Posted on May 24, 2013 by Webfor By Sara Thompson Time has proven that one of the best things you can do to get your brand recognized on the internet is to start a Twitter account and build a following. Sometimes, starting from scratch can be a little overwhelming, and if you’re not careful you could waste a ton of time just clicking around. To get the most out of your efforts and build real connections, a focused, targeted approach is key. I’ll go over some tips for getting started, but first, there are some things you should keep in mind about social media. You’ll probably never have as many followers as Starbucks or Nike, and that’s OK. A following is not built overnight, it is a long-term effort. If it happened rapidly I would be suspicious. 15 genuine, fired-up followers who are excited to talk to you about your brand are better than 5 million followers who don’t give a crap about your brand. 1. Sign up Choose a name and username that people will recognize as your business. If you are the owner or spokesperson for the company, use your full name for the profile. If you’re not the owner or spokesperson, use the brand or business name. Keep your username as close to your brand or business name as possible. If your brand name is already being used, try not to choose any usernames with numbers that Twitter might suggest, and modify your name with your location instead. 2. Curate Your Profile If you are the owner or spokesperson for the brand, use your photo for the profile. If not, use your brand logo. Select a header image that describes your business. For example, a roofing company could have the business owner’s headshot as the photo and an image of a home with a new roof as the header. Make sure to add your location and write a brief bio about your business. It’s a good idea to include your website URL in your bio rather than in the website field Twitter provides. This is because other websites and social media directories will show your Twitter bio and having a link there will be beneficial. 3. Start Your Research When looking for users to follow, it’s a good idea to stay organized. Create a document for your research, and organize the people you follow by name, username, website, and some sort of identifier like “blogger,” “reporter,” or “friend.” That way, when you have something to share with bloggers that you follow, you can filter your document by “blogger” and save yourself the time it takes to sift through the list on your account. 4. Find The Right People To Follow Twitter will suggest countless users for you to follow. Some will be relevant and some won’t. Instead of just taking Twitter’s advice, break out on your own to find the right people to follow. Start with the people you already know. Family and friends are great people to start with because they will be the first ones to help you by retweeting what you share. Next, seek out the people in your industry that you know personally and go through your email contacts to find people whom you’ve already built a relationship with that are on Twitter. A lot of people put their Twitter handle in their email signature. Find thought leaders and experts in your field by searching for industry blogs. A lot of times at the end of a featured blog post, the author will have a bio and include their Twitter handle. Newspaper and magazine journalists often have accounts, too. When you find an authoritative person to follow, visit their profile and look at their “lists.” They might be subscribed to or be a member of lists that are relevant to you, and these lists might include other people worth following. Make sure to subscribe to a few lists and follow the users who created the lists, and hopefully, you’ll get added to a few. Use Twitter search to find people by keyword. For example, if you’re a chiropractor, search the term “Chiropractic.” You can look through the tweet results for people to follow, or you can select “people” on the left-hand side to find users who tweet about chiropractics. Get geographically specific by clicking on the gear icon above your results, selecting “advanced search,” and entering your location along with your search criteria. There are other tools available that can help you find, compare, and analyze Twitter users. They often rank people by their influence, show you whom they follow, and help you analyze your own strategy. 5. How Do You Know If Someone Is Worth Following? There are a few things you can look at to make sure a user will add value to your experience. Don’t get suckered by people who use the term “follow back” or promise you 500 new followers overnight. When visiting their profile ask yourself a few questions: How many followers do they have? If they have less than 100 they might not be very active. Is their website legitimate? If they’re serious about their industry, they should have or contribute to a website. Are their tweets interesting? A user who only tweets to promote themselves is doing it wrong. Do they tweet regularly? They may not be worth following if they only tweet once a month. Do they reply? Look for the @ in their tweets to find out if they are communicating with other users. 6. Write Your First Tweet While you may not have any followers yet and writing a tweet to no one seems silly, you’ll want to have at least one tweet when the users that you decide to follow look at your profile. A good first tweet is a simple introduction to the Twitterverse, such as “Hello world! We’re glad to be starting our adventure on Twitter today. Stay tuned for sweet tweets.” Following relevant and interesting people and tweeting things that are useful and compelling is the best way to cultivate a genuine following. I hope this helps you get started on a wildly successful Twitter adventure.