Thought you knew Ireland's most followed Twitter account? No, it's not Dara O'Briain (289,000 followers) or The Script (216,000 followers) or Jedward (150,000 followers). It's not even Cormac Moylan (see below on this blog).
In fact, it's Monaghan-based Sinead Duffy.
Wait a minute -- Sinead who?
Sinead Duffy is a lifecoach (with her own company, Great Minds) who has set up the mother of all Twitter accounts. Called Greatest Quotes, it's an auto-tweeting feed of... greatest quotes. Astonishingly, Greatest Quotes is growing by 10,000 followers per week. That's almost as much as Ashton Kutcher.
Ah, you think -- that's a bit of a swizz. Sure, just set up a few RSS feeds and let it take off; that's not a real account.
Think again. Because of this account, Duffy is getting business online. And it's cash upfront. "I coach select overseas clients via Skype and charge through Paypal," she tells me. "It's mostly through Twitter that potential clients find me."
Who's laughing now?
Here's a Q&A I did with Duffy on the account, her business and her plans.
How long have you been tweeting?
I've tweeted since April 2009. Initially I used Twitter to increase traffic to my website, gain profile, generate awareness about my business and ultimately increase sales. Since then I've grown an extensive mailing list, changed how I do business and generated several revenue streams.
What kind of growth have you seen along the way? As in, how many new followers do you get a month?
Presently, my following is increasing by almost 50,000 new followers per month. This compares to approximately 1,500 new followers per month this time last year. I project that this account will grow to a million followers this year.
Do you have any idea what percentage of your account's following is Irish? Would it even be 10%?
Less than 10% of my followers are Irish.
Why do you think your account has garnered so many follwers?
Greatest Quotes is successful for many reasons. For a start, followers get exactly what they expect. That means quotes and not social interaction, retweets or aggressive marketing. I carefully select quotes that I feel will resonate with people. The feedback that I receive clearly indicates that they do. The carefully selected quotes are regular, short, concise and resonate with followers. There is no hard sell and bogus marketing like many Twitter accounts.
How much time do you have to spend on this Twitter account every day?
I invested a great deal of time at the outset selecting material, scheduling times and managing time lines. Now the account is automatically managed. I spend one day per month maintaining this. I also reply to all direct messages once per week and follow up on emails, opportunities, bookings, meetings, negotiations and so on.
Do companies ever approach you to try and get you to tweet about stuff? If so, have you ever done them the favour?
Yes, I am constantly being approached by business owners and network marketers with business opportunities. Business-owners who know and understand Twitter realise that having 330,000 followers is like having a shop window where 330,000 people pass by on a regular basis. It is important to maintain the trust of followers so the introduction of third party products on the site must be carefully evaluated.
Does your large Twitter following translate into good business? If so, much? Have you won any significant business because of it?
My Twitter presence has opened up lots of opportunities for me. I have huge traffic spending to my website each week and people contacting me with requests. It's mostly through Twitter that potential clients find me. I coach select overseas clients via Skype and charge through Paypal.
What's next for you, business-wise?
I am currently working on developing interactive software to sell online. The Twitter following provides a ready made target audience to market that software. Translating the following into a constant revenue stream is a challenge, but once perfected, the possibilities to earn substantial revenues are very real. We are no longer limited by location, currencies or time differences.