How my Twitter account changed through a semester with a social media course

In the fall semester of 2018 I took a course in social media for communicators. One of the objectives of this course was to build an audience and influence on Twitter. I started the course with my personal Twitter account and a follower count of 98. At the end of the course, I had gained 39 new followers, which resulted in a growth of 39.79 percent. During the course of the semester, I tried different tools and tactics to increase my followership. Here are some revelations I have experienced.

In the beginning of the semester at the end of August, I had to ask myself, what I wanted to present on Twitter. So far, I had been posting inconsistently and not very regularly about random topics. I also did not really think about who I was addressing. I decided to use this course to rebrand my Twitter account. I set up topics I wanted to write about: class related tweets about social media, trendspotting in digital media, ethics, articles I would write for my content management class. But I also wanted to show what I was excited about in media in general: movies, late night and podcasts. I altered my bio to represent what I wanted to stand for. I think this focus on certain topics helped me to gain followers in a sustainable way. I visited the accounts of my new followers. Many of them focus on one or more topics that I am also interested in, for example movies, blockchain, journalism and PR. In Twitter Analytics I discovered, that my audience (not just my new followers) were more interested in the topics that I was also interested in, compared to the group of all Twitter users. My followers are for example more interested in comedy, science, new technologies, technology and news.

I also analyzed my followers behavior via followerwonk and found out, that the best time to tweet to them would be at 11 am and 3pm. So every time I was planning my next tweets that were not timebound, I set them up for these times.

The Newhouse School of Public Communication provided a lot of interesting speakers throughout the whole semester. I used many of these occasions to tweet about topics that I am interested in. Sometimes, these tweets resulted in new followers or a brief conversation. I also added the Twitter handles of the speakers. Some of them answered or even followed me back, which also might have drawn some attention to my account, because other users would follow me afterwards.

Additionally, I tried to get the attention of some smaller influencers (<100k followers) in the topics I am interested in. Although I got several reactions from these influencers, none of them would follow me back. I want to continue to work on these contacts and maybe come back to them later.

I also think that the collaborations with my classmates helped all of us to draw attention to some tweets. During common events, we retweeted each other’s tweets and started discussions. Just by considering the individual network, every single one of us had created it becomes obvious, that together the forty of us built a strong social media force.

Top Ten Tweets

From the 28th of August to the 27th of November my tweets received over 24.000 impressions on Twitter. Many of them can be traced back to my top ten tweets, that got the most engagement. They worked for different reasons.

With this tweet I reached out to a video essay blogger whose work I admire. I added a dot in the beginning of the tweet so other users would also see the tweet in their feed. The account liked and answered to my tweet and other users supported my statement. With about 36.000 followers, I assumed that this account might have exactly the right size to react to my tweet, which I was very happy about.

This tweet is an example of what the power of my social media class can be. I created it after our Periscope challenge and added a little bit of humor to the conversation which resonated well with my classmates. I received some likes and retweets.

Early in the semester I discovered what a powerful tool Moments on Twitter can be. They are rich media and are a lot of fun to produce. It is a great way to retell the history of an event. I got five likes for the tweet promoting this Moment and a retweet, which is a lot of engagement for my account. It was well received by my classmates, since the moment is about a challenge we did together in class.

I retweeted a clip from John Oliver’s show “Last week tonight” about Facebook and its actions in Myanmar. I think it worked well for my audience, since they are interested in social media, new technologies and comedy. The hashtag #NewhouseTrend belongs to another class I am in. I think some of my classmates from this course might also have seen it when they were looking for new posts with the hashtag. Both hashtags #NHsmc and #NewhouseTrend must have brought the attention to the video, since I only posted them as a comment to the video I had retweeted and the comment made it into my top tweets.

Another thing I learned in this semester was the use of live tweeting. I found it hard to both concentrate on the speaker and craft a well-written and insightful tweet. After a few events, I decided to go back to taking notes by hand and tweet something interesting afterwards. I also would imagine that it is a little bit more encouraging for a speaker who does not know whether I am actually tweeting about the talk or ordering pizza. I think, this is a very insightful tweet that has additional value for other Twitter users. It also got a reaction from the speaker himself, which is always nice because it makes me look trustworthy (especially when it is a buzzfeed employee like in this case).

This tweet was successful for many reasons. It promoted a Twitter Moment I had created about a very recent story that was also related to the #metoo movement. I added the #metoo-hashtag and the handle of Olivia Munn, who was involved in the story.

I think this tweet worked because of the tweetchain I created. I did not just send out one tweet but two tweets at the same time. I personally do not read a lot of posts that consist of many tweets, but it seems to work in general. The second tweet also included a gif, so this might have helped, too.

I had heart from some of my social media classmates that the Twitter account from the Arts and Science college at Syracuse University would follow them randomly and that the account would be open to some fun. When they eventually followed me, I wanted to thank them and start a little conversation. It went back and forth for a little while – a nice and funny conversation on Twitter.

This semester, Oscar nominated scriptwriter Michael Weber came to Newhouse for a Q&A-session with students. I attended and tweeted live from the event. Afterwards, I was hoping that Michael would react to some of my tweets. But he did not, so I tried one last time to get his attention. I created a Twitter Moment and added his handle to the tweet. Unfortunately, he did not react again. Maybe he was just too busy on that evening, maybe he just did not want to react. At least I got some impressions for my tweets and Moment.

For this tweet a used googletrends to analyze the occurrence of the searchterms blockchain and bitcoin. As I assumed, blockchain got less attention than bitcoin. I tweeted the analysis result, because I thought that this should be different. Since I added appropriate hashtags, I got some attention from the blockchain team on Twitter.

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