How to build a B2B following on Twitter 2018 (for Free)

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Are you being strategic in your social media marketing efforts on Twitter? Or does reality look more like infrequent posts, to an unspecified audience, who may or may not engage with your posts? Want to learn how to build a B2B Twitter following for this year and beyond?

Unfortunately, my personal Twitter account (@isaacsnd) is pretty pitiful. According to SparkToro’s free SparkScore (more on this in a bit), I score a 1 out of 100. I have several other Twitter handles that I have let go to the weeds, including one I created back in 2008 that I can’t remember the password to, and no longer have the email that is associated with the account.

Ugh. Ugh. Ugh.

The good news is that any improvements I make will likely have awesome results.

Let’s take a look at our 7-step strategy for increasing Twitter followers and engagement. We’ll circle back in three months (December 19th) to see what kind of results I accomplished.

Before we get started, we should ask the question whether we even want to build our Twitter follower count and engagement. Neil Patel outlines the case for it here. And according to a pretty good post on the OptinMonster blog:

  • 66 percent of people discovered a new business on Twitter
  • 94 percent were planning on buying something from the businesses they follow on Twitter
  • 69 percent of people bought something as a result of a tweet

I’ve also written about how Act-On used Twitter to initiate a conversation with the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks that led to them becoming a customer.

When done well, you and your business can see a ROI via Twitter.

So, let’s get started.

#1 Identify and state your goals for your Twitter marketing efforts

One of the reasons for my own inconsistency on Twitter is that I’ve never really set out to use it with a specific goal. Even if my “goal” is to keep my mom in the loop of what I’m doing, I should at least state that goal.

Some of the top goals for a B2B business on Twitter could be:

  • Increasing brand awareness
  • Increasing lead generation
  • Establishing thought leadership
  • Building an audience
  • Providing customer support

And this is where I mention that they need to be SMART goals. Yadda Yadda Yadda. Read about those, here.

The Measurement in the SMART acronym is a key point to consider. Say my goal is to increase my personal brand awareness. Do I measure this by follower count?

According to Rand Fishkin, founder of SparkToro, the answer is no. Easy for him to say. He’s got 413,000 followers. He writes that your follower count, by itself, is just a vanity metric. Instead, he suggests we measure interaction and engagement.

“Twitter accounts whose tweets earn loads of likes, retweets, comments, and shares are more influential, get more visibility, and have more impact,” he wrote in a post on the topic.

And according to Incite, there’s no correlation between the number of followers and engagement, meaning the more followers doesn’t mean more engagement.

You can check out your score (and the scores of your brand, your boss, or your competitors) using the free SparkScore tool.

Just as important to setting goals is establishing the resources you’ll have to use. This boils down to time and money. Some factors to consider:

  • Who is going to manage the account?
  • Who is going to create the content?
  • Do you have any budget for paid promotions?
  • What tools do you have access to (either free or paid) to support your efforts?

All that said, I want to:

  • Increase my follower count to 1,000 in the next three months
  • Increase my SparkScore from 1 to 20. Of course, I want something higher. But in looking at individuals I want to emulate (such as @jaybaer, @annhandley, or @crestodina), their Sparkscores ranged between 42 and 56. So, baby steps.
  • I want to either get invited to speak at an event, or be interviewed on a podcast or for a blog post with the first interaction coming from Twitter
  • I only want to spend no more than 4 hours per week (both work and personal time) doing this (not counting content creation)
  • And I don’t want to spend any actual cash getting any of this done

Check out our additional related content:

10 Things B2B Marketers Should Be Doing on Twitter

#2 Identify who you want to follow and who you want to follow you

You need to identify and find your tribe on Twitter. It just may be they aren’t even on Twitter, but on another platform instead.

I want to engage with marketers in the content marketing space, as well as B2B marketers that work with video or podcasting. I also want to engage with thought leaders in the marketing technology space, who I can then later invite to be on our Rethink Marketing podcast.

While it’s enticing to build a huge list of people you’re following, what you want is an engaged relationship. That means following people who can help you achieve your social media and business goals.

You can find these people in a number of ways. You can search on a hashtag or keyword in Twitter and bring up a bunch of people you could follow. So long as they’ve tweeted recently, and they’re in your industry or prospective clients or customers, they’re followable.

Another technique is to follow other Twitter accounts’ followers. You can “steal” followers from your competitors by doing this. You can also find potential followers by checking who’s following industry publications and organizations.

You can find even more potential new followers through people who have already followed you.

Follow about 10-20 new accounts every day. Then give them time to follow you back. Check in about two weeks later to see who’s followed you back. Unfollow folks who aren’t following you back.

If that is too slow for you, you can use an automated tool to help speed up the process. There are dozens of Twitter tools that can quickly help you find the right people to follow. Let me know if there are any other tools you recommend that are free or have a free basic option.

#3 Update your twitter profile bio

You need a complete and engaging profile if you want to attract more followers. Here are some of the basic elements of an engaging profile:

  • Profile photo: If you’re a person, add a professional (or professional-looking) headshot. If you’re a business, add your logo.
  • Add a header photo. Some header photos have text and a call to action, but some are just simply beautiful. Your header should be relevant and professional as well. It can be loosely tied to your business, your geographical location, or anything else that fits your brand. Need a great header image? Try Unsplash for free high-resolution images.
  • Write a great bio. This serves two purposes: It tells people what you’re about, and it is a soft sell for why they should follow you. You only have 160 characters. Use a relevant hashtag. Add a CTA url. Also remember that some Twitter tools search bios, so use a few keywords you want to be found for.
  • Include your location. It matters, and it’s proof you’re a real business or person.

Here is a before and after snapshot of my profile. I updated my title, tightened my focus, and added a URL to our Rethink Marketing podcast.

#4 Tweet awesomeness

To be worth following and engaging with, you need to tweet useful, interesting, sharable content.

Make it good enough for them to look smart, cool, or to let them help others. Include hashtags in your tweets (but not too many), and add images to your tweets wherever possible.

Vary the content you tweet. Don’t just tweet text. Tweet videos, SlideShares, podcast links, infographics, research, funny stuff and more. Even tweet an inspirational quote every so often.

Theoretically, this is where I should have an advantage for building engaged followers. I manage our content team at Act-On, and have ready access to our podcasts, videos, blogs and other content we’re creating each week.

#5 Find the cadence that is right for you

I know, you want me to tell you exactly how many times per day to tweet. There’s no exact answer. I think it should be at least once a day, minimum. If you can do more, two to six times a day is good.

SparkScore reports 42 tweets per week is the median number of tweets from accounts in their dataset.

Of course, it also depends on your business. A donut shop doesn’t need to tweet as often as an ad agency.

#6 Engage with your followers

You have to give to get. And if you want to increase your engagement on Twitter (or any channel, really), it needs to be a two-way street. Plan small chunks of time throughout the week to like, reply to, retweet the content of your followers, as well as those you want to be your followers.

The folks at SproutSocial and Buffer have some recent posts on the topic that are worth reading.

#7 Make your content tweetable

This is not a direct way to grow your Twitter audience, but it will definitely contribute to audience growth.

Make sure you’ve added social sharing buttons to your blog and other content. Also consider adding or embedding Click to Tweet or similar tools within your content so folks can easily tweet out one of your witty or profound quotes.

Consider secondary edits to your videos or podcasts that can be easily shared on Twitter.

OK, I will talk with you again on this topic in December. In the meantime, please consider following me (@isaacsnd) and letting me know what strategies you’re employing to build an engaged audience on Twitter.