Tag Archives: Twitter

Getting the first 500 Twitter followers is the hardest

Labour Party Twitter Banter
Even political parties can have some banter on Twitter

I’ve dabbled with Twitter for a while. I opened my account over five years ago on the 16 January 2008.

In those five years I’ve described Twitter as pretty much everything from “The Emperor’s New Clothes” to the third best free social media website. The point is, if you are looking for web traffic, Twitter is an excellent tool that borders on the obligatory.

The problem I found is that your engagement with Twitter keeps plateauing. You get a number of followers, you find a number of people to follow, and it remains stagnant for a while.

I’ve been to presentations from Twitter users, such as Bill Boorman, who have large followings, but that didn’t work either. I had 200 followers when I went to the presentation in October 2011 and the advice didn’t seem to work for me.

I read The Tao of Twitter which is a great book and I recommend you read it with a highlighter pen. I read it twice in a few days, and started following the book’s advice. I quickly built up a bigger following. I then discovered other tricks to accelerate this further.

One golden rule before you start – whatever you do, don’t buy Twitter followers.

And here are the tips for getting quality Twitter followers relatively quickly:

  1. Tweet at least 3 times a day. Make sure it’s relevant content – so include some consistent keywords. Personal stuff works occasionally – see #4. Tips 6 & 7 will help you with content suggestions.
  2. Retweet other interesting or funny tweets. Use a blogger outreach platform to source content, such as Triberr. These websites are a win-win for the authors who are trying to promote their content and Twitter users looking for good content.
  3. Friendly banter with friends is good. Don’t make your feed too dry. Banter displays personality. Even if you’re a political party.
  4. Follow back new followers, except obvious spammers.
  5. When reading an article on say, a news website, express your opinion in a tweet. Always include a link to the article too. It’s difficult to condense an opinion into less than 140 characters, but try. In fact, you should try to use only 135 characters so that others can retweet your content prefixed with an “RT: “.
  6. When reading an article on your news or sports sites, if you see a snippet or “sound bite”, tweet it with a link back to the article.
  7. Find relevant industry/ topic tweet chats, and join in. I’ve usually accumulated an extra 25-50 followers (that’s a 5-10% growth) shortly after twitter chats.
  8. Use #ff (it stands for ‘Follow Friday’) on Fridays, especially to new followers from the week. Group similar users together in one #ff and another hash tag to describe their commonality. The chances are, they’ll retweet this to their followers.

Finally, please let me know if this article helps you and I may produce other similar guides.

Creating & timing the perfect post: infographic

Here’s a really good, practical, infographic on the ideal types of social media post including timing.

I’ve seen a number of similar infographics before but this one has been well summarised and kept simple. Try the tips below and let me know if you see any improvements.

How to create the perfect social media post is an infographic that was produced by mycleveragency

Generating value from social data in real-time, Dara Nasr from Twitter

These notes are from the adtech London exhibition in September 2013. Apologies for any brevity, grammar or spelling mistakes, I did the best I could! Here is a full list of all my presentation notes from adTech London 2013.

How the Jay-Z hashtags are linked by Dara Nasr from Twitter
How the Jay-Z hashtags are linked by Dara Nasr from Twitter

Dara Nasr is the Head of Agency Sales at Twitter, and had an arsenal of amusing, anecdotal case studies about brands on Twitter.

His opening slide was “Twitter: the real time pulse of the planet

Case studies:

  • @policiajun – 3,000 inhabitants in a town in aim. All civil communication handled by twitter
  • “Other companies preach mobile first…” 80% of access to twitter is via mobile, and mobile was truly before the web for Twitter
  • It took 3 years to serve a billion tweets. They now serve a billion tweets every 2 days

Successful Twitter users and brands:

