Interview with the King of Twitter:
Sam Hurley @Sam___Hurley FOLLOWERS: 129k
Editor’s Note: This was our first feature blog article published on August 23, 2016. It was an interview that effectively launched a social media agency. At the time, the intersection of marketing technology and social media was just taking shape. Sam Hurley was — and still is — an excellent example of how to run social media marketing operations at scale.
In this exclusive interview with Sam Hurley, the King of Twitter reveals his secrets to growing your Twitter account.
Most pro social media marketers who operate on Twitter know Sam Hurley. Many have retweeted him at one time or another. His tweets cover the range of digital marketing topics: anything from driving traffic to your blog, to SEO to making a great landing page.
As a content aggregator Mr. Hurley is without rival; you won’t find quotes from people you’ve never heard of filling Sam’s tweetstream. Nope, Sam Hurley is all about digital marketing. And that’s why hundreds of thousands switch to the world’s most active Twitter channel each and every day.
Sam Hurley’s bio: Sam is a lateral-thinking digital marketer holding 6+ years of self-expedited experience on both the agency and client-side. He has achieved success for both agency and client-side businesses from SMEs (national to international blue-chip organizations).
When I got the idea to interview Sam, it was because I really wanted to find out what it takes to make it to the top of Twitter as a digital marketer. I had read about him: that he works like a maniac, that if someone writes a blog post that suggests 15 ways to increase your followers he’d write one that would suggest 30 ways.
On Twitter there is ample evidence that Sam Hurley (the one with three underscores and nine arrows) has about as much of a cult following as a digital marketer can have.
The best thing about Sam, though, is that Sam___Hurley is one of us. He doesn’t have a little blue check mark, nor do I doubt he wants one (there is a Samuel P Hurley with a blue check mark who has 744 followers).
There were other things I wanted to know from Sam___Hurley: how can someone build an account far beyond the one or two thousand followers that most people struggle to reach? What tools does a superhero Tweeter like Sam Hurley use?
I asked Sam. He told me.
I was surprised when Sam returned his interview back to me within three days. I figured it would take much longer. But I was even more surprised when I reached out to some of the people Sam considered to be influencers.
Out of the three people I contacted, two of them – Patrice Truong and Winnie Sun – got back to me immediately. It turns out they’re fans of Sam, too! Both Sam and Winnie agreed to be interviewed.
Just a bit more background info
Don’t worry, we’re getting to the Q&A soon. But first, you need to know that I’m a huge fan of Twitter. Anyone who’s ever been to a meeting with me knows that I can’t stop talking about Twitter.
I’ve done the research. I’ve seen the results. I’ll tell anyone who will listen that Twitter is the best communication platform for B2B in the history of B2B marketing. Sounds like an infomercial. It’s true!
If you’re a business and you’re not using Twitter, you’re missing out on a great opportunity. Twitter is great for business. And the fact that you are about to read an interview with Twitter royalty proves my point.
Think about it: at the press of a button you can send a direct message to anyone who follows you. That’s pretty amazing. I repeat: You have access to anyone who follows you! What does this mean? It means your job is to create a Twitter account that has enough good stuff in it that people like Sam Hurley and Patrice Truong and Winnie Sun will follow you! It’s that easy.
I have a client that works on projects around the world. Best in class. Lots of awards. The problem is, no one outside of Vancouver has heard of them.
What’s the answer to this awareness problem? Twitter. This particular client is a world leader in designing airports. If they were a world leader in manufacturing grommets it would be the same situation.
They have a narrow focus and a defined target audience. As a marketing professional you want to access your target audience at the lowest possible cost. Do you know what happened the first day I started managing their Twitter account? I found links to four airport RFPs on Twitter. Bam! Try that with e-mail or Facebook! (Stage 2 is e-mail FYI)
Look, for all the bad press Twitter gets (social media is big business; the other platforms have teams of people that slag Twitter full time) Twitter is better than most e-mail marketing campaigns. You just need to take the time to learn how to make Twitter work for you. And it does takes time. But so does becoming good at any form of marketing!
Every day I see how the experts I interviewed engage with other Twitter users. This is lesson #1: Once you get your content figured out (we’ll cover this shortly), the Sam Hurleys and Winnie Suns of the Twitter world will engage with you no problem!
Like that one time I had a WordPress site that got the life hacked out of it.
