending in other areas of my business and spread me too thin.

 

As mentioned, I often schedule a single article numerous times across a 12 month period as this is a huge time saver. But more importantly in regards to Twitter - a real time service - a majority of your followers will simply not see every article you post. According to Beevolve, a marketing research agency, the average median number of followers for each user is 208 - and that creates a lot of traffic. By repeating each post, you will give your followers more opportunities to see those posts you've worked hard to create.

 

My Hootsuite schedule looks like this and when I schedule each article, I also schedule which networks it will go to:

Twitter - 9am to 5pm, a unique article every 30 minutes, with 70-80% of them curated and the remainder from my blog or Youtube channel (more below on choosing the best times to post during the day)

Facebook - Two or Three unique articles each day

Linkedin - Two or Three unique articles each day

 

TIP: Hootsuite's past schedule view (just below the 'Scheduled' view shown in Figure A) will allow you to see the calendar in the months ahead allowing you to quickly add posts to any gaps you may have in your upcoming schedule (Figure B).

 

Source: Hootsuite account for PalbergWERX (Figure A)

 

Source: Hootsuite account for PalbergWERX (Figure B)

 

Hootsuite will go further and find and schedule your content based on keywords. I however, review every post I curate - even if only a quick skim - to be sure of the content's quality, which takes some automation options off the table for me. Hootsuite also allows you to monitor and follow the 3 social media accounts and any streams associated with each. This is much more convenient than having separate social media pages open in your browser.

 

 

Ok, I'm promoting other content creators posts - what's in it for me?

If you have read this far you may be wondering how you could leverage to your benefit some of those articles that you have curated for your followers. I have two thoughts on this, first, when you are scheduling your post, dont' forget to include the authors twitter handle, and space permitting, the site as well. This will give you potentially greater reach with the authors' followers if they choose to retweet or share your posts. The second idea brings me to another tool that I like to leverage.

 

3) Snip.ly is a great free tool to add a pop-up box to any web page article you choose to link to. With Snip.ly I can create a unique link to my website such as a post from my blog, a sales offer or in this case a downloadable PDF that I have written on my website (see the bottom left of the image below of you can see the snip in action here: snip.ly/npV0). The options are as endless as your marketing imagination.

 

Source: Curated blog article from Rand Fishkin with PalbergWERX snip.ly applied

 

Snip.ly also has analytic tools that allow you to see exactly how well your snips are doing, which allows you to choose the most successful snips as you move forward.

 

Source: 30 day Snip.ly analytics for PalbergWERX account

 

 

I've got my content, now I need to find my audience!

Writing and curating great content won't add up to a hill of beans, if no one reads it. Now it's time to build your audience and lets discuss how to do just that.

 

Follow, follow, follow. For Twitter there is no secret of how to get your local customers to follow you. You just have to find them and there are a number of ways to do so. Initially, I recommend these two options.

 

First, search Twitter for your customers, choosing words or phrases that they might have in their biography. In my case, one customer type I was looking for were 'Vancouver Realtors' and those is the exact keywords I used to begin my search. I would simply then follow any Twitter users that both identify themselves as a Realtor and work in the Greater Vancouver area. Of course, there are also professional groups on Twitter that many local realtors would be following, and of those I would go into the organizations Following list and then follow any Realtors that I could easily identify close to my location.

 

The 'strategy' here is that for every 100 twitter accounts you follow, a percentage will follow back. Pretty simple.

 

A Second tactic is to identify your competitors on Twitter and find out who is following them. Here you can identify your potential customers as well - go ahead and follow them.

 

TIP: So Twitter doesn't think you are a bot and penalize your account, don't follow more than 50 users each day.

 

Yes, this is how you build a large number of relevant followers - no one said being a one person operation was going to be easy. However, the good news is that there are some tools to make this process a bit easier.

 

4) unfollowers is my favorite tool for finding relevant twitter accounts and it also has a free, slightly limited version. With unfollowers, it lists all your followers and who you are following. It can identify who is not following you in return and sort them by ascending or descending order or by their level of activity making it easy to quickly unfollow them. It can also identify anyone that has unfollowed you, but you are still following - I always unfollow these accounts as they are most often only interested in growing their numbers and not engaging.

 

TIP: A tell-tale sign that a user will most often not follow back, is if their Following numbers are far below their number of Followers.

 

Source: unfollowers account for PalbergWERX

 

This tool is super to find out who your competitors are following and who follows them back. Just go to the 'Copy Followers/Following' tab shown on the left and paste in your competitors twitter account name. You will then find out all the details of each follower, including location, biography, follower/following numbers, and when they last tweeted - identifying their level of engagement.

 

I always look at my new followers that are local and who is following them, then it is super fast to look at their followers list and follow anyone that meets your criteria.

 

Another tool that can speed up the process of building your followers is ignitwit.

 

5) ignitwit also has a basic free subscription and it will find followers based on keywords or topics that you choose and match the biographies of Twitter accounts. Ignitwit identifies the user, shows their biography and the follower/following statistics (see image below). Unfortunately, it does not tell me how often the user is active or when the last time they were active.

 

Source: PalbergWERX account with ignitwit

 

 

How do I know if I'm maximizing my reach and goals?

Part 2 of this series will go further into measuring success, however, I will add this final tip that crosses the boundaries between content growth and analytics.

 

Bonus) I use Followerwonk to identify when my followers are most often interact on Twitter. This way I can schedule my posts at peak times. Before using this tool, I was scheduling my posts between 9am and 5pm, but as we can see, many of my followers are more active as early as 7am and less at 4 and 5pm. Having said that, I realize that I do have a number of followers that are in a later time zone than myself and I am very likely getting some increases in the early mornings due to them. In the new year, I plan to adjust my scheduled posts earlier and see if I notice any pick up in organic growth.

 

Source: Followerwonk account for PalbergWERX

 

Followerwonk has numerous other analytical tools that can give you insights to your customers behaviours, their most commonly used bio or profile keywords, social authority, total number of followers, number of times they retweet - As you can see from the image below, it's possible to click on the breakdown statistics on the right and find the specific twitter users that are engaging the most.

 

Source: Followerwonk account for PalbergWERX

 

Followerwonk map showing where my followers are located. As I mentioned nearly 50% of my followers are from the Greater Vancouver area, with second largest portion from the U.S.A.

 

Source: Followerwonk account for PalbergWERX

 

 

Conclusion
That's it for Part 1 of this series. I just wanted to cover and explain how I managed to grow my local followers. I'm sure there any number of marketing professionals that could expand on my process and tools, but keep in mind that I'm a one-man show and need to work accordingly. In my opinion, I think it is vital to keep a presence with depth on a few social media outlets over a spotty and shallow presence on more social sites.

 

Part 2 in this series will highlight how I measure and analyze my social presence to make adjustments as needed.

 

I'd love to hear from other business owners with limited staff and how they manage their social duties - it would be great to share what we've learned with each other - feel free to comment below or join the conversation on Twitter @PalbergWERX

 

                 __________________________________________________

 

If you would like a video for your product or service,

call PalbergWERX Creative Direction

at 604-356-1144 or email me at PBWX@outlook.com

 

I can help you craft a video that will represent your company's brand and values

as well as resonate and engage your customers - and that's the recipe for increased sales.

 

 

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