  • Plan for everyday moments. He showed the use of everyday keywords such as shopping, which are cyclical around the days of the week. Time your tweets to coincide with everyday activities.
  • Plan for live moments. E.g. There were 6m tweets around the champions league final.  Nokia’s imitation is the form of flattery was retweeted 18m times when the new iPhone 5 was launched (and I retweeted their tweet because I thought it was funny). Successful brands and users have playful banter between competitors, which ends up successful for both. This ranges from political parties and politicians to CPG brands to sports personalities
  • Plan connected moments… Twitter and TV. Twitter bought Bluefin who connect Twitter to TV adverts. Twitter claim 60% of people use Twitter while watching TV. Dara went through a case study on Jay-Z boosting music sales
  • MTV ran a competition with [a staggering] 166m entries

Answers to questions from the audience:

  1. The brands who use Twitter well try and try again to get it right. Key companies are Samsung, Mondelēz, Paddy Power. They make mistakes, learn from them, and end up with successful campaigns
  2. On commercialisation: There are 3 ways Twitter makes money: from promoted tweets, promoted accounts and prompted trends, i.e. pushing results higher up on all 3 listings
  3. On commercialisation after a potential IPO: Twitter might not change that much because it’s very user focussed, and doesn’t want to do anything users don’t want.

Here is a full list of my presentation notes.

Singley & Mackie’s 3 step plan for social media engagement

Keith Pape is SVP Social Engagement at Singley & Mackie and provided some practical advice for brands working in social media.

Social equalises big brands with smaller businesses. It’s a pretty even playing field

Everyone can tell a story in a different way. The top 10 most engaged brands span several industries from supermarkets to travel agents to drinks companies

Too many clients don’t understand the business, not the social, goal of a project

Their recommendation is three phases:

Grow, engage, convert. It’s vital to measure and refine at every stage.

Grow = content. Keep measuring

Engage = talk (customer service & sales/ marketing). Keep measuring

Convert = sell. Keep measuring

During the Q & A he pointed out that people don’t visit your timeline, so your content on twitter and Facebook needs to stand out from the rest of the content. Assume only 15% of your followers see each of your tweets.

Use link trackers such as bit.ly to measure click though rates.

See the other presentation notes from ad:tech.

The ticking time bomb of digital footprints

Mail on Sunday front page 7 April 2013
Mail on Sunday front page 7 April 2013

This week’s news about Paris Brown brought home the reality of growing from a child to an adult with a digital footprint.

Paris wrote some tweets aged between 14 and 16 years old that contained poor language that most adults would be ashamed of.

What Paris tweeted (I’ve seen the tweets and they are not worthy of being repeated here) is completely wrong. However, the point to this case is that Paris is the first high profile case of a child who had made some pretty bad statements which have come back to haunt her later on in life. She won’t be the last.

There are a number of important points to the Paris Brown case. Firstly, I find it appalling the way the news was broken. The Mail on Sunday covered the story on the front page. Really? Was this really the most important story for a Sunday paper? Paris is 17 years old and this week’s ordeal has been out of proportion. She was 14 when she wrote some of the tweets.

The question is whether employers should check all social media channels for indecent content?

That’s an interesting question. Should employers check newspaper articles and letters to the editor too? How can employers check Facebook pages which are, or at least should be, private? Where’s the line drawn?

In 2008 there was a court case in the UK where a company took an employee to court to instruct them to remove all LinkedIn connections from their account. The employer claims to own those connections, not the employee. The case was settled out of court.

In the US, a similar case, also concerning LinkedIn, did go through to judgement, and the court was in favour of the employee, mainly because the contacts could be found in the public domain and replicated by anyone.

We are at the tip of the iceberg with these legal issues. These are new challenges that need to be resolved.

When recruiting, should it be standard practice to research the candidate online? What happens if an employer sees a photo of the candidate in a fund raising capacity for cause seemed inappropriate? “Inappropriate content” is a very wide grey area.

I feel sorry for Paris Brown. She posted something at 14 years old, has apologised for her comments, resigned from her job, and now has a permanent digital footprint across all the national newspapers which is beyond her control. Paris’ digital footprint, which started as a handful of tweets, now has over 38,000,000 results according to Google. She won’t be able to delete those so easily.

