Monday, March 23, 2009

Getting from 0 to 1000.

@paddytan was asking me today, now that everyone is jumping on twitter, has blogging dip in trend? Well, the conversation has prompted me to write this posting.

Twitter celebrated its 3rd Birthday last weekend and I also celebrated my 1000th follower on the same day. 1000 follower may seem like no big deal to many Twitter-celeb (even a cat @sockington has 200,000 followers!) But the journey fr
om 0 to 1000 could potentially be the hardest learning curve for any tweep or aspiring tweeter.

How can you, without using a get followers scheme, not a celebrity, not a big shot in some top MNC make your voice heard as you build a strong and faithful following. And here are the open secrets I want to share with you today.

5 TIPS TO GET FROM 0 to 1000

  1. Decide your motivation and objective
    All of us have different reasons why we tweet. Some are for fun, just to keep up with friends while others may have career or business motivations and agenda. I started tweeting for fun. But that lasted only 2 days and I gave up. I left the account to rot for one year before deciding to explore again. And this time, I saw the potential. I started with only 8 followers. It took me approximately 8-9 weeks to reach where I am today.

    Questions to ask yourself

    • Why am I joining Twitter?

    • Was it simply to make more random friends?

    • Or do I have a targeted industry I would like to meet people from?

    • To build and establish my social media currency?

    • To build an online credential that could possibly spill over to real life?

    • Build stronger customer relationships?

    • Etc

    For me, my motivation is direct and focused. To know more people in the marketing, advertising and digital field. To be able to converse directly with these people, and establish my online reputation and social media currency in the longer term. Sharing on Twitter also allows me to hone my skills in a bigger way as I voice my opinions openly on random issues.

  2. Be sincere, be honest and don't try to hard sell
    Twitter is a sphere where relationships take time to build. (actually, all strong relationships take time to build) You have to prove that you are a valuable connection and people can benefit from following you, vice versa. Here are some ways to get you started.

    • Don't try to be someone you are not. When you do, the entire Twitterverse knows it. There are too many wise and intelligent people out there. So don't try to look smart. Just be true to yourself and your heart. Be sincere and really have a desire to connect. (This point was added in after being reminded to re-emphasis it when I read @smashadv's comments on this posting. He's one great friend I've got to know on Twitter.)

    • Follow BIG names like @guykawasaki. He's a really nice guy and although he seldom replies, he does when you say something smart or useful. You could get a pretty extensive list at Twitter Counter or

    • Start conversations with tweeps you follow. Don't keep quiet, make some noise. When I mean noise, I'm not saying you should make a fool of yourself. By starting a conversation (it could be a question or a poll or in response to their tweets), people get a chance to be associated with you and will be more incline to following you as well.

    • Retweets. Retweeting is an extremely effective way to fill your timelines with contents and get noticed. However, pick tweets that are in relation to your targeted demographics. When people find your information handy and interesting, they will naturally find a reason to start listening.

    • Never. And I mean NEVER attempt to use auto-DMs. Be personalised, be a face to a name. If you try to promote before you build that human touch, you are doomed to fail.

    • Forward interesting and new contents. Original contents are as important as duplicated ones. As much as people appreciate it that you are RTing, you would realise after some time, everyone is connected with everyone else. Hence we are all reading the same thing. Take some time to browse your frequent blogs and browse around, or even write something and send it to people. Create discussions on topics and share your views if you agree or don't agree to something and why.

  3. Invest Time and a Listening Ear
    Twitter is a tool where the most ancient art of conversational skills is being tested again. And this is the art of listening. There are hundreds and thousands of conversations and monologues going on at the same time. The greatest challenge in order to fully engage yourself in those conversations, is really just listening.

    • Spend at least 15 minutes of your time everyday just plain listening. Read what others have to say. See what is the talking point today.

    @robin_low congratulated me on reaching my 1000th follower as he said, "But you really tweet alot." Well, I try to. Although you may find me disappearing in a certain fashion when work starts filling my desk.

