John Sparks may be one of the most influential people on Twitter you've never heard of. We sure hadn't. Then one day we saw his distinctive handle (@IAmJohnSparks) on Twitter.
Twitter can help them establish their credibility as the go-to online business to buy from
Curious, we checked his bio and saw his claim about having gone from 800 Twitter followers to more than 200,000 in less than two years. We verified his claim and found he was the real deal. By the time we checked, he had more 250,000 followers!
Now, having a ton of followers on Twitter doesn't guarantee success any more than having more than 500 LinkedIn connections does. But it's definitely something you can build upon. Such a large follower base is sure to include current and future customers.
Sparks is the founder and CEO of Online ImageWorks. He's also an adjunct professor teaching online journalism. To learn more about his Twitter tricks we spoke with Sparks, who has just distilled his advice in a new book called 365 Ideas To Go From Good To Great On Twitter!
Schepp: Tell us about yourself and your qualifications for writing this book.
Sparks: I've been recognized nationally as a Top 100 Social Media Power Influencer of 2015 by StatSocial.com. It's a list that used to be put out by the Forbes website.
I've also been recognized as No. 13 on the list of Top 50 most valuable social media influencers by General Sentiment. I went from less than 800 followers to almost 200,000 followers in almost two years on Twitter and didn't spend much money doing it, or buy any of my own followers at all!
Schepp: How did you increase your Twitter following so drastically?
Sparks: By providing rich content others could not find anywhere else that was positive and uplifting, by following people back that followed me, by responding to my followers when they tweeted me and making them feel welcomed, special, and appreciated, and by following hundreds of new people every single day and building relationships with them!
Eighty percent of postings should be informative and not commercial whatsoever
Twitter and your business
Schepp: Who can benefit the most from having a large Twitter following?
Sparks: Everyone from individuals to small-business owners to large companies.
Schepp: How about people running online businesses? How can having a large Twitter following help them?
Sparks: Twitter can help them establish their credibility as the go-to online business to buy from. Statistics put out by Twitter show 43 percent [of people] plan to make multiple purchases from the small and medium-sized businesses they follow. They can make the most of that following by having personal accounts and business accounts, and getting people to know, like, and trust them as people first and online businesses second.
Schepp: What about paying for promoted ads on Twitter or "buying" followers? Do either of these pay off?
Sparks: This may surprise you, but I don't believe anyone should have to pay to play. I didn't grow my following this way and don't encourage others to do it this way.
Schepp: What are some of your best-proven strategies for building a large Twitter following?
- Follow new Twitter accounts every day. (The number you follow should depend on the size of your account.)
- Flush people who don't follow you back in seven days.
- Thank people after you follow them or they follow you, and ask them "Did you know?" type questions. Twitter is about conversations, and you want them to respond to you.
- Be mindful of the content you are sending out. Keep it positive and uplifting. Remember the 80-20 rule for social media interactions. Eighty percent of postings should be informative and not commercial whatsoever; perhaps 20 percent can be more commercial.
- Ask others you engage with how you can help them. Remember Twitter and social media is not about you and that people reach out to people who reach out.
- For 360 other ideas check out my book!
Schepp: Do you recommend that people who are building a large Twitter following also follow a lot of people?
How will others who don't know about your product know your product even exists if you don't follow them, too?
Sparks: Yes, utilize that base as a prospecting tool to find people who will buy from your business or brand, or lead you to the people who will!
The right followers
Schepp: Whom should online sellers be following?
Sparks: This is where many people struggle. They think they should only follow other people who sell on eBay, Amazon or through their website (their competitors), or only people who are interested in your products or a combination of the two.
But how will others who don't know about your product know your product even exists if you don't follow them, too?
Schepp: To accomplish what you've outlined, about how much time per day should people spend on Twitter?
Sparks: It depends how much they want to get out of it. In the appendix of the book I include the workflow I used to grow my account. The great thing about Twitter is with all the scheduling tools and third party tools that are out there it can be managed in less than an hour or two every single day.
Schepp: What are your thoughts on using the other major social media sites?
Sparks: It's equally important to be as active on them as you are on Twitter, especially Facebook and LinkedIn. You can't ignore them.
Schepp: What else should readers know about your book?
Sparks: The book is designed for newbies, intermediate and advanced Twitter users. It starts out with basic definitions and then covers advanced topics. Even if you are not interested in Twitter, it's a good tool to have. It includes plenty of third party tools and websites, some of which have nothing to do with Twitter but will help you become more productive with the time you spend online.
Schepp: Thank you, John. See you on Twitter!