If there’s one group that’s well-versed in developing large and loyal audiences on Twitter, it’s bloggers. They do, after all, have a content strategy built into their title — ahem blogging — which means that even when they’re promoting their personal brand, it’s more likely to be with content that their followers find helpful or otherwise more interesting than, say, a random company selling bar soap.
Bloggers who want to be successful have a kind of urgency to directly engage with, build and look after their following, as there’s really no better way to attract visitors to their sites. (Can you imagine a blogger running a TV campaign ad, particularly before they’ve had any measure of success? Yeah, no).
But of course, not all bloggers have thousands of followers, so, what separates the superstars from those that hover indefinitely in the middle of the pack?
Let’s take a look at a few bloggers and their Twitter marketing tactics who really knock it out of the park to see if we can’t glean a lesson or two.
1. Get targeted
Twitter is a pretty reciprocal place, so you could hop onto the platform every night and just randomly add people, and in the morning you’d have a fair amount of people following in return. But having a mass of followers doesn’t mean much if they’re not engaged, and if one new follower is all about muscle cars while the next is all about creative applications for doilies, you’re going to have quite the time appealing to all of them. And if they’re not engaged, they’re certainly not going to share your work and help you grow your following.
One great example of someone who does this kind of singular focus right is Heidi Swanson of 101 Cookbooks. Originally started as a way to share her many recipes with her friends, Swanson’s site features a wealth of healthy recipes and is also home to her cookbooks, which have a “supernatural” focus.
Clearly, Swanson is targeting not just cooks but also those with a crunchier bent. You can see this hyper-focus on her Twitter feed:
While Swanson does do some retweeting of causes close to her heart and recipes from likeminded sites, the majority of her tweets are links to her content, prefaced with a listing of ingredients. This fits well with the mentality of Swanson’s site, which allows users to search for recipes based on ingredients, and it does what it needs to do simply before getting out of the way. This is just what her avid audience, on the hunt for seasonal recipes, is looking for.
What this means for you
As a rule of thumb, keep in mind that it’s better to be hyper targeted than too broad; you can always expand from your base once you get going. While you may not need to get as targeted as this, having some kind of theme is crucial — all the better if you can turn that into a hook, a la @shitmydadsays. In fact, sometimes just getting a great Twitter handle can frame all of your activities. Once you have that, get as creative as possible within those confines.
Who can you follow that clearly shares your interests? What kind of content can you retweet? How can you mix up the content? Give your followers not just information but actionable insights, and you’re sure to grow.
2. Help each other
Call it guest posting, call it co-branding, call it coasting on each other’s tail winds — whatever. There are few strategies quite as effective for growing your following than teaming up with or regularly giving press to another blogger or business. Teaming up with someone else not only gives you great material for your Twitter feed (and who couldn’t use a little bit more meat to feed the social-content beast?) but it also exposes your work to a much wider audience. And while not everyone in that audience will be primed to follow you, if you’ve done a good job of picking a partner whose interests parallel your own, you should gain a sizable chunk.
Blogger DIY Victoria E. Barnes, who focuses on renovations of her Victorian home, does this in a number of ways. Sometimes, it’s as simple as retweeting a fellow blogger’s contest:
Sometimes it means riffing on popular culture, a la this Mad Men Spoof:
Whether it’s directly teaming up with someone or just a playful tease, being in on it with someone else is a great way to gain exposure.
What this means for you
There are plenty more creative ways to co-market with other bloggers and even businesses. Why not run a contest together that features each other’s work or products? Or how about a guest posting or how-to video series exchange throughout the month of January?
Even just retweeting a favorite blogger’s tweets regularly may get them doing the same for you, so just keep in mind, the more you do for other people, the more they’ll do for you.
3. Engage in actual conversations
While bloggers that dominate their content niche like Heidi Swanson can get away with purely informational tweets, most bloggers will need to engage in a little more back and forth. In fact, that’s where most businesses go wrong on the platform — they focus all of their energy on tweeting out deals and announcements rather than on forming relationships.
Many bloggers make the same mistakes, simply posting tweets to their posts without much in the way of elaboration and without putting in the time to comment on and share other bloggers’ work. Again, given the reciprocal nature of Twitter, that’s a big no, as you’ll only get back in return what you give.
One of the examples of a blogger who engages well is the incomparable Bloggess. First, she consistently retweets other blogger’s posts that she enjoys as well as responses to her own posts:
As she engages, the Bloggess does so with her trademark sense of humor, gently teasing and playing jokes on her followers. For example, when someone complained that she didn’t have any wedding products in her shop, she pretended to have added this gem of a card to her shop.
The principle behind all of this is simple: people on Twitter don’t just want to consume; they want to be a part of the creative process. With a little recognition and validation, they’ll be a lot more likely to continue engaging and to retweet your work, which in turn will lead to more followers.
What this means for you
Get talking! Respond to (legitimate) tweets in a timely manner and in a way that keeps you close to your personal brand (i.e. in a way that sounds like you). Retweet responses to your work as well as tweets of potential followers. Basically, reward your current followers with the gift of validation, and entice potential followers to follow you when you repost their content.
4. Promote across platforms
You know all of those photos you post to Instagram and Pinterest and that poll you’ve posted to Facebook? They’re not just great content for the sites on which they’re posted — they’re great links for Twitter as well. Just like co-branding with another blogger, promoting across platforms will help you grow your following as followers discover just what manifestation of you they love the most. That, of course, necessitates knowing what each platform is best for and taking advantage of the strengths each has to offer.
For an example of this, take a look at blogger Anh’s feed from @9to5chic.
Given the visual nature of her style blog, Instagram is really key, though she does alternate with Twitpic here and there. By knowing which platforms are best for each kind of content and promoting across platforms, Anh is consistently building and exchanging her following in all of the right places.
What this means for you
First, get to know what each social media platform adds to the mix. Then mix up your Twitter feed with links to content hosted on other social sites to vary your fare and widen your reach. This is a great way to keep things fresh and to engage with your followers on the platforms they love best.
5. Be yourself
It sounds trite, but really what separates run of the mill bloggers from those with thousands of followers is you. That, after all, is the one commonality between all of the bloggers explored here: whether it’s their unique interests and expertise or it’s their bizarrely hilarious voices, only bloggers that are unapologetically themselves rise to the top.
What this means for you Don’t just ape what other people are doing. Embrace your own way of saying things, riff of other tweets using your unique wit, be a goofball, tweet obsessively about the things you love. Just be you, as publicly and frequently as possible, and soon you’ll add many new followers to your ranks.
How will you get started? Let us know in the comments below.