Having a hundred thousand engaged followers on Twitter is far more than just an internet status symbol. It can open innumerable doors, both professionally and personally. Investing time, effort, and energy into creating such a following is in fact an investment in your own success. It can lead to career opportunities, fundraising success, and even the chance to go on all-expenses-paid trips! The question, though, is how you develop a large and engaged following.
Ben Landis and Michael Tetro (who just goes by Tetro) are the founders of Fanbase, a social media technology platform that helps brands and celebrities to massively expand their reach. I’ve used the tool myself and have seen a dramatic increase in my followers, as I’ll explain on the show! Fanbase came about after Ben grew his personal Twitter from 150 followers all the way up to 1.5 million over the course of two years. Together, they’ve helped more than 600 clients gain more than 40 million real followers, and they’re here today to share their advice and strategies with you.
In this Episode
- [02:16] – What are some of the big mistakes that people make with Twitter? Stephan clarifies the answer, which is not to just do straight text tweets all the time (but rather to upload images and content).
- [03:42] – Another major mistake is using too many links to things off of Twitter, Tetro explains.
- [04:58] – Ben offers his thoughts on the same question of the big mistakes people make (and, by extension, some best practices for Twitter).
- [06:06] – Tetro talks about timing for tweets, suggesting that it’s important to be conscious of when you’re most likely to reach your audience.
- [07:51] – We hear about using platforms such as Hootsuite and Meet Edgar to schedule posts.
- [09:17] – Is there a penalty for always posting using a service such as Buffer as opposed to posting directly through Twitter?
- [09:50] – Ben talks about what it is about intuitive.social that he really likes and gives a glimpse into its pricing.
- [10:09] – Stephan brings up Twitter tools, mentioning Twitter Audit in particular. Tetro then talks about a few of his favorite tools, which includes Twitter’s own analytics.
- [12:02] – Stephan clarifies how DMing works for people who aren’t yet familiar with how Twitter works.
- [12:57] – Are there any techniques that will help you get noticed by a big influencer on Twitter? One way to get noticed is to get a verified account. Another trick is to do something to help promote that person, particularly if you have a big audience of your own.
- [15:20] – Tetro talks about some of the other benefits of getting verified on Twitter.
- [16:32] – Ben joins in to talk more about the pros of having a verified Twitter account.
- [17:56] – How does one get Twitter verified? What would make somebody’s case more compelling to the team making the verification decisions at Twitter?
- [19:15] – Stephan brings us back to talking about other tools for Twitter, and Tetro talks about a tool that he had mentioned to Stephan previously.
- [22:01] – Tetro and Ben use Followerwonk, and we hear why in terms of what sorts of cool things the tool can do.
- [25:30] – What are some of the best practices, or tips and tricks, for optimizing your Twitter profile and bio?
- [28:15] – We go back to Twitter Analytics, with Ben talking about some of the things he likes from the tool. Tetro then chimes in to talk about some of the data visualization tools they use, such as Tableau.
- [30:18] – What actions might Ben and Tetro take based on what they found in the type of analysis that they have just been talking about?
- [32:21] – We learn a fun way of offering value to your audience, which is thinking about the “ah”s of social media. There’s “ah-ha” for insightful, interesting, or thought-provoking things, “ahhaha” for funny things, and “ahhhh” for heartwarming things.
- [33:27] – Ben explains that in the case of an account with real followers but minimal engagement, the first step is to determine the goals of the account-holder. Another tip is to post more images.
- [34:52] – Tetro offers his advice on the subject, then talks about the use of hashtags.
- [37:46] – Is it a good idea to research a hashtag and see how it’s currently being used before using it yourself in your own tweets?
- [38:48] – Tetro shares his opinion on whether lots of likes or lots of retweets are more indicative of a successful Twitter account. Ben then gives his thoughts on the same question.
- [39:51] – Stephan brings up Ben and Tetro’s platform Fanbase, revealing how well it has worked for him in increasing his Twitter follower count and engagement.
- [41:21] – Tetro points out that Stephan’s Twitter account is now a good example of how a Twitter account should be, and why.
- [42:24] – Ben jumps in to explain the technology side of Fanbase.
- [44:18] – We hear about the benefits of having a large audience (even if you never become Lady Gaga), with Stephan explaining how you might leverage your audience size to your benefit. Tetro and Ben then talk about other personal and professional opportunities that can come up from having a large enough audience, especially if it’s targeted and engaged.
- [48:28] – Building up a large targeted audience is an investment in your own luck, because it can lead to wonderful things happening for you.
- [49:20] – Are there any big-name clients and brands that Ben and Tetro can namedrop in the episode? Yes, including Digital Trends, SurveyMonkey, Startup Grind, Bulletproof, University of Southern California, WordStream, What’s Trending.
- [50:27] – Where can listeners go to learn more about Fanbase (which also works on Instagram)?