    • Try to tweet daily. The best hours are US and London time, that is the time zone where most tweeps are online. Although I really have problems staying awake during that period nowadays. I make about 40 tweets a day on the average. You can get an analysis of your engagement here.

  4. Paying it Forward
    Render your help and recommend others and you will soon realise others will do the same for you. Twitter is a beautiful place to be in because no one on it has any bad intentions. The virtue of reciprocity and paying it forward is truly evident here because that is one of the strategies to make yourself heard and valued.

    • The rules of success with Twitter is simple. You will realise that the more you give, the more you get in return. And the ratio of your returns will always be higher than your giving.

    • Every friday is #followfriday. One of my favourite days when I can get up to 100 followers and know how many people actually values my addition. #followfriday is a really cool initiative by tweeps who takes the lead in recommending other good tweeps to follow. It's a friends introduce friends scheme that opens your doors to all these wonderful people with a wealth of knowledge you would love to tap on.

    • In return, you can recommend interesting people to follow simply by writing a tweet like this, "Great folks to follow! #followfriday @belindaang @unmarketing @lucasblack @David_Feng @robin_low @cheth..." And the list goes on till you reach 140 words.

  5. Personal Branding for Twitter
    I would strongly suggest you pick a twitter id that is either your name or a witty handle to remember. More often than not, people will choose to use the same title as their blogs, facebook profiles or website.

    • Plan your digital footprints in such a way that makes it easy for people to recognise and locate you across all platforms.

    • Use a consistent avatar with a great smile of yourself or put on a digital effect that people will remember you about. And not the "standard msn messenger flowers, soccer balls or horses". Make it a YOU.

    • Create and Design a Twitter background that will load nicely on all popular screen resolutions. Make sure the background contains all the contact information you would want people to find you in. If you really have a problem with this, drop me a tweet @belindaang, I would be happy to assist.

    • If your intention to tweet is professional, do maintain that image throughout all your branding attempts.

These 5 steps are not your typical "quick money making guide" or "20,000 in one month!" gimmick. These are hard and solid rules to building an effective online relationship. Since then, my blog readership has doubled (and 10x in some cases especially during my timely post for the Great Gmail Crash). @jeffoliver decided I was a good case study on effective personal online marketing without a monsterous CV, that he made an analysis of all my social networks to his students. I managed to get noticed enough to earn myself a small little report on Lianhe Zaobao. And I don't see this is the end of all the wonderful things that are going to happen. I had made some hard and fast friends on Twitter and I am confident you will reap some really great rewards too.

Have fun on your journey from 0 to 1000. =)


Anonymous said...

Belinda - thanks for this post. I think so many people are obsessed with numbers that they don't even know about the whole 'sincerity' thing. Be yourself - no truer words have been spoken. If you're true to yourself (your personal brand) the numbers will take care of themselves.

Anonymous said...

Don't you think what you post and what people want to see is important too? I tend to see that Twitter is the place for those affiliate marketer people or the social media people. Is there a place for other niches in Twitter then?

Belinda Ang said...

Hello sylv, well I agree a large group of people on Twitter belong to the bulk of social media activist primarily because it is also their job to be part of this communication channel.

However, I know of medical professionals who share knowledge in their field. I was asking for some help and was connected with a doctor. Caesar Millan, the dog whisperer is also on Twitter and has lots of followers after him getting advices and useful dog tips.

Apart from that, we also have many people from the fashion, arts, advertising and IT sectors. I think Twitter is still relatively new especially in Asia. It definitely has more potential to reach out to a larger market.

Benjamin Koe said...

This is like the definitive guide to Twittering. I'm really intrigued by you on Twitter, your tweets/retweets make it worth following. Maybe it's time you removed your "not a guru yet" from your Twitter bio. =)

Gordie Rogers said...

Thanks Belinda for you wonderful post. I have already started taking your advice and I'm up to over 700 followers in two weeks.

Keep up the great work girl. You're an inspiration.