So you’ve made a start on Twitter and you are beginning to see your followers grow into dozens, hundreds or maybe even a few thousand. So what’s next? Do you want to accept that you will get a steady growth or do you want to supercharge your following?
Before you read on, am I even qualified to give you advice? Well, in just three months, I have built a personal Twitter following of more than 200,000+ and I am not a celebrity nor do I have an army of professionals working on my social media strategy! I was a complete beginner when I started. These are the lessons I learned.
One more thing. This is a long blog so I’ve organized it into small bites that you can jump to. You don’t have to consume the whole thing in one go or in any particular order!
How do you introduce yourself?
The first time someone sees you on Twitter, they read your profile. It’s your, “Hello!” to the world. If it’s blank then I guess you have nothing to say about yourself and we will all say, “Bye!” It’s like going to a party and standing in the corner with a blank look on your face. And if you say in your profile that you hate everyone and never follow-back then I guess you don’t want followers and prefer to live in a world of total isolation.
Make your profile interesting, humorous, quirky. Be an individual that you would want to follow.
Consider this profile example:
I am a normal person and I live my life a day at a time
I live three days in every 24 hours. If you think you can keep up, come along with me for the ride…
Which one do you want to follow? And your picture matters! If you have a picture of a gun pointing at me or your hand giving me the finger, I would also suggest that is not the friendliest way to say hello. And forget the egg.
What are you tweeting?
I’m not going to say much about this here because I’ve already covered this crucial issue in my first blog – Is Anyone Listening To Me? But this is the essence: you need to tweet something that is interesting and relevant to your audience. If you are bored when you read your own tweets, so are we! Look at who you follow and why you read their tweets. The most popular non-celebrity tweet subjects are humor, news, sports and philosophy. Check out happy place for examples of the latest popular tweets.
I know that Twitter limits you to 140 characters but get into the habit of sending shorter tweets. Shorter tweets get noticed in Twitter! Also, if someone wants to add something to your tweet and retweet it, they have spare characters to do this in. Here’s a short tweet of mine that was retweeted to almost a million people:
Death waits for all of us. So does life
And here is an example of how it was retweeted (and stayed within 140 characters):
I needed to hear that! RT “@AnthoniaOrji: You are wonderfully made by God. RT if you like”
Tweet, tweet, tweet
It’s called Twitter for a reason. Birds make a lot of noise! If you are really serious about followers, you need to tweet at least five times a day and preferably 10-20 times a day. And remember that you will have followers in different time zones. If you don’t want to be online 24 hours a day, schedule your tweets in advance using apps such as TweetDeck. And spend time writing tweets before they are needed and save them so that you don’t feel constantly pressured to write something every hour of the day!
Interact with your followers
It is disheartening if someone follows you and constantly retweets you and you never give them any recognition. Give them a Shoutout or a Follow request. Thank them for being great followers – describe them as a “rock star” or a “poet” or anything else that works with your community. Reply to tweets that are addressed to you so that your followers can see that you interact with them.
As your following builds, use #FF (Follow Friday) and #SO (Shoutout) as a favor to people. Do it for those who do the same for you. Occasionally, tweet an offer to do a #SO for someone. However, I tend not to do these for followers who bluntly say, “Give me a shoutout!” A shoutout or follow request is a gift. Use them sparingly.
And don’t become a mouthpiece for every new band, charity cause or sympathy case. You are a personal brand and your Twitter will become a valuable channel that needs to be protected from message-dilution and junk.
This one is controversial and not everyone will agree with me! Should you follow-back everyone who follows you? Let me put it this way, when you follow someone, you probably are hoping that they will follow you back. Right? Personally, I dislike those people who have huge followings and follow almost no-one. The only exception I make is for people whose tweets I think are great for some reason. So, my advice is to follow-back everyone (except spammers, sex chat lines and undesirables). That way, you will get unfollowed a whole lot less.
Watch out for people who follow you, you follow them back and then they unfollow you. It’s very common. So, run an app to monitor who you are following who is not following you back.
Who are you following?
Once you start following a lot of tweeps, your timeline will get very busy and will become difficult or at times impossible to read. This is where Lists come in. Lists are a standard feature of Twitter and allow you to create groups of tweeps in whatever categories you choose. I have a List of tweeps for whom I want to see every one of their tweets. Then, you can use apps such as TweetDeck (desktop) or TweetBot (mobile) to organize multiple timelines. TweetDeck also has a filter feature that finds tweets that contain certain keywords, hashtags and phrases.
