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How I use Followerwonk, and Why I Love It

27 December 2013 BY

Estimated reading time: 9 minutes, 39 seconds

During the holiday weeks we will be showing you the 15 best read posts of 2013. Except for on Christmas and New Years day, each day you can read the best articles again, going from number 15 back to number 1.

Now it’s time for number 11, originally posted on March 7 2013, a post by Gianluca Fiorelli.

Never like today SEOs and Internet Marketers had so many tools about practically every aspect of their job. Maybe there are even too many tools, and – as if we were magpies – we instantly desire to experiment with every new little toy coming out in the market.

Surely that is my instinct, but I must confess that at the end I don’t use dozens of tools, but just those few, which were able to demonstrate their value on the long run:

Obviously, I cannot forget Excel, in my case powered with the SEOTools for Excel plugin by Bosma and the SEOgadget Links API Extension for Excel.

Of those tools, the one I see myself using more and more everyday is Followerwonk. That’s also due to my professional “mutation” from being a pure hands-on freelance SEO consultant to being more a strategic Internet Marketing consultant.

When I work on a strategy I usually follow this process, here synthesized in the simplest way (a post will come about this):

The Internet Marketing Strategy Cycle

At least during three of those steps (Audience Targeting, Content Promotion and Analysis) Twitter plays a great role, hence Followerwork.

Audience Targeting

Followerwonk is of great help in order to individuate your potential audience.

For instance, let’s imagine you are a new startup in the travel industry (maybe a blog gaining with affiliations) and that you want to position your brand online in the same niche and ideally targeting the same audience of Hipmunk, Airbnb and Kayak , while not directly competing with them.

A great way for discovering who is their common audience is comparing the followers of @thehipmunk, @airbnb and @KAYAK using the “Compare Users” function of Followerwonk (be aware that there is a limit of 850,000 followers analysis per time).

Here it is the result obtained in less than 5 minutes:

Comparison of Twitter followers of thehipmunk   airbnb   KAYAK   Followerwonk

We easily discover that the common audience of the three is quite small, but still big enough for starting our own strategy configuration.

Let’s click on “followers of the all three” blue link:

Followers of thehipmunk   airbnb   KAYAK   Followerwonk

The followers are listed in order of decreasing Social Authority, the new “influence” metric Followerwonk implemented just few weeks ago.

Social Authority is a powerful and complex metric, which is much more reliable than Klout or Kred.

The list is not really showing us a huge universe of people. In fact other sites handles partly compose those 1,260 followers, therefore, if you are looking for a bigger demographic data pool for defining target personas, then it is possibly better to enlarge the analysis examining also the other combinations of the Venn diagram.

Nonetheless, even this list is presenting us some interesting information.

For instance within the followers of Hipmunk, Airbnb and Kayak we find brands like Lonely Planet and Google Travel, which tend to retweet content by others. How can I know this? Because Followerwonk offers me that information directly from that list.

If we move the mouse over a handle, a window with incredibly useful information will be shown:

Lonely Planet details Followerwonk

In this snapshot we see the data of Lonely Planet. Its bio declares that it retweets the tweets it will find more interesting if well addressed using a specific hashtag. That means that Lonely Planet has a sort of social content curation plan implemented (and it is not the only travel site using that same hashtag methodology).

The Total Engagement metric (37,5%) is not extremely high, but the opportunity of creating a content, which can be retweeted by Lonely Planet and so made visible to its 1+ million followers, is too big for not considering it as a content marketing target.

Remember, it’s always better to influence the influencers, especially when you are trying to become an influencer too: it’s just a question of psychology and trust, because thoughtful leadership is the intangible gold that makes dreams come true.

Also the engagement metric of Google Travel (12%) is not big at all, but – as it is visible also in the case other Google products handle (e.g.: @googleanalytics), since few months we have seen a growing attention and propensity in sharing content produced by others by them.

If we dig in the list we can find other influencers with a interesting engagement and retweet metrics, who are not brands or directly involved in the travel industry. Simply they love that topic and they are the expression of the audience we want to target.

Obviously you can download the list (.csv and .xls) and work on Excel and so refining the data set and implement it with information pulled from other tools via APIs (e.g.: Link Metrics of the sites, Facebook Metrics…).

Export followers list hipmunk airbnb kayak

On the other hand, the Followerwonk metrics are saying to us that BBC Travel, at least on Twitter, is not really a target we should focus on at first: it doesn’t retweet at all, and – if we take the time to analyze its stream – we will see that BBC Travel very rarely content shares produced by others. Maybe, for targets like this, the best is discovering the handles of its journalists. How? Using the “Search Twitter Bio” tool:

Twitter users with  BBC Travel  in their bios   Followerwonk

Content creation

When it comes to content strategy and content tactics, we should all have understood that the only correct way is elaborating them starting from the study of our audience, not Google, and creating consequently.

