What Works For Me On Twitter

I get asked—too many times to count—how I ever managed to “win” just south of 200,000 followers on Twitter.

The way the question is most-often phrased, I suspect they think I have one magical secret that will instantly catapult them to the top of the Twittersphere. If only.

Like many things in life, you get out of it what you put into it. And from my first tweet in June 2009, I made the decision that I would work at it a little every day. Yes, I take most weekends off and yes I go a little quieter when a particularly heavy workload beckons, but I’m there. Day in and day out. I’m a professional and if you read my feed, I would hope you’d agree.

Now for the big “secret”: I get 100% of my non-referral clients from Twitter. Yep, 100%.

It didn’t happen overnight. In fact my first digital sale was from LinkedIn. But gradually Twitter started delivering like-minded souls to my door.

For me, it starts with following everyone who follows me back. For a pitch-perfect description of why this makes sense, read Ted Coin’s Twitter follow-back policy at Switch & Shift. I won’t try improving upon perfection. Just know that if you don’t follow me back, I will unfollow you after about a week or so. If you’re not interested enough to have me in your circle, I want to make space for someone who is.

I’m all about being polite and gracious and—like Ted—will even follow the whack jobs. The exception? Those who spout hate in their profiles—I just can’t relate to that and don’t want it in my backyard.

Oh, and I mercilessly unfollow spammers.  This includes auto DMs. You get one—and only one—auto DM before I unfollow you with lightening speed. And if you are particularly annoying I will block you. With glee.

I will NOT follow you if you use TrueTwit—I’m not spending my time (nor will anyone of real worth) “verifying” for the pleasure of being in your presence.

But the real key to Twitter is being proactive. It’s the difference between growing a community and just hosting a 1-time party. I search—on average three times a week—for people to follow. I follow those interested in the same topics—generally branding, consulting, digital media, social awareness, food and art. And I search for future clients—consultants, authors, artists, change-makers.

Of course, having the right tools is essential. I use Hootsuite across all my devices to search for keywords to find my peeps and to post anything I want to schedule ahead of time. Echofon is my mobile first choice for just checking in. It’s not perfect, but it’s the best option I’ve found so far.

Now that automated follow-backs are verboten, I visit the Twitter site much more often. I routinely—again, about three times a week—go through my new followers and follow them back.

But my favorite Twitter tool is hands-down the list function. When you have a giant circle, it’s the only way to slice it into manageable chunks. I have private lists up the wazoo: favorite thought leaders, those who do great sound bites, future clients, media lists (for myself and targeted for clients). I even have a list (27 members and counting) of the chefs I find inspiring.

I will not pretend that I do anything more than glance at my home feed. It’s cluttered and busy and impossible to find anything of real import except by random. That’s why the lists are critical.

I also subscribe to a twice-daily update from socialoomph of all my keywords. Why you may ask when Twitter posts them? First, it is a clear and present reminder to check in on my conversations. It’s way too easy when you’re working long days for clients to ignore your own business. This gives me automatic check-in points and I use them. Religiously. Also, I’ve noticed that my Twitter @connect doesn’t always include every item I see in my socialoomph mailing. Why is that anyway?

Because part of my work life is managing media for clients, I use a variety of other tools and platforms that allow multiple users and functionality. It’s part of my stock-in-trade so you’ll understand if you have to hire me for those “secrets”.

Remember, Twitter is a distribution system, a micro blog. I use it to tweet links to content on my blog and my Rochelle TV videos. It always astounds me when consultants and authors spend slavish amounts of time developing content and ignore Twitter. It’s not magic—but it is a steady place to build an audience. An audience that is NOT trivial, but cares about your work.

My last point is about engagement. Part buzzword and part reality because if you really want to soar in Twitter you have to engage. You have to give FIRST. If that isn’t part of your worldview, you’ll never make it on Twitter.

I use a rough rule of thumb. One third of my own content, one third tweeting ideas/people I find intriguing and one third conversations. And I must say it’s the latter that often creates the bonds that lead to referrals and work. We can debate why discussing the photo of my dog led to a new client, but we are all human and at the end of the day we respond emotionally. We want to surround ourselves with people who value us and hear us.

Are we already connected on Twitter? I’m honored. If not, find me here and join the conversation.

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