It’s easy to get followers; it’s hard to get good followers. Be patient.
There are a bunch of tools to get people and organizations a mass of Twitter followers quickly. But raw numbers won’t help you. What your organization needs are followers that actually care about your product and want to interact with you.
That’s why I advocate slow, organic growth. Don’t go around mass following people (in the hopes that they will follow you back). Only follow people that you want to interact with and that would be interested in your organization or product.
Most importantly, create a quality experience on social media that will get people to interact with you, retweet you, link to you, talk about you and tell their friends about you. That’s the best way to get organic growth.
For instance, for our RarePlanet Twitter account, I only follow people and organizations who are involved with conservation or environmentalism or who are interested in them. We do not follow random people to artificially boost our follower account. We only follow people and organizations that we want to be social with and that would want to be social with us.
We’re also looking at ways to be as interactive as possible and be an experience that people find useful and that they look forward to. Our work on social media should be a positive for our followers/fans/friends or would-be followers/fans/friends.
We’ve had steady growth over the last few months, but what I’m more concerned about is our follower-to-listed ratio. There are people out there who have thousands of followers and are on very few lists. What this tells me is that the people following them back don’t know much about them and don’t care to know more either. When people put you on a list, they know enough about you to categorize what you do and they care enough about what you do to go through the process of categorizing you.
That’s big. Our follower-to-listed ratio is somewhere around 9 followers for every list we are on (it has been even stronger in the past). Many people and organizations that just randomly follow people have ratios north of 100-1. What does that say about the quality of the community that they are building?
Rare is a small organization that is only really known within the conservation community. We couldn’t just create a Twitter and Facebook account like a large organization and watch as followers and fans came in. We had to make our presence known, but I didn’t want to do it in a disingenuous or spammy way.
My plan (and it’s a plan that I think would work well for other small, less-known non-profits) is to provide a quality experience every day on Twitter and Facebook that isn’t just about the work that we do. We want to talk about what the larger conservation and environmental communities are up to, and we want to be a part of those communities on social media.
I also look through lists of people that I trust in the conversation and environmental space and find people to follow that I think we should connect with. I’m trying to following my 10-5 rule, which is that for every 10 posts that are talking at people (links to cool stories, videos, photos, blog posts from around the Web or work that we are doing) or asking people questions, we should have at least five tweets that are @replies to people we are following.
Do you have any tips to share about connecting with people on social media?