Social media managers spend a lot of time agonising over how to increase their Twitter following. It takes a lot of energy to keep doing creative things, week after week, yet many brands neglect to nurture relationships with those hard won followers. Indeed, our research shows that without early engagement, companies can expect to lose 15 per cent of new followers within three weeks, hampering community growth over the long term.
We know from Twitter’s latest revenue figures that more and more brands are spending money on sponsored tweets. Twitter ads are becoming big business and they are a great means of driving traffic and starting conversations. However, they have the greatest impact when deployed strategically, so brands must focus on follower retention to ensure they are achieving return on investment.
Imagine that you created a campaign last year with the hashtag ‘#eventX’. How many of the users you connected with then are following you now and how many of them have interacted with your brand? You have to earn the loyalty of your followers or else this year, when you are trying to promote #eventY, you will find yourself re-building that following from the bottom up.
Monitoring follower retention with an analytics tool such as SocialBro provides useful insight about which campaigns have the biggest initial impact and shows whether your ongoing engagement is working. Follower retention metrics also enable brands to compare the retention of followers gained through organic growth and Twitter ads with what happens when brands resort to buying followers. This is not a strategy we would ever recommend and anyone who is convinced this is a shortcut to building a Twitter presence should be aware that they will lose almost 40 per cent of these followers after just two weeks.
Unsurprisingly, our baseline churn rate figures show that the more influential you are, the more likely it is that your followers will stay with you. But the bigger your community, the greater scope there is to gain an edge over your competitors by engaging your followers. It is far more efficient to roll out a programme of ongoing engagement to build connections with your existing followers than it is to get stuck on the hamster wheel of continuously creating fresh and exciting ways to attract more followers, particularly if those followers are forgotten as you move on to your next campaign.
When thinking about improving follower retention, it helps to consider how you would build a friendship or business relationship in daily life. Behind every profile is a real person, so do your best to interact with them, just as you would if they came in to your shop. Mention them; thank them for following you; favourite their tweets. Make an effort to ‘follow back’, using lists to listen to your most important followers. Obviously you need to prioritise those that are real accounts and those that represent a real opportunity, but try not to ignore new followers or they will soon say ‘goodbye’.
Javier Burón is CEO and founder of Twitter management platform SocialBro.