Everyone’s always talking about how important it is to build a platform when you’re a writer, actor, or artist. But the world of social media can be both intimidating and overwhelming. If you want to learn how to build an online following in a completely painless (and even fun) way, Rob Gokee is the man to talk to.
Rob’s got a loyal following of 14,500 Twitter users. On the site, he’s known for his friendly personality and his love of tacos. Rob gets 90% of his freelance work from networking on Twitter and even met his wife there! His book, “In the Belly of the Fail Whale: How Twitter Changed My Life In One Year” is an autobiographical account of his life as a film and television composer, and how drastically his life changed over a 12-month period by marketing on Twitter.
Rob is my personal Twitter hero. Using his advice, I amped up my Twitter presence and went from 150 followers to almost 900 (and counting). He was kind enough to answer a few questions about how he got his start on Twitter and what advice he has for those looking to start or grow their own loyal Twitter following. If you want to learn more about networking, building a following, and finding freelance opportunities on Twitter, you can take Rob’s Twitter class at the Pad on February 26th!
When did you first join Twitter? How long did it take for you to find a strong community of followers?
I joined Twitter on October 23, 2008. I feel like I’m always building my community, but it really started to come together around 6 months in. You get 90% of your freelance work from Twitter, and you also met your wife there! Do you have a few quick Twitter networking tips and tricks you would be willing to share with us? 1. Be yourself. Don’t be a salesman, let your own personality come out. If people know you’re real, then the rest will fall into place. 2. Don’t set up auto-DM’s (a direct message that automatically goes to new followers). They come off as insincere, and it starts you off on the wrong foot with your new followers. Your book “In the Belly of the Fail Whale” is about your life as a composer and how everything changed after you began marketing on Twitter.
What inspired you to write this book?
That 12 month period of my life was crazy, and Twitter was at the center of the storm, and the reasons behind what was happening, both good and bad. Because I’d had so much success with it, I wanted to impart what I’d learned and how I got there on the rest of the world.
For people who are intimidated by Twitter (and social media marketing in general), what advice do you have for them to help them get started?
After you create an account, do a search for something you like. Camping, Computers, Baseball, Knitting… whatever it is that you do for fun. Follow 50 people who come up in that search (make sure they tweet regularly and interact with other people). Then, start a conversation based on something they’ve tweeted. Don’t worry about selling yourself, or feeling pressured to talk about what you had for breakfast – just start a conversation the same way you would at a party when you don’t know anyone.
Sometimes social media seems so time consuming. How do you find time to do promotional work on Twitter but still have time to write and compose?
Twitter is second nature for me now – I tweet from everywhere, so it’s spread out over my day. I try to spend an hour every other day just talking to people on Twitter, and I try to talk to 5 new people every session. In the beginning, when I was first starting out on Twitter, I spent a few hours (collectively) every day building my community and getting to know my followers. It’s necessary to spend more time in the beginning creating your community.