Discover 5 ways to find engaged audiences on Twitter and activate them with the right tactics
Most Twitter users are lurkers. They consume content but rarely engage visibly. The users that regularly engage are often brands and thought leaders in their own rights and are working hard (like you) to build a following and engage in the relevant discussions.
You might think this means any engagement from these users is fake...or meaningless. But just because someone benefits from their interactions with you doesn't necessarily mean that you can't benefit as well.
In fact, precisely because most Twitter users are lurkers, building a robust, engaged audience can be quite challenging. You need help if you're going to grow your following quickly.
Attracting like-minded content creators, curators, and other subject matter experts with their own following is a great way to expand beyond your own circle without spending any ad dollars.
As relevant (and real, human) users engage with your Tweets or you discover them in other ways, take a moment to follow them and add them to a private list. Curate this list and frequently review it, taking advantage of any opportunities to engage with the accounts you’re tracking.
People notice when you like, RT, or reply to their tweets. Many will follow you back. Some may share your content to say thank you.
You can monitor this list easily in social media management tools like HootSuite, or on Twitter itself, for opportunities to retweet and comment on the tweets from members in this list, greatly increasing your visibility with them over time.
And it may take more than a one-time effort on your part, but consistently engaging with active users under 100,000 followers often have more impact than trying to get a mention from a major player in your space (which is nearly impossible).
Think about your own behavior on Twitter. If you like a tweet, but don’t follow the account immediately, you’re not likely to go back later, are you?
But, if someone likes your post, you take notice, right?
Ever followed someone who liked your post to have them follow you back immediately?
This is how organic growth happens on Twitter. If you want more followers, go follow more people and engage with their content.
Having an “engage with” list is a very simple way to increase the likelihood you’ll interact with people who’ve already engaged with you. That’s because repeat interactions form a kind of digital relationship that can often develop into a real friendship over time.
Searching a URL or even a domain will return any shares on that property, even if it uses a shortened link. A search for “blog.atomicreach.com”, for example, returns any shares from AtomicReach’s blog (which would be a great audience for me to try and reach).
AtomicReach creates a lot of great content for a digital audience that we’d like to be more visible with so I searched their blog’s URL to reveal a list of people sharing their content.
Imagine your competitor puts out a really compelling piece of content that goes viral and gets a ton of shares on social media. Monitor who is helping them achieve this success and reach out to them for support when you created great original content to share.
Or alternatively, compile a tailored audience and promote relevant, evergreen content through Twitter ad campaigns. If they’re interested in something a close competitor is saying, you owe it to yourself to gain their attention as well.
Rather than doing this manually, you can use IFTTT to export the results of the search to a Google Sheet (including their Twitter handle).
Activate the IFTTT “applet” Twitter Search to Google Spreadsheet, enter your search query and select (or create) the Google Sheet where the results will be stored automatically.
Click the “Connect” toggle to begin configuring the integration between Twitter and Google Sheets.
Paste in the query you built in Twitter Advanced Search...
...and select the Google Sheet where you want the results stored. The Sheet will be created automatically if none matches the name you enter.
New results for your search will be entered into the Google Sheet automatically along with the username/handle, link to the tweet on Twitter, date of creation. Copy the username column into a tailored Twitter audience and promote your content to a verifiably engaged audience.
This is a similar approach to the Twitter Advanced Search method above, except you’re using their interest in an event as a way to qualify the audience. All the same options above also work with this strategy, from monitoring attention to organic outreach to advertising campaigns.
But beyond that...industry events are a rich source of potential leads. The laser-focused content shared on conference hashtags can provide excellent context on these prospects as well.
Monitor conference hashtags to discover brands who might be in the market for your product or service.
Likes, RTs, shares, and any replies in threads indicate the potential for a higher-than-average level of active engagement. Extract these accounts into a list and use a tool like FullContact or Hunter to discover their email addresses.
For example, you can visit their websites and use a tool like the Chrome extension Hunter to scrape the site for other contacts.
Hunter’s Chrome extension allows you to grab email addresses for potential leads right from your browser window as you’re researching their website.
