How to Execute a Twitter Follower Strategy

Drew Neisser Founder & CEO, Renegade

Posted on September 3rd 2014

How to Execute a Twitter Follower Strategy

Among the biggest challenges when launching a new brand or channel on social media is building community.  This is particularly true on Twitter where a new brand with a tiny following is as appealing as a restaurant with no guests. Thus the temptation is to try to add followers as quickly as possible without regard for relevance or shared interests thereby giving the semblance of popularity.  Of course, getting the wrong followers is ultimately of little value begging the fundamental question, how does a brand gain the right fans without necessarily buying them? 

A year ago, the answer to this question was two-fold.  First, the brand would come up with a compelling reason why a consumer would in fact want to follow the brand, make this part of the bio and create content that delivered on the promise.  Second, the brand would initiate a follower strategy that involved the laborious process of searching for relevant followers, vetting them for inappropriate behavior, following them and then unfollowing them if they didn’t follow back within 48 hours.  Those that did follow back were immediately thanked and often asked a question in an effort to initiate conversation. 

Depending on the follow back ratio, gaining followers in this manner on Twitter would be continued for days, weeks and sometimes months. Regardless of the duration, it was always time consuming and downright tedious.  Even with low paid interns, it was difficult to rationalize the time invested and more importantly, it was nearly impossible to execute such a program at scale. Then we discovered Insightpool.

Insightpool is a tool that identifies segments of Twitter users based on who they follow as well as specific keywords and topics. By creating bundles of two or three Twitter handles you know your target market follows, one can assess the overlapping audiences and hone in on the users’ interests using keywords and topics. Then you can save those segments in the system and take a number of different actions against them:

  • Follow: follow the identified segments on Twitter through the system;
  • Outreach: schedule a series of variable tweets to go out to these users, using their metadata.

Before you scoff at the “automation” part of Insightpool, let’s take a closer look. This is not about automating your outreach by creating bot-like auto DMs that nobody likes. Insightpool has an advanced feature that allows you to time your activities at a convenient time and use intervals that aren’t going to spam your Twitter stream.  By issuing natural language tweets during normal business hours, your social team can be ready for responses when they arrive.  And during this same time frame, Insightpool allows users to generate the next pool of prospective followers adding to the overall efficiency of the effort.  

Renegade recently tested Insightpool for a couple of our client’s with the specific goals of dramatically increasing the number of followers and to spark conversations with the target market. Insightpool allowed us to easily identify and reach out to the targets for more efficiently than we expected especially in comparison to our manual process.  The highlights of our test included:

  • Finding followers was 3-4 times faster than a manual approach!  
  • We achieved an average of 12% follow-back (up from 10% manually without keyword insights).
  • Our follow-back rate jumped up to 25% using scheduled outgoing messages.

Insightpool’s features are useful beyond just growing a following of key target markets. The bundle and keyword process helps assess the overlap in audiences of different Twitter handles owned by the brand or competitors.  This assessment also provided useful insights for identifying audiences for paid Twitter advertising. Being able to identify the interests of an audience also leads to deeper insights about your market that you might not otherwise know. Because Insightpool pulls data from Twitter and other sources like Klout topics, you can hone in on deeper data points than those provided by Twitter analytics.

Though our initial goal was simply to gain followers, the ultimate benefit of using a tool like Insightpool was the corresponding data, allowing us to explore the audiences of competitive as well as any complementary brands.  This data in turn helped us hone branded content to be more distinctive, more relevant and more sharable, a sure fire recipe for social success once a follower base has been established. 

Note: Thanks to Renegade’s Merlin U. Ward and Chris Ee for major contributors to this article including all of the analytics.  


Drew Neisser

Founder & CEO, Renegade

Drew Neisser is CEO & Founder of Renegade the NYC-based social media and marketing agency that helps inspired clients cut through the nonsense to deliver genuine business growth. A frequent speaker at industry events, Drew’s been a featured expert on ABC’s Nightline and CNBC. In addition to blogging for SocialMediaToday, you can find Drew’s articles on, MediaPost and TheDrewBlog.

In the last few years, Drew and Renegade created PerkZone for Time Warner Cable Business Class, built the @TalkingBench for the NCAA, charged up the prepaid card market launching MAGIC by Magic Johnson via events & social, unleashed the AXA Gorilla on Twitter with audio tweets and a virtual retirement party, introduced young adults to Harlem Liqueur and made a splash for Davidoff Cool Water on Facebook.

Also at Renegade, Drew hatched numerous award-winning campaigns for a long-list of blue chip clients.  His ideas for HSBC, Panasonic and IBM were all recognized by BRANDWEEK as Guerrilla Marketers of the Year.   Among these is the legendary HSBC BankCab program, a restored Checker, that has been delighting HSBC customers since 2003 with free rides (and now informative tweets).  

Drew’s creative accomplishments include naming and launching the Toughbook for Panasonic and penning numerous taglines.  These include “Like money. Only Magic.” for MAGIC by Magic Johnson prepaid MasterCard, “Where Family Comes First.” for Family Circle Magazine, “Fire things up,” for Toasted Head wine and “Great tech support. Good karma.” for iYogi.

Diapered at Wells Rich Greene, trained at JWT and retrained at Chiat/Day, Drew founded Renegade in 1996 as a place where the best ideas can sprout from any corner and collaboration trumps ego.  Drew earned a BA in history from Duke University and lives in Manhattan with his wife and the agency’s mascot, a French bulldog named Pinky.  A native Californian, Drew dreams of becoming a surfer but is a long way from hanging ten.

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