How can you grow an organic audience on social media?
People who follow me on Twitter often ask how I have managed to gain so many followers. In this post, I share some secrets.
Two years ago, I wrote 10 Tips for Tweeting Teachers – divided into strategies for the beginner, intermediate and advanced – to help get to grips with this Twitter. Over time, that blog has proven to be very popular with educators across the world. Assuming the reader is savvy with Twitter and understands the basics, this post offers 5 top tips for growing your own organic audience.
1. Invest in others:
There is much to be gained from the famous proverb, ‘you reap what you sow’.
I’ve been using Twitter since 2008, but started using @TeacherToolkit in 2010 as a professional account. Once this difference was established, I had a clear remit to connect, share and express opinions, images, blogs and articles under the umbrella of ‘education’. This made it easier for me to invest in specific relationships with others.
It is important to return favours.
Follow people who (continually) retweet or favourite your tweets, especially when they take the time to read articles you’ve written and share a comment with you. It is also important to widen your timeline so that you can broaden your audience. Remain active and keep your account updated with content. I tweet every day, but if connecting with someone else, I would unfollow their account if they had not updated their status within the past month. You must continue to build your community – online and offline. I’ve met many of my community contacts from my tweets.
2. Pay attention:
Although I have many followers to respond to, I make an effort to reply to 95%. On my mobile phone, I have notifications turned off so that I can go about my day. At home on my PC, I have notifications turned on and spend 20-30 minutes of my day, filtering through the 500-1000+ notifications I receive every day. Therefore, I choose when to respond and how to respond appropriately, if at all.
Many people ask me to retweet their content. Most of the time I oblige, but others make it a habit of asking and this is off-putting. I try not to show this and make retweeting a habit. I aim to retweet at least one new person a day and this sometimes will give you a fan for life. You can apply this same method to other platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Vine, then apply the same tips written here on those platforms.
Keep your eyes open for those who retweet you often or share your blog. ‘Favourite’ a tweet to let the individual know you see them. I often have people excited by the fact I have done just that, which is all very flattering when you have a large audience, but in reality, that millisecond to click ‘favourite’ is probably all the time you will have versus the demand to read, retweet and respond to the hundreds of requests you may receive each day.
Pay attention to what people do and how you respond.
3. Showcase your skills:
Always aim to tweet relevant and high quality content.
People will regularly visit you if you share tweets that are professional and relevant. Stay focused on quality content so that people become excited to pass along your message, which in turn brings additional visibility to your account. Twitter is a great place to share your work and tagging yourself into the message also increases your profile and your audience.
Keep your eyes open for those who retweet you often or share your blog. ‘Favourite’ a tweet to let the individual know you see them.
Do not put all your eggs in one basket.
By reaching out and finding others with influence, they will be happy to share your content to their readers. This will also grow your readers as well as encourage followers. Take a look at my examples of how you can achieve this:
Both the above blogs took 3 days to research and write, but the benefits have been incredible to those not in my audience and those who are in my network. Keep networking and engaging, but sometimes take it offline. I rarely do this, but when you do take social media offline, people will manage your ‘offline vacation’ and continue to share your Twitter handle to their audience. In turn, you will grow more followers.
5. Keep professional:
At all times, remain professional if you use social media.
Only this week, I discovered a teacher who was using social media very well, only to discover a Vine video which ‘celebrated the end of term’. The tweet displayed their school logo and classroom, leading to a dance and a pint in the pub! I’m sure the school will be very happy with the unwanted publicity …
It is all too easy to rant, start online disputes or be riled by trolls and those that disagree with you. Mute, block and report are excellent features on social media. It’s just a matter of when you choose to share this behaviour with your followers, or keep it to yourself that becomes more important to you and your audience. No one wants to follow a grumpy soul, so it’s often best to remain professional. A simple retweet is often enough and then you can let your organic audience defend your integrity.