Twitter Marketing Tips
Project Ignite Podcast by Derek Gehl How to Grow Your Twitter Following with Joel Comm
00:00:00 00:00:00
  • Episode  9
  • Joel Comm


Joel Comm has been in the Internet business since he was 16, which – if we count – was 35 years ago. Since then, he’s authored 12 hard copy books and over 40 digital ebooks and special reports. Joel has recently put out the third edition of his Twitter handbook, Twitter 3.0, and spent some time with us sharing his insights into the next big thing, how to grow your Twitter following with his Twitter marketing tips and much, much more.

Transcript: Twitter Marketing Tips with Joel Comm

Welcome to the Project Ignite podcast, this is your host Derek Gehl. Today, I’m interviewing a really long-time Internet marketer and online entrepreneur who is also a best-selling author of I believe 12+ books now. Today we’re going to be focusing on one of those books, on one of the areas that he’s a leader and expert and authority in and that is Twitter. The gentleman I am referring to is Mr. Joel Comm.

Joel, thank you for taking the time to be here today.

Oh, it’s my pleasure. And it’s been so long since we’ve spoken, Derek, so this is great to catch up.

You know, it has been a long time. And it’s funny, I was just having this conversation–in the world of Internet marketing, we can follow each other so easily, right? So I feel like I’ve been following you, and we’ve been in contact, and then you realize that years go by and you haven’t actually spoken!

Yeah, that was actually stalking, Derek.

Oh right! Sometimes I blur the two.

I’ll call your parole officer. We’ll take care of it.

Oh thank you. Appreciate it. [laughs] Just a note for everyone listening, I don’t actually have a parole officer.

It’s true though! With social media, we watch. We follow a lot of people. It does feel like we’re more connected to more people than ever before, and that’s one of the reasons I love social so much

It is so amazing that you can be connected to so many people. Our circle of influence and friends prior to social media was so small comparatively to what it is now and how many people we’re following.
First of all, before we jump into this, Joel, you’ve been online now for–


Forever. For flippin’ ever. Give us your background. How did you get started online, to becoming the Adsense Guru, to becoming a best selling author, to becoming this Twitter authority, and so on.

Well if we set the way-back machine truly to way back to where it began in 1980, when I was 16 years old. I used my savings from my job at the foodcourt to buy a TRS80 Model 1 computer, with 4K of RAM. No hard drive, no disk drive – it had a cassette player that you’d use to save and load programs from 300 baud modem which was incredibly slow, one of those coupler modems that you’d dial in and listen to the sound on the phone…
Technically, I’ve been dialing into the online world for 35 years.It was in 1995 that I launched my first website, twenty years ago, and that website just turned twenty years old! We’re getting ready to go through a whole new update and facelift, with some new direction. I’ve been doing this a long time, and man do I feel old now.

Okay, so WorldVillage launched in 1995.

There was only 18,000 sites that year, Derek.

That was my question! 18,000 websites in 1995. That was back in the days of NetScape and AltaVista.

Front page wasn’t even Microsoft front page yet. I have a boxed edition of FTP front page, which was the initial one before Microsoft bought it and turned it into a web designing platform. So yeah, a long time ago, in a galaxy that really doesn’t seem that far away, I’ve seen a lot over the past twenty years and it’s been a fun ride.

You have become, as Internet evolved, you’ve authored 12 books? Is that right?

Yeah, that’s right. 12 physical books and 40+ eBooks or special reports that are all digital.

Now we’re going to talk about Twitter today. If you were going to define yourself, where is your expertise? What’s your passion?

