Tuesday, December 14, 2010

I'm Not Oprah, and That's Okay

Let’s face it.  I am not, nor will I ever be, Oprah Winfrey.  Or Ashton Kutcher.  Or another celebrity with a reach of a million Twitter followers or more.  And that’s okay.

If you are promoting your business via Twitter, it can be frustrating to only have several hundred or even a thousand followers.  You want to extend your sphere of influence as far as possible, to get your message, whatever it may be, to the largest possible audience.  When you look at some of the celebrities who have Twitter accounts, who say the most mundane things, yet their followers hang on every word, you may ask yourself, “Why?” 

That’s easy- they’re celebrities, you’re not.  But, it doesn’t mean you can’t build a following of several thousand followers or more.  You’ve just got to use the right tools.

A couple of years ago, my Twitter following was fairly small (by some standards, it still is).  I attended a book selling conference and I tweeted the keynote presentations and breakout sessions, using a hashtag (the # symbol, followed by a word or phrase, in this case #WI4) that had been loosely agreed upon as the conference hashtag.

During the first presentation, my number of followers doubled, from about three hundred to close to six hundred.  These were people who were interested in the book industry, who couldn’t attend the conference, yet wanted to know what was being said.  By the end of the three day conference, my number of followers had increased by about six hundred.  These people followed the hashtag, which in turn, allowed them to see what I was saying, and then follow me.

The hashtag can be a particularly powerful method that can help you gain followers, but it must be used properly.  Abuse it and you will lose followers.

Are you attending a conference or meeting that may hold some interest for the people who follow you, as well as for people who don’t yet follow you?  Tweet what is being said and add a hashtag.

Look at the trending topics or do a search and find discussions taking place on Twitter that have particular relevance to your business or area of expertise.  Join the conversation and if a hashtag is being used, attach it to each of your tweets.  Or, create one that is appropriate. 

Is there a topic you would like to discuss?  Get a conversation started among the followers you have and create a hashtag.  The more interesting, relevant, or even provocative your tweets are within these conversations, the more potential you have to increase your following.

Do NOT find a trending topic that is using a hashtag and tweet comments that are irrelevant to the conversation.  That will get you unfollowed or even blocked.

Will using a hashtag make you as popular as Oprah?  Probably not.  But, it can help you increase your followership, and that’s okay.

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