A Virtuous Cycle Of Twitter Community Management

What if a prominent journalist followed a brand’s Twitter account and no one noticed? No one on behalf of the brand reciprocated the follow.

In an ideal situation, the journalist would have been thanked, added to a list, and engaged. Ouch!

It’s easy for community managers to get caught up in the daily and hourly flow of all the bits of information coming and going, and as a result, miss critical activities. To prevent these types of omissions, develop your own Twitter workflow for the people managing your Twitter community.

It can help to think through the four main groups of activities:

  1. Reciprocation – follow people back, say “thank your” or simply answer a question
  2. Nurturing of Connections – find new people to connect with, follow them, and then make a real connection to the person
  3. Content Creation – create interesting content, through original authorship or curation
  4. Engagement – get involved in conversations and chats

These activities can flow in a cycle that slowly builds up more and more brand equity, influence, connections, and influence. In economics, this is referred to as a virtuous cycle.

It could look like this:


Did anyone include your name in a comment, or directly to you? If so, answer.

  • Did anyone retweet you? If so, thank them.
  • Did anyone new follow you? If so, are they real/interesting/relevant? If so, follow them back.
  • Is there anything interesting in your stream to reply to? Particularly with the new people… If your daily new followers are 25 or fewer, it isn’t difficult to look over those new followers and see if there is an opportunity to engage.  If your daily new follower count is much higher, this can be difficult, but still very much worth the effort.

Nurture New Connections

Follow new people. Do you have a plan for following new people (if you’re trying to build your Twitter following, you should be, yourself, following new people every day)? You might follow new people based on:

  • Use of certain key phrases in tweets or profiles
  • People within a certain geographic area if your organization is local in nature
  • People that are in mutual networks (following, being followed, or mutually following one another)

Creating Content

We’ve entered into a time in which “content marketing” has become a cherished buzzword and concept. Even clichés can represent an eternal vérité; however, so even if you haven’t used the phrase “Content is King” in the past six months, content is by and large the stuff that makes up the Internet. It’s the cosmic dust and ether of our online universe.

Here are some of the things you can try to capitalize on content:

  • Curating content found elsewhere that is relevant
  • Sharing events like trade shows and conferences
  • Creating a “story,” that is, a series of tweets that have a cohesive narrative


Of course, in engaging, you’re creating content, too. But it’s content that has an extra jolt of unicorn sparkles, because it’s interaction with other people. That is, after all, where all the magic of this stuff we call social media occurs.

Some magical ways to engage include:

  • Responding to what someone else has tweeted – many of the most effective users of Twitter are directly tweeting to others (a tweet beginning with @SomeonesName)
  • Retweeting great and relevant content
  • Joining in or even being a guest on Twitter chats
  • Bringing relationships offline by meeting people

Using Lists

Using lists can help in all four areas of activity. By creating interesting lists and adding individuals to those lists, you’re giving a “micro-gift” to that person – showing that you find them interesting. The list is in itself a piece of content that you can share with others. How you name lists and group people can in itself tell a story.

And finally, by keeping Twitter lists, you can more easily engage with people. Remember, people aren’t notified when a list is deleted – only when they are added to a list.  Include list maintenance in your Twitter community management cycle to keep this important feature active.

Once you’re following over a few thousand people on Twitter, using those lists will be the easiest way to keep track of people based on subject expertise, geographical area, level of influence, or other criteria.

Tools Of The Trade

Tools can often help you do many of the tasks mentioned above more easily than the Web-based version of Twitter. Even working in one of the common 3rd party Twitter interfaces like Hootsuite or Tweetdeck can help you keep an eye on list members in a way that is just plain onerous in the web version of Twitter.

Some of the other tools I’ve found useful include:

These suggestions for a Twitter Community Management Guide are by no means meant to be exhaustive.  But if you don’t already have your own guide and process, it is a good starting place. If you do find things to add or edit, I’d love to hear from you.

Feature image and accompanying images from VectorStock used under license.

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land.

Related Topics: Channel: Social Media Marketing | Twitter | Twitter Marketing Column


About The Author: is the author of the DragonSearch Online Marketing Manual and Social Marketology (McGraw Hill 2012) and the ceo/co-founder of DragonSearch. He is a regular speaker for Google at their Get Your Business Online seminars. Dragon frequently speaks about the convergence of social media, process, information architecture, and sociology.


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  • http://rhogroupee.com/ Rosemary ONeill

    This is a great summary of best practices for managing a Twitter brand account (or heck, personal account). It’s so easy to stand out when you send a personal response rather than resorting to the evil auto DM.

  • http://dragonsearchmarketing.com/ Ric Dragon

    Hi Rosemary; thanks for the comment – and yes, I agree – auto DMs really suck the power out of the response. Funny thing – I think a lot of brands are concerned about the manpower necessary to respond to thousands of people… that it’s not scalable – and yet if you really consider the cost, it’s not unreasonable.

  • http://twitter.com/CarolLynnRivera Carol Lynn Rivera

    Really great advice and yet so hard to follow! Social marketing has become such a time-sucking monster. I attempt to follow up with new followers but they pour in so fast sometimes that there’s no way I can parse hundreds of profiles to say a meaningful hello to each person. And I don’t like auto DMs so it’s pretty much hit or miss. If a prominent journalist followed me I guarantee I’d notice…. in about six weeks!

    And I theoretically always reply to someone who mentions or engages me but I know there are times I’ve missed things and sometimes two weeks later I’ll see oh… that person asked me a question… argh!

    I like Tweetdeck mostly because I’ve been using it forever. Makes it a bit easier to sort of find people.

    For brands – serious brands – they really need a dedicated social media team. They can’t afford to miss customer interactions especially when every little slight is cause for vocal outrage.

    Did I mention great advice?!

  • http://dragonsearchmarketing.com/ Ric Dragon

    That’s probably why we felt the need to put it in a process – one thing when we’re doing for ourselves, another when for a client, eh?

    BTW, Carol Lynn, you crossing the great river and coming out to SMX in a couple of weeks? If so, be sure to tap me on the shoulder and say hi! & Thanks so much for weighing in.

  • http://cashwithatrueconscience.com/rbblog Ryan Biddulph

    A simple thank you goes a long way in the twitter-sphere. I check in a few times daily to thank my rters. Good stuff here Ric thanks for sharing.


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