Building followers on Twitter is a bit like building up your email list. What’s more, the people on the list you’re building are all interested in what you have to say – they have chosen to follow you. Once you have a sizeable list, you can announce your latest product, service or event – so long as it is genuinely of interest to your followers and you’re not doing a hard sell. However, like an email list, you don’t want people on there who are not interested in what you’re offering. You don’t want to randomly broadcast a wasted marketing message – you want to engage your fan base of followers who are actually interested in what you do. You can use ‘promoted’ tweets to build a following – but you can boost your numbers for free with a bit of effort.
The big secret is simply: follow more people. At least half will follow you back. But there are a few caveats:
- Only follow people who are in your community of interest. Follow people who are likely to be interested in you and follow you back. Do a keyword search or look at who is tweeting from a conference within your industry by following the hashtag. A more efficient way is to find people like yourself, who are tweeting in your subject area – and follow their followers. Their followers are also likely to be interested in your tweets. To find these people, look at the Twitter directory WeFollow.
- Stay within the Twitter follow limit. There is a limit – you can’t just follow everyone. Twitter will stop you from following any new people once you hit the limit. However, that limit increases the more followers you have. Anyone can follow 2,000 people. After that, you can follow 10 per cent more people than are following you. So, if you have 5,000 followers, you can follow 5,500 people and no more until you have more followers.
- Unfollow people who don’t follow you back. Just like you don’t want random, uninterested, disengaged people clogging up your email list, you don’t want uninterested people taking up valuable space in your allowance of people you can follow. In this way you can free up space for new people to follow. You can find those people who you follow but who don’t follow you by using Friend or Follow – or a great iPhone app I recently discovered called unfollow for Twitter.
This can be a bit time-consuming. But by following this strategy you can incrementally increase your followers to high levels in a relatively short space of time. You may only need to actively increase your followers when you first start using Twitter since, once you reach a critical mass of followers, your Twitter success will build on itself. For example, you will become more visible the more followers you have as more people will retweet your tweets to their followers.
Finding followers is easy. Keeping them is harder. In the same way people can stop subscribing to your email newsletters, they can stop following you on Twitter. If you stay focused on engaging your followers with useful, interesting, regular content, you will not only keep your followers but attract new ones.
Find out more about marketing yourself with Twitter in Chapter 13 of Get Up to Speed with Online Marketing.