An empty dance floor is like a Twitter account with no engagement: useless. Twitter can sometimes be like a grade school dance; People standing all around the dance floor. There is a lot of music and side-chatter, but nobody going into the center of the dance floor and engaging. To create an engaging community on Twitter, you have to figure out how you are going to get people out on the dance floor with you.

I want to give two disclaimers before I share how to create an engaging community.

First, Twitter is not one-size-fits-all. I will share a few strategies that should lead to engagement and have created an engaging community for me and my clients but you have to ultimately decide what strategies will best work for you. There is no turn-key strategy that will work for all.

Second, I want to share that engagement is not the end result. Engagement helps you reach your Twitter goals. Seeking engagement for the purpose of engagement will lead you nowhere. Define your why. Why do you want people to engage? What is the ultimate goal? Focus your strategies around that. Test which strategies work for you, and then consistently work the strategies that are effective.

Before we talk about how to create an engaging community, let’s first define what we mean by engagement. It can be an ambiguous term. In the broad definition, engagement would be any action taken by a Twitter follower, which includes a retweet, favorite, reply, but also the act of viewing and reading your tweet or clicking to follow you is an act of engagement.

The replies are what we prize because replies lead to conversations and build relationships. However, to have an engaging community, you need to have every form of engagement occurring. You need people engaging by deciding to follow you (if you have no followers, you have no potential of people to engage.

The more followers you have, in theory, the more potential for engagement). You need people to read your tweets, which means your content needs to add value to your audience. You need people engaging by retweeting you or favoriting your tweets. You need engagement by people direct messaging and tweeting at you. All of these types of acts of engagement work together to create an engaged community.

Here are 3 Tips to increase your Twitter engagement:

  1. Proactively Engage
    Think back to the grade school dance analogy. If you sat back and waited for people to come up to you and invite you to dance, that might work, maybe, possibly. However, the more effective solution would be to take the first step, walk across that dance floor and invite someone to join you to dance. That is what proactively engaging on Twitter does.

How to Proactively Engage:
Decide who your target audience is. Identify people within that target audience. Follow those people. Retweet those people. Reply to their tweets and initiate conversation. They won’t all engage back with you, but some of them will and that will be the start of your engaging community.
Insider Tricks:
Identify your competitors. See who engages with them. Follow and engage with those people. They are likely highly targeted followers.
Show an interest in what interests your followers. If they mention a hobby in their Twitter bio, Tweet at them and ask them a question about that hobby.

  1. Tweet Often
    People can’t engage with someone who is invisible. If you don’t tweet 10+ times per day on Twitter, your Twitter presence is nearly invisible. Twitter is not like other networks. 1-2 Tweets per day won’t do the trick.

How to Tweet Often:
I get it, tweeting 10+ times per day can seem like a daunting task. Keep in mind this does include replies and retweets. There are tools out there, like Hootsuite, that allow you to schedule tweets throughout the day. I highly recommend doing so. However, keep in mind, don’t automate then forget. If you won’t be available to reply to people who engage with you, then don’t schedule content during that time.
Insider Tricks:
Look into tools like BundlePost and Buffer. There are tools, like the two mentioned, that help you find quality content to Tweet. This is important because people will likely only engage with you if you’re adding value to them, and quality content adds value to your followers.
Use images when applicable. Images get more views, replies and retweets.

  1. Be Human (even if you’re account is a business account)
    If you don’t value people and relationships first, you won’t have an engaging community. Engaging with your community comes down to the same principles, whether you have 1 follower or 1 million followers. Yes, every engagement is an opportunity to eventually make a sale. However, the mindset that leads to having an engaging community is realizing that every engagement is an opportunity to be human and develop a relationship.

How to be Human:
You have to reply to people. I try to reply to all tweets within 60 minutes. If you’re interaction becomes so high that you can’t reply to all tweets, then you need to create a system that allows for you to reply to everyone. If someone says hello to you, part of being a human is saying hello back. That principle applies on Twitter too. When someone shares your post, thank them. When someone asks a question, answer the question. That is part of being human. When you don’t reply, you’re telling that person that you don’t value them. When your followers feel that they don’t matter to you, you won’t have a community nor engagement.
Insider Tip:
Show your personality. Robotic replies and press release type content won’t do the trick. Share a joke. Talk about what is trending. Share something about your life. When you open your personality up to your audience, they’ll be much more likely to engage on a meaningful level.
Takeaway Plan of Action
In this blog, I’ve mostly shared theory with you. I want to leave you with something that you can implement right away to help to start creating an engaging community. Here are 5 things I want you to make sure you do each day on Twitter.

Tweet 10 times
Follow 5 targeted followers and Reply to or Retweet one of their tweets.
Thank, compliment or congratulate 3 people.
Ask 2 people a question about a topic listed in their bio.
Send 1 humorous reply to a tweet (show personality).
Growing a community takes time. Engagement increases slowly over time. There is no magic pill or secret sauce to growing an engaging community, but if you make sure to proactively engage with people, consistently provide value added content, and make sure to value relationship building and stay human, you’ll grow an engaging community.