Twitter has become an invaluable tool when seeking to increase your reach. Whether for personal or business purposes, Twitter’s interactivity makes it an excellent way to grow your online presence. Yet how does one actually get followers? It can seem daunting at first – seeing other accounts with thousands of followers, and you may be asking yourself “how did they do that?” Well, fear not, because it’s a relatively simple process and if you follow the steps outlined below your twitter account will be buzzing with followers before you know it.
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1. Optimize your Twitter account.
The first step is to set up your Twitter account (if you haven’t already done so). A few questions and you’ll be off to the races. Whether your account is new or has been around for a while, optimizing it is a vital step.
You’ll want to make sure that your profile page has both a header image and a profile picture. This is important to establish visually your online presence, and it should not be skipped. Choose images that reflect the essence of your Twitter existence. Your profile image will be displayed whenever you send a tweet or re-tweet something, so make sure that it’s a reflective summary of what your account stands for. The profile’s header image will serve as the bedrock of your account and will help establish your credibility in your field. For business purposes, a company logo and any relevant product or company personnel should be included, and it should be professionally created. Fortunately, this doesn’t have to be too costly as Twitter profile headers can be designed inexpensively at Fiverr.com.
Finally, complete your bio and add a link to any relevant website. This snippet of information will help the Twitter user decide what you are all about and should be written so as to encourage them to follow.
2. Start filling with content.
Once your profile has been optimized with a bio, as well as profile and header images, it’s time to begin loading your account with content. Nobody will follow an empty account, so it’s vital to have some pre-existing content. The quickest and easiest way is to tweet links to relevant news or blog posts. Aim for at least ten to fifteen tweets in the beginning. Where to find content will be discussed in detail below.
3. Follow others.
The way to initially gain followers is to follow others. Most users see someone following them as an ego boost and will likely be inclined to follow back. Since manually searching for and following accounts is extremely time-consuming and impractical, there are fortunately some great free tools that can significantly speed up the process.
Before you decide who to follow, you need to discover who the influencers are in your particular niche or area of interest. The idea is to find out who the main players are and then to follow their followers. By looking at their list of followers with a similar interest to yours, you will have an entire legion of users who would potentially be interested in following you as well. And there’s a simple way to accomplish this.
The first tool to use is Topsy (Topsy.com). The main purpose of Topsy is to help determine who a niche’s influencers are.
Image credit: Dean Roy
Select “Influencers” just above and to the right of the search box, then type in your keyword (niche or interest). A list of the most influential Twitter users in that field will appear. This is your starting point for determining who to follow. The next step is to follow their followers.
For that we’ll use the next free tool, Tweepi (Tweepi.com). Tweepi provides custom information about a Twitter user’s followers and allows you not only to see who is following whom but to quickly follow them as well. To begin, you’ll need to create an account. Tweepi will prompt you to upgrade to paid services, but for our purposes they are not necessary. Just bypass this and proceed to your free account. Once logged in, under “Follow New Users” on the left, select “Follow Followers.” Type the Twitter handle of the user you wish to analyze and within seconds, pages of their followers will appear. Before you begin mass following, however, you should set your filters first.
Image credit: Dean Roy
The most powerful aspect of Tweepi is the ability to filter the user results, and you will want to take advantage of this feature. Twitter imposes an initial follow limit of 2,000 users, which is the maximum number of users an account is allowed to follow at first. With that upper limit in mind, you’d want to make sure that you follow only quality users and not just anyone. If you are looking to build an engaged audience who will retweet your shares, you’ll want followers with their own large follow list. Therefore, depending on the audience you are trying to reach, set your filters accordingly. The boxes at the top have drop-down menus with the different filtering options. Once entered, click the “Add Criteria” button. Repeat as needed. It’s recommended that the following filter settings are used:
– Location (Enter a target country if applicable)
– Last Tweeted: 90 Days
– Followers Count: 1000
– Follow Ratio: 80
Adding a location will return only those users from that specific country. A Last Tweeted value of 90 days will ensure only active Twitter users are included. A Followers Count of 1,000 or more will return users with at least that many followers of their own, and a Follow Ratio of over 80% means they are very likely to follow you back in return. Feel free to play around with this feature and determine what works best for you.
Now it’s time to begin following. As you hover your mouse underneath each user, a “Follow” button will appear. Keep clicking on the button and as you do the page will automatically descend to the next user. It’s possible to follow a dozen users within seconds using this method.
As you are following users, take a moment to look at each one to determine if they are relevant. Some Twitter users are business entities or organizations, or businesses who follow others just to gain followers. If they don’t appear as though they will add value to you, then skip over them.
Tweepi will limit you to 500 followers per day. While Twitter’s actual limit is closer to a thousand per day, it’s best to follow in daily increments of 500. Twitter has very strict rules concerning the practices of mass following and unfollowing, and doing either in large amounts in rapid succession is a good way to get your account suspended. By proceeding in this fashion, you will ensure that your efforts are not wasted.
4. Provide value to your followers
Now that you have followed 500 users you will quickly find that they will start following you. Whether they stay followed is another matter, and the next step in the process is to ensure that you are providing value to your audience.
What do we mean by “value”? Twitter’s reason for being is engagement and interaction. A Twitter follower will want to make sure that your account is not only informative but entertaining and interactive as well. No user will want to follow someone who is merely trying to sell something, even if that is your goal; constantly tweeting nothing but information about your product is not the way to encourage engagement. Conversely, the user won’t mind you trying to sell them something if they consider your information as a whole to be valuable. For that reason, your activity in managing your account will focus on keeping the follower interested.
There’s an art to keeping your followers engaged, but the more you do it, the more you will get a sense for what your audience wants. It’s the act of knowing your audience that will help you gain followers, and catering to their interests is the key. There are several ways to go about them, and these should all be used in a mix to avoid monotony.
– News articles. Simply Google the topic of your niche/interest. Select “News” at the top, and a list of news articles and blog posts will appear. Choose the ones of interest and tweet them to your followers. Tip: Once you have exhausted this list click on “Search Tools” at the top, then select “Recent” from the drop-down menu. Doing this several times a day will ensure you are providing the latest information, which will be greatly appreciated.
– Commentary. Tweeting your thoughts and observations will help position you as an authority in your niche. Tip: unless it’s a very serious subject matter, humor and sarcasm tend to be very well received and will invite re-tweets.
– Youtube. Like news articles listed above, Youtube is a great source for informative and entertaining videos.
– Facebook. Create a sister Facebook page for your Twitter account, and populate it with whatever information you share on Twitter. Also, creating a poll, contest or the like and encouraging your Twitter audience to participate will drive your engagement level through the roof.
– Feed the trolls. While this last tactic is not appropriate for everyone, the fact is that every niche has passionate people, and some of them may appear on Twitter as uninformed and ignorant. Re-tweeting these with an appropriate commentary of your own can add extra authority to your Twitter voice, and can be quite entertaining as well.
Finally, always add the relevant hashtag or hashtags (#) to each tweet. By providing a stream of compelling information sorted by hashtag, you’ll begin to pick up users who are also interested in that area. For example, if your subject is boating, then always use the hashtag “#boating” in your tweets.
Twitter users are always looking for interesting people, companies or organizations to follow. By following these steps to choose quality users to follow, then keeping them interested and engaged with an interactive approach, you’ll quickly find that your follow list of Twitter followers will steadily grow.