How To Follow People on Twitter

So the other day I was reading a post over at the Assault Blog titled Why Twitter Followers Are Worthless. The author argued that:

1. “If you can’t mobilize your followers for feedback, links, retweets or an opinion: they’re worthless.”

This is somewhat true. When I first started blogging about a year and a half ago I used my existing Twitter account to send out links to posts that I’d do on this blog. For the first month or so I received minimal feedback or retweets.

I was following a ton of T-Shirt people and yet no one seemed to care about my content. The main thing that I learned is that Twitter is a two way street. Unless YOU care about the people that YOU follow on Twitter then YOU are worthless to THEM.

Once I started providing my opinions to tweets I’d read over Twitter, leaving feedback and retweeting I started to notice that people would do the same for the content that I pumped out over Twitter.

Twitter is a two way interactive street. Provide worth to your followers and the people that follow you will be worth their weight in gold 100 times over.

2. “Twitter is a vehicle for word of mouth, but offline word of mouth is always better than online word of mouth.”

I disagree. I don’t think my blog would have grown as much as it did and as fast as it did without the online word of mouth gained through the use of Twitter. Had I not utilized Twitter, my blog might just be another blog. Instead, I have a strong following of people who love T-Shirts and enjoy visiting my site to get the latest tee related scoops.

In fact, I made it a point not to SPAM my Facebook friends (people that I actually know in real life) with status updates linking back to my blog. I didn’t even announce my blog on my Facebook profile despite the fact that my 300-400 Facebook friends would have seen it. I wanted to see how much the blog would grow minus the friend and family factor. Other people automate updates on their blog to their personal Facebook page. I don’t do this and I will explain in a future post why I don’t.

Coty’s Followers/Following Rule

I started to follow the “big” people in my niche (T-Shirts) and I’d take a look at the people that they followed and I would selectively follow those that I thought had an interest in tees.

Note that I don’t have a monstrous or unbalanced followers/following count. I follow about 1800 people and have about 1100 followers. A balance in the number of people you follow and the number that follow you (followers) is a good thing. It means that more times than not, when you followed someone they followed you back. Or, when someone followed you, you found their content interesting enough to follow them back.

Remember, Twitter is a two way interactive street. So be weary of people whose follow/follower count are not balanced (i.e. they follow 300,000 people but have 23 followers). These are probably SPAM accounts, don’t follow these people. I’m a little follow heavy when it comes to Twitter, when you encounter these types of people you need to take into account their tweet history and even the link they provide on their profile page (covered in next section). When it comes to the followers/following rule you really want to be aware of the extremes, for instance:

Twitter

How To Choose Who To Follow?

Once you start using Twitter you’ll start to get people who follow you that you aren’t currently following. You can do one of two things:

1. Ignore the Twitter email notifying you of a new follower.

or

2. Click on the notification email and review the stats of the person following you.

Ignoring people over Twitter is a bad idea. Twitter is a two way interactive street, remember?

Therefore that leaves us with option #2. So you take a look at the user stats that is included in the notification email and then from there you can make a “trim the fat” decision. This when you use the Followers/Following rule: If they have an unbalanced Twitter Followers/Following count I usually ignore them and do not follow them back. They are probably SPAM.

If however, they have a balanced Twitter Followers/Following count OR they have a username related to my niche then I’ll take look at their Twitter profile.

For example, @Timothyfree decided to follow me on Twitter. I took a look at the notification email and he passed the Followers/Following Rule. Next step is to take a look at his Twitter profile page.

Twitter

So now I am taking a look at their Twitter profile and at this point I need to decide to follow him on Twitter or not. My decision of whether to follow or not to follow hinges on a few things:

  1. Are they following other people in my niche? Go through and look at the people they are following.
  2. Do they’ve have an interesting profile link (bonus if they link back to a tee related site), or
  3. Does their Tweet history show relevance to my niche?

So continuing on with @Timothyfree’s profile, I notice that he is linked to Freedom Clothing. Perfect, another clothing company to keep under my radar. But I do notice that his followers/following numbers have changed from when he initially followed me. That’s fine because I checked out his profile links, his tweet history and I know he is not SPAM, instead, he is someone that I’d  be interested in connecting with on Twitter. His tweet history shows that he likes to tweet about personal life stuff but that’s okay because when I looked through the list people he follow I found the official Twitter account for his clothing brand and I decided to follow that.