Boom. You have a lead list of brands who’re actively engaging in the conference discussion, if not also at the conference itself.
People with something to promote make the best guests for your blog, podcast, YouTube channel, etcetera. They’re typically polished, well-informed, and, best of all, highly motivated.
Talking a high profile thought leader into contributing content to your small channel is hard work unless they’re trying to promote a book, a class, or something else that motivates them.
The question is, how do you keep up with which thought leaders are currently looking for ways to promote themselves?
Once again we can turn to Twitter Advanced Search for help. Twitter contains traces of nearly every obscure topic in the digital world and, using search, we can mine any niche of specialized content for users that match our profile.
Searching for authors who use specific hashtags is a great way to discover potential guests. Just be sure to provide date parameters so you’re getting authors who are actively promoting a book.
Searching for tweets with the word “book” or “author” will return a lot of results that are just mentioning a book or author so instead I searched for the more specific phrase “my book” within tweets that also use the hashtag #contentmarketing.
100% of the results are authors promoting books within the last few months…
Since finding relevant authors that are actively in search of promotion for their book is pretty easy, you’re left with plenty of time and energy to reach out to them with an invitation.
These folks are very, very likely to promote their appearance on your podcast/channel as well since they’re looking for additional opportunities to promote after their appearance with you.
They’ll do this because it signals to other podcasters and promotional channels that they know how to be good guests. And if someone forgets, just ask nicely and they’ll usually oblige you right away.
Obviously, Twitter Advanced Search has a lot to offer growth hackers. But what do you do with the results beyond reading and absorbing the content personally?
How do you extract that information and use it to power your other efforts without violating any of Twitter’s Terms of Service?
Fortunately, we can turn to Zapier for just such a solution. Zapier is a marketplace of codeless integrations, all TOS compliant and approved by the platforms, called “Zaps” which automate useful activities like adding Twitter users found in a search to a List.
Let’s say you want to engage in a new topic or quickly identify the players in a particular niche.
Zapier features a connection with Twitter that allows you to monitor that search in near-real-time (every 15 mins) and add any accounts picked up by that search to a List in your Twitter account.
Setting up the Zap only takes a few seconds...
First, create a Zapier account and connect it to your Twitter. Then activate the Zap “Build a Twitter List from search results”.
A free Zapier account will provide you a few Zaps but once you’ve used those up you’ll need to upgrade for about $25/m.
If you follow the link, these fields should be filled in automatically...
Go to Twitter Advanced Search and create your query then paste it into Zapier in the “Search Term” field in Step 1.
Select your Twitter account again to find the list where you want to save the accounts...
...and select the list once it loads. If you want to create a new list, do so in your Twitter account and then reload the list from the dropdown menu’s last option.
Zapier provides a way to test your work so that you know the integration was successful.
Once the Zap is turned on, your search will be executed and any new accounts added to the list every 15 minutes.
Once your list has a few people in it you can review it for opportunities to engage, for content to reshare, potential prospects, influencers, or brand advocates, etc…
As with most social automation these days, research/discovery can be fully automated but taking action on what you find will need to be done manually.
Still, when you think about how much effort is involved in searching for content to share or influencers to work with, reducing the time it takes to do your research is very meaningful.
Twitter is a great platform for marketers because of its openness and all of the rich contextual data on your audience that you can discover with a little time and effort. Of course, there are also tools emerging in this space (especially AI platforms) which can help automate these efforts, but that’s a topic for another article.
Even manually...even gradually, taking the time to implement tactics like these can give your organic Twitter strategy a shot in the arm.
People respond to personalized outreach and meaningful human interactions. These Twitter growth hacks can help you build momentum over time by increasing your connections to other content creators and curators working to build their brands, just like you.
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Published on 01/27/2020 by Nathan Binford.
Nathan is VP of Marketing for MarketChorus (@marketchorus), a content intelligence platform powered by machine learning. He’s an avid music fan, die-hard inbound marketer, and ad geek. Find him on Twitter at @inboundbp and at his blog Inbound Marketing Best Practices.