At the time, I didn’t know Sam Hurley from Sammy Banana. I also didn’t know what to do with this WordPress site. But I did know that Sam was the go-to guy for practically everything about digital marketing. So I asked him out loud on Twitter:
Try entering this in the Twitter search bar:
Here you go from:sam___hurley
If you ran that search, you can see Sam helps a lot of people with requests. He is really generous with his time.
INTERVIEW WITH THE KING
Without further ado, here’s my interview with the world’s foremost Tweeter, @Sam___Hurley.
If you don’t know who Sam Hurley is, he stands alone on Twitter. Among Twitter’s 250 million active users, Mr. Hurley tweets more than anyone on Twitter. In fact, he tweets so often you can’t possibly count the Tweets in his timeline (I tried). I actually had to record all of Sam’s Tweets to find out exactly when and how much he Tweeted…you’ll be amazed at how much.
Recognized by many as Twitter’s leading digital marketing authority, Mr. Hurley doesn’t get much sleep these days. With newly inked influencer marketing contracts and the recent launch of his new marketing consultancy Optim-eyez, I was really thankful to catch up with Sam well after sundown.
Mr. Hurley, it’s past midnight! Is this a normal work schedule for you?
Oh yes. It’s been a crazy, adrenaline-fuelled journey that never seems to pause! There’s always so much to do.
But yes, I am nothing but dedicated. It’s one o’clock in the morning now! My eyes actually sting…but if you want to get far in life, you have to be prepared to put in the hours, no questions asked!
You Tweet more than anyone else on Twitter. That is no small feat! and you’re not tweeting rubbish like some of the bots you find around Twitter. All of your tweets have something for people in the digital marketing community. What keeps you going?
I wouldn’t say to out-do people, just a drive to be my best and a determination to succeed. I see others’ successes as benchmarks to aim towards…only, I always intend to reach higher following that, no matter what my outcome 🙂
I guess it’s mostly due to my constant desire to do better. I always see room for improvement and LOVE to experiment.
Finally, I have a passion for outgoing people; those who genuinely listen to and care for others. It doesn’t hurt or take much energy to make somebody smile. There aren’t a lot of us left – many are just out for themselves and that really saddens me. I am grateful for all the wonderful people I do know!
It’s so rewarding to receive messages saying, “You’ve changed my life” or “You’re my inspiration” – I really couldn’t think of anything better as a job!!! If that isn’t pure motivation, I don’t know what is.
Do you recall ever being stuck on a certain number of followers and finding it difficult to get past that number? For example, I find that 1,750 followers can be a tough number to get past with some accounts.
Mindset matters. If you’re “stuck” on a certain number of followers…why? What did you do to gain the amount of followers you already have???
That right there is the solution. Whatever worked to gain you that many followers, do it again and do it twice as hard. Next, do it twice as frequently.
That way, you will never go stale.
If something isn’t working, change it.
So, sort of a Moore’s law, but for Tweeting? Just keep doubling the tweets and then double them again…
I wouldn’t say it would work for everyone…
The key for me has been complete dedication to engagement, frequent tweeting, guest blogging, content creation and curation, participating in tweet chats, making attractive visuals and most importantly…helping others whenever I can! I take the time to build good relations. I have a strong bond with many of my followers and this counts for so, so much.
I’ve seen firsthand how helpful you are to people in the community. It seems as if you always reply when someone mentions you! You are a great example, I certainly have learned a lot from you.
Yes, I reply to absolutely everybody! Unless they send messages that ask for ridiculous things or money. Grrr.
You spend so much time engaging with your followers, what tools help keep your numbers growing so fast?
It would be impossible to Tweet and grow my account without some great apps. Every great Tweeter needs an arsenal of tools! BUT…I cannot stress this enough…it seems some people think they can just apply tools, set them on autopilot and become famous. You MUST be on the ball with engagement. It’s a two way street…never single lane traffic.
Here are Sam Hurley’s top Twitter tools:
#1: IFTT (@IFTTT)
IFTTT is a great – no, AMAZING – way to automate the world of Twitter (or any other digital world, for that matter). IFTTT is a free web-based app that allows you to connect your Twitter account with tons of other accounts (think Google Drive, Gmail, LinkedIn) so that you can do stuff like get a text message when a specific Twitter account Tweets. Or save every tweet of your Twitter account to a spreadsheet (great for making editorial calendars later). Or save every Tweet to LinkedIn (bad idea, but you could do it).