Hello and welcome to Marketing Speak. This is an interesting different episode because I have two guests so there’s going to be three of us on this episode. It should be fun. I have Ben Landis and Michael Tetro. They are the founders of Fanbase, a social media technology platform for brands and celebrities that helps them massively expand their reach. I have experience with this platform. I have to say I’ve used it and it’s pretty darn cool. We could talk more about that in just a few minutes. Michael is the business end of Fanbase. Fun fact, he’s also a professional magician who just did a stage show in Tokyo. Ben is the technical end of Fanbase. He’s also the inventor of the Fanbase platform. How Fanbase came about was Ben first built his personal Twitter account from 150 followers in 2012, that’s it, to 1.5 million in 2014, and now it’s over 3.2 million followers. They’ve helped more than 600 clients collectively gain more than 40 million followers and these are real people, not bots. We are going to deconstruct all the magic behind, I used that word deliberately, behind Twitter and how you can leverage this as an incredible business opportunity and market the heck out of it and do it in a way that is above board. Welcome Ben and Michael.
Thank you. It’s good to be here.
Actually, I’m going to call you Tetro because that’s how, Michael, you normally go by, right?
Yeah. I think there’s a lot of Michaels out there and since the last name is more unique, a lot of my friends have started calling me by my last name.
I’ll do that too. Let’s start by talking about what are some of the big mistakes that people make with Twitter?
I’d say one of the mistakes that I’ve seen that people are doing with Twitter is they’re still treating it as they did years, and years, and years ago. Social media has evolved quite a bit over the years and as such, users of social media have become more adjusted to higher visuals and saturation, things like Facebook and Instagram. Because of that, they respond more to rich media: videos, images. If you’re still using Twitter just to tweet and you’re adding too many hashtags, then you haven’t evolved with the social media landscape. Think more images, think more variety in your tweets and it’ll be more well received. That stuff actually performs quite well on Twitter, we found, just like it does on Facebook, Instagram and other social media platforms.
Just to clarify for folks, what you’re saying is that if people are tweeting the same text kind of tweets all the time, they’re not varying it with a lot of multimedia, with short videos, and with images, then that’s a big mistake and you’re going to get a lot less engagement?
Correct. If you’re just doing straight text tweets, that’s not going to perform as well as uploading original images and video content. Additionally, another major mistake that I see is when people use too many links linking to things off of the platform. Every social media platform is going to want to keep its users on that platform so if you’re uploading lots of links that go to other places, don’t be surprised if your reach is not as good or if you’re just using, say Twitter for example, as a place to autopost your Instagram, or your Facebook, or your LinkedIn. You know how there’s an option to auto post your content to another platform, say if you’re on LinkedIn and you publish a post and it automatically publishes it to Twitter, LinkedIn loves that because now you’re promoting that site on a different platform but Twitter is not going to like that if every time they see a link to the other platform to LinkedIn, and it’s never going to look that great because it’s not optimized. The text is going to be cut off or it’s just not going to look right. It is much better to treat each platform individually and upload the content in such a way that it is optimized not only for the platform in which you are sharing that content but for that particular audience that is receiving it.
Yup. Got it. And then what about you, what do you think?
I would say I agree with a lot of what Tetro said. Also, you have to make sure that what you’re putting on each platform, that you’re really there. It doesn’t work to just post from one platform to another because it’s obvious that you’re not actually there. If you’re just advertising to your followers all the time and not really showing them that you have personality, they’re going to recognize that and they’re going to tune out. Even if you have the viewers, they’re not going to engage. If you want people to engage, you really have to be there, present on the platform and basically be a real person on the platform and make sure that what you’re posting is always interesting. It’s important to make what you’re posting interesting and to not have something that’s not interesting in your feed because if you waste people’s time, they’re going to tune out. They may unfollow you. The thing is that the more important the person, like the more selective they are with their time, then the more likely they are to tune out if you start posting too much stuff or stuff that is not appealing.
Alright. What about timing? How do people get that wrong? What if you load a whole bunch of tweets and all at once? Not a good idea, right?
There are some tools where you can do the work of putting together what you’re going to post ahead of time and then schedule out the distribution of those tweets for optimal time. If you’re doing all of your tweets or all of your posts at the same time, that’s not going to reach as wide of an audience as you possibly could so it is good to spread it out. However, if you’re tweeting in the middle of the night, don’t be surprised if you’re not reaching anyone. Twitter has a very short half life on the content that you post. It’s good to be strategic about when you are posting and think to yourself when is the audience that I’m trying to reach going to most be available. We often find that between [10:00] AM to maybe about [3:00]PM or [5:00]PM is when you’re going to reach the most people. But also, if you have all of your audience, say the majority of your audience is on the East Coast, that’s where your brand, or your office, or you live, but you’re travelling and now you’re on the West Coast or something. Just keep it in mind that if you tweet later in the day and there’s a three hour timezone difference, you might not be able to reach that audience the same way as you normally would.
Makes sense. Alright, cool. What about your thoughts on these different platforms that allow you to load stuff up, set an editorial calendar, and preload all these tweets over the course of the next week or two and schedule them out. There’s Hootsuite. There’s Meet Edgar. What are some of the pitfalls or benefits of using one of these platforms and which ones do you prefer?