You know, it’s a really great question, and I’m working on a blog post right now because someone asked me that same question last week. You hear all the terms that people bat around, you know, entrepreneur, renaissance man, creative-whatever, and I’m like, I don’t see myself as any of that. I see myself as a guy with a pail and a shovel looking for a sandbox to play in. I think it’s that openness to explore, to pay attention to the bright shiny objects and the things I find stimulating and interesting, and then be willing to take a risk by trying something new.I think that’s why I’ve been able to cover so much ground and do so many different things. Is because of the curiosity, and the excitement I have over new technologies.
Right now, I am so pumped about live video streaming. I think that live streaming online is the new blogging. It is the new platform for content creation; and it is what podcasting was three years ago, when people were really starting to beat the drum. And there’s still so many people that haven’t caught onto podcasting! Obviously, you have, but many haven’t, and I think video streaming is the next thing. I’m starting to conduct my interviews via live video stream using services like If you haven’t seen it yet, it’s so fresh. It goes beyond what we’re hearing about with Meerkat and Periscope, to a level now that’s like Google Hangouts done right. You can interview, and bring guests on–it’s powerful stuff.

Totally off on a tangent, but now I want to know about this. I totally love tangents; so let’s see where this takes us and we’ll get to Twitter eventually.

If not, go buy my book.

[laughs] Perfect. So, I’ve been using Periscope, that’s all really restricted to mobile. Tell me about BlabIM. Cause you’re right, live streaming is kind of the way. Google Hangouts exists, but it’s not my favorite.

It’s not a lot of people’s favorite. Google, they try stuff, and they experiment, but they don’t really listen to feedback, they do what they want to do, and then they wind up failing. In so many ways.

[fake coughs] Google Plus. [fake coughs]

Yeah! Google Plus is going down the drain. The list of the Google graveyard, that list is filling up. Google Helpouts, great technology but they didn’t know how to market it! It was fantastic, but they shut it down. Because they gave up. They really should be contacting people like you and me, who are marketers, to say, “okay, how do we get this out there?”
So what BlabIM is, is a simple platform where anyone with a camera and a microphone can set up their own Blab, and unlike Meerkat and Periscope, where it’s pretty much just you talking to whoever is watching you, and perhaps you engaging with comments, this allows you to have up to four people take a seat. You decide who’s sitting in a seat or not, and there’s a chat window on the side, so the people that are watching are engaging and asking questions, there’s a tweet button and a Twitter stream.
They’re in beta still, they’re just beginning, but I’ve gotta tell you, I did not ever want to conduct interviews on Google Hangouts, but I saw this and thought, “this is it. These guys get it.” And this is a powerful platform. So I’ve already begun recording my Joel Comm Show, which was podcast only, on this platform. So you can record it, and when you finish and you end it, it’s send you a link immediately to a high quality MP3 and MP4. So you can have the video of the whole thing as well. The video quality, I believe is superior to what I’m seeing on my screen while I’m recording it. Because I’m dealing with the streaming issues, of people being recorded, going through their pipe and my pipe. But they pull it in directly from each person’s connection, and so the quality is really good.

Alright, I’m testing it out.

If you want to see it, you can check out an interview I’m doing this afternoon, the link is up on my Facebook. That way you can put it in your show notes, and your listeners can go take a look and see what it looks like. Blab.IM/JoelComm and it’ll tell you what I have coming up or if I’m on air. And they have this cool little thing, you can see the shows, and you can actually subscribe to the show, and it’ll give you a little notification when it’s starting so you can click the link and come on in. I love it. I’m telling you, live streaming is the new blogging, and Blab.IM has struck gold.

Wow. That sounds like it. They’ve pulled together what needed to be pulled together and have done it right. Reliability? It’s been solid

Yeah, absolutely. There’s always problems, you know, depending on the individual’s connection, so if you’ve got someone with a horrible connection, then that’ll be reflected in the stream. Most of us have good connections. And they just launched the first iOS app, so you can do it not only from your desktop, but from your phone now. I haven’t tried it yet, it’s still beta, but I’ve watched some others from my phone. You will be blabbing soon, Derek.