In fact, it is my opinion that the best SEO is always invisible.

We must use it for amplifying the effects of the incredible content we create (i.e.: structured data, perfect keyword targeting, outstanding performance optimization and navigation architecture, on page optimization, authorship, etc. etc.), but we must not forget that SEO is not the goal, but an essential accessory for reaching real goal: leads, conversions, branding…

That’s something obvious, but not everything that seems obvious really it is so.

Followerwonk doesn’t directly enter in this phase, but all the audience prospecting we have done also thanks to Followerwonk is at its base.

Now that we have our audience details, we can start digging into what that audience likes, shares and, possibly, link to.

As explained by Richard Baxter in the last edition of Searchlove (check this presentation from slide 44), we can use tools like Tweet Archivist and Excel in combination with our previous analysis on Followerwonk for performing this task.

After that we can decide what kind of content tactic to use.

  • It can be social content curation, which is a quite easy and fast way for starting being known by our influencers.
  • It can be targeting for guest blogging opportunities those sites our influencers love to share things from.
  • It can be focusing on that kind of content our influencers share the most and creating it on our site.
  • It can be discovering those things our influencers openly say they are missing in our niche (maybe a tool, maybe a calculator) and create it, because – you know, don’t you? – code is content too.
  • Maybe it can be using all these tactics at the same time accordingly to a precise planning and timing.

The content strategy, finally, influences directly the channels where you will deploy, launch and promote them.

Content Promotion

We have targeted an audience, over it we established a content strategy, developed it into different content tactics, and optimized all of them also in their SEO facets. Now it is time for promoting it.

When we targeted our audience, we have discovered those influencers we desire will share our contents.

But now we should see if we are missing some interesting others, maybe smaller and easier outreach opportunities, or – even better – people who are able to influence our influencers.

This is especially important, because to be directly or indirectly put under the radar of an influencer is the possibly the best way of becoming an interesting source for him.

So, we are in the travel niche with our fresh blog, hence we should make friends with our same peers: the travel bloggers.

We can go directly to sources like the Professional Travel Bloggers Association, but we can also rely – again – on Followerwonk and do another Twitter bio search:

Twitter users with  travel blogger  in their bios   FollowerwonkThe goodness of the Followerwonk list is that those are travel blogger who are socially active on Twitter, hence the outreach – as we know – can be easier.

Said that, we can discover with tools like Buzzstream the Twitter handles of the people subscribed to the Professional Travel Blogger Association and then analyze them on Followerwonk.

Then,  I import all these new contacts into Buzzstream in order to not loosing myself, as it is wonderfully explained by Matt Gratt here

But I would also add all those contacts into my own Twitter directly from Followerwonk.

Pro tip: don’t simply start following them, but also categorize them for location and specific main industry niche (for instance: food travel bloggers, photographers travel bloggers, travel bloggers specialized in adventure travels and so on) using the Twitter lists function, and stick to that categorization in every other tool you are using for outreach and link building (Buzzstream tags for instance)

It is not here the place where describing how to do correct outreach using Twitter, but once you have a consistent base of followers, you should start considering details that can make the difference:

  • Where my contacts are located?
  • When my contacts are really active on Twitter?

Analysis of gfiorelli1 s Twitter followers   Followerwonk

The map above, obtained asking Followerwonk to analyze my followers (but you can obtain it also for others Twitter handles), is telling me where my followers reside.

These data are of exceptional value, because they are telling me that even though I mostly share things in English (my biggest follower base is from USA and UK), I should pay even more attention to my Spanish and Italian speaking followers (maybe, for instance, creating a blog in Spanish or, better, starting a collaboration with great SEO blogs in Spanish).

But that mapping is giving me also hints about how could “geotarget” my contents, because – basic psychology again on the help – people tends to shares more things that are closer to them, also geographically.

Most active hours twitter followers


This chart, then, is showing me when my followers are more active on Twitter.

Statistics studies say that the average life of a tweet is about 18 minutes. Therefore if you tweet something when your audience is not active on Twitter, you are substantially wasting your time.

With a data like these we can better schedule our tweets, or even taking into consideration how many times resharing our content in order to reach out the biggest number of our followers.


Once a content campaign has been launched, we must analyze its effects.

Followerwonk  Track your followers  charting your Twitter social graph   lists over time

This chart, that you can obtain using the Track Followers function of Followerwonk, is telling you on a daily basis when you have gained (and lost) more followers.

Combining this information with the statistics you can pull from Bit.ly and Google Analytics, and – hopefully – having recorded all your content activities in your Content Timesheet, you can easily understand what caused the peaks (or the falls) and what kind of content didn’t work as you were expecting.

Then, as we always do… rinse and repeat.

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Gianluca Fiorelli is an SEO and Web Marketing Strategist, who operates in the Italian, Spanish and English speaking countries market. He also works regularly as independent consultant with bigger international SEO agencies.