Finding a Voice and an Audience on Twitter

I have been active on Twitter for the last 5 months, and am documenting my quest for a voice and an audience for the benefit of me and others. It might cause light moments or even bewilderment when we look back at it 5 or 10 years from now.

Past Practices

I opened my personal Twitter account @Willy_Simons in August 2012, but only started posting in December 2016. That’s after taking an interest in social media for the promotion of my startup. On average I tweeted 1 to 2 times a day, but there was no planning or consistency. It was fun though, since I could jump in on hot political conversations and tweet on any topic from Jazz to chess.

Things began to change with the opening of the Twitter business account @SpatialityKe in January 2017. A business must be very deliberate in the use of social media, so I took time to find a unique and authentic voice. For startups, corporate and personal branding gets intertwined, so I also had to reconsider my voice as a business leader.

In February 2017, I decided to enroll in the “14-day Twitter Marketing That Sells Challenge” by Social Quant. It made me realize that Twitter serves a serious business purpose in a kind of fun way.

Present Practices

The two Twitter accounts that I manage provide a split test environment and the table below presents their key characteristics in terms of tweets and following.

  @Willy_Simons @SpatialityKe
Tweets ~ 390 ~ 280
Tweets / day 5 5
Topics Social Media Marketing (20%), Blog Promotion (20%), Geospatial Technology (20%), Humor & Inspiration (20%), Digital Transformation (20%) Blog Promotion (20%), Geospatial Technology (40%), Humor & Inspiration (20%), Digital Transformation (20%)
Following ~ 310 ~ 215
Followers ~ 410 ~ 340
Local Audience % ~ 20% ~ 40%
Following Strategy Follow back, follow influencers Follow target audience, follow back influencers

I observed that my international followers tend to be older, and more focused in respect of the topics that they tweet about. The local audience has a younger demographic and likes to tweet about politics and football. Many of the international followers monitor their Twitter accounts and uses social media management tools more than their local counterparts.

Currently there is an overlap between what I post to the two accounts. However, 50% of the geospatial technology retweets on @SpatialityKe are technical and geared towards the learning needs of my local audience.

I have experimented with other social media management tools, and here a few that I find extremely useful.

Buffer

I started with the free version of Buffer, but upgraded to the Awesome plan so that I could manage more than one account per social media platform. With the Awesome plan, I can now connect with up to 10 social media accounts on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest and Instagram.

I have successfully used Buffer for two months to schedule my posts, analyze the performance of recent posts, and re-schedule my top posts. I also use the Optimize Timing Tool to calculate the posting schedule for my social media accounts, but tweak the schedule towards my target audience.

I like Buffer’s integration with Twitter, so when I compose a tweet or share an article I have the option of posting to the Buffer queue. I also installed the Buffer Chrome extension allowing me to share links, images and videos from anywhere on the web.

Twitter Lists

About 40% of my tweets are my own, while 60% of the content is curated. Finding quality content for retweet was a challenge until I created a Twitter List for each topic that I tweet about. Once a week I browse through the list feeds, select interesting posts, and add them to my Buffer queues.

Social Warfare & Twitter Cards

I use WordPress to publish blog articles on my corporate website, and have installed two plugins to easily share blog articles on Twitter.

The Social Warfare plugin allows me to easily share my blog posts on Twitter and other social media platforms through its share buttons. I also use Social Warfare’s “Click to Tweet” feature within my blog posts.

The JM Twitter Cards plugin allows me to promote my blog posts with Twitter Summary Cards plus additional comments and hashtags.

ManageFlitter

Paid plans provide additional functionality, but I use the free version of ManageFlitter to implement my Following strategies.

For @SpatialityKe, I simply keep track of the people who don’t follow me back or stop following me. I stop following people who don’t follow me back within a week and stop following the people who stop following me. For @Willy_Simons I periodically order the people that I am following by Influence, Tweets, Followers to determine whether I should keep following them.

Conclusion

Fiddling around on Twitter has been a welcome distraction from the hard work of writing blog posts and the struggle of starting a business. Going forward I plan to automate or delegate the repetitive tasks of social media management to develop additional content and focus on lead generation.

Choosing between all that needs to be done is currently a challenge, so I will have a look at other growth hacking strategies. One lesson I learned is that some hacks take time to hatch, so I’ll keep growing my audience on Twitter and engage them with valuable content.

About Author:

Willy Simons came to Kenya from The Netherlands in 1994. He is a serial entrepreneur and co-founder of Oakar Services, Esri Eastern Africa and Spatiality. He blogs about business, geospatial technology and cloud computing.