[laughs] I can’t wait. We’ll blabber. For sure. Okay, reeling ourselves back from that valuable tangent, let’s go back to Twitter. This is where I wanna pick your brain. I talk to so many people, and they say, “I don’t get it.” They say, “how do I use this thing to grow my business?” We see celebrities and authors, people that have followings, utilizing it, and you kind of go, yeah, that makes sense. But how is the average small business going to use it to get more customers and sell more stuff to existing customers?

twitter marketing tipsGreat questions. You know, when you say “we know what Twitter is”… I bet if you were to ask 100 people “what is Twitter Marketing?” You’re going to get twenty different answers with a hundred different flavors. Everybody perceives what it is, but really, all social media is just real world engagement on a unique platform. These are real people on the other side of every device, every computer, with their own stuff; their own hopes, dreams, fears, successes, failures, aspirations, experiences, and so a starting mindset for every business is to understand; you’re not dealing with the platform, you’re dealing with the people.
Ultimately, none of us are really in the business of selling a product or service. We might rep what we do in a product or service, but we’re in the business of serving people.And when people approach social media as “how do I use this platform?” they are losing sight of the goal of what they’re wanting to do. The real question is “how do I serve people using Twitter Marketing?” I think those who get socials, and Twitter in particular, approach it with a relationship-oriented mindset.Saying “how do I use this platform to create the most value? How do I engage in existing conversations, and bring value to that conversation, and how do I become a conversation starter?” Because it’s all about like-know-trust. We’ve all heard that mantra. Like me, know me, trust me, pay me – it has to be done in that order.If we apply it to Twitter, when we like someone on Twitter what’s the first action we do? We follow them. We then discover, are they bringing value? Sharing content? Engaging with me? Asking questions? Answering questions? Are the links they’re posting valuable? Or are they just talking about themselves? From what people post, we can decide, as we get to know them, whether we trust them or not. If they’re not engaging, we’re going to unfollow them. That conversation is going to end, because we perceive it as not having been there in the first place. But if they do a good job, of sharing real life, themselves, their concerns, by engaging in real relationships as human beings, we begin to like them, we begin to trust them, and it’s a small hop from trust to transaction.
One of the biggest mistake people make is signing onto Twitter, hopping onto their soapbox with a megaphone and shouting, “buy my stuff!” This of course, turns everyone off. Media isn’t the same as it was when we were growing up. There were ads with calls to action everywhere, but social media isn’t like that. It’s a conversation. It’s about engaging in real human conversation with real humans.

Here’s a question that I get a lot. Why would I use Twitter or Facebook?

Good question! First and foremost, that’s a question you have to ask yourself. Before I say, “everyone should be on Twitter,” I want to preclude it by saying, don’t let anybody “should” on you. We’re all free agents. We decide what we’ll do and what we won’t. If I listen to every guru in the social media realm, it would mean that I’d have to be on Facebook both personally and as a page, and I’d have to be advertising, I’d have to be on Twitter, on LinkedIn, on YouTube, on Pinterest, on Instagram, on Periscope, Meerkat, on Blab, and the list goes on and on. We can get totally overwhelmed and lose ourselves. So I’m not going to say that you’re making a huge mistake if you’re not on Twitter.
I will say that Twitter has 300 million active users. If you’re looking for consumers, this is where people are going to have a drink. If Twitter is the water cooler of our time, which is a nice visual, people are getting up, stretching their legs, and going to have brief conversations with their coworkers at the water cooler. These conversations will vary, too. They could be talking about the Walking Dead, the football game, politics, spouses, kids, dogs, maybe even something actually happening at work. Twitter is very much like that. Millions of conversations are taking place.
As a business person, people are talking about your genre of products–what they need, what they want. So by not being on Twitter, you’re ignoring the conversation as it happens. You could be inserting yourself, and bringing value to the conversation, and helping people with your products and services. If you’re not on Twitter, your competitors probably are. Ignoring where people are going to have these conversations could be perilous for a business that doesn’t pay attention to it.

joel comm twitter marketing
So, taking a step back here, you just authored Twitter Power 3.0, which means there was a 2.0 and a 1.0.


Derek: So how has Twitter changed comparatively through your 1.0 and 2.0 to 3.0?

