Over the past few years, I’ve found it fascinating to watch the evolution and massive pop culture adaption of Twitter. In 2009, just as it was beginning to get people talking, I recall the overwhelming skepticism … “What’s so special about Twitter? Isn’t it just like Facebook status updates?” Since then, people have become increasingly intrigued and started to take a much closer look. Brands too have taken notice, recognizing its value as an engagement tool. Yet still, Twitter remains enigmatic for many people and brands alike. Time and time again, I hear the questions:
- What do you use it for?
- How do you stand out from the crowd?
- How do you get people to engage with you?
To be frank … for a while, I wasn’t really sure what ‘the secret’ was. What is it that the Twitterati do differently? What do they know … that the rest of us don’t? I poked around a bit and read some articles, yet I still found myself stumped.
Then … one day in April, my friend Rob began speaking about Twitter. “I started this Twitter handle for fun … I had a few theories that I wanted to test.” It’s worth mentioning, that Rob is not actually a social media guy by trade. Clever for sure, he calls himself a ‘tinkerer.’ “There’s no method to what I’m doing, I’m just curious.” He explains as he begins outlining the theories behind his Twitter experiment:
“I started with a few ideas behind what makes people follow you …
The Handle Name: has to be entertaining
The Picture: has to be entertaining and relate to the handle name
The Content: has to ultimately tie back into the entertaining theme / handle name
The Bio: has to be stocked with keywords and categories (he included all the categories to prove the point.)
Nine weeks ago, Rob started the @F_ckinGenius Twitter handle, hoping to prove out these ‘theories’ and my, oh my, did he. Eight weeks and 300 tweets later, @F_ckinGenius has whopping 7,036 followers, 202 mentions and 18 retweets.
When asked how he did this, Rob had some interesting and insightful things to say …
What kind of tactics did you use?
“Engaging with people that responded; retweeting leaders within that field. The key is tweeting or creating content with the mind of the target consumer and what they would be searching for.”
What did you choose to modify as far as content?
“I feel the content has to be mixed up, without flooding the users. Quotes, inspiration, videos, articles and humor, humor and more HUMOR.”
What do you plan to do as far content, number of tweets, and profile modification moving forward, and why?
“I plan on adding more humor and finding more ways to engage with active users. The key is to have a mind of a SEO person and an eye of a micro publisher, with a comedic view.
Aside from Rob’s Twitter Experiment being entertaining (he admits it started as a joke), it was a complete eye-opener for me.
Whether you’re a person trying to craft a personal brand, or a brand trying to become more personable, the same rules apply. People want to follow handles that offer a unique and amusing perspective. To quote Arthur Greene, the witty copywriter who sits next to me, “You don’t have to be Charlie Sheen to play an entertaining character on Twitter.”
As people and brands, it’s easy to get caught in ruts. Many brands think of Twitter as a way to push out promotions and to engage with fans and that’s it. Few think of Twitter as a platform to create a distinct brand persona, or even as a launch pad, or testing grounds for a larger campaign concept. Who says Twitter Brand pages have to be strictly product focused? What if brands started creating sponsored Twitter pages that didn’t focus on the product at all and instead crafted interesting content around their brand truths?
An Example (just for fun): A detergent, whose unique selling point is that it doesn’t fade your clothes … could create a page that only featured tweets on: “Things That Never Get Old.”
“Making people eat their words. Never gets old.”
“Drinking juice out of a wine glass. Never gets old.”
The possibilities here are endless. Just think of what would entertain your audience. A good rule of thumb: if it amuses you … it will likely also amuse your followers.
Lastly, I’d like to say this. No one is born an expert at anything … somehow we all start as ‘curious tinkerers.’ Sometimes you find the most interesting things when you don’t know where you’re going … or what you’re looking for. You can read a hundred articles on how to get followers on Twitter, but sometimes you just don’t get it until you play around with it and experiment yourself.
Special Thanks to Rob @Otheory for his all his insights
and Aston, for both indulging my curiosity and helping me gather that stats @astonhunt
Thanks! Follow me on Twitter: @nessacameron