Twitter

Once I review these three things I make a gut decision as to whether or not I follow this new person. I decide to follow @Timothyfree.

If you follow these steps then I promise you that you will develop a community of Twitter followers that actually care about what you are talking about. And once this happens, online word of mouth becomes a gazillion times more powerful then offline word of mouth. This is all based on the quality of your online word of mouth reach. And remember, since Twitter is a two way interactive street and you’re interacting with your community, your community members will be much more likely to retweet your content and/or provide feedback. Once this starts to happen on a regular basis then that’s when the online Twitter world becomes your oyster. Eat it up.

Some take home points:

  1. Twitter is a two way interactive street.
  2. Remember the Follow/Foller Rule and be weary of people whose follow/follower count are not balanced.
  3. Trim The Fat, but don’t ignore new followers, see what they have to offer before you decide to follow or not follow them.
  4. Once you’ve built a quality number of Twitter followers, don’t forget to continue to provide good content and leave good feedback.

I’d love to know what you think of this post. Also, if you have a different strategy for following people I’d love to hear about it!

If you enjoyed this post be sure to follow me on Twitter!

Follow Co-Tee TV on Facebook and Win a ShirtFight Tee

This giveaway is pretty easy (I’m a fan of easy) so hopefully many of you will take advantage of it! All you need to do is become a fan of Co-Tee on Facebook and you’ll automatically be entered to win a tee from ShirtFight.com (see some of their amazing tees below). That’s it, there’s nothing else you need to do! I’ll randomly pick one Co-Tee TV Facebook Fan on Wednesday to win a tee. Good luck and don’t forget to tune in to Co-Tee TV every Thursday!

Co-Tee TV on Facebook

ShirtFight

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Follow Me On Facebook!

Hello guys! I need your help. You see, I just created a Facebook Fan Page for Co-Tee TV but I can’t get a Facebook vanity URL (vain, I know) for it until I reach 1000 fans! Well, I’m about 997 fans away from reaching a 1000 so go ahead and fan me up! 

The benefits you ask?

1. Exclusive video content of uncut and extended scenes that don’t make it to the actual episode! 

2. Links to new episodes of Co-Tee TV there as well Coty Loves Threadless so you’ll be sure to catch the newest episodes as soon as it’s up if you’re one of those chronic Facebook users. 

3. Random photos of tees that I find in random places. 

4. The occasional contest, you know I love a good contest! And that means free tees for you!

5. As a fan you can also post links to your products and if it catches my eye it might end up on this blog!

I Can promise you this, the CO-Tee TV Facebook will not be just another static Facebook page. I’ll try my best to keep it as fresh and as interactive as possible! Now go add me on Facebook!

Co-Tee TV on Facebook

Indie Tee Spotlight #8: Labyrinth Designs & Clothing

19-year-old Nader Boraie is living the American Dream. Boraie is the founder of Labyrinth Designs & Clothing, a clothing brand that he started 3 years ago with the idea of providing design help to friends that were in local bands. Since then, Boraie has took his brand to the Internet and has watched it flourish. 

With a new Fall line being released today, Nader was eager to talk a little about the new direction he took, design wise, for the just released tees. He also discusses the origins of Labyrinth Designs & Clothing and how he is able to balance his time between college and running his own business. 

Coty: Labyrinth Designs and Clothing has been around for a while now. You began your brand nearly 3 years ago. How and why did you get started in the merchandise design business?

Nader: Labyrinth originally was started as only a design company. Labyrinth was started by myself, and my good friend Lee. At the time we had a handful of friends in bands that needed some design help, so we figured that we loved to draw, so why not help out our friends and make it a business and spread the word? So I started out doing desktop wallpapers, AIM icons, and little things like that and eventually started getting into t-shirt designs. As a promotional idea, Lee and I decided to hand draw some designs and get them printed (and these designs were pretty much made in Microsoft paint and using cheap photoshop filters because we really didn’t know how to use photoshop too well at the time haha). We sold the shirts for $10 a piece and got rid of a bunch of them fairly easily to friends and just people at school and such.