I think these platforms can be great. It all depends on the situation and on how good your stuff is and how suitable it is for the audience you have and that you’re trying to build. Having the ability to schedule a post should not be an excuse for just loading up a bunch of stuff that is not appropriate for your audience. One thing that I haven’t been a fan of is just having post after post where there is always the same format, like always a picture and always a buffer link or a owly link. I think that looks too automated. I think people catch on to the fact that it’s not really you there. We’re fans of Buffer and Hootsuite. Particularly, I’m interested in [intuitive.social [00:10:27] that’s one I’ve been checking out that I like a lot. It has good features for finding content and posting it. I think those tools can be good but they have to be used correctly.
Let’s say that you’re posting all the time from Buffer, what’s the downside if let’s say as far as the Twitter algorithm treats Buffer based tweets and you’re never just posting directly from the web interface on twitter.com, does that stuff get downgraded or does it get treated the same by the algorithm?
That’s a good question. I don’t know the answer but one of the important things about Twitter is that for the most part, basically, your followers see what you post and also the people who retweet you, their followers. Twitter does surface more content now especially if it’s popular. I’m not sure how much having auto posting and posting using third party services affects that reach but luckily, with Twitter, unlike Facebook, for the most part, if you have a large audience, your content should be reaching them.
What is it about intuitive.social that you really like?
It has good abilities for finding new content from sources online and quoting it and citing it in the correct way.
Do you happen to know the price point for this?
I think it ranges from something like $29 a month to the low hundreds.
Alright, cool. Let’s talk about tools because there are a bunch of really awesome tools like for example, twitteraudit.com allows you to check how many of your followers are bots and are fake accounts and how many are real. That’s a really awesome tool. There’s just so many great Twitter specific tools. Could you guys run through some of your favorites?
I am very opinionated about this. I wish that Twitter Audit were better. I think Twitter Audit has problems with their methodology, same thing with the old StatusPeople fake follower check. No one has built a very robust tool that actually does the job correctly. As far as I can tell, Twitter Audit doesn’t really do a complete sweep of everyone’s Twitter followers, of the account in question’s Twitter followers. They just look at a few metrics that might be important. I don’t think that they could detect sophisticated bots.
Okay. Good to know. What are some of your favourite tools?
I don’t think there’s a good tool for checking out fake followers. One of the tools I like the most is actually Twitter Analytics, Twitter’s own analytics aspect. They give you Excel spreadsheets with all kinds of great data: link clicks, impressions, and engagements. Because they give you so much data, you can do all kinds of cool math and graphing if you want. Another tool that I like a lot, I find that doing direct message campaigns can be a very effective way of taking one’s Twitter audience and targeting specific parts of them with something that is—sending a direct message is better for certain kinds of messages than a tweet. A tweet will reach just a fraction of your audience whereas a direct message is kind of like an email. I like audience for sending direct messages. Those are some of the tools that I like.
One clarification that I think is important listeners understand who are not big into Twitter yet, that DM-ing requires that both parties have to be following each other.
Basically, yeah. If you have a follower, that means you can DM them and because the people who can DM them are generally limited to followers of theirs, then it means that when you send someone a DM, it’s really likely to reach them.
If you’re following somebody and they’re not following you, then the way that you would reach them isn’t through a DM. It would be through mentioning their Twitter handle and your own tweet, right?
Are there any techniques that will help you get noticed by a particularly big influencer on Twitter and they haven’t followed you back?
Engaging with big influencers is one way.
How would you do that? What would be a way that would cut through the noise? Because there are a lot of people that are engaging with the big influencers. They have a huge base of fans and you’re just one out of a sea of people. How do you get noticed?
One way to get noticed is if the influencers we’re talking about have verified accounts, then if you have a verified account, it’s much easier to reach them because verified accounts have a verified only notification feed, which is just an option when you’re looking at your different notification feeds. One of our clients has tweeted at Taylor Swift and because he’s verified and she’s verified and clearly she reads her verified only feed, he’s actually gotten through to her, a few times. I think he sent her a t-shirt at one point.
Wow. That’s awesome. What a great tip for people. If you can get Twitter verified, then you can cut through a lot of the noise and get noticed by this big influencers who are also verified and maybe do deals, get some partnerships, or sponsorships or something going. Very cool.
Another trick that I’ve heard of recently for getting attention of these social media influencers, there’s a standard technique of @ mentioning them, retweeting their stuff. But if you have an audience of your own or you have a community of your own and you can do something to promote them, say for example do a call to action where you have your community support their campaign or their post in some way and do a massive retweet, they will notice that all of a sudden they get a ton of retweets on a certain thing and then they can tell that that was because you requested your audience to do that or you requested people to do that on whether it’s a podcast, or your Twitter channel, or something else. If you do something to help them get a lot more engagement or exposure, that’s a good way to get noticed.
Nice. Awesome. There are some other benefits of getting verified on Twitter. There are some other aspects of being Twitter verified that are not available to non verified people. Let’s talk a bit about that. What would be another big benefit?