For the purposes of this article, we used IFTTT to record all of Sam Hurley’s Tweets. We had to know once and for all – definitively – how many times does Sam Hurley actually Tweet? We knew it was a lot but we were always counting actual tweets from a timeline that moves constantly.
Now we know the answer to the most important question on Twitter: How often does Sam Hurley Tweet?
Here’s a look at Sam Hurley’s Tweet count by daypart. (Sam is from Leicestershire in the UK, so the times have been converted to GMT/London time).
|Time Period||#Tweets Sent|
|midnight – 1 am||51|
11pm – midnight
Is that not outrageous? It’s insane!
A lot of great stuff in those Tweets, folks. That’s ONE DAY.
Do you want to be a master digital marketer? Check out IFTTT. Record some tweet streams. It will open up a whole new world of Twitte to you: the world that’s happening when you’re not on Twitter!
#2 Crate (@CrateTeam)
Like some other apps that Sam uses, Crate is one that I had not heard about. It is a seriously cool content curation app!
I am really glad that Sam pointed Crate out. I’ll be using it every day from now on. Crate works with another favourite app – Buffer – to help you find relevant content. On desktop it works great. I think Crate must be very new because the mobile app still has a few kinks to work out and their Twitter account has less than 200 followers (but growing fast!)
You can check out Crate for free at getcrate.co– it really is helpful for finding great content which is a constant struggle on Twitter for people who Tweet a lot (I tried Hootsuite Suggestions yesterday, don’t bother. Crate is a LOT better).
I couldn’t find much that had been written about Crate. It can be hard to find unless you know the Twitter handle (@crateteam). So I will write something for these obviously lovely people. First, the app ROCKS! It is a content suggestion platform that has some **really** cool features.
I can’t believe I haven’t heard of Crate before! It’s awesome!
With Crate, you mix hashtags, searches and Twitter handles (@skyalphabet) into a “crate” so that related types of conten co-exist.
If you’ve ever collected vinyl records, you will see that it is a good analogy: put all the rap albums in the red crate and the pop records in the yellow crate. This is the same thing. So in the screenshot above you can see that I built a crate that includes content marketing, #smm, @Sam Hurley and some other influencer topics.
That’s right: you combine Twitter handles, websites, hashtags and search terms!
Cool, right? And voila! Boatloads of content I would have never seen before all at my fingertips! Sweet! But not only that, I can schedule away to my hearts content in just a few clicks. (Still tough to beat Buffer’s one wheel scheduler!).
No wonder Sam Hurley lists Crate as his #2 app!
#3 Buffer (@buffer)
Buffer is the best scheduling app for Twitter, hands down. If you’re scheduling content on Twitter, you need Buffer. (We reviewed Buffer vs. Hootsuite here). It is so crisp and clean, it runs like a dream – even with adblockers! If you want a great cross-platform app to schedule stuff on your PC and mobile, you must check out Buffer. Plus, they’re super nice people! See more about Buffer vs. Hootsuite here. The really cool thing about Buffer? You can re-buffer past tweets! And it does analytics. All for free. Buffer is the best.
#4 Relay THAT (@relaythat)
RelayThat is a graphics program similar to Pablo or Canva. It offers both a free and pro (paid) version to convert graphics into every kind of digital ad or social media format. With the tagline “graphics that design themselves” RelayThat provides high quality photographs with text overlays that is simple to use. It can even re-size across a variety of formats with one click! The only downside is that it requires a Chrome browser. Search for the hashtag #RelayThat to see examples:
Commun.it says it’s the easiest way to grow followers – free! It goes on to say it is “The Leading Twitter & Facebook Community Manager – It’s Magical!” (We reviewed Commun.it here).
So I checked it out. Hey, if Sam Hurley says it’s great, it must be!
If you sign up for a free trial, you see an interface that seems quite similar to Crowdfire (Commun.it and Crowdfire are similar in many respects).
- FREE Twitter Analytics
- Better Manage Your Twitter Relationships
- Manage multiple profiles & schedule tweets
- Who to un/follow, what content to Tweet – and more!
Commun.it is an app for Twitter campaigns. Have you ever seen someone thank their top followers? Or every friday they do a #FF? thatís communi.it! Give it a whirl – it works as advertised!
You only get 20 engagements, so if you are simply using Commun.it to unfollow people who aren’t following you, you may hit the pay wall pretty quickly.
I interviewed Patrice Truong and guess what? This is his app! Cool, right? (Mr. Truong’s interview runs next week).