After that, Labyrinth officially became a clothing company as well as a design company, and that’s when we started hand silk-screening shirts and got a bit better at designing. Eventually Lee left Labyrinth all up to me, so I took it upon myself to run it as best as I could. I had full artistic freedom which was a new feeling and I quickly started to design the 07′/08′ Fall/Winter line which was the first actual line to be professionally printed and had 6 brand new designs.

For me, the reason I got into design was purely for the satisfaction of people appreciating my art. Labyrinth was created to design affordable, unique, and creative shirts. I’m not concerned with making a great deal of profit, (although that would be nice) I am more concerned with people appreciating my art enough to wear it on a day-to-day basis. That is the satisfaction of it all. Most of the money I make, if not all is invested back into the company to produce more shirts for a great price.

Coty: Based on your Myspace and Facebook, you’re a pretty young guy. You started Labyrinth while you were in high school. How did you fund this big endeavor and how did you go about managing both school and running your own business.

Nader: Haha, yeah I’m 19, I started Labyrinth when I was around 16. Funding Labyrinth was a little tricky, for the promotional shirts that I mentioned we made before, Lee and I saved up $250 each and used that to print the first batch. Since then, Lee left Labyrinth before heading to college, so I took upon all funding, design, and promotion myself.

Managing school and running Labyrinth has been a little difficult. In high school it wasn’t so bad because I had a lot of free time and the space to print Labyrinth shirts. But realizing that I was going to college while at the same time I was getting better at designing, I decided I would get the 07′/08′ line of shirts printed professionally (by a company called def-star) so I wouldn’t be overworked at school.

Coming to college has been a lot tougher to manage Labyrinth and school. There’s not a ton of free time I get where I can just sit back and relax, but I do my best to manage Labyrinth as best as I can and if that means no sleep, I’ll deal with it. Last year I felt like I kind of sat back on it and let it promote itself, which is a little frustrating in retrospect, but I’m trying to change that this year by featuring a lot nicer options, and freebies with every purchase and at the same time just working a lot more on it and not letting things get pushed back.

Coty: You’ve got a new line with three new tees ready to be released. Tell us a little about the new designs. Design wise, they look different from the rest of your product line (I actually prefer the look of the new stuff to your older stuff). Who designed these and should we expect more designs like these in the future from Labyrinth?

Nader: Thanks- I actually like these new ones a lot better too. The new line comes out this Friday and I’m really excited about it, I put a lot of effort into it. Design wise, these are definitely way different than everything else I’ve done with Labyrinth. I worked on these designs a lot more than the previous ones, I wanted a cleaner feel to these rather than the whole grunge influence I had before. I wanted to design something different and interesting. I wanted to create more of a series rather than a group of random tees which I felt the 07′/08′ line was like.

So for these, I was really influenced by animals, whether that be realistic like the “Float Away” chick or the cartoony “Dino’s.” But everything since the 07′/08′ Line has been designed by myself, and all the new shirts are hand drawn designs that I worked on in my sketchbook and brought into illustrator or just drew straight into illustrator.

Coty: You’ve mentioned to me in the past that when you started Labyrinth you printed your own shirts. Do you still print your own shirts? If not, who do you go to for printing and what process do they use for printing? How have your shirts improved, quality-wise, since you first started 3 years ago?

Nader: I am actually trying to get back into printing my own shirts again. My friends and I in Boston are working on building our own silk-screening press at the moment, very inexpensively, which I am really happy about because I have plans for some limited edition shirts. But as for the new line of shirts coming out this Friday, Bandwagon Merch printed them all, and they did a great job with them; I cannot thank them enough for that. Pure Buttons also helped me out with the button packages that come with the first 100 orders.

