Here’s a wise cliché for you: The best leaders know how to follow.
It’s a really old saying, but with the rise of Twitter, its becoming more relevant by the day.
Twitter has brought us new ways to build and view relationships. One of these ways is though the follower/following relationship.
This relationship can vary remarkably from one Twitter user to the next. Trying to figure out who is having a great relationship with their connections and who is having the equivalent of a dysfunctional marriage is difficult at times.
This is where that tried and tested phrase from the first sentence comes in. To be a leader in your industry and make an impact on social media, your organization must first know how to follow. It’s not just a case of getting more followers (although it definitely helps), but also having more meaningful interactions and receiving better, more useful content.
So who does your organization need to follow in order to have success on Twitter? Here’s a quick rundown of some helpful characteristics:
Who To Follow
- Members, staff, donors, volunteers and anyone else who is or has been active in your association or non-profit.
- Journalists, bloggers or communications professionals who create content about your industry.
- Other associations or organizations that are in your industry or related industries.
- Twitter users who tweet regularly (about once every couple of days at least), engage with others and post useful or interesting content.
Who Not to Follow
- Twitter users who you wouldn’t ever engage with or post any relevant or interesting content.
- Twitter users who follow too many other accounts.
- Inactive or inconsistent accounts.
- This might go without saying, but accounts that tweet inappropriate or hateful remarks. Even once is enough.
Now that you have that handy-dandy list, let’s get into specifics and strategies.
First thing’s first: It’s great to have those from the first list in your “following” category, especially because you will most likely share similar interests, goals, content, etc. But if any of them fall into the second category as well (ie. a staff member that hasn’t tweeted since the Winter Olympics were in Vancouver) then it’s probably best to not click the “follow” button.
Okay, so you have a general list of people to follow. But how do you find those people? One of the best tools to find members, staff, volunteers, etc., is through simple searches on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. Putting in a couple key words will usually turn up at least a couple dozen people who work, intern, volunteer or are members with an organization.
Finding tweeters that post relevant and insightful content, like bloggers, can be done through a Google Blog search or through Twitter hashtags. At Incline, we like to search through the hashtag #assnchat to find those Twitter users who create great blog posts on associations and social media.
Now that you have followed some accounts, you must complete the process. Following someone means that you want to engage with them, learn from them and share with them. So go ahead and do just that. Tweet at them, ask them a question, share their content or share your content with them. Remember, social media is all about genuine interactions making an impact in your member’s/volunteer’s/donor’s lives.
Before we wrap up, a few words of warning. Beware of following an account that has a large number in its “following” column. It is almost impossible for these accounts to keep up with their timeline activity as it is flooded by tweets. This probably means interacting with their connections is not one of their top priorities.
Also, be aware of those accounts that tweet hateful or inappropriate things. This kind of content is definitely not helpful and connecting your organization with those comments could be dangerous.
Following the right people on Twitter has a positive ripple effect for your association or non-profit. By engaging the right people on Twitter, it gives you the opportunity to enter into a mutually beneficial relationship where both you and the one you follow have the chance to share and talk about those issues that matter most to both. This shows others that they will be heard by your organization and will be better off for following you. When even more Twitter users see this, your organization will be regarded as a leader in its area and will thrive on social media.