Without the proper understanding of just how powerful Twitter can be, many people feel like they’re just one small voice trying to be heard in a very large, very crowded room. It’s frustrating when you have great ideas that you want to share, but you simply cannot be heard above the noise.
We’ve got 5 ways you can increase your visibility within your niche, and build a powerful presence on Twitter so your the one controlling the conversation rather than being lost in it.
Use a dashboard
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: if you’re serious about Twitter, you should be using a Twitter dashboard for most of your tweeting and lurking needs.
Dashboards like HootSuite, TweetDeck and Seesmic are among the most powerful Twitter tools out there. They extend Twitter’s capabilities beyond the single column of Tweets and right (or left, if you’ve got #newnewTwitter) panel information you see when you log on to Twitter.com.
Dashboards let you set up your Twitter experience the way you like it. You can have streams that show only @mentions of your Twitter username, or go more advanced and create a column to display all mentions of your brand name, most visible product, CEO’s name and slogan. You can even use dashboards to spy on the competition and see what they’re up to on Twitter.
In order to stand out within your niche, you need to get the most out of Twitter. If you’re not already using a dashboard (preferably one of the three I mentioned above), get on that now. This isn’t really a secret anymore, but it is an essential part of creating a powerful Twitter presence.
If you’re totally new to dashboards, here’s a primer on setting up a HootSuite account.
Understand Twitter search
Now that you’ve set up your dashboard, bookmark this link immediately: search.twitter.com/advanced.
This is Twitter’s own advanced search tool, and it is absolutely essential if you want to get into the conversation happening right now in your niche.
It is similar to Google’s advanced search, in that you can define keywords to include, exclude and target exact phrases. But because Twitter is a social information network, its search includes social queries too: you can search tweets from, to, or referencing a particular person, tweets from a particular location, or tweets with only a negative sentiment.
Twitter search is a powerful way to find out exactly what people are saying within your niche right now. For instance, you could search for “dogs” and “grooming” and “hair cut” in only your state to see if there are any potential clients who might need your services. Or you can use it to discover the most popular hashtags in your niche, the Twitter thought leaders, and more.
Use Twitter lists
A Twitter list can help you keep tabs on a group of influential tweeters in your niche without letting them all know you’re following them. Lists are great ways to organize conversations into groups, and really streamline your Twitter experience. They’re one of the best noise-reducer tools out there, and they’re essential for anyone who wants to stay on top of the conversation happening within their niche.
To create a new list on #newnewTwitter, go to Twitter.com and navigate to your profile. Click on “List” on the left panel, and click “Create a List” in the right corner of the new column. Give your list a name that describes the accounts you’ll be adding to it, and a description if you need clarification. Then, choose whether to make this a public (anyone can see it and follow it) list or private (it will only be seen by you) list. Private lists are great if you want to keep tabs on certain accounts without necessarily letting them know you’re listening.
If you are using a dashboard (like you should be), you can create a stream or a column within it which only shows tweets from people on a Twitter list. This means you’ll be able to see exactly what all of the “West Virginia PR Folks” you added into your list are saying, without losing their tweets in a sea of others. Lists let you monitor specific conversations happening between specific Twitter accounts, and I think they will become even more powerful in the months to come – get to know them now to get a head start in your niche.
Use search, directories, tools to find the right followers
If you want to become a leader in your niche, you’ve got to be following the right people. Who you follow on Twitter defines the conversation you’ll be a part of, so if your Twitter followers are all influential people within your niche, you’re more likely to mingle with them, hear from them, and join their conversation.
We have a few resources for you to help you locate these elusive influential tweeters in your niche: 5 Free Twitter Tools and 5 More Twitter Tools to help you manage your followers. Start here, and browse the directories and use the search tools we’ve compiled to really create the “dream team” of Twitter follows.
Schedule your tweets
When looking at the people who are already very visible in your niche, you might sigh and think that it’s impossible to match their all day, all night tweeting habits unless you trade sleep for being on Twitter. But that’s not the case.
Most people who are tweeting constantly aren’t actually at their computers 24/7. Think about it: they would quickly burn out if they had to tweet all day, and they’d be walking zombies from a lack of sleep while tweeting all night. What these highly active tweeters have in common is not finger cramp from 24/7 tweeting, but rather a tweet schedule.
A tweet schedule consists of pre-written, evergreen tweets that you create once a week, day, or month, and schedule to go live throughout the day. We’ve got the basics for creating a tweet schedule for you if you’re interested in setting one up. It makes it easier for you to maintain a Twitter presence while on vacation, while you sleep, or while you’re away from the computer. It’s one of the biggest secrets of active tweeters, and it’s a prime method of increasing your visibility within your niche.