Larry Brauner

In List Building Using Twitter, I discussed the importance of list building and the ease of building a list on Twitter.

In this article I focus on building your Twitter community — people who relate to your niche and who share some of your interests — people with whom you can network and who also extend your list in a more targeted way than previously outlined.

Is Twitter Past Its Prime?

Twitter will not last forever. However, I’m hoping that Twitter will have a strong future. Many new applications are currently being developed and launched “on top of” Twitter using the Twitter API.

If Twitter was on its way out, it’s highly unlikely that such substantial resources would be invested to build upon the Twitter platform. If my theory is right, then what we’ve seen so far is only the tip of the Twitter iceberg.

Building Your Twitter Community

Twitter has a tool for searching tweets. It can help find people in your niche or who share you interests. You can also use Twollow which bases its searches on the contents of tweets.

I prefer searches based on profile, because they’re more robust. Twitter Grader Search searches profiles. It also identifies the best people to connect with, ones who are active and successful using Twitter. I plug in search terms and back comes a list of Twitter users along with their Twitter Grader ratings and their complete profile information.

Another resource to look at is Twitter Groups. This new tool brings people together based both on common interests and geographic location and is worth exploring.

I’ve already built a following using the procedure I outlined in List Building Using Twitter, and my profile highlights interests relevant to my niche, so the people I follow tend to follow me back.

Keep your eyes open for news about other useful tools. Using the tools available to you, you can build a community of friends just as you would at social networking sites such as Facebook, MySpace or any of the Ning social networks.

Networking with Your Twitter Community

Every social networking site has features that permit members to communicate with each other, and in this respect Twitter is no different. Here are your basic options on Twitter:

  • Updates are best used to reach all your followers who are monitoring Twitter at that moment — consistent with a list building strategy rather than an online social networking strategy. However, you can view any Twitter member’s past posts by visiting their page, as long as they don’t have their updates protected. If they are protected, you will need to request permission in order to browse their updates.
  • Replies are updates that begin with @username, public messages addressed to a particular member. Members don’t need to be following you to receive a reply, but if they’re not following you, they can safely choose to ignore you without appearing rude. If you’re having a long conversation which others might find annoying, avoid using replies — use direct messages instead. Annoy people, and they will stop following you. Use replies specifically when you want everybody or a group of people included in your discussion.
  • Direct messages referred to as DMs are private, and they’re the closest you can get to e-mail communication using Twitter. Use direct messages when it’s inappropriate to reach the community-at-large. Direct messages are very rarely ignored, and they’re essential to cultivating one-on-one relationships using Twitter.

Here are a few more things to keep in mind as you begin to network on Twitter:

  • You don’t need a large number of followers to network on Twitter. You only need one follower to start.
  • You aren’t the only networker with an agenda. To be very successful help your networking partners advance their agendas while you advance your own. If you want people to be interested in you, be interested in them. See the site map for a listing of articles I’ve written about online social networking and other topics.
  • You should never ever spam. If you’re thinking of using Twitter (or any other social networking site) to spam (or to advertise) rather than to network with other members, please check out How Do You Like Your SPAM? and Social Networking vs. Advertising.

I’d love for you to follow me.

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Larry Brauner

My social media experiences have dramatically altered my thinking about list building.

This article may cause you too to rethink everything you’ve been taught and believe about list building.

My Articles on List Building

I have discussed building a list and its importance in several blog posts, which I list here for your convenience:

List Building Before Social Media

I remember the Rolodex, “a rotating file device used to store business contact information” according to Wikipedia. I still have one in a carton somewhere at home.

I long ago replaced my Rolodex with a spreadsheet, but contact information I collect online I store in an autoresponder, a widely used e-mail marketing tool.

Most online marketers today would tend to visualize list building as a well-written lead capture page linked by a web form to an autoresponder. While this type of list building is still extremely important, especially in conjunction with online or offline advertising, it is nevertheless List Building 1.0.

Concept of Follower

In order to broaden our view of list building we introduce the concept of follower, a term frequently used in the social media world.

A follower is a person (or organization) who subscribes to (or in some other way receives) messages, sometimes called updates, from the person (or organization) whom they follow.

Examples of Followers

The concept of follower applies to List Building 1.0. A subscriber to my autoresponder is certainly one of my followers.

However, a friend at a social network (to whom I can send messages whenever I wish) is just as much a follower as my autoresponder subscriber. What’s interesting in this case is that I’m also that person’s follower. We’re mutually following each other.

A subscriber to my blog’s RSS feed (who receives an update whenever I post an article) is also a follower. What’s of interest here is that my follower is totally anonymous.

I have no way to identify this follower unless that person (or organization) chooses to step forward. For all I know I might even be following my follower without realizing that he or she is following me too. We could be mutually following each other without ever knowing it.

Suppose I own a radio or television station, or I host a talk show, my listeners or viewers are followers who keep track of me and receive my messages without subscribing in any way.

List Building 2.0

When list building is viewed as the process of acquiring and nurturing followers, you can easily understand how in List Building Using Twitter I could claim that “list building possibilities are endless”.

They really are, and the many reaching out methods you devise can be mixed, matched and synergized to develop a rich and heterogeneous following. Welcome to the world of social marketing and List Building 2.0!

Would you care to follow me?

Did you enjoy this article? Subscribe to my RSS feed or by e-mail. Visit my About, Services, Media Buzz and Connect pages to learn about Building Your Audience and Brand on the Web. See also my Disclosure Policy regarding affiliations and compensation.

