You might be looking at my Twitter account and wondering why I would have any authority to tell someone how to get Twitter followers. But the truth about my personal Twitter account is you probably shouldn't follow me. Sure I say some hilariously funny stuff sometimes, but most of my tweets are sarcastic jabs about topics you don't care about and I don't want to worry about losing followers whenever I tweet. So don't follow me unless you're a friend and just want to keep in touch.
Despite the low number of followers on my personal account, I have had several successful Twitter campaigns when I've had sufficient motivation. While I'm not going to divulge my biggest success for fear of a lawsuit, I'm behind a celebrity parody Twitter account that has over 8,000 followers. I also produce most of the tweets for Geeks With Wives, which I've grown from 24 followers when I took it over 6 months ago to 600 followers today (and hopefully many more by the time you're reading this). This is still a work in progress but is probably the more impressive of the two because it is a very targeted audience that is squarely in the demographic of the Geeks With Wives website, so it's actually monetizable. And it hasn't been that hard to do! It's just taken time, patience, and effort. I'm sure if you're serious about growing your Twitter audience, you can do it too.
ExposureThe most important thing is to get people to look at your Twitter account so they can click that Follow button. This comes by:
- Following others. When you follow someone, they get an email to alert them. There's a really good chance they will look at your profile at this point and if they like what they see, they'll probably follow you.
- Getting retweeted. I get retweeted all the time but I actually don't get a ton of followers this way. Still, if you consistently get retweeted it will at least get your account visible to others and build your credibility. It also helps you understand what your audience really cares about (and makes you feel great!).
- Tweet about popular topics using hashtags. People use the Twitter search box all the time to find out what others are saying about a topic. If you're tweeting about a hot new show or a live event that everyone else is watching and you say something interesting, people can easily stumble upon your account that way. Using hashtags can increase the effectiveness because Twitter makes it so easy to search for people using the same hashtags.
- Participate in trending topics. Twitter presents a list of trending topics in the sidebar of the website, which basically advertises these topics to the entire Twitter universe. A trending topic that is relevant to your demographic is a great opportunity to jump in and get seen by thousands of accounts. If you have something clever to say about the topic, it's sure to get you follows.
Content, Content, ContentOnce people can see you, they're only likely to follow you if you're saying something they find interesting. Luckily this isn't hard to do at all! People are on Twitter because they're looking for something to occupy their time. They'll gladly read tweets that they would never come to your website to read (until they get to know you anyway). Things to consider when coming up with content is:
- Stay on topic. You need to tweet about topics that are nearly universally interesting to your entire demographic. People tolerate off-topic content a lot more on Twitter than in other mediums, but to really engage your followers and attract new ones, your tweets need to be relevant to your audience.
- Be funny or opinionated. People are always looking for a laugh but funny tweets are tough to consistently come up with. When you can't be funny, state an opinion. If you can say something that really resonates with people- like you took the words out of their mouth- you're likely to get retweeted. It's also okay to say something people don't agree with because it engages them in conversation; ust be willing to respond to people who disagree with you on an individual basis or they'll lose interest and unfollow you.
- Think about your last three. When someone comes across your Twitter page, they'll probably first be presented with your three most recent tweets and may use only that in deciding whether or not to follow you. If plan to be away from Twitter for a long stretch of time (like if you're going to work or to sleep), you should try to make sure you feel really good about at least one of the last three. A lot of people will potentially view your profile in that stretch of time and you don't want to give them a bad impression. You don't have to bring your A Game in every tweet, just don't let it sit at the top for long.
FollowAs I stated earlier, the best way to get followers is for you to follow someone first. But following in itself can be an art. Here are some tips on how to decide whether or not to follow someone:
- Mind the ratio. A person's ratio of Followers to Following is a good indication of whether or not they'll follow-back. You may follow some accounts just because you enjoy their tweets but if you're looking for a follow-back, make sure the account has something close to a 1:1 ratio.
- Mind the engagement level. There's no point in following someone who's last tweet was a month ago. They're probably not going to follow you back because they don't check their Twitter account frequently, and they're not going to see any of your tweets even if they do follow you. I at least try to make sure an account tweets once a day before follwing them.
- Use Twitter search. This is a particularly good technique when you've just tweeted something you think is really strong. Say, for instance, you landed a big interview and just tweeted the link to it. Use the Twitter search box to look for people tweeting about the person, company, or product that your interview was about. Here you'll find a ton of people you're sure are interested in your topic. Choose the ones you think are most likely to follow you back and follow them.
- Read conversations. Find some of your followers and see who they are interacting with. When someone views your profile, it will list which followers you have in common. In general, more followers in common means a higher chance of getting a follow-back.
- Interact. Do you see someone who seems like they'd be perfect on your Followers list? Maybe they have a lot of followers and retweet a lot, and you'd like them to follow you so they can retweet you! If they don't immediately follow back, reply to one of their tweets. Just make sure you have something interesting to say that gives them a chance to keep the conversation going.
Follow BackWhen you first start out on Twitter, you may notice that the most popular accounts have a billion followers and are following 5 people. Don't take this as a hint you should never follow anyone! In fact, it's just the opposite. When someone follows you, it means they're interested in what you have to say and want to interact. You should take that as a compliment and don't take it lightly.
If the person that followed you is genuinely interested in your subject matter, following them back will virtually guarantee they'll remain a captive audience for whatever you want to say to them. And the good news is there's really no downside to it (other than a timeline that is impossible to keep up with eventually). Of course, for users that are irrelevant to your topic and are just trying to lure you into their own audience, don't fret about ignoring their outstretched hand.
UnfollowYour own ratio of Following to Followers is an important dance. Unless you're an authority or a celeb, you want to keep the ratio as close to 1:1 as possible. Following too many shows that others have decided you're not worth following. Too many followers is okay, but often people looking to follow someone are hoping for a follow-back and won't follow someone who doesn't look promising.
I usually follow a few new people every day (sometimes one or two, sometimes up to 20) and then every few weeks I go on an unfollowing spree. Using a tool that let's you see exactly who is not following you back is amazingly convenient and a must-have. I personally use Manage Flitter because it's free for what I use it for and works great.
In SummaryThere's really no tricks here, it's common sense. Make your Twitter presence as appealing to others as possible with interesting content and an even ratio of followers to following. Then get as many people relevant to your subject matter as possible to see your account through interactions with them. Don't bother with cheap tricks like retweeting someone who promises to get you more followers or showing a lot of cleavage in your profile pic because while that may get you followers, it won't get you the ones that are valuable to you.
Thousands of people are having a conversation about your topic. Go join them. With enough effort and persistence, you will eventually have an excellent way to reach your community at a moments notice for absolutely free.