As for improvements, it can be seen across the board, from the design quality to the quality of shirts and to the quality of the inks used in printing. I have had a strong emphasis on improving the quality of the line. Before, I just wanted to go with the normal cheap stuff (hanes, jerzees, fruit of the loom) to produce a low cost shirt that I could sell really cheap, but after learning and growing as a designer, I’ve realized people will pay for better quality and a few more dollars won’t hurt. These new shirts are all printed on American Apparel 2001 unisex shirts for a great fit as well as comfort, and the inks printed on the shirts are made to be absorbed into the material, so they are super soft and part of the shirt as opposed to lying on top of the shirt. Also, I am very excited to include with the first 50 orders one of three limited edition Labyrinth Posters relative to the design purchased and as another bonus, for the first 100 orders a free “Dinos” two pin button pack.

Up to this point, these shirts have been presold at only $12 and on Friday they will be released at full price, $17, which I don’t think is bad at all. For a regular American apparel shirt, that’s around $16-$20, so for a unique design, free button pack, and free poster, I think this is a great deal.

Coty: Who would you say Labyrinth’s target audience is? How do you market to this target audience?

Nader: It’s weird, I feel like there is no specific target audience for Labyrinth, I mean, of course I’m marketing to a group of people probably from around the ages of 16-28, but I feel like especially with the new designs I have been coming out with, there has been no real target audience. I find that a lot of different people from different social groups find my designs to be appealing, and I like the idea of that – you know? I like having no specific audience, just reaching anyone who appreciates my designs, and my art is fine by me, but that also makes it a lot harder to market.

As for marketing, I do the whole MySpace and Facebook thing. For me, I feel that marketing is my weak point. Lately, though, because of my new emphasis on marketing Labyrinth, I’ve seen a lot of improvement. I’ve been getting a lot of help from my parents, my brother, my girlfriend and my friends. They have helped spread the word by telling all of the people they know and by printing and distributing flyers and stickers. I just can’t thank all of them enough.

Coty: I think that your new line would look splendid printed on onesie’s for babies! Both Dinos! and Float Away are uber cute and I’m sure any mom would proudly dress their babies in your new goods! Any plans on expanding beyond just adult tees (i.e. bags, shoes, hoodies, etc)?

Hahaha, that’s something I thought about after seeing these printed. My girlfriend was just saying how these reminded her of a cartoon show. If there was definite interest in putting these on kids shirts or onesie’s, I would definitely do it; I’m just not sure how I would go about that yet. We will see though! Haha.

I am definitely interested in expanding beyond adult tee’s. I have done hoodies in the past and I am definitely interested in doing more. At some point I also see myself designing tote bags and tees specifically for girls. I’m always looking for new niches to fill. So in the future, definitely look out for Labyrinth evolving, because it is already starting to.

Coty: Have you ever seen any of your designs being worn in the wild? If so, how did you react?

Nader: Haha yeah, its funny, I get random calls from friends saying they passed by a kid wearing one of my shirts in a mall and stuff like that, but until recently, I haven’t spotted many myself, I actually just saw 3 people wearing Labyrinth shirts in a day a few weeks ago, I knew two of the kids, but one of them I had no idea how he grabbed a Labyrinth shirt, and I just kind of pointed and said to my friend, “… Hey… I made that… that’s weird.” Haha. It was a bit of a shock, but it’s a great feeling, and I hope that I see a lot more random people wearing my stuff.

Coty: As a young entrepreneur, what advice would you give to a high school kid or up-and-coming designer that wants to start their own brand and business?

Nader: I would definitely say do a lot of research. That was one of my main setbacks. I pretty much just dove into Labyrinth with no expectations or real knowledge about how a brand or business worked. But over the past few years, I have been learning a lot of essential things (i.e. marketing). It’s kind of like a trial and error process.

However, the past year and a half or so, I’ve been doing a lot of research on other companies, gathering ideas, comparing, seeking inspiration, and getting feedback from friends, family, and anyone that is willing to help. You have to be willing to have an open mind and hear what others have to say. You have to step outside yourself and take a look at others around you and see if you can benefit from previous examples. The best piece of advice I can give you youngsters is just enjoy it.

Thanks to Nader for taking the time to chat with me about Labyrinth Clothing! We look forward to great things from Labyrinth in the future! Be sure to check out Labyrinth’s MySpace and online store if you’re interested in purchasing some of his new tees!