An example of buying Twitter followers


While I was travelling recently, I heard he following marketing story. A car dealership ran a radio-only promotion to win Superbowl tickets (a random lottery style competition) in return for visiting their showroom. The campaign was run in complete isolation, meaning that if a radio listener visited the showroom’s website, there was nothing obvious to endorse the advert.

They ran the campaign for a few weeks and the response was… zero. Not one person visited the showroom.

The dealership called a digital agency with just a few days to go before the Superbowl, and asked them to implement a campaign using the dealer’s Twitter account. The dealer had just over 50,000 followers, so the agency went to work designing and implementing a campaign.

After a few hours the agency wondered what had gone wrong… not one follower had engaged with the campaign – either entering an online competition, retweeting, or most importantly, visiting the showroom.

The agency had run digital, including social, campaigns in the past and were surprised at the lack of engagement. They spoke to the dealership and found out that they had ‘bought’ the 50,000 followers.

To me, this demonstrated the immaturity of the dealership on a number of levels. Firstly, all marketing campaigns need to be aligned across channels. Secondly, buying Twitter followers needs to be recognised as buying a disloyal and untargeted ‘user base’. I’m being careful not to describe the ‘user base’ as fans or eyeballs because there’s no evidence to suggest they are actual people – as Facebook found out immediately after its IPO.

I would guess that the reason the dealership bought the followers is that after launching a Twitter account and struggling to attract followers, buying them seemed easier and quicker – but in the long run, they were an unengaged statistic of absolutely no use whatsoever.

Photo courtesy of James Cridland on Flickr


How to get help with online marketing for small businesses


Last week I was invited to a networking event hosted by Rob Tyson of The Tyson Report and Triberr.

As regular readers will know, I am interested in small UK businesses, mainly because my grandfather started a small shop in Camberwell shortly after the war, which my dad looked after until retiring some five years ago.

I’m acutely aware that small businesses need as much help they can get, and in some ways the Internet has created a level playing field, but small businesses struggle with the complexities of the Internet and it takes too much time to research the necessary material.

Step forward Rob Tyson. Rob has created a subscription based website which helps small businesses understand the nuances of Web marketing.

His website is based on a freemium model – a lot of content is free, the first month costs £1 and thereafter it’s £19 a month.

I spoke to Rob at the event, not for as long as I’d like because there were lots of others there, and he seems a genuine guy who wants to help small businesses. I asked him what his long term plans are, and whether he would help large companies, and he said that he wants to focus just on smaller companies at the moment – usually less than a dozen people, running a business as well as a website.

At the networking event was a wedding photographer who has reduced his marketing spend (at one point he was spending 50% of his revenue on marketing) through Rob and a charming lady who is setting up a London tour guide business and needs help promoting it online.

I’ve read Rob’s blog, and it’s straight up, direct content. There’s no fluff, and something to take away from every post.

If you’re a small business, I recommend following Rob on Twitter and taking a look at his site.


Broken motorbikes, Sky TV and Office 2013


Now that the extended holiday season has finally finished, I thought I’d update everyone on what’s been going on recently, or more accurately, what I’ve been up to.

For one thing, I haven’t been cycling a lot recently. After our family summer holiday and really poor weather when we returned, I ended up not cycling for 4 weeks. I then got back on the bike and was shocked how much fitness I’d lost. Fortunately the fitness returned relatively, although my Strava times are still low. 

On the subject of cycling, last summer I read Lance Armstrong’s autobiography and loved every page. It was a truly inspirational book especially for anyone with cancer. I am torn between trying to understand that he allegedly cheated, and respecting him for the inspirational he has given so many cancer patients.

I’ve now installed Office 2013 on my work laptop and both home PCs. I’ve only encountered one major problem which was caused during an upgrade process where I clicked on a ‘Next’ button to begin installation. I clicked a couple more times and ended up installing Office three times on the same PC! Not only would none of the Office apps run any longer, I couldn’t uninstall the thing either. After some perseverance I managed to uninstall and reinstall Office again as I described in the Office 2013 forums.

This week I’ve been asked to review a social media report, which I’ll try to do on the weekend and post here. If there’s anything else you need me to review or want my opinion, please contact me, preferably by Twitter.

