31 tips from Bill Boorman to increase Twitter followers


If you and I have ever had the chance to discuss Twitter, you’ll know I’m not exactly pro-Twitter. I question its true marketing value or longevity. However I do have a fixation for non-celebrity individuals who have a few thousand followers, because they are clearly effective at marketing in the Twitter-space.

I regularly attend a few MeetUps and last night I went to one that I’d been looking forward to for a while – a talk by Bill Boorman who has some 8,500+ followers on Twitter. Bill is quite infamous for “saying it how it is” and his social media expertise for his own company.

Fundamentally, Bill likens Twitter to a local pub, where you can hear and join in everyone’s conversation. You wouldn’t walk in and try and sell something direct (OK, forget the rose sellers for a second). And you would be quite subtle when joining a conversation.

Here were his other main points:

  1. Don’t plan too carefully; just build activity. Interestingly, I’ve heard that Facebook don’t have a strong content plan – they try not to plan too much because they prefer to be more market driven and quick to respond.
  2. Bill came to the stage wearing a T shirt with a hashtag, @billboorman and on the back, his web address. And a hat (without any branding). I’m not sure many people could get away with that (outside of San Fransisco), but his point was to stand out from the crowd and be different.
  3. Use Tweetdeck to tag specific groups
  4. Look to give advice to others, and be nice to others
  5. Make your avatar different so that you stand out in people’s timeline
  6. Be real – as you are in real life. Don’t try and have a ‘digital persona’
  7. Use tweet cloud for specific events and hash caster to follow events
  8. Google “random twitter statistics” and use those as content
  9. Use Socialbro for statistics
  10. Whilst Bill doesn’t claim to delay his tweets, he recommends tweeting first thing in the morning (7-9am), lunchtime and 4.15pm to 9pm. I.e. when people have some spare time.
  11. Tweet less than 100 characters so that your tweets can be retweeted
  12. Find Tweet chats and join in the conversation – think of the pub analogy again
  13. Be different, don’t be normal
  14. Talk to ten strangers every day
  15. Bill’s view of social media and making money: “We give away [on social media] the stuff people used to charge for, and charge for the stuff people really need.” He talked about a plumber who puts up YouTube videos on how to do plumbing, and provides contact details if you really need a professional plumber. I guess it’s the plumber’s version of freemium!
  16. Don’t read any books on social media…
  17. Do read “How to leave Twitter” though
  18. 3,000 followers makes you think you’re important, 4,000 followers makes you realise you’re not
  19. Bill’s knowledge of hash tags was very good – he was quoting specific hash tags to use for specific content
  20. Think in terms of searches – products and services should include the location, such as #london
  21. Use replyz to engage in conversations
  22. Use promoted words through pay per click, not hashtags because you’ll annoy users
  23. Brands need to be specific and engage in a conversation – think back to the pub analogy
  24. If brands do just want to have a robotic data feed, then fine, but their profile needs to indicate this and answer via another Twitter account
  25. How brands reply is the most important factor for brands
  26. Don’t auto-update between LinkedIn and Twitter (I guess this is for users who tweet more than say, 5 times a day)
  27. Use Listorious and Formulist to automatically create and update lists of users. Then set advanced rules such as ‘Who has checked in more than 3 times at a specific venue’ in FourSquare.
  28. More tools: Followerwonk and Twollow
  29. To attract mass followers, use Tweetadder
  30. Brands need to be careful of negative publicity and deal with it quickly, not just 9-5, and Bill gave an example of British Gas. He also described how tweeting whilst being made to wait on hold on the phone was a great way to get attention
  31. To get a dormant Twitter account, try to contact @Twitter

I found it interesting that it took an hour before someone asked Bill what he does for a living. I knew he was in recruitment and sort of assumed everyone knew, but his recommendations above were very generic.

Another impressive point was that Bill spoke to 45 minutes and had a break before answering questions. He then had 50 minutes of questions which is very rare at a MeetUp. I went up to him at the end of the session and said I thought 50 minutes of questions was outstanding and he answered that he only does it for the engagement, not the initial ‘How to’ part – and I think that’s a key point in social media.

I thought about Bill’s comments on the way home and will try to implement them to double my followers from 200 to 400 in the next 8 weeks and see if they are valid – and report back here. If you are a Twitter fan, you should either contact Bill on Twitter, or find out where he’s speaking.

3 thoughts on “31 tips from Bill Boorman to increase Twitter followers

  1. Thank you Brendan – it was a good evening, and thanks for introducing me to Bill in the first place.

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