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Larry Brauner

Importance of List Building

Reach and frequency are basic advertising metrics. Reach refers to the quantity of people your message reaches, while frequency refers to the number of times on average each person is reached.

It is frequency that builds trust and drives your message home. Advertising without frequency is hardly ever effective. Marketers are relying more and more on list building to repeatedly reach people in their target market and achieve desired frequency levels in their marketing campaigns.

List building possibilities are endless. Last week we discussed list building using Ning social networks. Today we turn our attention to Twitter, possibly the fastest and simplest way to build a list.

Building Your Following on Twitter

As I stated in Brand Yourself and Market on Twitter:

Twitter may very well be the hottest online social media venue today. It’s a social network, micro-blog, instant messenger, mobile communications tool and giant party — all rolled into one site.

Creating a following on Twitter is easy, even for someone new to online social networking and social media sites. Here are three remarkably simple steps to get you started:

  1. Twitter Training - I used to recommend Bill Hibbler’s Affiliate University. Bill’s Affiliate University was dissolved, so I refer you to the Twitter articles and resources in Tons of Twitter Tools, Tips and Resources. If you’re looking for a complete step-by-step Twitter course, the Twitter Power System is your best choice. You can read about it in Twitter Power System Review.
  2. Build Your Reach Instantly - Here is a cool trick you can use to quickly get some very influential followers. Start with the top 50 Twitter users based on reach listed at twinfluence.com, one of my favorite Twitter tools. You will notice that the majority of those listed have as many “friends” as they have “followers”. They are the ones you should follow. They will almost certainly follow you back and increase your reach.
  3. Manage Your Connections - Once you have completed Step 2, many people you don’t know will start following you, and for the most part you’ll want to follow them all back. You can manage your Twitter connections using Twitter Karma, another of my favorite Twitter tools. After some time has passed, you’ll notice that many of the people you’ve been following become inactive — they haven’t “tweeted” in months. Stop following them in order to improve your ratio of followers to friends, a measure of your Twitter influence.

I applied this method myself about a month ago, and now about a hundred Twitter users begin following me each week.

When I “tweet” a link, roughly one to two percent of my followers click to see what the link is about. Isn’t that how any list is supposed to work?

This approach is easy, and it’s free.

Respect your followers and they’ll keep following you. Spam them, and they’ll stop following you in an instant.

That’s all there is to it. Please leave a comment. ;-)

Did you enjoy this article? Subscribe to my RSS feed or by e-mail. Visit my About, Services, Media Buzz and Connect pages to learn about Building Your Audience and Brand on the Web. See also my Disclosure Policy regarding affiliations and compensation.

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List building is an essential part of online social networking, and Ning, if used properly, is a powerful list building tool.

Here are some strategies that I believe will help you with list building on Ning.

Creating Your Own Ning Network

You can create your own Ning social networking sites. Ning was designed with that end in mind. My new Ning site is Critical Thinking Outside the Box.

Your Ning site will help you to grow your online list virally, and you’ll be able to use the many channels that Ning social networks provide such as broadcasts, forum discussions, blog posts, private messages and profile comments to communicate with your list.

As tempting as it might be to start your own Ning social networking site as quickly as possible, I advise you to wait until you develop a substantial online following before taking that step.

I have seen many Ning sites die off from a lack of momentum. However, once you can personally enlist 100 to 200 people to become members of your site, you might very well be able to get it off the ground.

Joining Other People’s Ning Networks

You can start building a list by joining other people’s Ning sites. The best sites to join are those that attract the kinds of people you’re looking to meet online.

Don’t be afraid to join a new network that might not be right for you. You can always leave the network if you wish or you can create a profile, abandon it and move on. On the other hand you might really like what you find once you join, so if it looks interesting, give it a try.

When you join a site, you’ll be connected as friends with anybody there whom you befriended at another Ning site. This makes perfect sense, but it can work against you.

Messaging Restrictions on Ning Networks

You can only send messages to your friends, so of course you’ll want to add friends when you join a new site. You will be able to mail to them individually or as a group, but the latter is usually more effective.

Unfortunately, if you have more than a hundred friends at a site, Ning will not let you mail to them as a group. To avoid hitting the 100 limit, you should try to add about eighty friends max on each site.

Pre-existing friends will count against you. If you join a site, and you already have forty friends there, you’ll only be able to add forty new ones on that site before reaching your eighty target.

In addition, the overlap between this site and others will cause your friends to receive duplicate messages across networks each time you send an announcement.

Yet despite Ning’s messaging restrictions, you should eventually be able to directly mail to hundreds across all the networks to which you belong.

Exceeding the Messaging Limit

If you join a large Ning social networking site and end up with more than 100 friends there, you won’t be able to mail them as a group.

Don’t despair — add even more friends!

Later, when you find a site you really like or start your own Ning site, you’ll be able to invite friends from this site and others to which you belong all at one time using Ning’s “invite friends” feature.

You’ll even be able to invite them more than one time, as long as you don’t make a pest out of yourself.

Using Messaging to Build Your Brand

Don’t spam your friends. They’ll quickly tune you out.

Send useful information that positions you as a leader or as an authority. If you have a blog, you can send blog announcements to attract new readers and subscribers.

Eventually you’ll have the influence and following you need to start your own thriving Ning social networking site.

Did you enjoy this article? Subscribe to my RSS feed or by e-mail. Also, visit my About, Services, Media Buzz and Connect pages to learn about me and my social media and web marketing services.

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