I had to be home quite early a couple of weeks ago, so I rode to work on my motorbike. I left home extra early and after filling up with petrol the battery had gone and I couldn’t restart the bike. The Green Flag motorcycle breakdown truck arrived in less than an hour and kept me regularly updated by text message – I thoroughly recommend them as a breakdown service.

A couple of days later they sent me a questionnaire to complete and return to them. I can’t remember the last time I completed a paper feedback form, and I don’t understand why they didn’t use an online tool to save costs – and I’d probably have filled it in by now rather than put it on the desk in the ‘to do’ piling tray.

And finally, last but by no means least, the Howard family have finally moved to Sky. It started when I contacted BT Vision, which I’ve defended and promoted to everyone who would listen over the last few years. The tipping point though was calling them to ask for the Sky Sports channels. The increased cost put the service on a par with Sky, which I didn’t mind, but I had to pay to upgrade my BT Vision box to the latest version to accept the Sky Sports channels. I didn’t even mind this, but I was annoyed that even the latest version of BT Vision doesn’t support HD channels. So I compared Sky, Virgin and BT packages. Virgin was about £30 a month more expensive than Sky for what we all wanted. Sky was £10 more than BT Vision if I included the HD channels, which we have gone for.

The most impressive thing about moving from BT Vision to Sky has been the speed and communication. It took three days from ordering online to an engineer coming to the house and installing Sky. The phone line and broadband are due to be switched over on Monday, ten working days after I’d ordered Sky. I keep receiving text messages of the latest status, and it’s all very impressive. Sky even contacted BT to let them know I was leaving. 

I’ll let you know how the phone and broadband transition goes – I already have the router waiting to be plugged in on Monday.


Menshn – the new (British!) social network


Another month, another new social network. But this time there’s a difference – the new latest best thing is British. Menshn caught my attention on the BBC News website last Wednesday. It’s been launched by Conservative MP Louise Mensch who is actively participating on the new network (I can vouch for this because we had a quick digital exchange over the weekend).

Menshn is a combination between Twitter, mainly because of the 180 character limit on content updates, and classic discussion forums. 

At the moment the forums are fixed – in fact there are only 5 ‘topics’ – uselection, women, tech, ukpolitics and euro2012. I suspect that the latter topic will close down soon. 

In fact, that’s the point – if a topic doesn’t have any updates for a period of time, the plan is that it will automatically close.

Menshn has all the feeling of being created on a tight budget. There are several bugs in the platform, but I’m guessing that most early adopters almost embrace the 75% finished platform. More traffic will attract more funding, and more funding will iron out those bugs and provide more features (such as user generated topics).

Menshn was launched in the US apparently to help support the US election campaign. The original plan was to launch in the UK in the next few weeks, however I received an invite on Sunday morning and registered straight away. The first surprise is the amount of publicity and traffic (Menshn has had almost 200k uniques in a few days) and that each of the five topics only have a couple of hundred members.

It’s nice having the topics rather than the complete lack of structure that Twitter has survived with. I can’t quite put my finger on what Menshn provides over traditional forums and discussion boards, except to say it provides more of a real-time conversation ‘atmosphere’ than forums which feel like they happen more slowly.

Because of the conversation/ group style of Menshn, it means that if you provide a legible update, chances are someone will respond, rather than Twitter which can seems like a whoever-shouts-loudest approach, or sometimes like a mass-announcement platform rather than conversational.

Menshn appears to be moderated at the moment, and I’m not sure how much longer this will continue, or whether topic owners will be able to moderate their own areas.

In the meantime, I wish Louise and the rest of the team at Menshn the very best of luck with this British adventure, and hope it grows into a success story for them all. Contact me at @bradbox on Twitter or //bradbox on Menshn at any time!


31 tips from Bill Boorman to increase Twitter followers


If you and I have ever had the chance to discuss Twitter, you’ll know I’m not exactly pro-Twitter. I question its true marketing value or longevity. However I do have a fixation for non-celebrity individuals who have a few thousand followers, because they are clearly effective at marketing in the Twitter-space.