The main benefits that you see for getting your account verified is the automatic visual social proof that you get from having the blue and white verification check mark badge. It basically says that this platform, whether it’s Twitter, or Instagram, or Facebook, they all have the same type of blue and white check mark badge. It says this platform has verified the identity of this person. It’s hard to get much more social proof or authority from the platform than being verified by the platform. The visual part of it is really good. Your followers now know that they are reading the authentic content from the person that they care about. But that also helps to improve the security of your account. When you go through the process of getting verified, you often have to provide additional information, contact information stuff that’ll allow you to make sure that your account is more secure and it’s more unique. It’s going to help prevent copy cats from popping up and drafting off of your success with similar looking accounts. The social proof enhanced security, additionally. Ben, what would be some of the other…?
Benefits? One of them is that Twitter, they will show you more. When they’re showing replies to a tweet, they will put the verified accounts up top. They’re way more likely to improve verified accounts in Twitter moments. Like the ones that are actually made by Twitter. I think that they surface you more organically when they are deciding whose tweets to show. Let’s say that we’re talking about someone goes to Twitter to read tweets and they haven’t been there for a while so Twitter says, “Here’s what you missed.” If you have a verified account, then your tweets are more likely to be included in that array of tweets that they show.
Essentially, you’ll get more reach, more visibility, more reach by being Twitter verified?
Any other benefits that you can think of for Twitter verification? If not, how does one get Twitter verified?
The way you get Twitter verified used to be a private process but now you can apply at verification.twitter.com.
What would make somebody’s case more compelling to the verification team at Twitter?
Having good press and having done significant things.
Yeah, having a lot of online mentions. The more links that you have about yourself online, credible links from credible websites, whether it’s a publication site or it is a Wikipedia type of entry or something, any of the more credible, more well known sites that mention you and give credibility to who you are and what you do, that you can include in your submission will help a lot.
Would it help that you, let’s say if you’re already Facebook verified? It would be probably a lot easier to get Twitter verified?
Good question. I don’t know. It can’t hurt if you get verified on one platform. Do we think that one platform is checking all the other platforms to see if you’re verified and goes, “Well they verified him so sure, I’ll do it.” We don’t know. I think the verification process can vary from time to time and who’s handling the cases. It’s more speculative but yeah, if you’re verified on one platform, it can’t hurt.
Cool. Let’s go back to some other tools, I know, Tetro, that you told me about a tool that helps cut down the noise from getting a lot of these direct message, DM notifications on your phone. I’ve recently gotten a large influx in followers, thanks to the Fanbase technology, and I was starting to get interrupted a lot with people DM-ing me and it was just like, “Hey, thanks for the follow.” Just useless DMs. We needed that. I forget what that tool was, Tetro, that you connected me up with, to deal with that problem. Do you happen to know?
It’s actually Twitter’s own feature. It’s a new feature that they added recently that allows you to do specific notification muting. You can do that by keywords or key phrases. There’s so many really great adjustments that you can make within your notifications section on your Twitter. From how many and what type of emails you’re getting to the messages. If somebody is sending you messages that are irrelevant or automated and you’re finding out that you’re getting a certain pattern of these showing up a lot and it’s adding noise to your experience on the platform, then you can go in and you can mute those either for a certain amount of time or definitely depending. That should help improve the signal to noise ratio that you’re experiencing.
Twitter for a long time has had complaints about abuse on the platform. It’s exacerbated just by Twitter’s nature that anyone can sign up and then start talking to basically anyone. It’s been relatively recently that Twitter has really focused on paying attention to these complaints and trying to address them. Some of the ways that they’ve done that very well are adding these notification filters. One of them that’s really effective is the quality filter, which just tries to weed out tweets that are coming from accounts posting links to viruses and just posting hateful speech. Now, they’ve been adding more including you can mute notifications from accounts, let’s say, that aren’t following you. If they’re not following you but they are tweeting you, and you don’t want to see their tweets. You can mute notifications from accounts that have a default profile picture or haven’t confirmed their email address or their phone number. Twitter is definitely taking steps to address some of the worse and more annoying aspects of the platform. I think that they have been making really good decisions lately.
Cool. Are you guys using Followerwonk, which is another tool that is Twitter specific. I quite like that one. You guys familiar with that one?
Oh yeah, love Followerwonk.
Let’s share some of the cool things you can do at Followerwonk with our listeners.
Sure. If you export Followerwonk searches as Excel spreadsheets, then you have access to all sorts of awesome data like bios, names, locations. Once you’ve got the data on your computer, you can do whatever you want with it, sorting and filtering. Some of the cool things that you can do, you could filter in Excel by keyword looking for people who have let’s say specific professional titles in their bios. You could look for people who are very recently active. Followerwonk, other cool features are I think they show you a map. You can see pictures where they try to represent where the followers of the account you’re looking at or following of the account you’re looking at are located. I always like that. From what I remember, they have a tie ein with Buffer where you can distribute tweets based on like the best time of the day to tweet based on your audience. I found that really handy about Followerwonk. Another good thing about Followerwonk is that they keep a really good history of your new followers and new following. They keep track of not just the number but how many followers you’re gaining and followers you’re losing at the same time. As in like they keep track of who the actual accounts are so over time, it’s a really cool record of exactly what’s going on with your account.