What’s really funny, is that first version of the book that came out in 2009, hardcover book, is still the top seller for on Twitter. Even though it has grown exponentially in use, I think people assume that they know how to use it for business. I also think that this is why we’re seeing so many failures, because the assumptions that these people have about social media are erroneous. So in 2015, we put out Twitter 3.0. And in that time, Twitter has grown to 300 million monthly users, which is probably multiplied six times since I wrote the last book. Now, it’s not uncommon to have celebrities with tens of millions of followers. Twitter has become ubiquitous in media. More brands than ever are interacting with their customers on twitter. We’ve also got new retweet quotes, embedded images, 30 second native Twitter videos. So with everything that’s happened, we couldn’t just update the book. We needed to do an entire rewrite. So I brought in fellow author Dave Taylor, and the foreword is by Guy Kawasaki, and the book is now out there and helping a lot of people.

I have a copy myself, and I highly recommend it for anyone taking that Twitter road. Now, let’s go back to the beginning, ‘cause this probably happens in more cases than not. New businesses, says, okay, I’ve got to be on Twitter. So you go over, make an account, tweet something, and then you say, “well, I’ve got no followers.” Now what? How do you create momentum?

best ways to use Twitter for businessGreat question. Getting started in anything is always one of the most challenging hurdles. On Twitter, the key is to start following people that interest you. Either personally, or celebrities that you like, or brands that you use, and then do search by hashtag that is searching for products or services in your particular niche. So if you’re a camera shop online, you might look for #camera, #photography, #nikon, #canon, and that’s going to pull up tweets from people doing the same thing. Start engaging with these people, answer a question that someone has, and they might start to follow you. If it’s a really great answer, they might favourite your tweet or retweet you and share your answer with their followers. It’s all about bringing value to the conversation and trusting that the more you engage, the more you give your expertise, the more people are going to pick up on that and follow you. That’s how you start building. By entering the conversation. It’s like someone has invited you to a party, but you don’t know anyone there. You walk into the room, and you’re overwhelmed, but as you pass different groups, you might hear someone talking about something you like. You listen, and then you enter into the dialogue yourself. You’ve made yourself a part of the conversation. It really is human nature, and Twitter is all of that, but without us being in the same room.

I think there’s a fear, that 90% of people lurk, and 10% engage in conversation. But getting out there and participating, is from what you’re saying, the only way.

Yeah. There are people that recommend you buy followers, but I’m strongly against that. Inflating numbers just to impress people is not going to get you more engagement. I look at it this way: if someone is brave enough to start a business, they’re brave enough to start or engage in that conversation.

You mentioned buying followers, or not doing that – I totally agree. But how do I outsource this? Can I pay someone to do Twitter for me? It’s my opinion that as a small business, you need to be that voice.

Social media is very much about authenticity. You should be bringing your best self, or your worst self, as long as you’re bringing yourself, right? It’s okay to have a bad day on social media, because people can relate. That’s why I love the big brands that put a human face as their picture instead of a company logo. When I see a human face, I’m far more likely to follow because I know there’s a person there in charge of managing relationships with customers via social media, rather than some faceless, nameless person. I want real people with real likes that they’re willing to share. I’d rather see a person posting for a brand telling me about a song they like or a show they saw, than telling me that they have a new flavour of Oreo Cookie. Show me a real person.

As Twitter’s continuing to evolve, they need to become profitable. I’m not sure if they are yet – do you know?

I think they’re still struggling. They’ve made some missteps. They need help to retain users, I think. Because even with 300 million active users, they’ve probably had a billion sign up; that means 700 million people aren’t using their accounts. Especially when Facebook has done such a good job with capturing 1.4 billion active users.

That’s one of my beefs, with Twitter, is all of the dormant accounts. Someone grabbed my name before I did on Twitter, and it been sitting there for just about a decade, and I can’t get Twitter to move on that.

