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Friday, 19 December 2014

Friday Guest Blog: Developing a Healthy Twitter Strategy – Building Your Follower Base

By David Wright of BSA Marketing 

Twitter is a great tool for getting your message out there, and not just for celebrities and big brands. Increasingly, Twitter is being used by SMEs as part of their brand development strategy.

When looking at building a strategy, one of the first questions we would ask is: "What is your objective?" The easy answer to this question where Twitter is concerned, is “I want to get loads of followers". But a bit like “I need to be at the top of Google”, this objective is a little short-sighted.
Before I go on, let’s look at a few stats:

Of Twitter’s 1 billion users:

  • 81% have less than 50 followers
  • More than 500 followers and you are in the top 5%

The average number of followers is 208 (source

Take the “number of followers objective”, and being “successful” on Twitter is pretty easy. 501 followers and you are in the top 5%! You just have to Google “Gain Twitter followers” and you will find plenty of people happy to help you reach that goal. But quite obviously this would be wasted effort. Gaining followers should only be part of your objective.

In my view the real objective should be:

“I want to engage with my marketplace, build a relationship with relevant contacts, and demonstrate that I add value”.

On this basis, number of followers is only one measurement. Equally important should be quality of those followers.

From a marketing perspective, the quality of your follower base should be judged on the following:

1. Are they relevant to my business?

2. Do they have something valuable to add to the discussion?

Are they Relevant?

If a contact is relevant, then normally this relevance should be two way, and as such, the ‘they follow me and I feel it is worth following them back’ (or visa versa) rule should apply.

There will be people who follow you who are totally not relevant (People playing the ‘I want hundreds or thousands of followers and hope most people will follow me’ game), and there will be people you follow who legitimately will not follow you back (national press, and the BBC, to name two)

In general, if your follower base is relevant the follower/following ratio should tend towards 1:1.

At this point it is worthwhile saying a little more about this key statistic; the ratio of Followers to Following.

Sufficient to say:

  • A ratio of 1:1 (Followers=Following) is a good start, and shows that people respect your views and you are playing the game
  • A ratio of >1:1 (Followers>Following) This generally suggests that you have something to say that people  find valuable, and so should be seen as a positive position. That said, if the ratio moves significantly away from 1 (assuming you are not a major celeb) it could suggest that you are not engaging with your audience, and that those following you are not relevant enough or you to follow them back. A very high ratio  could also be seen as a little arrogant (They should follow me, but are not worthy of following)
  • A ratio of <1:1 b="" ollowers="" ollowing=""> This generally suggests you are trying too hard to get followers and people are not relevant and/or not seeing the value in your input, and so should be seen as a negative position.

As a rule of thumb, a ratio of between 1:1 and 2:1 is a good benchmark to use for your own account, and when choosing who to follow

Although I am not going to go into this in detail as there is already plenty out there on the subject (This post for example).

Do they have something valuable to add to the discussion?

So, in assessing the relevance of your followers, you are happy that they are relevant to your market and have a healthy Follower/Following ratio. The final point to consider is are they saying anything of value, or indeed anything at all (Almost 50% of Twitter’s 1 billion users have never sent a tweet!)

Do they engage with their Twitter audience? Are they tweeting/retweeting, and is their input in turn being retweeted? Having great follower statistics is pointless unless they are communicating.

Two questions to ask about your follower activity:

1. Is their content interesting?
2.Is their content relevant?

And if the answer to these are “Yes” then a follow-up: Is their content consistent & sustained?
If the answer is again yes, they are definitely worth following and are a great follower to have on your books.

Following these “rules” should put you on the path to a healthy follower base.

But once you have a follower base, you need to engage with them! We will look at this in a future article.

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