That’s awesome. One of the things I like to show people with Followerwonk that blows their mind is that let’s say you’re looking for journalists in the particular genre or industry that you’re in, you can find all these journalists on Twitter just by searching their Twitter bios within Followerwonk. Let’s say you’re looking for journalists who cover the retail beat. Just type in retail journalist as your keyword search in Followerwonk and it shows all these Twitter users who have mentioned retail and journalist in their bios. It’s so cool.
That’s awesome. I just wanted to mention something as well that links both Followerwonk and the notification muting we were talking about earlier. I’ve noticed that the trend on Twitter is moving towards improving some of the noise on the platform is awesome. They’ve got over 328 million active users on the platform. It’s something that as a company, we’re always looking to do is how can we improve the signal for people. What can we do to make sure that the activity that we’re doing and the activity that our clients are doing on the platform is contributing value everywhere, that it’s not adding to the noise. That can be accomplished by really, really precisely targeting using tools like Followerwonk or some of the other tools to find who are the right type of people to engage with and the right type of things to say so that everybody’s experience gets elevated.
Yup, awesome. Let’s move onto another topic for optimizing your Twitter presence. Let’s talk about just optimizing your profile. Optimizing your bio, having a good username versus a bad one, your banner image, etc., what are some of the best practices there or tips and tricks?
Sure, Stephan. Some of the best practices that we have seen, number one, your profile picture. It’s so important. If you have some nice headshots, use those so people can clearly see your face. The image is relatively small on Twitter so don’t use a picture of your pet, or some obscure random thing, or a picture of you in a busy background. Let people see your face. Make sure that it’s clear. Upload a custom header. You can be creative. You can use it to let your followers know about your events or launches that you have coming up or you can just use it to communicate a little bit more about your personality or who you are as a person that you can’t quite see in the profile picture. Bio is really important. From an SEO standpoint, your bios are searchable on Twitter so be conscious about what you’re putting in there. Are you putting in relevant keywords to who you are and what you do and why people should care because you should include those things. If there’s room, include something that allows people to form a little bit more of a personal connection to you, that’s not just dry like these are my titles but like, “And I love fishing,” or whatever it is. You know what I mean? If it’s kind of a more business type of account. Let’s say also, you got to think what is your goal on Twitter? What are you using it for? If you’re using it to build a business, to build a brand. Are you using it to build a community and connect? Think about the goal in mind and what you’re going to do to contribute value to everybody that lands on your profile page and reads your tweets. Put all that together in a cohesive way so that it communicates what you’re wanting to communicate in a way that is easy for them to understand. If they don’t understand what you do or why they should care when they land on your account, maybe you follow them and they decide to go check you out to see who you are, if they’re confused about who you are, what you do, they’ll leave and then you’ll miss out a follower just like if somebody goes to your website and they don’t understand what you do, they’ll bounce. Getting clear on what you want to accomplish and then tying that all together.
Speaking of bouncing, analytics side of things looking at what’s working and what’s not, let’s go back to Twitter Analytics and let’s go through what are some of the most important things that you want to get out of Twitter Analytics? What are the most actionable insights that you can glean?
What are some of the things that I like? It really depends on what your purpose is, why you are in Twitter. If you are working with a media brand, let’s say, then the important things might be how many people are clicking on the links that you post and then of course, on the actual site, how many of those are converting. But with many people who want to be better known, who want to be personalities and maybe want to be public figures, it might be impressions and engagements, how much your content is being shared. One of the things that we care about, that’s actually not shown directly on Twitter Analytics but can be calculated from the retweets per tweet and link clicks per link that you post, we think that those are very important. It’s true that as you post more tweets per month, generally the impressions and engagement for the whole month will go up but per tweet will go down. It’s a changing slope. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly how it changes but we pay attention to things per month and per tweet.As you post more tweets per month, generally the impressions and engagement for the whole month will go up but per tweet will go down. It’s a changing slope. Click To Tweet
How do you calculate that? Is that something that’s proprietary part of the Fanbase algorithm or is that something that you can get from some of the other third party tools?
No. We just download spreadsheets and look at the information and calculate it. Doing it well, and doing it with finesse, and getting a good output from it, that’s something that we do very well. Good luck downloading the spreadsheets and doing lots of calculations, but if you do that, then you can get the same information.
We use some powerful data visualization tools as well. Tableau is one that we’re a fan of. There are a lot of tools out there. You can download the data, organize it the right way, put it into one of these tools, and it’s really powerful to gain all types of actionable insights from the data.
What would you action as far as you get retweets per tweet or link clicks per link? What sort of actions might you take depending on what those numbers are?
It depends on the situation. It depends on the client’s needs. We would look at what content the client is posting and what they’re trying to accomplish with it. If we see for instance that a client is tweeting a lot and their retweets per tweet is really just too low, we would take a look at like, does it look like the client is having a limited impact with their tweets because there’s a problem with their content or are they tweeting too much? If the client has a breakout hit tweets that do much better than the others, is there any way that we can take a look at their patterns of tweeting and how much they’re tweeting and what tweets surround those and try to figure out how can they get more of what they want and less of what they don’t.
