Getting engagement on Twitter


We launched our company Twitter account by getting a few thousand other Twitter users to follow us -- by following them. The result was like a crowded pick-up joint on Saturday night. People were all shouting vapid one-liners at each other, hoping to hook up. There was very little true engagement. So we went through and deleted 95% of those we were following, looking for people who actually said something we wanted to hear. We also improved the quality of our own tweets with the focus on saying something of value to those following us, not just saying what we wanted people to listen to us say. Still, I don't feel like we have hit the sweet spot. So what can we do to encourage some real engagement on Twitter?

Since I know you are going to ask, we are B2B company in the internet marketing space. Our customers are generally SMB's.

EDIT- By "engagement" I mean a conversation, a dialog, not just competing monologs. The point would be that they read and respond to our tweets and we to theirs. The objective of this conversation would be twofold: 1) to bolster their opinion of us as experts in our space; and 2) to make them feel heard and appreciated. A sale as a direct result of a tweet is not what we are after here.

Social Media

asked May 24 '11 at 07:59
Kenneth Vogt
2,917 points
  • Why do you care about engagement on twitter? What's the REAL goal/question? Wouldn't it be better to skip twitter or any other time waster to get to whatever goals you have? What are you trying to achieve? – Tim J 13 years ago
  • The reason I care about engagement on Twitter is that I care about engagement itself. Twitter is just another medium. I would like to engage with my customers and prospects in every way possible and for some of them Twitter is their platform of choice. – Kenneth Vogt 13 years ago
  • The word "engagement" is very ambiguous - so much so, from some perspectives, your crazy bar scene would be a resounding success. Perhaps if you can use simple, everyday language to precisely describe what you want to happen, and how what you got didn't match that, we could be of more help. My experience is that if I can't explain something so an intelligent, interested lay audience can understand it, I don't understand it myself. – Bob Murphy 13 years ago
  • Just talking to people is not useful unless you are making money byu the number of twitter "conversations" you have. What is the real goal? To get feedback, to get people to use your product, to do market research? A twitter conversation is useless by itself - as is any communication - without context or a goal. – Tim J 13 years ago
  • @tTim, while it is intoxicating to have "direct to sale" metrics, that is not the only reason to talk to people. I hope my edit to the question provides some additional context. – Kenneth Vogt 13 years ago

3 Answers


I did that with my first startup and it was just useless. I just followed people till the followed me back. Result: 1500 people that don't give a crap about me and most are just robots.

With my new business, I am following people I find interesting, retweeting their tweets, and engaging in conversation. The result after 3 weeks: 200 followers, most of whom are actually interested in what I say.

Quality --> Quantity. The best people I personally follow normally have < 1000 followers.

answered May 24 '11 at 10:57
1,171 points
  • +1 for providing some concrete personal experiences and not just opinions. Thank you for the suggestion of retweeting. – Kenneth Vogt 13 years ago


In general - to get people to notice you you have to provide something of value - making it worth their time. I don't see how 140 characters allows you to do that - however a website does provide a lot more opportunity to provide some kind of value.

answered May 24 '11 at 10:53
Tim J
8,346 points
  • A website offers a fine opportunity and Twitter offers another. It is not a fair comparison to compare a single tweet to a website. The fair comparison is between an entire Twitter conversation and a website. Twitter offers the opportunity to be personally interactive in a way that a website cannot. – Kenneth Vogt 13 years ago
  • It should be noted that your topic sentence of your answer -- which included most of the valuable response to @Kenneth Vogt question -- was in fact less than 140 characters in length. – Joseph Barisonzi 13 years ago


I am an early adopter. I believe in testing new models, trying and working with new platforms. I like the challenge it provides my aging brain. And I believe that knowing through experience is something that I can provide my clients.

As you can see from my previous question, I am only slowly growing in my appreciation of the potential of Twitter to provide meaningful engagement with your customers, distributors, and vendors.

I do believe in the word engagement. To me it means providing meaningful bi-direction communication opportunities. (for the purpose of this question anyway -- and not that guy who was selling engagement rings. Something different!)

More importantly I believe in the concept of engagement as a meaningful goal in business development. I believe that a company that provides authentic engagement will grow in value. The brand will grow, the quality of the customer experience will grow, the life-time value of the customer to the business will grow.

The question is not if Twitter can do that in and of itself -- but rather what role the twitter platform can play in an overall business development strategy which includes twitter.

I believe that it can.

(Now I admit I still will refer to individuals who spend more than 1 hour on twitter each day a Twit.)

How? these are the ones that are currently working with my clients:

  • For existing customers if can be a way to provide updates, opportunities, timely notices.
  • For potential customers it can be a draw to the more significant information on a receiving squeeze page.
  • Send out a link to the subject of your new blog post on your site.

So, the core of your question has to do with how to collect a "community" of followers who are qualified to be prospective "customers" or referral agents. Isn't this similar to the process that any of us go through on the lead management of our respective management of sales and customer relations? We have to cull through thousands of leads to find the few that we can qualify. We develop ways to make that process more effecient. We pay people for culled lists which have been polished and cleaned. We pay even more for lists that have people who have opt-ed in to receive communications from the likes of us.

The process on Twitter does not seem to be significantly different. The blind process of following and responding to followers like picking business cards out of the "free lunch" fishbowl on the counter of the bagel shop. And just as effective.

If you want a group of followers that is meaningfully connected then I would follow the following tips:

  • Start from the inside out. Start with vendors and friends. Then add by adding value to your current customers.
  • Never Post for the purpose of posting : Develop a set of tags -- or post types -- that add value to your customer. make sure you are posting conscious of those catagories. I would strongly reccomend not having one called "other" if the post doesn't fit your categories-- then it probably wont add value to your followers.
  • Track the Links : Be sure that you include links that integrate with your overall source tracking as part of your CRM.

Our team is still learning how to use twitter in our B2B market-- but this is what we have learned so far.

More importantly than almost any of this -- is that if I read the profile of the person who asks this question properly -- then I know that they are launching a product into the social media space. In order to authentically position themselves as having value or expertise in that space, i think they need to be experienced using the common platforms in that market -- and that despite any of us "older folks" misgivings -- that includes Twitter.

answered May 25 '11 at 06:55
Joseph Barisonzi
12,141 points

Your Answer

  • Bold
  • Italic
  • • Bullets
  • 1. Numbers
  • Quote
Not the answer you're looking for? Ask your own question or browse other questions in these topics:

Social Media