I regularly attend a few MeetUps and last night I went to one that I’d been looking forward to for a while – a talk by Bill Boorman who has some 8,500+ followers on Twitter. Bill is quite infamous for “saying it how it is” and his social media expertise for his own company.

Fundamentally, Bill likens Twitter to a local pub, where you can hear and join in everyone’s conversation. You wouldn’t walk in and try and sell something direct (OK, forget the rose sellers for a second). And you would be quite subtle when joining a conversation.

Here were his other main points:

  1. Don’t plan too carefully; just build activity. Interestingly, I’ve heard that Facebook don’t have a strong content plan – they try not to plan too much because they prefer to be more market driven and quick to respond.
  2. Bill came to the stage wearing a T shirt with a hashtag, @billboorman and on the back, his web address. And a hat (without any branding). I’m not sure many people could get away with that (outside of San Fransisco), but his point was to stand out from the crowd and be different.
  3. Use Tweetdeck to tag specific groups
  4. Look to give advice to others, and be nice to others
  5. Make your avatar different so that you stand out in people’s timeline
  6. Be real – as you are in real life. Don’t try and have a ‘digital persona’
  7. Use tweet cloud for specific events and hash caster to follow events
  8. Google “random twitter statistics” and use those as content
  9. Use Socialbro for statistics
  10. Whilst Bill doesn’t claim to delay his tweets, he recommends tweeting first thing in the morning (7-9am), lunchtime and 4.15pm to 9pm. I.e. when people have some spare time.
  11. Tweet less than 100 characters so that your tweets can be retweeted
  12. Find Tweet chats and join in the conversation – think of the pub analogy again
  13. Be different, don’t be normal
  14. Talk to ten strangers every day
  15. Bill’s view of social media and making money: “We give away [on social media] the stuff people used to charge for, and charge for the stuff people really need.” He talked about a plumber who puts up YouTube videos on how to do plumbing, and provides contact details if you really need a professional plumber. I guess it’s the plumber’s version of freemium!
  16. Don’t read any books on social media…
  17. Do read “How to leave Twitter” though
  18. 3,000 followers makes you think you’re important, 4,000 followers makes you realise you’re not
  19. Bill’s knowledge of hash tags was very good – he was quoting specific hash tags to use for specific content
  20. Think in terms of searches – products and services should include the location, such as #london
  21. Use replyz to engage in conversations
  22. Use promoted words through pay per click, not hashtags because you’ll annoy users
  23. Brands need to be specific and engage in a conversation – think back to the pub analogy
  24. If brands do just want to have a robotic data feed, then fine, but their profile needs to indicate this and answer via another Twitter account
  25. How brands reply is the most important factor for brands
  26. Don’t auto-update between LinkedIn and Twitter (I guess this is for users who tweet more than say, 5 times a day)
  27. Use Listorious and Formulist to automatically create and update lists of users. Then set advanced rules such as ‘Who has checked in more than 3 times at a specific venue’ in FourSquare.
  28. More tools: Followerwonk and Twollow
  29. To attract mass followers, use Tweetadder
  30. Brands need to be careful of negative publicity and deal with it quickly, not just 9-5, and Bill gave an example of British Gas. He also described how tweeting whilst being made to wait on hold on the phone was a great way to get attention
  31. To get a dormant Twitter account, try to contact @Twitter

I found it interesting that it took an hour before someone asked Bill what he does for a living. I knew he was in recruitment and sort of assumed everyone knew, but his recommendations above were very generic.

Another impressive point was that Bill spoke to 45 minutes and had a break before answering questions. He then had 50 minutes of questions which is very rare at a MeetUp. I went up to him at the end of the session and said I thought 50 minutes of questions was outstanding and he answered that he only does it for the engagement, not the initial ‘How to’ part – and I think that’s a key point in social media.

I thought about Bill’s comments on the way home and will try to implement them to double my followers from 200 to 400 in the next 8 weeks and see if they are valid – and report back here. If you are a Twitter fan, you should either contact Bill on Twitter, or find out where he’s speaking.