How I Boosted my Twitter Reach by 15 percent Overnight

Tony Ahn
Tony Ahn Chief Digital Architect, Tony Ahn & Co.

Posted on April 14th 2011

While it is not the end-all be-all of influence metrics, I do monitor my Klout score for changes.  Yesterday I saw my True Reach score jump from 53 to 61 literally overnight. This was not an accident, and I was not surprised. This article will tell you how I did it.

First of all, let’s be clear about what “True Reach” means. According to Klout, “True Reach is the size of your engaged audience. We eliminate inactive and spam accounts, and only include accounts that you influence. To do this we calculate influence for each individual relationship taking into account factors such as whether an individual has shared or acted upon your content and the likelihood that they saw it.”

My secret was simple. I used social media for what it is designed for: I engaged. I began by publishing a new article on Social Media Today: The Web’s Best Thinkers on Social Media, called 8 Secrets of a Successful Facebook Page. Then I fired up Tweetdeck and tweeted it. I set up a search for the article title, and then went to work on other projects. Every time the article was retweeted, I fired off a quick thank you for retweeting it, and invited the RT’er to follow my twitter account. I did not automate this process; I sent no form-tweets. Every RT’er got a genuine tweet from me. Of the first 80 retweets, a full 25% of those people followed my twitter account, @_TonyAhn_ (21 people). Compare this to the last article I wrote for Social Media Today, where I did not respond to retweets: in the first 160 retweets, about 10% of those people followed my twitter account (16 people, although there were double the retweets).

If you’re a social media consultant, expert, or guru, practicing what you preach and engaging will benefit you as much as your clients. Lead by example, and show them the numbers. There’s nothing more authoritative then sharing a successful case study that you authored yourself.

And if you retweet this article, expect to get a personal thank-you from me. ^_^

UPDATE: I've had a couple cogent responses, both on Twitter and in the comments on this post at Social Media Today. First @twieberneit tweeted that this technique as a good start, but it wouldn't scale. That's very insightful, and there is some truth to it for most people. If you get 100 retweets, you can respond, but if you get a thousand, it would take a very long time to thank everyone individually. For me, I work in an economy where I could pay someone $20 to respond to 1000 tweets. However, rather than that, I'd probably assign the work to an intern or someone else at my company, or ask everyone to take 100 tweets each. And that's similar to how Avaya, Inc. handles its social media workload. They have over 125 employees that also monitor social media for mentions of the company, as an asjunct to their regualr jobs. The 125 people monitor between 1,000 and 3,000 conversations per week. If I asked 10 employees to each respond to 100 tweets, that wouldn't be too time intensive. So with some creativity, this technique can scale.

Someone else said that I probably would have gotten all those follows even without the thank you tweets. I'll post another article soon that compares the article in question with other articles I've published that have had similar retweets and total views, but markedly different numbers of followers resulting.

Lastly, another benefit to the "manual thanking" approach is that I'm noticing that several people are doing multiple retweets, and I'm seeing which people are referring retweets (i.e. several people have generated additional retweets). One in particular has generated a dozen. Good to know who your biggest fans are, and good to know who key influencers are!

Tony Ahn

Tony Ahn

Chief Digital Architect, Tony Ahn & Co.

Tony Ahn’s unique blend of education and experience makes him one of the most highly sought after social media evangelists in Southeast Asia.

Tony’s baccalaureate degree focused on ethnography, a branch of anthropology that studies and describes contemporary human cultures. Ethnographers capture and communicate “webs of meaning,” defining the interworking of cultures from an inside perspective. This equips Tony with a deep understanding of the culture of social media networks and communities.

Tony holds a master’s degree in counseling from Penn State University, giving him rich insights into human motivation and behavior. Simply put, Tony knows what consumers want and why. He has used this knowledge to provide marketing and consulting to multinational brands and major local brands.

In 2009, Tony reunited with his baccalaureate discipline when he was hired as CEO of a Manila-based management consulting firm that utilized anthropologists to study consumer behavior. A year later he poured his knowledge of ethnography, human motivation, and social media into Sterling Rep Social Media and Reputation Management, the first independent reputation management agency in the Philippines, which he directed until it was acquired by one of the largest public relations firms in the country. In 2012, Tony Ahn opened the doors on digital public relations agency Tony Ahn & Co., which he directs today. He writes a column on digital PR for Adobo Magazine and lectures on the same subject at De La Salle University.

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Comments

Posted on April 15th 2011 at 2:23AM

So often we get caught up in broadcasting rather than engaging! Great post to remind me to get out the and make some contributions and join some discussions.

Thanks Tony!

Tony Ahn
Posted on April 15th 2011 at 2:26AM

As an update, since I wrote the above post, I have repeated the above experiment. On April 7 my True Reach went from 67 to 77. It is now 85. I expect it to be in the mid 90's tomorrow after my next round of thank yous and invites to follow

I'm now experimenting with different thank you messages to discover which is the most effective. Any suggestions?

