Several years ago, I was an up and coming investment banker that criss-crossed the United States and Europe, assisting my clients in buying and selling companies, as well as completing their financing needs. I spent numerous hours on planes, trains and in automobiles, always carrying a notebook where I could jot down poetry, notes or experiences that I was encountering. Many of these experiences consisted of a cup of Starbucks coffee, topped off with a Cinnabon, only to be followed by a dinner at McDonald’s.

I was moderately successful; however, the daily demands and pressures of investment banking, coupled with a growing family, certainly began to emotionally and physically take a toll. To combat these pressures and a family history of depression, instead of turning to other vices, I began writing poetry. Not just your typical, boring forms of poetry we all learned in high school or college. Instead I formed my own prose, which I dubbed “Product Placement Poetry.”

You see, I always found it interesting in movies or television shows how products were placed into the various scenes I was watching. I said to myself I could write better jingles or tag lines than what I was seeing. So sitting around an airport, I began to write. And write I did. Of poems and haikus of the brands I loved and used on a daily basis. I’d grab a trusty Dixon Ticonderoga pencil, filling up pages and pages of poetry in my Black and Red notebooks and tattered Moleskines.

Of course, well before various social media networks, blogging sites and the advent of a Twitter, I had hundreds of poems and haiku that I would read, edit and laugh out loud to myself. Never once, sharing my poetry with anyone, not even my spouse; however, being in a regulated industry that was apprehensive of social media networks, I sat on the sidelines, writing in notebooks. Then a sad, but funny thing happened.

I lost my notebooks. I also lost my job.

To this day, I don’t know where are my poetry notebooks. Perhaps they are tucked away in a box from one of my moves. Perhaps I left them in my office after the market meltdown in 2008 and my office was shuttered – myself a victim of my banks’ undoing. But then came Twitter and an opportunity to try something new by becoming an Chief Executive Officer of a fledgling social networking related site, with interesting technology, but struggles of its’ own.

Jumping in with both feet, I quickly became immersed in social media engagement. Not from a sense of driving individuals to buy a product, when getting them to interact and create meaningful dialogue all through poetry or haiku. So nearly three years ago, The Product Poet was born. While still in my infancy, I have been able to amass over 65,000 tweets, which for most people would be a lifetime and then some. By doing so, I’ve been able to create my own brand, which in and of itself has a highly engaged active community, spread across multiple social networks.

So how have I been able to amass over 150,000 Twitter followers in less three years? For me it’s been a very simple rule: “Always Be Engaging.” I am continually “listening” for other followers that mention me in a tweet. I have daily rituals, weekly and monthly rituals that keep me on my “engaging toes.” For example, nearly every time I cross a major 1,000 tweet milestone I send out a tweet such as this one:

Therefore, when an individual retweets this particular tweet, I will scour their website, review their recent tweets and sometimes event their Instagram account, so that I can send back to them a personalized haiku. It’s my little way of saying thank you for being an follower.

Typically these personalized haiku will drive further engagement, which leads to some great responses from my followers such as this one from Greg:

The more engagement you have with your followers, the more your followers will appreciate the fact that you appreciate them. Don’t be a stranger or someone that simply doesn’t interact with other followers as you will come across as being self-serving and frankly for me, un-interesting.

By this simple rule of “Always Be Engaging” I’ve been able to develop a great list of followers and more importantly, virtually meet some very interesting people. If I can do it, so can you. So the next time you are thinking about how to tell someone thank you, perhaps try to thank them in a rhyme or haiku. You will be surprised at how much your followers appreciate it too.