I actually agree, Ben. Something else that I always look at is there’s the engagement rate versus the engagement volume. The engagement rate being how many people have engaged with your content depending on how many people you have as followers or fans. One metric to look at is as you’re growing a larger audience, what percentage of those people are looking at it, which we get impressions from, and how many of those people are actually engaging with that content? Lots of times, we’ll see a trend start to develop in one direction or the other where you’re building certain aspects of the engagement but not other aspects. If we find that there’s a particular tweet or something that went viral and got a tremendous amount more engagement, we look at that and say, “Okay, what’s this outlier? What are the characteristic of this one compared to the other ones?” Sometimes, we find that if our clients are tweeting too much of the same thing, talking about themselves or their brands too much without providing something of value, then their audience might tune out a little bit. They might just read it but they might not engage with it. A fun thing I always like to say is think about the oz of social media. You’ve got the ahas, which are something insightful that you can share, interesting, thought provoking. You have the ahaha, which is something that is funny or amusing. And then you have the aaaahh, which is something heart warming, cat pictures or something. People tend to really respond well to all three of those things. It’s good to spice up your content with that. That’s one of the insights I’d say we’ve seen from the data.
Cool. Let’s say that you’re scrolling through somebody’s feed. Their Twitter account has lots of tweets that have very low engagement. There are no retweets. There are no likes. What would you tell somebody who’s in that kind of boat as a starting point? How do they get to maybe a couple of retweets every few tweets that they post? An occasional like or two in a tweet versus consistently zeroes?
It all starts with the goals of the client. Actually, that’s not true. First, it starts with do you have fake followers? Don’t have fake followers. But assuming that we’re talking about an account that has a real audience but the audience is not engaging, we can ask what is the person with the account trying to do with it? What are their goals and what kind of audience is right for their content? What kind of content is right for them and the audience that they’re trying to build? If you don’t have much engagement, I’d say post more images is one thing. If you’re not posting images or other media like that, give it a try and try to cultivate the behaviour in your audience that you want to see regularly. One of the things I found is that you sort of build a tendency in your audience to engage with your content or to look for things in a similar way. Let’s talk about link clicks. You have people who, when they tweet a link, lots of their followers will click on it. And then you have people where when they tweet a link, almost no one will click on it. The funny thing is it may not really depend on what the link is. These people have sort of trained their behaviour so that their followers think, “Oh yeah, I know this account. I think I’m going to want to click on their links.” Or they think that, “No, it’s probably lame.” Or they’re not used to doing it, they’re just going to ignore the links.
Ben, I think that’s a great point. I would add that you find what are your followers responding well to and then expand on that. If it’s in alignment with your brand or your goals, be careful about doing something that conditions them to tune out and then it’s falling on deaf ears at that point.
Would something that makes them tune out be way too many hashtags in your tweets?
Yeah, I’d say that that’s definitely something that can do it. In terms of hashtags, you can look at the trending hashtags. Those tend to perform pretty well but don’t use a ton of hashtags. Instagram, you can get away with using multiple ones. I say on Instagram, six is good. I know people use up to over a dozen plus. But Twitter, one hashtag, maybe two, I say even three is too much. It’s been trending towards less is better. It just doesn’t look so good. If it’s a real good and relevant hashtag because it’s a part of an important trending topic or something, use it. It’s useful. But I think a lot of people use hashtags without really thinking too much about, “Is this really a useful thing to do?” You see people using it on Facebook. No, it’s not a very useful thing on Facebook and often times, it’s not useful on Twitter if it’s done not consciously or not well thought out.
For example, taking the most important keyword from your tweet and making it a hashtag is probably not really that well thought out. Or let’s say that you’re tweeting some truism or some interesting quote, let’s say a stitch in time saves nine or actually I wouldn’t even know what to hashtag of that but let’s say, it’s just some truism.
Breakfast is the most important meal. Morning is the most important time of the day or Add massive value or whatever.
You make the word value be the hashtag.
That’s not very well thought out. If that’s your go to, then no. That’s not very well thought out. Sometimes, coincidentally, the word that you’re using, that might work if it happens to be the right thing but if you’re relying on that type of a system, then no, I don’t think that would be a very effective way to do it.
Would you recommend that people look at other tweets for that hashtag, going to search.twitter.com and see what’s happening with that particular hashtag before using it or does that not matter?
I think that’s a great idea. If you’re considering using a hashtag, it’s always a good idea, in my personal opinion, to see how is that hashtag currently being used. You may be surprised sometimes that it’s being used for something totally different than you would expect. You may be associating your content or your brand with that particular thing unexpectedly so seeing how the hashtag is currently being used and whether it’s being well received, it’s definitely a useful approach for selecting which hashtags you’ll use.
Cool. Let’s go back to when we’re imaging going through somebody’s Twitter feed or their Twitter account to see what their latest tweets are, if they got any engagement. What would you say is more indicative of an engaging, successful account? Would it be lots of likes or would it be lots of retweets?