Syed Noman Ali
Posted on April 15th 2011 at 7:16AM

Great Research Tony Ahn, and i am very much agreed with you if you are replying and RT and mention the different peoples they love to RT and want to Follow you and ovenight this gone a be working in great rate thanks for lovely post.

Follow Me:

Facebook Developer

Posted on April 15th 2011 at 8:11AM
I've seen similar jumps in my own Klout score, as well as those of some of Microsoft's (my employer's) official accounts. For all its limitations, Klout does generally seem to reward the right behaviours as you've indicated in your article. However, the algorithm is a complex beast so there could be more to your uplift than first meets the eye. The most dramatic jumps seem to come from popular tweets that attract lots of RTs, but their influence on Klout scores only lasts for four weeks, after which time the Klout score can quickly fall back to its previous level. You should continue to monitor your Klout score to identify which influences have a short term or long term effect, but you've rightly been 'rewarded' for the good social media behaviours you've exhibited. Thanks for the article!
Posted on April 15th 2011 at 11:10AM

Is that what you call reach & engagement?

I was one of those who retweeted your article, & got a *genuine* thank you from you with a request to follow you. Let me point out where you got it wrong:

1- You just copy pasted the same message to everyone who RTed you. One glance at your timeline & we can see that. So whether it was automatic or genuine, it was still impersonal.

2- You requested RTers to follow you for more good stuff; however, you did not check if they had already followed you or not. I had already followed you but after seeing that you didn't really bother to check that out, or follow me back, I unfollowed you.

3- Your entire timeline is just firing off one of your posts then thanking RTers, you do not share anything else of value or engage with your followers' tweets.

Twitter is not just about the numbers :)

Regards;

Manal

Tony Ahn
Posted on April 16th 2011 at 5:33PM

I am generally satisfied with the response I recieved. I haven't even had time to thank many people this time (yet), and my reach jumped 10 points after this article, and my number of followers has jumped over 25%.in 24 hours.

Tony Ahn
Posted on April 16th 2011 at 5:31PM

Yes, that is definitely what I call reach and engagement!

I did not cut and paste the thank yous. Every single one was hand typed. However there are only so many iterations to "Thanks for the RT" and I cycled through about six. If I saw a name, I used it "Hey Ed, thanks so much for the retweet." A couple times I made comments about their location, like the woman from Finalnd who followed me. The "Feel free to follow me..." invitation was pasted. Even so, it still took two hours to answer all the RTs.

You are correct that I did not check my followers list against the RTers to see who was already following me. If I lose one follower (like you) for every 30 I pick up and engage with, I'm okay with that. I don't follow back, by the way, I choose who to follow carefully.

My ENTIRE timeline consists of advicating for a certain piece of legislation I'm supporting here in the Philippines, chatting with friends, RTing interesting social media articles, tweeting my blog posts, and sometimes chatting with clients and/or prospects. But when you have to answer a couple hundred people, it certainly makes the timeline look single-purpose for a while.

I titally agree with you that Twitter is not just about the numbers. And I'm satisfied with the engaged response I got from many of the people I thanked.

Posted on April 16th 2011 at 2:19AM

Tony you have discovered half of the equation as Manal pointed out. You reached out to folks who shared your article making it more personal and really connecting with them is the second half.  I'm not a big believer in the "klout" numbers while I keep an eye on them I much prefer to gauge success by how many new connections and relationships that have been created and how we can work to help each other in our endeavors.

Tony Ahn
Posted on April 16th 2011 at 5:37PM

I think the people I connected with felt that it was plenty personal, given what I shared in response to Manal, below.

Posted on April 16th 2011 at 3:14PM

Bravo, Tony!  I am glad to hear you confirm the importance of having a little class when working social media.  Being gracious helps.  Simple.   

PamMoore
Posted on April 16th 2011 at 11:36PM

Tony - I am confused by your post. On one had you are stating people working in the world of social media should practice what we preach and engage. However, on the other you are specifically explaining how you plan to raise your Klout score by simply sending single thank you tweets to your followers. 

I don't want to be negative. However, I would not recommend to my clients, colleagues or students to conduct social media in such a way.  This post reads as if you are focused purely on the #'s. I am surprised you wrote off Manal's concern so easily? One in 30 is actually a lot of potentially good followers to lose if you're trading such based on a string of thank you's to raise a Klout score? I would be more concerned w/the response of Manal than I would on raising your score. 

I question what your objectives are in social media. WHY do you want the Klout score to go up? Are you getting opt-ins to your newsletter? Are people visiting your site? Is your bounce rate decreasing? Are they engaging with you and your brand. Are you nurturing them to better meet your business goals? 

