PR News Q&A: Cohn & Wolfe’s Brad McCormick on Cultivating a Twitter Following

Brad McCormick

With an average of 450,000 new accounts opening on Twitter each day, PR pros have been testing tactics to attract these users to follow their brands. But according to Brad McCormick (@darbtx), EVP, senior digital strategist and managing director at Cohn & Wolfe, building an interactive Twitter community takes a dedicated long-term strategy to engage fans rather than just increase the number of followers. McCormick will discuss tactics and tools to monitor, manage and analyze your Twitter activity at PR News’ Twitter Conference on November 10 in Las Vegas. He will speak on the session “Twitter Tools & Resources That Will Maximize Your PR Efforts.”

PR News: What are your top two recommendations for developing a Twitter PR strategy?

Brad McCormick: The two biggest elements are integration and commitment. 
 â€¨Twitter is a tool that works best when integrated with larger strategies and channels. Just as the military doesn’t have a stand-alone “rifle strategy” in war, brands should not have a stand-alone “Twitter Strategy” that doesn’t integrate with and amplify other digital media elements. For instance, Twitter can be a great tool for attracting more qualified traffic to a brand’s website. But to do that, there needs to be integration with web metrics, content strategy and all Twitter activity.
 â€¨The second key element is commitment. Twitter is like gardening: you can’t plant seeds and then expect to instantly get fruit the next day. Instead, gardening, like Twitter, requires a consistent investment of time, resources and ingenuity. If you take the long-term approach and keep at it, eventually you will get that fruit. 

PR News: What are the best ways to build your Twitter following? 

McCormick: Have something to say and participate. 
 â€¨In many ways, Twitter is a broadcast medium. Think of it as TV with no content, no channels. Twitter users supply the content. Each Twitter account is a Twitter TV channel. The better content you put out on your channel, the more potential to grow your audience. But you have to figure out what kind of TV channel you are going to be. Are you a special interest channel with a very specific focus like ESPN? Are you a channel like Discovery that uses a brand concept as a platform to talk about all sorts of stuff? Or are you an NBC that tries to appeal to everyone? Finding your brand voice on Twitter and then constantly reinforcing that voice through content and engagement spurs growth of your brand following.  â€¨But, as we know, Twitter is not just a one-way broadcast medium. Dialogue and engagement are core to the Twitter experience. It’s important to not only engage with people that engage with you, but to proactively find and comment on conversations related to your brand platform. The more you engage, the more your Twitter following will grow.

PR News: How can an organization stand out in Twitter’s constant stream of information? 

McCormick: Ask questions. Be witty. Don’t retweet an interesting tweet without adding a unique comment or a new interpretation of the topic at hand.

PR News: How often should an organization post new content?

McCormick: It depends. Brands should at least tweet once a day, but there is a strong case to be made for tweeting as much as five to seven times a day. Obviously, you don’t want to spam your followers with a constant stream of updates. Then again, if you have something genuinely interesting to say or engaging content to post, then you should feel free to tweet several times a day. It’s important to note that tweets have a very short shelf life, with 92% of retweets coming within the first hours of the original tweet. So, while it may seem like sending five to seven tweets a day could make you seem like a spammer, chances are your followers will only see one to two of those, at best. 

PR News: What’s the one key tip you’ll share at the Twitter Conference?

McCormick: Small tweaks can make big difference. I will provide an overview of some of the best Twitter tools out there. I will explain what each tool and how it can help optimize Twitter efforts.

Attend PR News’ Twitter Conference Nov. 10 in Las Vegas and learn from social media leaders like Brad McCormick.