I’ve been testing a twitter auto follow strategy along with a bunch of other strategies to validate our upcoming Agency Plan. In this article I’ll run through the surprising results and the exact steps for implementing the Twitter Auto Follow strategy.
High level initial results
Here are some preliminary results from the various strategies I’m using as part of the validation for the Informly Agency Plan. The chart shows actual costs, visits and trial signups and estimates trial to paid conversion at 5% to calculate a cost to acquire a customer from each source.
Obviously the traffic numbers are too low to have a lot of confidence in the findings but nonetheless there are some fascinating results here particularly for the Twitter Auto Follow strategy and the Cold Email strategy.
I will address the cold email strategy another time, for now I’ll be going over the Twitter Auto Follow strategy.
Twitter auto follow overview
The basic strategy with the Twitter Auto Follow is this:
- Automatically follow a bunch of people on Twitter
- A small percentage of those will look at your twitter profile, maybe even visit your link and some will follow you back
- When they follow you back you send them an automated message asking them to check out your site
I’ll go into the step by step of how to do it below but first let’s look at the results.
I first reported the great results I was getting with the twitter auto following strategy in this Think Traffic article on the best sources of web traffic. At the time I was amazed to see that it not only got more traffic than any of the other 11 strategies tested, it was also free or close to it and amazingly had a conversion rate right up there with the other strategies smashing popular options like Adwords.
Since then I’ve continued to use it to validate our agency plan and as you can see above it continues to be exceptionally effective. In around 6 weeks it’s sent 148 visits, with 10 converting to a trial (at 6.76%).
It’s driven more traffic than other sources that have cost hundreds of dollars but in addition to that it’s also smashed the other methods for opt ins with a conversion rate of double some of the paid traffic sources. And since it costs nothing or close to it (estimated $50 in the example for my time) it’s by far the most cost effective way to acquire traffic.
Before you start
There are a few things you should know about the auto follow strategy before you try it out.
- Twitter don’t exactly like it – See their rules here including this comment “The only auto-following behavior Twitter allows is automated or bulk follow-back.” so proceed with caution and if possible don’t use your main Twitter account. Obviously if you are going against their rules there is a chance of getting your account banned and this has happened to a number of people.
- It will screw your Twitter experience up – Once you are following thousands of people your Twitter home feed is useless so you can either ignore it or create lists for the people you want regular updates from but that adds a step every time you follow someone on Twitter. Both options are legitimate, lots of high profile people support auto following people who follow them it just depends on how you want to use the service. It’s also solved by doing it with a secondary account.
- It’s not scalable. Once you get to be following 2,000 people the Twitter follower limits kick in and the auto following slows down dramatically. Getting around this would involve a level of spamminess most people wouldn’t be comfortable with which is why I like it as a validation technique but not as a long term traffic generation technique.
Step 1 – Get your Twitter profile ready
Some people won’t follow you back and therefore won’t get your automated message. They may however check out your profile so for those people set your profile up with some trackable links. I suggest using a trackable link in your URL and in your description and using a 301 re-direct so it doesn’t look spammy.
You can generate a trackable link from the Google URL Builder, use something that makes sense to you in the Campaign Name (such as ‘TwitterProfile’) see below. Make sure it’s nothing that you wouldn’t want visitors to see because they can see this word in the URL when they visit the site.
This will produce a long ugly trackable link like the one you can see above. To sort this out install a WordPress plugin called Simple 301 Re-directs and come up with a nicer name to show people which will then re-direct to the URL above.
So in the example above you would update the description in your Twitter profile and the URL as follows:
- URL – ‘http://yourbusiness.com/twitter’
- Profile – ‘Check out the easiest way to do x at http://yourbusiness.com/twitter’ (a special deal for twitter followers would work well here too).
Step 2 – Buy & install Tweet Adder
I have installed it on my secondary Windows machine because it runs non stop in the background and I don’t want it using resources on my main computer and distracting me.
Step 3 – Set up your account and build your follower list
Once you install Tweet Adder click on Manage Users up the top then on ‘Add user’. Enter your Twitter Username and password and click your Tweet Adder Registration code and click ‘Add User’ as per the screenshow below.
For all Tweet Adder images below you can click the image for a larger version.
Once added click ‘Open User / username’ to open the user which will take you to the main area for that user. This is what it looks like.
There are a few ways to build a list of people to follow but the one that often makes the most sense is to follow users who follow a certain profile (say one of your competitors). To implement this, click on ‘Followers of a user’, enter the User’s Twitter handle and click ‘Search Now’.
This will build a list of everyone who follows the profile, it will take a while if it’s a lot of people.
You can then either check / uncheck the people you want to add manually or hit ‘Check / UnCheck all’ and then click ‘Save All’. This will save them in your ‘To Follow list’. You can click on the ‘To Follow List’ link on the left to view the people in your list and make sure it’s all working as planned.
Note there are other options here including finding Twitter lists and following their members etc but to get a really big list of people to follow often following the followers of a large account is the quickest and easiest way.
Set up your automated Thank you message
Before we do any following we need to set up our automated message. When someone follows you back you can have Tweet Adder send them an automated message with your trackable link along the lines of:
“Thanks for the follow, interested in x? Check out my site http://yourbusiness.com/twitter”
To set it up click ‘Thank You Message’ on the left, enter your thank you message in and click ‘Add’. Again remember to make sure Automation is on if you intend for the software to message everyone who follows you.
Set up your auto following
Under ‘Follow / Unfollow Users’ you need to set a few limits and turn on the automated following. Note you have a lot of choices here including whether to not to do the following automatically, how many people to follow per day etc.
The more aggressive you get the more followers but the higher the risk of getting your account banned. Here are my settings which are pretty aggressive.
Once you have it set up you can click ‘Automation Off’ to turn on Automation (already clicked below).
Set up your un-following
If you are just going to follow people then you will very quickly get to your limit of following 2,000 people. So if you don’t want to hit this limit too quickly you can also set up automatic unfollowing.
I think it’s reasonable to unfollow anyone who doesn’t follow you back within 3 days so that’s the option I have chosen (see below). You can choose your own settings here and again whether or not you want it to be running automatically.
Check Activity then minimize Tweet Adder
Click on Activity up the top and you should see a log file with a bunch of records showing that Tweet Adder is following people. Once you are happy it’s working click on ‘Settings’ and check the option to ‘Minimize to System Tray” then minimise the window.
I prefer to have Tweet Adder running in the tray on the bottom right hand side in Windows as opposed to having a place in the Task Bar.
I also log in from time to time to make sure it’s still actively following people, make sure I haven’t run out of followers and keep tabs on how many people I’m following and how many have followed me etc.
You also should keep an eye on Twitter to see who is replying to your messages, you might even get a bunch of direct messages yourself that are automated. I turn my Twitter email notifications off and just check my Twitter messages within Twitter from time to time. If you are running multiple accounts, Hootsuite rocks for this.
You can then track the progress by looking at all traffic in Google Analytics from the Campaign name that you created in the URL builder above. Our Practical Guide to Actionable Analytics goes through how to do this in detail.
I hope this has been useful, feel free to comment below if you have questions and I’ll reply. I’ll be following this post up in the near future with one about cold emails.