I’d say, my opinion, Ben, you can chime in. I’d say retweets and then also replies. If people are taking the time to comment or reply, that’s a bigger time investment. A like is a shorter time investment and it’s an easy thing to do. Retweet is a short time investment but it’s a bigger investment because now you’re sharing it with your audience as well so you want to think that through a little bit more. In terms of value, I’d say retweets are really good for the person that’s getting them but if you’re seeing that an account is getting lots of retweets as well as a lot of replies, it means that the stuff is interesting enough that they would take the time to ask about it or to comment on it so yeah, that’s something I look for.
Ben, what do you think?
It’s tough to say. I would say that it depends of course on the situation. I like retweets more, though.
Okay, cool. Let’s now move on to your technology platform because we can’t close off the episode without talking about how cool your proprietary technology is. I’ve used it on my account and I went from under 8,000 followers to now, I’ve got, 28,000 followers now. That was just this year and over the course of like five months, not even four months. I’m very happy with the increased engagement. The Twitter Analytics numbers are looking so much better now than they ever had before. If you look at my account for @sspencer, way more engagement than I ever had, am getting consistently. I’m getting retweets and likes. At least some number of retweets and/or likes for most, if not, all posts. That is amazing. Most of the time, I’d get zero and zero for both. I’ve changed my approach to tweeting as well based on your advice, Tetro and Ben. That’s improved engagement too but also getting the larger follower number significantly expanded my reach. Let’s talk a bit about how does this magic happen with your system?
Sure. I want to start off by saying your Twitter account is actually a good example of what a good looking Twitter account would be. When we’re doing our job helping to attract followers to your profile, we want to capture the interest of these people. They’re real people so like we talk about with the website earlier, if they go to your Twitter account and they can tell clearly what you do, it says right there in your bio, world renowned SEO author, speaker, and strategist, co author of bestselling book The Art of SEO, a great book. You’re in Santa Monica. It’s really easy for people to see who you are and what you do. You have a great customized wallpaper. It makes your account very followable. If anybody listening wants to check out what a good looking Twitter account looks like, they can go to Stephan’s account, @sspencer, to check that out. In terms of the technology side of it, Ben, if you want to jump in and explain a bit about what it does.
Sure. Basically, we want to help our clients find the right audience for them and help them accomplish their goals. We try to figure out how do we find these people on Twitter and how can we identify them and then collect as much information about them as we can and try to really do a lot of layers of targeting and filtering and just identify, like micro target, hyper target the exact people that we want to build as our audience, in a way that is strategic so that you’re doing it in the right order at the right time and just generally, in the right way. And then, we connect with these people and do it so that as you progress, as you work through this connecting with people, it increases your ability to get more connections and better connections and that it goes with your content strategy and it goes with your short term and medium term and eventually, their long term goals. We want to help you gain a foothold in social groups you care about but also to become more of a leader in the groups that you care about. Increasing your audience among both people who are very selective with their time and with people who are just a lot like you or who are sort of a, let’s say we’re talking about professional networking, people who may not be like you in the same job, but maybe in the same industry, and therefore be relevant to you, we want to increase your connections with those people as well. When you do this correctly, then your stature increases. The size of your audience increases and who is engaging with your content. Generally, it’s like you’re scaling the social hierarchy at the same time that you’re expanding to more and more people. And so, eventually, you become Lady Gaga.
I don’t know if I’m ever going to become Lady Gaga or any of our listeners but it’s going to be hugely beneficial if you have a large following. Even let’s say 50,000 to 100,000 would be considered a good enough size that you would capture the attention of influencers if you are making a request to do some sort of co marketing deal. Maybe you want to get a link out of it from the influencer because they have a high authority, high trust website as far as Google is concerned. You want to link from them. What are they going to get? You don’t want to link reciprocally back and forth between you and them because that’s going to lower the value of the link to you from their site. So maybe you could offer that, “Hey, I will tweet out about your new book launch,” or whatever the thing is that they’re trying to promote. They are going to look at your follower account. That’s the first thing they’re going to look at and see you got 50,000 or maybe even 100,000. Wow. That’s of interest. You got 2,000, they’re not even going to reply to you. This is really a valuable thing to have real followers who are, as Ben said, micro targeted and in your niche.
That’s absolutely correct, Stephan. Having a large audience, large community of all real people will help in so many different ways. It’s going to help when you’re wanting to reach these people through Twitter, yes. Depending on what you do, we work with big brands, we also work with a lot of celebrities, and we see that having a larger following, it helps them land more gigs, whether speaking gigs, or acting gigs, or music gigs. It helps them sell more books.
It can help you get a job. It can help you get an all expenses paid vacation. This actually does happen with our clients that they get these offers and get to go on these all expenses paid trips. Sometimes, it’s in exchange for basically documenting the experience as you do it. They sound pretty to me. There are a lot of benefits that come out of having a large audience especially if it’s targeted and engaged. I recommend it.
