Ten Simple Steps To Build Your Twitter Community

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Have you tried Twitter or any of the other Micro-Blogging platforms like Jaiku? They are little Blog feeds that empower an individual to answer the question, "What are you doing?" in 140 characters or less. You can add people to "follow" and those that you "follow" can choose if they want to reciprocate.

It’s been an interesting year as I learn more and more about how this channel is maturing. I got in on the Twitter action fairly early, and while I’m not constantly posting updates related to what I am doing, I do post a few times a day – depending on whether or not I feel like I have something worth saying. Currently, I am following 487 people and there are 701 people following me. I get many email notifications per day that someone new is now following me. Here’s the tough part: I head over to check out their Twitter feed and it’s usually either empty (they’re just getting started) or it’s full of tweets (Twitter posts) that don’t resonate for me. I tend not to add them (hence the dramatic difference of who’s following me and who I am following).

It’s an interesting situation. Those who are new to Twitter need to tread carefully. If you add someone you don’t really know too early, they may not reciprocate. If you don’t state clearly who you are (and don’t include a link to your Blog or Website), again, the link might not be reciprocated. I think the stakes are higher. Fewer and fewer people will just add anyone to their community. I also think that Marketers may have a real challenge breaking into a channel like Twitter.

Twitter is easy to use, but it’s becoming increasingly more challenging to build a substantial community – which is what makes it most valuable. I’m fearful that we’re entering an era where there are lots of people on Twitter, but not that many connected to one another. Twitter is useless if you don’t build a community, and it’s hard to build that community unless you’ve already provided value in your feed.

It’s tough to get started but not impossible.

Here are ten simple steps to building your Twitter community:

1. Choose a user name that is as close to your real name (or your Blog’s title) as possible.

2. Add a link to your Blog or Website in your Twitter profile.

3. Choose a picture of yourself that you have used in other online social networks, so you are recognizable.

4. Update your Twitter with value. Leaving it empty or having it full of lines like, "going for lunch." is not going to get you added.

5. Start with just your real friends – people who you know (and who know you).

6. If you add someone you respect, it might be wise to notify them through email or a message on their Blog so they know who it is.

7. Remember, everyone’s time (and attention) is valuable. Don’t waste any characters.

8. Be yourself – give them a reason to add you as a "friend."

9. If I don’t know you and you are following a lot of people but few are following you, I might consider you a spammer. Don’t just add everyone all at once.

10. Create original content. Just sending people to recent Blog postings or Web links it boring. For you… and for your community.


  1. i’m finding twitter an interesting way to promote a new project, http://earideas.com
    twitter is a very soft, but very important marketing tool I think … where “marketing” means trying to show people that what you are doing will be useful to them. twitter is a good way to build grassroots interest in your project, which is necessary for success on the web.

  2. Hi Mitch,
    Too bad you hadn’t posted before I started “following” you (I hate that term.) Your sixth point is why I’m following you. I heard you speak at PodCamp Boston and enjoy your podcast. Will my blog resonate with you? Probably not. It’s certainly not pure marketing. As with Twitter, I’m using the blog to learn about social media. One topic (point 5), you may want to address is what if you don’t have a lot of friends who are into social media? It’s tough to get going.

  3. I found Twitter tough to get into, today I decided I was going to really try.
    I was about to give up, as I couldn’t figure out how to find friends (I’m a geek, but apparently also a newb!)
    Then I came across this post (& Jeremiah Owyang’s allowing readers to share twitter IDs) and now I’m hooked!
    Thanks! Looking forward to following you Mitch!

