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Twitter is not just about your follower count.  I see it time and time again.  Some guy just getting started on Twitter will “friend” everyone.  Then as soon as the new friend follows back he will “unfriend” them.  So instead of a 1 to 1 friend to follower count it will look like they have more followers.

Unless you already have a following before you get to Twitter, like Tony Robbins or Justin Beiber, then don’t expect an unbalanced friend/follower count to be salable.  Twitter is about engaging conversation and sharing information.  It’s not about getting a large follower count.

The numbers will come with time.  Forget about them for now.  Do these things and you will grow your influence and numbers legitimately and with quality people.

1. Find Your Niche

2. Don’t Buy Twitter Followers

3. Diagnose Your Twitter Account

4. Start a Blog

5. Market Yourself

6. Dedicate Just 5 Minutes a Day

* image source: http://www.addto10.com/twitter-exploit-murdered-fail-whale/

If you follow any marketing expert blogs you will hear ‘target your niche’ over and over again.  The question is what is your niche and how do you find it?

How a computer programmer found a niche

The other day I had a local landscaping company deliver 4 yards of triple shredded mulch for my flower beds.  When I was writing him the check he asked me how I found his business.  I told him that I did a search for mulch on the Internet and his name and number came up. 

The mulch man went on to tell me that his son-in-law created a website for him and since then he has been getting a lot of business from the search engines.  I never actually saw his website but it was obviously driving some traffic to his business.

In our brief conversation he went on to tell me that his son-in-law had a side business in computers.  He told me how he (the mulch man)  worked on a farm and that he and a lot of other farmers had issues with connecting all of their computer networks together.  His son-in-law, Jake, was on alert enough to see the need and fill it.

He (the son-in-law) has since created his own company and has a very nice side business.   Very specialized just for farmers.  He found a niche.

Tip #1:  Listen - Be On The Alert

Everyday I am on alert for new topics for marketing and business tips.   When I heard the mulch man tell me the story of Jake I knew right away I had to share it. 

The same goes for your profession or passion.  Listen to the crowd.  What are they asking for?  What are they complaining about?  As a user, what is on your wishlist?  Is it a simple fix or something that could be helpful for years to come?  Write your ideas down.

Tip #2: Research - Is there room for you?

After you have found an area to focus on you should do some research. 

Years ago when I started my web hosting business it was new and exciting.  Even so, the market place was full.  It wasn’t until I decided to concentrate only on Microsoft ASP web hosting that my company took off. 

Even with a niche like I had, things are different today.  The market is over saturated even in niche areas. 

Starting a web hosting business today would be a huge uphill battle.  I’m not saying it’s not doable but you would definitely be starting with a disadvantage.

Ask yourself a few questions.  Is there room for my niche in the marketplace?  Does it matter to me if it’s already over saturated?  Who will be my competition? 

Tip #3 - Choose A Niche That Will Last

This tip has two different parts.  The first is, will you still enjoy talking about this topic for months or years to come? 

Are you still going to be excited and passionate about this niche down the road?  Picture yourself in 2 years.  Do you want to be involved with or even be talking about this at that time?  A lot of things seem great at first but they grow old quickly.  Make sure this niche isn’t one of them.

The second part of this tip is, will this need still exist in the future? 

For example, Twitter just bought Tweetdeck.  Tweetdeck is basically a Twitter client application.  Twitter has mentioned several times in the last year that they don’t want developers to concentrate on developing ‘client’ applications.  Now would not be a good time to create your own custom Twitter client.  There’s a good possibility that Twitter will wipe your entire business out if they turn off the switch (your connection to Twitter).

Conclusion

Listening, researching and finding a niche that will last are just 3 small pieces to finding a niche.  The most important thing is that you need to find something that you love doing. 

Making money is great but if you don’t enjoy it then it just becomes a job.   Nobody wants a job.  Jobs suck.  Athletes don’t have jobs.  They get to “play” the games.  Musicians don’t have jobs.  They get to “play” gigs. 

Take 5 minutes today and start.  Find your niche so you can start “playing”.

Related blog posts:

How to Blog in 5 Minutes (find a niche) - http://goo.gl/V9JI6

5 Minutes a Day (getting started) - http://goo.gl/pvBR5

Today, thanks mostly to cool libraries like Jquery, websites can do a lot without ever having to refresh the entire page.  Websites have really grown into full blown applications. 

Take Facebook or Twitter for example.  Both sites have tons of functionality all working at the same time (asynchronously).  The page never refreshes and for the most part it works beautifully.  Tweets get retweeted, comments get posted and friendships are made.

Unfortunately no application is perfect

But as great as both applications are, neither one is perfect.  I have clicked the follow button in Twitter several times and nothing happened.  Eventually, after wasting a minute or two I ended up hitting fresh and tried again.  I think it’s worked every single time after a refresh. 

How much time do you waste trying to use something that just doesn’t work?   As a computer consultant I found that scenario to be very common among my clients.  They would use a system that was only 50% of what they really needed.  Instead of throwing it away and trying again (mostly because they had already paid someone else a bunch of money for it)  they would painfully continue to use the old system.

Find a fresh alternative

The first thing I would do in these cases was think of an extreme alternative.   That usually lead to questions for the client which lead to more ideas for a solution.  My main goal was to simplify the job of the client.   My job wasn’t to fix what was broken with the old system.  My job was to find an alternative that worked.

Avoid overkill

For example, one client was creating forms from a database.  The text never changed and it was extremely complicated for them to use the system.  They used less than 30% of the system.   My suggestion was to simply use a PDF template and fill in the blanks instead.  They went from managing a database and application to 7 simple files that could be stored on a thumb drive if they wanted.  No bells or whistles but guess what? They didn’t need them!

Just hit refresh

The next time you feel stuck… hit the refresh button. Think of something extremely different as a solution.  Think of something extremely simple.  Make a list of what you’re trying to accomplish.  Ask yourself, ‘What is the one thing I really need on this list?”  Then, do it.

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For the majority of the last year I have been living and breathing Twitter.  I have made thousands of calls to their API service while testing and developing Mokumax.com.  My rhythm in Twitter is good. 

In my post, Sharing vs Shouting, I talked about the downfalls of your tone on Twitter.  The question posed was, are you sharing useful information or are you shouting it’s all about “me, me, me”? 

Diagnose your Twitter account now.

Is your follower count going up? 

* If not then chances are you are just shouting.  Start listening.  What’s all the chatter about?  Maybe someone could use your help… for free - don’t shout about the services you offer!

Do you retweet others?

* If not, then you should!  People love when you share their posts.  Don’t just share anything.  Share good quality tweets that you think others would find helpful.  If someone retweets your content seriously considering reciprocating.

Are your updates just a journal of your daily activities?

* If this is the norm for you, don’t expect retweets or your follower count to go up.  Most people could care less if you just picked up a cappuccino from Starbucks. An occasional update like this is fine.  It’s all about moderation.

Are all of your posts automated from a feed?

* This is one of my personal pet peeves.  Don’t pretend to be a human only to have all of your tweets come from an automated process.  Sounds like a great idea.  Hands off.  Totally not what Twitter was designed for.

In Mokumax you can add tweets from any RSS feed that you would like.  It even formats the tweet and shortens any URLs.  The difference is that you have to click to post or schedule the tweet.  This is right in line with Twitter’s policy and without any expertise required on your end optimizes your Twitter account.

Are you using a service to buy Twitter followers?

* Save your money.  Don’t believe the hype that you’ll get targeted followers.  Any followers you buy won’t be followers for long. 

Twitter is a great platform for conversation and sharing so, use it for that!  Share more than you shout.  Offer free help before pushing your services on others.