For anyone who is semi-active on Twitter, the chances are they have been followed, retweeted or received a direct message from someone who calls him or herself a ‘social media guru’…

The characteristics are always the same: countless thousands of followers, which almost exactly mirror the number of people the person follows, with plenty of self-promoting keywords and hashtags filling out their profile.

Social media gurus (mavens, ninjas, masters) are everywhere you look on Twitter. According to FollowerWonk (via Adage), there are now 181,000 people who use one of these four terms in their Twitter profile. The worrying thing is that the number of self-titled social media specialists has rocketed from a modest 16,000 in 2009, a 1031 percent increase in a little over three years.

Many so-called experts funnel their clients into made-to-measure tools, without a methodical strategy for how to use them or how to engage with the people that they want to be engaging with. Often, it’s a race to get as many Likes, Retweets, Follows or Pins as possible with little or no care for providing value to the people that they want to engage. It’s a matter of setting up Tweetdeck or Hootsuite and getting someone posting updates, without telling them why it matters or what they need to say or do to connect with their target audience.

Despite this, there are people who have ‘cracked’ the code behind what makes a good social media marketer. Some have authored books on the subject, others create hugely successful businesses teaching others some of the secrets of the trade. Others don’t feel the need to tweet the fact.

Twitter business

 Meet the man who makes six figures a quarter just from using Twitter

It could be argued that one of these people is Branden Hampton. While his name might not sound familiar, it’s almost certain that you will have encountered a tweet from one of his Twitter accounts.

Hampton, along with his business partner Ryan Detert, runs California-based Influential Media Group, a company that specialises in providing clients with various social media strategies for one social network: Twitter. While the company counts over 30 million followers from the accounts that it owns and manages, Hampton personally oversees 24 Twitter accounts that have over 11.5 million followers in total.

The company also helps celebrities, sports stars, music artists and bands develop ways to engage more with their followers.

Ever seen an inspirational tweet in your timeline from @Notebook? That’s one of, if not the most, successful Twitter properties that Hampton owns. It’s run by his fiancée Stephanie Perez and ranks number 168 in the top Twitter accounts on the planet.

‘You shouldn’t try to change what you see, you should try to change the way you see them.’ — Notebook of Love (@Notebook) February 5, 2013

Signing up for an account when Twitter first launched, Hampton says he was one of the many early adopters who didn’t really get or understand how the service worked, with it taking him another 6-7 months to circle back to it. At the time, Ashton Kutcher was racing CNN to become the first Twitter account with one million followers, and so decided to give it another chance.

“I soon realised that people, instead of updating like they would on Facebook, people were providing content – this was very intriguing to me. Whether they were quotes, jokes or other content, people were reposting it and they were sharing it, and it was allowing people to grow,” says Hampton. “I’m a very competitive person, so I thought that it if there’s somebody out there who is funny, they can get 10,000 followers, so I realised that I could get 10,000 followers by talking about things I like to talk about.”

Starting with a personal and another more risqué comedic Twitter account, Hampton saw his follower counts rise into the tens of thousands. Leaning on his marketing background and previous sales experience, he set about creating a portfolio accounts that would not only allow him to extend his business, but also demonstrate how lucrative Twitter could be as an industry in itself and “show up the social media gurus in the industry that are teaching the wrong things.”

Notebook

Hampton launched @Notebook in February 2011, attracting 30,000 followers in three weeks. Today, it has over 4 million.