The Changing Face of Social Media
In an online environment you are only as powerful as the following you have. With more and more people starting to understand the power of the Internet staying ahead of the game is becoming more competitive all the time and the goal posts are moved almost every day.
Were you on the Internet on your smart phone five years ago?
How regularly were you using twitter just two years ago?
The pace of change in the online environment really is amazing. Even Google, the search giant, is now using social signals as a key part of their ranking algorithm.
So How do You Develop a Following?
Recent research published by Georgia Tech. analysed 1 million tweets over a 15 month period. They identified that there are five key aspects of your twittering behaviour that lead to success.
Let’s First Define Success
To have a successful twitter following, Facebook fan group, or following on any other social platform, you need to have responsive, interested and productive followers. Many people have been sold on buying followers in their thousands. These products and services only increase your numbers, but don’t in reality help your brand. They may make you look good to the uninitiated, but you won’t get anything off it except for that mirage.
When you tweet out to your following on twitter, the information you send should be read and the information shared. Without this happening you have an unresponsive and disinterested following base.
Let’s now take a look at what Georgia Tech found.
Make Your Tweets Informative
It sounds self-explanatory, but what does informative actually mean. The tech team found that those that who tweet and have a lot of URLs within their tweets, were more likely to have success. Following growth was related to the number of interesting pieces of content that you were able to promote. Self-obsessed tweeting was the biggest turnoff.
It’s only the Justin Bieber’s, Rhianna’s and David Beckham’s of this world that people will take self-obsession from. Whatever you are linking to, make sure it’s worthy of being shared, otherwise you are wasting your time.
The old saying smile and the whole world smiles with you, cry and you cry alone was found to be relevant to social media. Moaning, whining and generally negative tweets were found to elicit boredom from followers rather than sympathy. On the other hand positive and upbeat tweets, were shared more frequently and were positive predictors of twitter following growth.
Make Your Tweets Accessible
People on Twitter and other social media will normally hardly glance over your information. Unless they are highly motivated to engage with your information they will not give it that much attention. If it is difficult to understand what you’re saying, or your tweets can’t be understood at a glance, they will be passed over. Don’t use too many hashtags, as this will clutter up your tweet. Having several hashtags per tweet was found to negatively affect growth patterns of twitter accounts. Hashtags should be at the end ideally, and should be a single word where possible.
Be Consistent That
The Georgia Tech team found that between one and eight tweets per hour was optimal. People that treated less than that ended up going under the radar. People who tweeted more than this seemed to annoy their followers and therefore scupper their following base. As well as being consistent in activity, the tech team found it was important to be consistent message-wise as well. Accounts that tweeted about the same topic regularly seem to grow more progressively.
Computer Says No
There are literally millions of messages sent out by robots on twitter every day. This is a real turnoff for followers, and it is normally pretty obvious. Make sure you are human in your posts, and that followers know that it is a human sending the message.
Work on your bio, get a custom background, include a picture and generally present yourself to the world. People love interacting with other people, but hate feeling they are in an impersonal relationship.
When you reply to people use their real names; just being human will help you to connect thoroughly and properly as opposed to ending up with a disinterested follower base.
Stack the Deck in Your Favour
Social media has changed the world, almost as much as broadband did when we switched from dial-up to ADSL. Whatever your reasons for building a twitter following, Facebook fan base, an interest profile or whatever else you are looking to use to promote yourself or your business, it is crucial that you stack the deck in your favour.
Just because it’s cheap to do social media, doesn’t mean you can’t waste a lot of money in the process. Every hour you spend engaging on social media platforms, could have been spent somewhere else. Every interruption to reply to a message, should be leading you towards a productive end result. Be focused on your activities, and ensure that you are looking at how you are communicating your vision through your followers’ eyes.
Interact with your followers, and use social media as a way to gain information about them. We all study Google analytics, we all look for that next keyword, or target audience to market to. It’s very easy to neglect the power that social media has to inform us about how we should be approaching our marketing activities. Spend as much time listening as you do talking on social media. Find out what people have to say about your competitors, and what they have to say about you. Find out who they are, how old they are, where they come from. If you really get to know your followers then you’re much more likely to be able to attract more of the same type of people in the future.
Tweeting for Success
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