Strengthen your Community w/ Social Media

I’ve been playing with social media sites like Twitter and Facebook for a little over a year now, but really got into them the last 10 months when I saw the enormous opportunity to get my name out and find others with similar interests as myself. I’ll outline a few of the tools I use, how I use them, and examples of what I’ve done. This article is going to be geared towards vBulletin owners and using Twitter to build traffic and brand recognition, but could easily apply to other websites.

The Tools of the Trade

First off we need a few Twitter accounts. They are easy to make, take less than 30 seconds and you’ll have your very own Twitter account. You might want to start with one, but if you get all the tools that I’ll talk about, it’s a good idea to make a few and build them all at once. You might be asking yourself what username I should use. If you have a site of flying kites, and “square red kites” is one of your busiest sections @square_red_kites might be a good username to get. I would suggest checking out the google adword keyword tool and see if you can refine your username a little more. Maybe “red square kites” gets more searches. This just takes some playing around with, I wouldn’t suggest something real spammy like @free_free_kites, you can always change the name later but I would try to get it right the first time.

This is the tool I use to auto-follow users on Twitter, it allows me to follow users by a search phrase or follow users who follow others, or who they follow. I could also upload a text file if I had a list of users I wanted to follow. I’m sure there are many tools like it, a quick search of google for “twitter adder” will show quite a few. I paid $10-$20 for this program 10 months ago. It was a right place at the right time deal for me, getting it when it was in early beta stages. I see a purchase link for $50; I would look around if you are considering getting a program like this.

Next thing we’ll need is a Twitter client, I’ve been using Seesmic lately but started off with Tweetdeck. I really liked the look of Tweetdeck, you can make columns and searches to see “live search” updates of anything you want. I would use it to see if; anyone was talking about me or my business, and to see if anyone had questions I could answer such as “vBulletin” questions. I’ve been using Seesmic lately because of the ease of managing multiple Twitter accounts in one small easy to navigate screen. I suggest checking both of them out, as well as the numerous other Twitter clients available for your computer or phone.

Twitter has following limits, so sometimes you need to unfollow a few people to follow more. You can find out who is and is not following you. I would suggest if you do have to unfollow a few people in order to follow more, you unfollow those who aren’t following you back. A great webpage that will show you who is and is not following you is called Friend of Follow. You don’t need to hand over your login, just your Twitter username and it’ll display a list of your friends. You can than manually click a user and unfollow. When I started I would use this and unfollow those who hadn’t even changed the default icon, which at the time was the ugly brown o_O. These next two tools ask for your username and pass, I’ve been using both these for 10 months and NEVER had a problem. There are many bloggers who have written about these, I trust them but use at your own risk. Twitter Karma is a page similar to what you’ll see with Friend or Follow, but you can sort all by those not following, one click and check all, and one click and unfollow all. It’s a great tool, but has a limit of 10,000 follow/following count. Once I hit 10 followers, I had to find something else, I found Twitter Mutuality (now version 2) This tool is very straight forward, it will find all who aren’t following you and start unfollowing. You can stop it at any time by closing the browser.

Oh, btw.. The reason why we follow more and more people is because I’d say 4 out of 5 will naturally follow you back, the other 2 might considering what you tweet about.

Okay, so now we have a good twitter account with a high number of followers, we have to give them some content. You can do this a variety of ways in vBulletin, the easiest is Twitter feed. If you want to do it the right way, I would an application for the section or forum as a whole and user vBulletin Tweet poster by Milad. It’s a great product that will give your forum it’s own “source link” which doesn’t have the nofollow attribute attached. The idea is that you have an RSS feed of your forum or category, and we can make our Twitter account post updates with links and snipits to the threads being created.

Examples of what I’ve done

Here are a few examples of what I’ve done, 2 will be with forum sections and 2 will be with local blogs that I’m a part of.

We have a lot of WordPress styles that are posted on the forum, so I made @Wordpress_Styles to help distribute to those looking for free WordPress themes.

I’m part of this program called Driving Revenue that will credit your account if someone clicks a link to a site like ebay from your site. I have a webmaster auctions section that I use RSS feeds from sites like ebay and other sites, to post the latest deals. I made @Driving_revenue as more or less a test account just to see what I could do as far as building traffic to that section.

Here is an account (@TopekaTweetup) I made for a local tweetup group I’m helping with. I use Twitterfeed to publish the lasts post as well as tweetup updates. We use the same #hash tags when we talk about the tweetups.

Another one I have is @TransformTopeka, it’s one of the “automated” ones that we as a group try to actually chat with local users with as well as it publishes are feeds. Both these Topeka ones also will update the status when someone on facebook comments on our Fan Pages (which I strongly recommend building for your business but that’s for another article)

My best example is my current account, @BrandonSheley is the one I use each and every day to carry on conversations with our members, with local people and with strangers who are talking about things I’m interested in

The one I’m working and focused on now is my @BrandonSheley account, I’m just over 7,000 followers as of this post, but I’m been growing about 1500 new followers each month and that will grow exponentially as I get more followers and can follow more. You can follow 10% more then the people following you.

To wrap this up

I suggest adding your forums icon or a category icon to your Twitter account. You can also upload your own background. Branding your background with your forum or category logo is also a good idea. You want this account to be an extension of the support you offer to your forum members. As you may notice from above, my strongest account is one that I carry on conversations with other users on Twitter. Speaking of conversations, a tool I didn’t mention because I ran out of time is Tweetboard. It’s a fabulous addon for any community that is tapped into Twitter.

As I said, I’ll try to update this post and reply to any questions you may have. I may even be back to write another article on getting the most out of Facebook and LinkedIn. If you want to read a few more articles on Social Media I have a few on my blog.

Originally posted 2010-01-08 22:11:31.