By Ethan Lyon, Senior Writer
One of the first steps to build your social capital on Twitter is to let people in your current network know you’re on the microblogging site. By simply incorporating your username into other media platforms, you can connect with those in your immediate network.
If you maintain a blog, you can funnel your tweeting audience to your Twitter homepage by adding a badge to your site. Often times, bloggers will incorporate Twitter Counter (a widget that displays your number of followers) to their homepage–as a measure of their influence on the microblogging site.
Or consider adding a link to your Twitter account to your digital signature. For FireFox users, there are add-ons like WiseStamp that allow you to insert your signature (with a link to your Twitter account) into e-mails or other text boxes. Business cards are also a great way to let people know you’re microblogging. At networking events or when you meet with new clients, letting them know you’re on Twitter can give you another communication touch point to carry on the conversation.
1. Have Perspective
With millions of Twitter users, it’s important to stand out. Developing a unique perspective can help you stand above the crowd to attract more followers. First, define your role in the digital world. Are you a savvy shopper (consider reviews), a mechanic (maybe have, “Mechanics Tip of the Day”), or even a garbage man (you could blog about the craziest items you’ve found in the garbage). Inherently, people are attracted to people with a unique perspective or skill. Try to identify what makes you interesting and then focus on that one thing to grow your social capital.
2. Be Authentic
Twitter is the home to many spammers. Often times profiles marked with excessive re-tweets (or RT) are spammers. One way to differentiate yourself and prove your authenticity is through life-casting — where you discuss important events in your life. Politicians frequently life-cast. Political rallies, town hall meetings and other community-oriented events are often the subject of many tweets. Life-casting can help you connect with people that might be attending a similar event or spark a conversation surrounding the event.
3. Stay Consistent
Twitter users come and go. Many of those you follow might not be using the service anymore. However, it’s always important to stay consistent. Growing your social capital takes a lot of time and effort. To reap the true benefits of social networks like Twitter, it’s crucial that you survive the dip — slog through the times you don’t want to tweet and in the end, your social capital will reflect your efforts.
It’s about keeping a balance — you don’t want to flood or create a drought. If you tweet too frequently, you are going to flood your followers’ Twitter streams and potential cause them to unfollow you. If you’ve already had some experience on Twitter, you might already have picked up on many of the annoyances of following certain users. Some Twitter users blast 10-15 tweets within the matter of a couple of minutes. Likewise, if you are a seldom tweeter, no one is going to discover you.
Consider tweeting throughout the day and put a cap on your tweets. Tweeting 5-6 times, throughout the day keeps you in your follower’s Twitter streams but does not create an annoyance.
4. Engage in the Community
Twitter offers many tools to interact with other users. If you put the @ symbol in front of a users name, you can send a message to them. When another user publishes a story you really enjoy, write them a note attached to an @reply. After you’ve sent your @reply, you can expose yourself to potentially hundreds of other Twitter users. Additionally, when others visit your page, they can see you’re actively engage in the community–making you more human and approachable. Games are also a great way to increase your visibility. With the use of hashtags (#), you can create groups of people. For instance, #ifiwerestrandedonanisland followed by your response can help expose you to whomever uses or searches for that hashtag. The more interesting your tweet, the more likely you are to add a few followers.
5. Promote Your Personal Community
One of the main elements of social capital, particularly in the digital environment, is reciprocity. Promoting your community engenders a sense of goodwill. One way to promote your community is through Follow Friday. Simply type #FollowFriday (or #FF) with other Twitter users you really enjoy and you will expose them to other users. #FF is a powerful way to elevate the visibility of your network.