5 FREE super charged tools and the process that I used to grow my small business twitter account fro

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.

PalbergWERX twitter account analytics

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.

PalbergWERX scoop.it account detail

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).

PalbergWERX Hootsuite account detail

Source: Hootsuite account for PalbergWERX (Figure A)

PalbergWERX Hootsuite account calendar

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.

PalbergWERX snip.ly example of Rand Fishkin webpage