5 Twitter Tips To Get Brand Exposure

This is a follow up to a post that I made last month regarding how you can use MySpace to market your T-shirt designs. I continue with the social network theme and describe 5 handy tips of how you can utilize the micro-blogging tool, Twitter, to maximize exposure of your personal brand. 

1. Engage in conversation. This tip is probably the most important when trying to use Twitter to gain exposure for your brand. The more you interact with the people you follow and your followers the more engrained you will become in the collective conscious. The more you @ reply and dm (direct message) people the greater the chance that they will remember who you are. The ultimate goal is not only to build on the relationships of those you follow but for you to develop strong relations with your followers.

2. Automate Twitters Across Platforms. It doesn’t make sense for you to tweet a message and then type out the same message to update your status on other platforms like Facebook, FriendFeed and Pownce. Make these platforms work with each other. For instance, every time you make a tweet you can instantly have your Facebook status updated with the same message. Similarly, when you Pownce, you can have that Pownce message automatically made into a tweet. FriendFeed is a cool aggregator of social networks so you can have your tweets automatically appear in your FriendFeed profile as well. Now instead of typing the same thing 4 times across 4 different platforms, you just need to do it once. 

To auto update your Facebook status with your most recent Twitter tweets:

1. Install the Twitter for Facebook application
2. In the Twitter for Facebook application 
3. Click the “Allow Twitter to Update Your Facebook Status” button just above the text box.

Check this post out to see how you can sync Twitter with Pownce. 

3. Friend Up. Do you have a particular niche that you’re interested in? Let’s take for example T-shirts. If you blog about T-shirts then it would make sense for you to be friends with people on Twitter who are also interested in the T-shirt culture. Here’s what you can do, you can actually search Twitter by going to search.twitter.com. Look up key words related to your niche. For instance, I am interested in tees so I did a Twitter search of people talking about Emptees and Threadless. Once you find these people, follow them. Chances are that they will follow you and then get your Twitter updates as a result. Now that you’ve found these people, chances are they are friends with other people interested in T-shirts, so be sure to check out who they follow as well. Also remember to search for friends feature in Twitter to check your email (i.e. Gmail) for contacts who are already on registered on Twitter. Find your audience and be friends with them. Feel free to add me @cotygonzales!

4. Sync Blog Posts. This is a no brainer. Every time you make a new blog post, tweet about it. Again, you can automate this process, however, for this instance I do not. I always provide a personal message quickly describing the post and make it sound interesting (hopefully increasing the chances that my followers will click on the link) instead of having just a generic automated link to the blog post. However, if you decide to take the automated approach, check out Twitter Tools for WordPress, it allows you to sync your blog with Twitter and provides different ways of displaying your tweets on your blog. 

5. Be Interesting, Fun and Tweet Outside Your Niche. It’s important for you to Twitter about things related to your blog (see Tip #4) but it also important to tweet about things unrelated to your blog. People like out-of-nowhere tweets that raise an eyebrow or two. Tweet about random and fun things that happen to you throughout your day. Random posts remind people that you are human and not just a robot spamming Twitter with links to your blog!

Twitter is powerful. Learning to harness that power will unleash an invaluable tool for anyone trying to develop a name or brand for themselves in this increasingly social-centered Internet.

By the way, here are some Twitter T-shirts that might peak your interest!

You can also find more Twitter themed tees at Eat Sleep Tweet!

Obama Taps Into the MySpaec, errr, MySpace Generation

Kudo’s to Obama’s publicity/marketing team for reaching out to generation Web 2.0. In an ingenious move, whenever an intrepid Myspace user types in the url to their favorite site, MySpace.com and inadvertently misspells the url as MySpaec.com (go ahead try the link) they get forwarded to Obama’s campaign site. 

This just goes to show how ingrained social networks like MySpace has become in society. In the 90′s candidates tapped into MTV. In 2008, they utilize Web 2.0. Both Obama and McCain have official MySpace and Facebook pages. Obama has more Twitter followers than Kevin Rose. More Followers than Digg king, Kevin Rose? Say what?!

How long before we see interactive political debates via Web 2.0 upstarts like Ustream and Seesmic? How long before viral videos, like the popular Barack Roll video, are initiated by the candidates themselves. The technology and networking tools that we have available to us today makes it possible to reach millions of people at the click of a button. These are powerful times. I’m glad to see our presidential candidates embracing the technology. 

