I guess we are all finding out that building your Twitter audience and influence isn't as simple as writing and retweeting kick-ass blog posts. If "great content" was really the only answer, then millions of smiling tweeters would be publishing books and bragging about their Klout scores.
The difficult part starts after you've tried all of the obvious techniques. Once the well runs dry, you need to dig for the unorthodox.
Recently, I stumbled across a fascinating infographic about the growing popularity of, well, questions. Click here to view the infographic.
Scroll down to the bottom and you'll see two interesting stats:
According to the survey, 80% of individuals trust businesses' responses as much or more than responses from their own followers! Ouch.
It gets better. When a business answers a question, the grateful questioner is more likely to follow and purchase from the business.
Which leads me to wonder...
Why aren't bloggers and Twitter ninjas answering more questions?
Here's how solving problems can kick start your Twitter following
Regularly Search for Topical Questions
Get in the habit of using search.twitter.com for common questions. For example, gardening enthusiasts can search Twitter for "How to grow (fill in the blank)."
Look through the questions and offer answers or relevant links.
Answer Without Strings Attached
Answering questions builds trust and credibility. Offering your help without conditions, obligations, or shenanigans will quickly build you a loyal following.
You can practice this by participating in a Tweet Chat—I suggest either #blogchat or #tweetdiner—and adopt newcomers who need a helping hand. Don't include links to your own posts unless they exactly match what the questioner asks.
Progressive Insurance built a multi-billion dollar business around helping their customers get the lowest priced insurance – even if it wasn't their own. Progressive is widely regarded as the most "trustworthy" insurance company, and their revenue proves that their approach works.
You can do the same.
If your competitor has the answer, send the questioner there. Remember that this is a game of trust. You'll get the credit (and ultimately the sale) by demonstrating that you focus on the person first and the sale second.
Don't Forget the Basics
Make sure your URL is in your Twitter bio and that your blog or website's About Me page is ready to tell your story. Consider creating a special welcome message to build rapport with your followers as well.
One More Thing...
Mine Questions for Topics, Products, and Friends
You will uncover valuable insights into what your market wants and is willing to pay for. Remember, people spend money to solve problems, and their questions reveal their problems. I suggest that you save questions and your answers in a Word file. Once a month, take a look at this file and write cornerstone posts that offer information for the most common questions.
Does this make sense? Have you ever thought of answering questions as a Twitter or blog growth strategy? If so, tell me how it's worked for you in the comment section below.