Personal and professional benefits. I know Ben helped someone, not long ago, who was running a crowdfunding campaign. It was a kickstarter campaign, if I recall correctly. Ben could tell the story but he helped them reach their goal and actually exceed the goal because this person had previously built up this community on Twitter and then they were trying to reach the goal. In one way, it wasn’t working so well and then Ben came in. Ben, maybe you want to explain.
Sure. They had some limited success. There was some success but it was limited success getting pledges for their kickstarter campaign. They were not going to hit their goal. We came in and said, “Hey, we see that this is going on and we see that you have this audience. Why don’t we message them? We know that they care about you and we know that they would be interested in this.” We did a direct message campaign and in a matter of, it was not even a couple of weeks, it might have been like a week or two, we were able to get tens of thousands of dollars of additional pledges that helped bring them way beyond their goal. It was very nice for them.
They had built the audience previously using Fanbase service. This was one of the things that they’re able to figure out what to do with it. If you build a large audience, we find sometimes, our clients, or our friends, or anybody that has spent the time on social media, whether it’s Twitter or some other place to build up a community of real people, they may find that all of a sudden they want to take their career in a different direction. They want to pivot their business or something and now, they’ve invested in their social portfolio. It’s an investment in your social media that you can take advantage of later on in life. It maybe a previously unthought-of way.
I would say also that building up a large targeted audience in this way is sort of an investment in your own luck because if you connect with the right people in life, wonderful things can happen. Often, when you meet the right person or when you find the right opportunity for a job, there’s some element of chance in there. If you try to increase the number of chances that you get, you’re going to get more times that you hit the jackpot. Especially, if you’re doing targeting well, if you’re only looking at the right sorts of opportunities, if you connect with enough people, then eventually, good things will happen so why not try to do that 10 times as much.
Yup, or 10 times as fast.
Did you have any big celebrities or big brands that you’re allowed to name drop into this episode?
Sure. I mean there are some that we cannot but there are some that we can.
We’ve done work with companies like Digital Trends, SurveyMonkey, Startup Grind, Bulletproof. We’ve done work with University of Southern California, WordStream, and What’s Trending. One of the cases that we like the most is Digital Trends because they’re such a cool site and we were able to help them a lot. In working on their account, their important metrics really has took off. We have been able to 10x their impressions per month and do similar things relating to engagement. It’s great.
That’s awesome. They’re actually a client of mine as well, small world.
Yeah, very cool. Let’s leave our listeners with somewhere to go to find out more about Fanbase and to contact you if they wanted to work with you. We should probably mention that Fanbase is a technology platform that also works on Instagram, as well as Twitter.
That’s correct. We focus mostly on Twitter. We do have Instagram service as well. We’ve done work for Pinterest platform also. If you want to contact us, you can reach us at [email protected] Our website is currently being updated. In the next few weeks, it will be totally overhauled and we’ll have a lot more information on there, including a Twitter how-to guide that will allow you to get the most out of your time there and make sure that you’re having the best impact.
Cool. That will be at fanbase.net but there’s a site there right now. Is there an opt in for folks to add themselves to your email list?
Yeah. When they send us an email to [email protected], they can be requested to be added to our email list and we’ll do that.
Alright, cool. Well, thank you so much Tetro and Ben. Listeners, I’m glad that you guys stuck it out through the whole Twitter specific interview and hopefully now, you will go and implement some of these fantastic recommendations. Use the tools, overhaul your Twitter profile, and the way that you’re tweeting and maybe, consider using the Fanbase technology to increase your follower account. Thanks guys and thanks listeners. We’ll catch you on the next episode of Marketing Speak. This is Stephan Spencer signing off.
Your Checklist of Actions to Take
☑ Keep up and evolve with the trends on how people share stuff on Twitter so I stay relevant and connected.
☑ Refrain from linking my tweets to my other social media accounts and vice versa because posting on one platform requires a different approach than the others.
☑ Optimize some of my best tweets regularly and specifically aim it at my target audience for further reach and higher impressions.
☑ Make my social posts interesting by including visuals such as images, GIFs and videos about stuff that I actually am interested in. Be more valuable in terms of what I share rather than just advertising to people.
☑ Spread my tweets out to reach a wider audience by being more social and active on Twitter. Make sure that I reply to my comments, keep up with my conversations, answer relevant DMs and retweet tweets I like.
☑ Use Twitter analytics to gather data and get insights about my followers and the impact of my content.
☑ Use direct messages to target specific audience members and create further engagement by reaching out to them with a personalized message.
☑ Find ways to get my account verified so I can engage with big influencers by tweeting at their Twitter handle as they will see my post in their verified feed.
☑ Schedule my tweets at optimum times, for example between 10:00 am and 5:00 pm so that my audience are online and active on Twitter as well.
☑ Mute notifications using the notifications tab under my account profile in Twitter. I can mute, block, filter quality, and mute specific attributes.
About Ben Landis & Michael Tetro
Ben Landis and Michael Tetro are the founders of Fanbase, a social media technology platform that helps brands and celebrities to massively expand their reach.
Fanbase came about after Ben grew his personal Twitter from 150 followers all the way up to 1.5 million over the course of two years. Together, they’ve helped more than 600 clients gain more than 40 million real followers.