By the way, if you’re typing in a url to a site you probably visit multiple times a day then shame on you. It’s all about the bookmark bar. 

*Cheers to Emptees user JacobPlague for pointing this out!

Use MySpace To Market Your T-Shirt Designs

The popular social networking site, Myspace, is a regular stomping ground for the T-Shirt loving demographic. Heck, MySpace has an Alexa rating of 7 so you’ll be able to reach a much wider demographic than simply T-Shirt loving young adults. 

While browsing one of my favorite tee sites, Emptees, I noticed that a lot of the designers there are utilizing MySpace to maximize their brand name and get the word out about their trendy designs. Here I outline 5 methods of how you can utilize Myspace to maximize “branding” efforts. These tips are potentially useful not only for indie tee designers but anyone selling something cool, hip and fun (it is the Myspace demographic, after all). 

Also remember that Myspace is not the only social network out there. There are literally tons of other social networks out there, like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube that you can register at and have access to their user base. By networking on these sites you can help to get your brand recognized. 

1. Make Stuff Easy.

Once you’ve got your Myspace set up, be sure to have all information necessary that visitors will need to buy your stuff, like sizes available and pricing. Be sure to have tons of pictures that link to your shop (given that you have a site/store outside of Myspace. If they see a tee they like, there’s potential that they will buy the shirt. Make it as easy as possibly for them to buy that shirt. The “easy” mantra should also guide the design of your site. Make the site too busy and people will be annoyed and leave. Make it pleasing to the eye and easy to navigate and you’ll have happy visitors who’ll spend more time checking your site out. 

2. Be Personal.

Matt Rupp from Emptees suggested that you be as personal as possible and I could not agree anymore with this point. If you want to get your designs out there then you not only have to promote your company or tee line but you have to promote the hell out of YOURSELF. Rupp suggests that:

“Instead of being some man behind the curtains, I expose myself and show people who I am and what Im doing. People love to know who is actually running the show and what they are up to. So it helps to be very personable and friendly with potential customers.”

3. Guerrilla Marketing.

Be a guerrilla marketer and visit the MySpace sites of larger more developed clothing lines and brands. Look for people who are super enthusiastic about their designs, you can spot these people from the comments that they leave on the site. Message them. Comment about their comments. Say what’s up. Be their friend. Once you’ve pulled them in, let them know about your clothing line and send them links to your Myspace or your tee designs. Offer them special deals or discounts. Ask them how much they would pay for your tees. According to levi! of Emptees,

“I carry on about 15 convos on a myspace a day just by that and alot of them turn into orders. some not that day, maybe the next or they say when the paycheck comes in. In that case, you ask if you can hold them to it. and get a date that they will have the money and right it down. on that date, message them back and ask for the order. that has never failed for me”

4. Comments, Comments, and Comments!

Leave as many comments as you can (without being obnoxious) on other MySpace pages. Be nice when you comment and remember always, always have some kind of link back to your site. This can be as a signature with a simple link below your comment or a fancy banner. If you have a store or site outside of MySpace then be sure that your signature links back to that site. I, and I’m sure that you have, numerously clicked on links that people leave in comments. Be interesting and be nice and people will click and find their way to you!

5. Friend Adders. 

This is the most controversial MySpace method so please turn to the right and ask that little angel what he thinks then turn left and get the devils point of view. As a MySpace user, I hate these things. You get friend adds from people that you don’t know. BUT, as with everything else, there are some people who like to be reached out to. These are the people who will click the golden link to your profile and hopefully be engulfed with feelings of wanting to buy your droolingly lovely tees. Friend adders are frowned upon by Myspace (and a potentially a TOS buster), but nonetheless, there are tools that can get this job done for you, and will add friends by the thousands. And of course, the old school way of manually adding friends works as well, albeit at a slower pace.

With your fingers crossed and a little luck you’ll have tons of traffic going to your Myspace page or online clothing store. And while you’re here, leave a comment and let me know what you think of these ideas! If you;ve got an idea as well, don’t feel shy – post it in the comments!