Back in 2010, Think Big Partners had a vision to become the “Silicon Valley of the Midwest.” Though it had already been funding and advising new businesses and connecting ideas, opportunities and investors with entrepreneurs, it sought to increase its profile and expand its influence even more.
The staff at the time decided that a regional conference was the best way to achieve this goal, and so the concept of Think Big Kansas City was born. A lean organization itself, Think Big Partners decided to practice what it preached; it used only low-cost bootstrapping techniques like social media to promote the conference.
Think Big Partners created an event-specific Twitter account (@thinkbigKC) on January 13, 2010 — just 49 days before the conference was scheduled to launch. Like all new Twitter accounts, @thinkbigKC started with zero followers. With determination and hard work, the limited staff at Think Big Partners was able to grow the account to over 1500 followers in under two months.
“We were all new to Twitter at the time,” says Allison Way, Senior Editor at Think Big Partners. “We used hashtags, Twitter search, and our own passion for what we were trying to achieve to build a following from scratch,” she says. When asked why Think Big focused on Twitter over other social media platforms like Facebook, Ms. Way said, “Twitter is much more intuitive. It’s based on conversations, which we’re all pretty good at.” She also found that with Twitter, “you can really make a dent in your marketing in a very short period of time.”
This time-sensitive Twitter campaign was clearly a success. “These were not just 1500 random, or spam followers,” says Way, adding, “these were real people interested in what we were doing and asking how they could get involved.” Not only was Think Big Partners able to add a substantial group of valuable, organic followers, the conference organizers at Think Big were able to find 30 additional speakers for the event — directly through Twitter.
They must have done something right. Way says that as a result of the efforts on Twitter, Think Big Partners was featured in the best selling book The Social Media Bible. The original Twitter campaign has had a long-term effect as well. “Our blog gets about 13,000 unique visitors a month — mostly from Twitter,” Way says. The @thinkbigKC account now has over 6000 followers, the Think Big Kansas City conference is now an annual event and Think Big Partners “is making a splash nationally” on the start-up incubator scene, according to Way.
The Takeaways From Think Big Partners
This Twitter Success Story proves that even grassroots efforts on this platform can be very successful. If you’ve been putting off using Twitter for your business because you tell yourself that you don’t have enough time, money, or know-how, do yourself a favor and contact Allison at Think Big Partners!
Her organization started Twitter with no marketing budget, very little knowledge about the platform, with an event-centered, time-sensitive goal to build a following for its inaugural conference. Think Big Partners not only achieved its immediate goals on Twitter but it created a lasting legacy that continues to provide dividends today.