Now that you can actually read the tweets of the people you care about, remember to retweet them regularly. You can also use an app to retweet everything that a particular user tweets. Some of my followers do this. But there is the obvious caution that these apps are not reading what you are retweeting so you could end up with an embarrassing retweet!
People use hashtags to tag their tweets so that others can search on them and find them. And anyone can create a hashtag. That’s about it. Some people argue that every one of your tweets should have a hashtag in it. I’m skeptical. Here’s one of my tweets with a hashtag:
Just because there is a song in your heart does not mean it should come out of your mouth #TheXFactor
This was retweeted by my followers but I didn’t get any new followers who were following The X Factor hashtag. The reason? Take a look at http://twubs.com and follow the #TheXFactor hashtag during the live airing of the show. You can’t even read the tweets at the rate they are flying by. But clever use of hashtags can help to build followers. Always check out the traffic for the hashtag on twubs.com before using it. So, my advice is to use hashtags that are relevant to your followers.
Follow to get followed back
One way to get followers is to follow first and wait to be followed-back. I mentioned this in my first blog. If you target individual people who have something very clear about why they would follow you, then you will usually get a high follow-back rate. For instance, a writer who follows other writers of similar genres will usually get followed back. I have also found a high follow-back rate by following the users that Twitter suggests are “similar” to me. Although, once you have thousands of followers, these suggestions become less and less accurate.
But a more aggressive strategy to get followers is to create “follow lists” by searching user profiles or the followers of another person and creating a follow list. Then you follow them and wait. You can use an app to do the searches and create the follow lists and to automate the follows.
By my experience, you will only get about a 5% follow-back rate with this strategy, depending on a number of factors. Your profile needs to be instantly compelling and your recent tweets need to be interesting and relevant. And you must follow relevant tweeps.
Twitter will only let you follow up to 1,000 people per day. This is precisely to prevent you from randomly following thousands of tweeps to try to build your own followers. And Twitter will suspend your account if you aggressively follow hundreds of users at a time just to get follow-backs, whether or not you reach the daily limit.
There are several ways to promote your Twitter. They mostly involve spending money or time or both. Let’s look at a few:
• Facebook: you can integrate your Twitter with Facebook. However, I strongly advise against having your tweets posted to your timeline as your friends will not appreciate getting a Facebook update every time you tweet. It also leads to a highly fragmented timeline of words and no photos. If you use Facebook Pages for your business, then create an app on one of your tabs and have your Twitter visible by clicking the tab.
• Blogs: most of the blogging sites include the ability to show your recent tweets and to tweet your blog (this will tweet your blog title and an abbreviated URL link). Blogs drive traffic but the person who views your blog will rarely be interested in following your tweets.
• Featured slots: Twiends is a unique and simple way to promote yourself. You purchase or obtain seeds by following other users. And other tweeps can obtain some of those seeds in return for following you. This is very effective at building your followers but my experience says that you always have to follow-back (and quickly) and have a strong flow of good tweets to get those followers engaged immediately. The unfollow rate from these methods can be as high as 50%.
Don’t ever buy followers! It’s worse than buying friends and they are not real Twitter users. If a follower is not real then you are only fooling yourself and your ego. And it’s strictly against Twitter policy and they will suspend you. You have been warned!
Say thank you!
Just as in real life, people like good manners. When you are followed, send a thank you message. But here’s the key. Do not use a thank you message like this:
Tnx for the follow. Now like my Facebook page…
It’s actually rude, boring and typical. And absolutely no-one will like your Facebook page. I use a tool to send a selection of thank you messages that I have created. These thank you messages are examples of my tweets. Here is one:
There are no dead ends when you are going around in circles. I hope you will enjoy my tweets! John
I’m not asking them to do anything other than be amused by the message. And the message is relevant to the content I tweet.
Don’t give up
If you’ve read this far, you’re probably serious about getting a significant Twitter following. It takes dedication and time but with a bit of help, things will go faster. You will find that as you gain thousands of followers, people will follow you just in the hope that you will RT them or give them a #FF or #SO. Then you will even see some B-List celebrities following you and things just multiply.
I’ll leave you with a tweet that sums it up:
When all is said and done, there is usually more to say and do
Until the next time.