The Key to Twitter Marketing is Being Human

By Kevin Strasser

I Got a Twitter Eye On Baby

There are plenty of articles covering the basics of Twitter marketing, but those typically focus on metrics, Twitter analytics, or specific Twitter strategies.

This article focuses on something that seems like common sense but is maybe the most important factor in your Twitter marketing success.

In my experience, new Twitter connections often lead to new partnerships and business — not to mention a large amount of traffic to our website. So working on your Twitter following can be a huge driver of success.

But maybe even more important is the art of being human on Twitter.

Twitter is my preferred social network, as you can easily connect with interesting people you do not know by following them. You don’t need their email address, have to be within their circle, or even know a friend of theirs.

Connecting with people you do not know at all on Facebook on LinkedIn is not accepted as normal, but with Twitter, it is the norm.

Twitter offers no boundaries to connect with new people. Following targeted Twitter accounts is also a great way to gain new Twitter followers.

Obviously the more people you follow, the more valuable connections you could expect to make. But you can only follow so many people without looking spammy or desperate — or getting your Twitter account in trouble.

The Twitter Follow Back Rate

One of the core metrics of our service is the follow back rate. This is the percentage of people you have followed that have followed you back.

Do you know what your follow back rate is?

The Key to Twitter Marketing is Being Human: My follow back rate for this month

What is a Good Twitter Follow Back Rate?

Considering that 1) people are busy 2) automatic following back has been banned by Twitter and 3) following back requires someone to explicitly take an action — anything beyond 5% is a sign of promise.

Twitter marketing expectations differ depending on your niche.

The Riches are in the Twitter Niches

Twitter niches such as politics or religion obviously perform well. People get fired up about politics on Twitter as we all have seen. Maybe a bit too fired up.

Twitter follow back percentages as high as 40% are not unusual with political accounts. Religious accounts easily do 25% – 35% follow back.

People love entertainment. We have worked with famous musicians, bands, movie stars, and supermodels and these accounts usually get 20% – 30% follow back percentages.

Other Twitter marketing niches are much harder and it is good to have realistic expectations.

Why A Good Follow Back Rate is Important for Twitter Marketing Success

So why is this follow back rate metric important?

It is important because your follow back rate impacts how fast your Twitter audience can grow. You can only follow as many people as the size of your account dictates — so a decent follow back rate is crucial.

Remember that you are not just after vanity metrics. At TribeBoost we purposely filter out Twitter accounts with “Always Follow Back” in their bio.

We have had competitors that purposely target such low-quality accounts. We seek to grow your Twitter audience with accounts that actually care about what you do.

What do Accounts with High Follow Back Rates Have in Common?

One surprising element that jumps out at me is what I liken the importance of being human.

The Importance of Being Human

Often business people have both a personal Twitter account and an account for their business. What is fascinating is how easily personal accounts outperform business accounts.

And not just by a little, but usually by a wide margin.

What are the Differences That Cause This?

The Key to Twitter Marketing is Being Human: Kevin Strasser Twitter Profile
My personal account has 15,000 more followers than the @TribeBoost account.
The Key to Twitter Marketing is Being Human: TribeBoost Twitter Profile
Here is my own personal example. Both of these accounts tweet about the same topics and at a similar cadence.

Looking Further Into the Numbers

This phenomenon even happens when the business account is more interesting, more active, more helpful, or all of the above. It simply does not matter.

Being human trumps everything and the numbers prove it.

What psychology tells us is that humans are conditioned to be attracted to other humans. A corporate or business entity is simply not as attractive to us.

Let’s run through some numbers using actual client data for a demonstration.

Business Twitter Marketing is Harder

For a business to get a new Twitter follower,  you better be interesting, targeted to that person, and clearly offer value.

Here is a client with two accounts. One is her own, the other for her company. Both are focused on marketing and public relations.

Her own account has an overall follow back percentage of 23.7%
The Key to Twitter Marketing is Being Human: Her own account has an overall follow back percentage of 23.7%
Her business account is at 15.3%
The Key to Twitter Marketing is Being Human: Her business account is at 15.3%
This is a 55% increase for the personal account.

Let’s see how this actually impacted in their Twitter audience growth.

Here is her personal account Twitter growth:
Personal Twitter Growth
And the business account Twitter growth:
Business Twitter Growth
Notice how in the past week her business account followed nearly 200 more people, yet yielded 114 fewer followers back.

Understand that these accounts are alike with the only major difference being the avatar and one account for “the marketing girl” vs. “the marketing company.”

Look Ma, Even More Twitter Marketing Examples

Looking quickly at a random list of accounts that have both business and personal accounts shows the following:

20.2% Twitter follow back rate for a marketing executive vs. 16.6% for his business account

  • = 21% better

18.2% Twitter follow back rate for a social media CEO vs. 11.3% for social media app the CEO runs

  • = 61% increase

21% Twitter follow back rate for an indie musician vs. 18.9% for a large music company

  • = 11% bump

27% Twitter follow back rate for a fitness guru vs. 15.7% for a fitness business

  • = 72% more

14.8% Twitter follow back rate for a technology CEO vs. 11.8% for the CEO’s technology company

  • = 25% improvement

In each example, the personal account easily has a much higher follow back percentage. The only comparison that is close would be the music-related accounts.

Keep in mind that the personal music account is for an independent artist. She is extremely talented but is nowhere near being well known. Compared to the other music account, which is a famous music business that is part of a Global Fortune 100 company.

So What Did We Learn about Twitter Marketing?

I realize this is not a scientific study, but the numbers speak loudly.

Personal, human, and non-corporate accounts will outperform corporate Twitter accounts all day long.

Even when the corporate account is of more value, tweets more often, with better quality, or is a more recognized brand name or business.

Clearly, you should make yourself more human on Twitter and be less corporate.

This also speaks to the importance of personal branding and not just focusing on branding for your business.

Photo by Peter Sheik and slightly altered by TribeBoost
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About the Author

Kevin is the Founder and CEO of TribeBoost.