  4. @ Hugh – I promise I will Blog all about earideas soon :)I’d be curious to see how many people follow earideas on twitter – especially if they’ve never heard of it before.
    @ Sean – that’s exactly why I wrote this post. When I get a notification that someone is following me, I always go to check out who they are. That’s your one chance to make a great first impression. I don’t have to love your Blog – I just have to be able to make a quick judgement call on whether or not you will be providing value in my twitter feed chain or if you are a Spammer.
    @ Kelly Rusk – Happy to follow you too 🙂

  5. Hey Mitch, I have been on twitter pretty solid now for about a month. I do like the way that you tweet coming from a marketing standpoint, as the less is more tactic is good. I think less posting frequency coupled with relevant posts is one way to tweet. Many people overtweet watering down the effectiveness.
    In the last month or so I have built up about 50 followers if you would, that I feel are pretty relevant as I am an artist, and a marketer. I have gained 4-5 really good friends on twitter, and this has truly benefited me and I am hoping them as well. I have traded art for services offered by other tweeters and this sort of barter system has been kind of cool. Also, I have been able to locate 3-4 people in my area that all have similar interests and are possibly going to start an offline mastermind group.
    Yes, the fact is that many people tweet about irrelevant stuff that no one really cares about, but I tend not to judge at first glance due to the friends network that twitter builds. Sometimes you may be catching someone in the middle of a twitter conversation, but that person may have something valuable to add most of the time. I find that I give a day or two. if my twitter feed is filled up with irrelevant content that wastes my time, I just “Unfollow” that person.
    I post quite frequently, and it is usually if not always about what I am doing or thoughts that I’d like to share with my friends. I have found twitter the most valuable social tool so far although I have to admit, I have not used much of facebook, myspace, or linked in.
    Lastly, I think that seesmic coupled with twitter is powerful. Len Edgerly of Audio Pod Chronicles is the best I know at using these two in tandem.

  6. Excellent post, Mitch. Like you, I also don’t add back everyone who follows me. Part of it is keeping the flow of incoming Tweets manageable, and part of it is ensuring that the flow is ensuring that flow doesn’t become watered down with Tweets that aren’t valuable, informative, or even entertaining to me.
    I use some of the same tests as you do when deciding whether to reciprocate a Twitter follow. I’m really looking for some kind of connection between what that person is Tweeting about and what I’m interested in.
    If the person is from Boston, that usually interests me. If the person is Tweeting about social media and/or is following people that I admire, that certainly interests me. And so on and so forth.
    It’s not the strictest decision-making process in the world and it’s one I go through in about 5 seconds, but it works for me.
    Here’s my Twitter feed if you’d like to check it out: http://www.Twitter.com/Bryper

  7. well adding friends is easy, and then they usually take a look at your profile at least. ours is clear, see:
    so it means we can make people aware of earideas and what it does.
    plus our earideas twitter output is definitely signal, not noise: we’re posting exclusively links to “good” audio … so if you’re into that, then earideas becomes useful to you – if ur not into it, easy to just stop following.
    the balance we’re trying to keep though is how agressive to be in friend adding. right now we’re adding slowly, trying to get people we think might be interested – in the social media circle.
    would it be better to do just a massive “add friends” campaign? i’d feel pretty spammy doing that. but then again, maybe that’s what’s needed to get more people to see the service, and decide if they find it interesting …? not sure.

  8. Thanks, Keith, for pointing me to this post by Mitch and the rich thread. I use the same tests mentioned here. A URL in the profile is crucial, in my book.I seldom follow someone if there isn’t a web site to visit. The other big thing for me is the voice of the Tweets themselves. Can I hear a real person? Is the voice one I’ve never heard before? Like Bryan, I make this judgement in seconds.

  9. @ Bryan Person – never considered “geography” as one of my criteria, but now that I think about it, I guess I am more inclined to also follow someone if they are from the same area as me. Thanks for also pointing out that the decision is made in a blink of the eye. I’m following them on twitter, not getting married 😉
    @ Hugh – I think slow and easy is the best method. One of my deciding factors is the following to friends ratio, so if you’ve added a ton of friends but no one is following, that does weight heavy as to whether or not I will add you.
    @ Len Edgerly – voice for me is also about how rich the content is. I’m not big on following people on twitter who have a voice, but are just tweeting their day to day activities.

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