Sounds like the reason your score jumped in the first place was you provided good content. That I get and I like. However, your approach to now get another jump based upon cluttering your tweet stream with thank you's and asking them to follow seems very self serving. I don't think you need to tell people to follow you back. Most of them probably know how and will if they find you interesting enough.  

What if you took the same time you are spending writing the single thank you retweets and instead wrote a few tweets with names grouped together? Then you could spend the rest of the time actually writing another blog article that could provide value to your audience. And yes, maybe it could raise your score again? However, wouldn't it be better if they engaged with you and your brand? 

If it was me I would set different goals. If you focus on providing value to your audience your scores will go up by default. Even if they don't who cares? If you are providing value then you will be building and connecting with your community in an authentic way. Chances are by default this will bring value to you both personally and professionally and much more so than a string of RTs. I checked out your tweet stream and it leaves little to be interested in w/all the thank you's. 

I would be careful how you are viewing and measuring "influence."  You would be more "influential" if a mass of people again retweeted your content vs simply reply to a thank you for retweeting me tweet? 

My 2 cents, take it or leave it ;) 

Thx

Pam 

 

Tony Ahn
Posted on April 17th 2011 at 1:16AM

Hi Pam, thanks for your comment. To your first point, I'm stating that anyone should "practice what they preach" or do anything in particular. I'm just sharing the results of what I did. And I didn't "plan to raise my Klout score." I did an experiement and expected that it may go up. Between using total followers and Klout as a metric, I chose Klout because True Reach is a different metric that means more than just numbers of followers.

Last post I wrote, where I didn't thank anyone (which recevied a similar number of retweets and views), my True Reach score went up three points. I think I gained 12 followers. So to gain 30 and lose Manal is a net gain of 29. And these are not 29 robots. These are social media practitioners and enthusiasts: my target individuals. I'm going to do a follow up post comparing the numbers on several posts. And lets remember that Manal is Manal and not representative of anyone else. I doubt many people would be so miffed as to unfollow because they were invited by someone they were already following. I know I woudn't do that. But its a good question, so I'll put up a poll.

I never said I wanted my Klout score to go up. I did a test and reported the results. While social media is "not just about the numbers" as Manal pointed out, that sentence contains the word "just," because in fact socail media is about numbers (and other things as well).

>I question what your objectives are in social media. WHY do you want the Klout
>score to go up? Are you getting opt-ins to your newsletter? Are people visiting
>your site? Is your bounce rate decreasing? Are they engaging with you and your
>brand. Are you nurturing them to better meet your business goals? 

I don't have a newsletter, just my blog. Yes, we're seeing many more site visits. Bounce rate is decreasing. We're forming relationships with as many as we can.

>Sounds like the reason your score jumped in the first place was you provided good
>content. That I get and I like. However, your approach to now get another jump based
>upon cluttering your tweet stream with thank you's and asking them to follow seems
>very self serving. I don't think you need to tell people to follow you back. Most of them
>probably know how and will if they find you interesting enough.  

As I mentioned above, compared to another article with a similar amount of views and retweets, this one saw many more people follow. Individuals I'm interested in following as well. And I didn't "ask" anyone to follow. I said "Feel free to follow me if you'd like to see more content like this." While of course I get something out of it (a follower) I wouldn't say its "self-serving" as the follower gets something in return: my content, which I provide at no cost.

>What if you took the same time you are spending writing the single thank you
>retweets and instead wrote a few tweets with names grouped together? Then you

Takes me longer to do it the way you're suggesting, because I have to either type or copy and paste names for a bunch of different people into one tweet, which means my eyes are moving back and forth and I'm typing slowly to get the names right. When I'm manually thianking one by one, its click "Thanks so much for RTing!" followed by CTRL-V for the "Feel free to follow me if you'd like to see more content like this."

>could spend the rest of the time actually writing another blog article that could
>provide value to your audience. And yes, maybe it could raise your score again?
>However, wouldn't it be better if they engaged with you and your brand? 

I've demonstrated that thanking raised my score more than an article without thanking. And that's creating engagement as people write back to say "You're welcome" or tell me how the weather is (which I asked a few of them that were in cities I used to live in).

And to be honest, it was more personal, more human, to write them individially, because I got to either use their names or a detail about their location. I felt more connected.

Hope that answers your questions. Thanks for asking them. They were good questions!

Tony Ahn
Posted on April 17th 2011 at 1:59AM

Another benefit to this approach is that I'm noticing that several people are doing multiple retweets, and I'm seeing which tweeps are referring retweets (i.e. several people have generated additional retweets). One in particular has generated a dozen. Good to know who your biggest fans are, and good to know who key influencers are!

Posted on April 18th 2011 at 9:23AM

Tony,

what I did really like in your post was the "personal" touch. Not just roboting TYs back to your tweeters. That is something, as noted which cannot scale very well, but will some quota should still be practiced even by the bigger players. BTW, where did the Avaya note come in? I really did not understand that portion.

Andrew