8 Tips to Help You Expand Your Twitter Community Rapidly

On April 2, the @PRNews Twitter account reached a milestone of 40,000 followers. Exactly one year prior, the account had 4,400 followers.

While brand managers shouldn't view Twitter success as a numbers game or popularity contest, building a larger following can help amplify your strategic efforts—from customer service and fundraising to building awareness for your brand. And, of course, it's just plain exciting to watch a community grow.

Here are some of our lessons learned in building the PR News Twitter community. 

  1. Don't be a droid: Show that you've got a human side, and that your account is not just an automated RSS feed. Pose questions, use varied punctuation and provide a tone and voice for your account—even if it's managed by multiple people. Give your audience—and your prospective audience—a reason to follow you on Twitter.

  2. Respond when people talk to you: When you receive an @ message or a direct message—with the exception of automated direct messages—respond. Simply say thank you, start a conversation and express gratitude when a connection is made. If you're worried about filling up the feed with these personal tweets and crowding the content-driven or business-goal tweets that you feel the rest of your followers would prefer, you can schedule them for off-peak times. Even then, the recipient will be notified you've responded and will be more likely to engage with you again. Speaking of scheduling tweets...

  3. Schedule tweets for early mornings and later hours: The social Web is a 24/7 content-consumption beast that should be fed even after you've left the office for the day.

  4. Give credit: With @PRNews we're fortunate to have a lot of stories of our own to link to, but if you don't have that option, showcasing others' work is a great way to build connections. Linking to a blog post, article, idea or any other type of content through another person on Twitter is a great way to show your audience you're a must-follow in your industry, and that you're not operating in your own company's silo. 

  5. Participate in conversations at industry events: Be sure to know the hashtag of the event you're attending, and keep the tweets flowing around it before, during and after with summaries. Use direct quotes, @mentions of speakers and retweets of fellow attendees to let everyone on site know that you're worth following.  

  6. Integrate paid and earned: Depending on your budget, placing ads on Twitter to promote either individual tweets or your account itself can provide high visibility for a relatively low cost. Dallas Lawrence, chief global digital strategist for Burson-Marsteller, says Twitter's sponsored campaigns are one of the best crisis management resources, and a way to gain more relevant followers. “Twitter’s targeted follower acquisition strategy is an effective way to go from 1,000 to 10,000 followers and can help amplify your messages,” says Lawrence.

  7. Bookmark and use the PR News Twitter Directory. This Twitter handle directory of PR agencies/consultants, corporations, nonprofit organizations, PR professionals and media, is sortable by category and can help you find a handle within the industry in a pinch. You can also find leading individuals and companies to follow, as well as Twitter chats to participate in to make more connections.

  8. Make the tweets useful. We link to useful content—both content that we create and content created by others. But not everyone has time to link through a tweet, so try to make the tweet itself valuable to your community.


And to our 40,000-plus @PRNews Twitter followers—it’s been fun building such a strong PR community with you. 

Follow Bill Miltenberg: @bmiltenberg



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