I think Twitter should have a policy, that if you’ve not tweeted in a year, we send you a warning, and in two years, we take the name back. If you’re not gonna use it, get off the name.

I think they’re balancing that against the marketing hype of having x number of accounts, right? If they shut everything down, it might deflate the numbers.

All I know is that Twitter needs marketers. They need to sell advertising. I don’t think they know how to monetize this thing, and now, as a public company, shareholders are not very happy.

Because they’re a public company, I was hoping this would prompt them to develop quickly and develop a good advertising strategy, like Facebook has. Facebook has a great platform. Where do you see that going with Twitter?

I think they could really get a leg up by opening an Adsense kind of platform. Making the tweets embeddable on websites, and allow advertisers to contextually hit other sites. There are plenty of us that are looking for other ways to monetize our websites. I’d love to see Facebook do it too. Tell me that they don’t have enough people willing to pay to have their posts show up on other sites that are targeted for them. I think they could pull it off, but Facebook likes to be really insulated.

We’re running out of time here, so the last question I want to throw to you is that over the last few years there’s been tons of tools and automations for managing your twitter accounts. Is there anything out there that you would suggest to our listeners that would help them automate, manage, research on Twitter?

Well when we talk about automation, it’s important that we understand that we’re talking about scheduling tweets. I’m not a fan at all of auto DM-ing someone when they follow you; there are tools that do that still. When someone follows you, it sends them a direct message and it’s copy-pasted, it’s canned, it’s not real. I’ve tried it, but I’m not a fan. There are good scheduling tools, like Hootsuite, and Buffer, where, let’s say you’ve got some things you want to share during the day or overnight and you want to drip it out over the day. I have no problem with that. What I don’t like is when people put things out there, but they never check to see replies or questions. They use it as a one way broadcast tool. They never favourite, or retweet, or reply, and that just removes the social from social media. They’re treating it just as a broadcast channel and that’s not what it is.

To that point, I’ve used Buffer app–I’ve tried Hootsuite, and I think it’s great for bigger organizations, but for those getting started, Buffer is just a great platform for those getting started. One more question for you. Any tips on maximizing the value of the 140 characters per tweet?

Use photos. People love pictures. Now that we can embed photos into the Twitter stream, it’s really attention getting.
There’s videos too, but I don’t think people are quite used to that yet. I’m a big fan of using photo-quotes You take a picture, of either myself or someone else, and use an app like WordSwag, or PicLab, to create a really attractive photo quote that puts on some nice type-design, a quote which is usually mine, and people really like them. They retweet them, they engage with them, they touch them, and those quotes can be educational, inspirational, or just plain funny. In fact, I got such a great response to these that one of the books I’ve published is nothing but a photo-quote on each page and a paragraph talking about the idea behind this photo-quote. I call it social poetry.

Okay, okay… [laughs] Sorry. I was just writing that down. Social poetry.

That’s right. And you know what, Derek, I’d like to offer a gift to your members. I want to give them a copy of Social Poetry, along with the latest edition of my Adsense Secrets e-book. It’s almost 300 pages, and you can buy it on Amazon, but I have a special link I can give you. Just don’t share it publicly. They can go to and on that page you’ll be able to access three books that they can instantly download. That’s just my way of saying, thank you for having me on the show, and for those who are listening, I hope you’ve enjoyed the content and are able to walk away with something actionable.

That is fantastic, and so generous of you. For everyone listening, I’ll include those in the show notes as well. I’ve read Joel’s books, and they are just packed with strategies that you can start to use on your business for results. So I highly recommend that you take him up on that generous offer.
So Joel, thank you so much for your time today. I enjoyed our conversation, and I look forward to having you back in the future as we cover more topics that you’re an expert in!

Thanks Derek, it was my pleasure.

Alright everyone, that was Joel Comm, and this is the Project Ignite podcast. We’ve got some incredible interviews coming up over the coming weeks, so stay tuned and make sure you’re subscribed on iTunes so you don’t miss a thing. Bye everyone.

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