TweetClub is a tweet scheduler but with some important differences. First, Tweetclub provides the SUPER cool option of randomly filling your timeline with past tweets! If you’ve ever found yourself out of time and you need to have your tweetstream loaded up, Tweetclub is a lifesaver. Since I signed up, I keep using Tweetclub to access its One-Click feature. It really is awesome! There’s no reason not to at least check out the free version.
Oooh and another great feature: you can import tweets from a CSV file!
Sweet! Hootsuite used to give you that functionality for free but now it doesn’t (unless you pay). For people who already use a scheduler, the Tweetclub.io trial runs out in 8 days, so you have 8 days of free Tweets. Go nuts!
Start a Fire is in a class of its own. It works like a Browser extension that monitors your Tweets and when someone clicks on one of your links, it follows the person to the web page and it hangs out in a corner and suggests another link for them to click on.
The premise of Start-A-Fire is that you can extend the length of engagement with someone who has already clicked on one of your tweets by suggesting the next article they should read. If you’ve ever clicked on a link from Sam Hurley, you will be familiar with Start-a-Fire’s message that says “Sam Hurley also recommends”… and then the title of the next piece of recommended content.
What are you waiting for? Go start a fire!
Twitter does a lot of things well. As a digital marketer, what do you consider to be Twitter’s best strengths?
I would say that Twitter is really good at capturing someone’s attention. Even if it’s not right away – it will happen eventually with a little dedication. Don’t become annoying, though!
Right. So if you’re a fan of e-mail marketing you should be a fan of Twitter…
It is a lot like e-mail in many ways – but less intrusive. If someone keeps hitting your inbox with e-mail, you might tell them to go away as it ís very personal.
With Twitter, if you’re following someone and they tweet very frequently they’re doing what they should be doing — Twitter is rapid fire. Everyone is free to market as much or as little as they want…if they don’t do it tastefully, they will lose followers. Simples!
So doing well on Twitter is about knowing your audience?
Exactly. Say you are following someone who isn’t following you, but they are someone you are interested in engaging with (maybe you want to nurture them toward a sale or appear on their blog) – at least on some level you have an opportunity to interact. You’re on their radar in a few clicks!
So, how are you going to go about making them an engaged follower, too? Are you going to play it slow or fast? Well, that is totally up to you…but you should have already done your research on this prospect to know what they want to discuss.
Twitter has so many subtle dynamics because it is so inherently social; very close to real-life pace. To really do a great job selling, you have to appreciate the etiquette: no spam (just straight talk), no bots (they don’t engage), no hard sell (mostly inbound). It’s the same in real life. You must know your goals.
No point in being on social media for the sake of it…what are the aims of your conversations? Is your profile bio in sync with your bottom-line goals? Is it promotional or educational?
What are some other strengths of Twitter?
Conciseness. 140 characters is all you need. When Twitter was talking about changing that, I was shocked and pretty damn sad. 140 characters is plenty of room to say exactly what you want! It’s actually the best form of media because it forces accuracy and its quick-fire nature also enhances your appreciation of time.
In addition, Twitter also allows for immediate reach. This enables instant (or at least, very quick) accessibility to anyone! There are a lot of influential people on Twitter and unless they are ignorant to interaction, you could be tweeting with them very soon!
Who does a great job covering news on Twitter (even if it’s a Twitter account)?
Twitter Support @Support
Twitter for News @TwitterForNews
Mashable Social Media @Mashable
Social Media Examiner @SMExaminer
Social Media Today @socialmedia2day
The Next Web @TheNextWeb
CNN Money @CNNYourMoney
In terms of trends, what do you see happening with Twitter?
As much as I don’t want to see it happen I think Google might buy Twitter 🙁
Also, influencer marketing is hitting an all-time high. It’s huge, and it’s here to stay. Twitter is the feeding ground where marketers and influencers come to play!
Who are your influencers?
Jeff Bullas has achieved a lot in life – I appreciate his work. You can’t really say “Twitter” without thinking of Jeff!
Also: Patrice Truong @PatriceTruong, Daniel Knowlton and Winnie Sun @SunGroupWP are awesome!!!
There are soooo many more but it really would take me all day to list that many great peeps! Plus, my eyes are stinging too much now.
Time to sign off! 😀
Catch Sam on Twitter for heaps of helpful tweets on entrepreneurship and digital marketing!
Coming soon: Why is your PR firm doing your social media?