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How To: Get More Qualified Followers on Twitter

One of the first questions I hear when I talk about Twitter is: "How can I get more Twitter followers?"

At which point I shake my head, because the question I'd like to hear first is "What kind of people should I want to follow me on Twitter?"

On Facebook, Twitter, or any social media site, the quality of engagement is more important than quantity of followers. However, the more qualified followers, the better. After all, you can write the most witty, useful, amazing tweets ever known to mankind, but if the right people aren't tuned in, what's the point? 

You shouldn't expect to join Twitter and have 1,000 potential clients or customers following you the next day, but there are some strategic ways to build a follower base on Twitter:

1. Think about who you want your followers to be. There are lists out there of tweeters who will automatically follow you back. Sure, following a lot of these people could help you bulk up your numbers, but if you're an ice cream shop in Maryland, do you really want Joe, the insurance salesman from Texas, for a follower? I didn't think so.

Before you start looking for followers, think about what you're trying to get out of Twitter, and what kind of followers you want. Potential and current clients and/or customers? Potential employers? Industry thought leaders? Local socialites? A general mix? Target your efforts, and slowly build your follower base to get the most out of Twitter. If you still want a list of people to follow, try Twitter directories such as wefollow, or the ones mentioned in this Mashable post.  Directories organize tweeters by subject, so finding people here will help you follow people with your same interests, who should be more likely to follow you back.

2. Complete your profile. It's easy to at least look legitimate on Twitter before you actually know what you're doing. When I decide whether or not to follow people on Twitter, I look at their picture, their bio, and their last few tweets. If any one of these components is missing or awry, I'm less likely to follow.

Before you start trying to build a follower base on Twitter, make sure you have a picture on your profile, you have a relevant bio, and you've already started tweeting. For your picture, use a professional headshot, show off your personality, or, if you're tweeting for a business, use the company's logo. Use your bio to quickly tell readers who you are, and what you're likely to tweet about. And think, before you tweet, if someone would opt not to follow you if they saw what you were about to write. Actually, think before you tweet in general. (Right, Ray Rice?)

3. Follow others. If you're already on Facebook and LinkedIn, dig around there to find people you actually know who are already on Twitter, or post a "Who else is on Twitter? I want to follow you" type status. If you follow people who know you in real life, they're likely to follow you back. Then, you can follow people who you don't know, by seeing who people in your circle are tweeting about. Chances are, they will follow you back too. You can also follow people you meet in real life—after a networking or social event, do a quick search on Twitter for the people and companies you talked to. This will help people remember you, and build your follower base.

4. It's not about you. Twitter gets a bad rap, and yes, many tweeters live up to the stereotype. But just because you're on Twitter doesn't mean you're obligated to tweet about what you had for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and every little thing that goes on in between. The best tweeters (the kind you want to follow, and the kind you want to follow you) hardly tweet about themselves at all.

Instead of tweeting updates from your life, which is probably relatively mundane (sorry), tweet about others. What are your colleagues doing? What great posts have bloggers in your community authored? Tweet positively about others, mention them with an @theirtwittername, and soon, people will realize that you are a great promoter for them, and will promote you in return. After all, it worked for Paris Hilton.

5. Hashtag, retweet, and reply. This is the how-to part of making Twitter not about you. Jump in and tweet about relevant hashtags, and anyone who is following that subject will see you. Retweet the best tweets you see from your business contacts, reply to questions, and lend a helping hand when you can. Make yourself into a valuable person to follow, and followers will come to you.

6.  Add people to lists. Create lists of the people you follow. You can sort your lists by industry, by the way you know the person, by geographic location—or any system you dream up. Adding people who aren't following you to a list can help you catch their attention, because your listing will show up on their profile, thus increasing the chances they'll follow you.  Adding people who already follow you to a list can start an engagement, getting them to tweet about you, and attracting the interest of their followers. The best kinds of lists flatter people. When you categorize someone as a "Social media, marketing, brand, (insert industry here) guru," they're going to want to brag about it by tweeting to thank you.

7. Welcome your new followers. Once a day, or once a week, send out a simple "Thanks for following" tweet. Include a joke about the time of day, or a recent news event, to personalize it. This starts an engagement, and gets people tweeting back to you—exposing you to their entire network on Twitter. However, DO NOT auto direct message new followers. Many tweeters have direct messages set to text message them, and there's nothing more annoying than getting a formulaic "Thanks for following! Check out our website" text to your phone every time you follow someone new.

8. Integrate, integrate, integrate. Put your twitter handle on your website. In your email signature. On your business cards. Of course, this mainly applies if you're using Twitter for business purposes. If you're going to tweet about, well...private...aspects of your life, you probably do not want to broadcast your Twitter handle over your professional network. But beware: there's a good chance that someone will find you anyways.

Now, it's your turn. What did I miss? How did you grow your number of Twitter followers? What other posts would you like to see about Twitter? 

Join The Conversation

  • Sep 24 Posted 4 years ago Chad Txtbook

    Tracy,

    I really found this article informative for people who are new to twitter as well as people who don't fully know how to utilize it. I myself never really understood the power of lists until I read this and was also instructed to use them in a class. Thank you for this great article!

     

    -Chad/TXT

  • Aug 2 Posted 5 years ago Social media guide (not verified)

    Nice post. Getting more follows does not mean. But getting valuable and niche followers matters. 

  • Apr 22 Posted 6 years ago Tweet King (not verified)

    You can always use this list to get additional 237 followers - http://adf.ly/1IYw1 

    Best of Luck

    - Tweet King :)

  • Apr 19 Posted 6 years ago Chapalucho (not verified)

    Growing a targeted following is very time consuming. Manually clicking on follows and unfollows is a boring process and you can lose track of who you followed and unfollowed. I have been using twidium http://twidiumapp.com/ for some time and I am very satisfied with it. There are four important features I need – mass following, list following, unfollowing and the project planner.

  • tracycgold's picture
    Jan 17 Posted 6 years ago tracycgold

    Thanks for reading Olivia! There are many different ways of using lists, and I'm still experimenting with them myself, but they're great ways to organize your followers and to pay people small favors.

  • tracycgold's picture
    Jan 17 Posted 6 years ago tracycgold

    Thanks! I'm now an @couchmupboni follower!

  • tracycgold's picture
    Jan 17 Posted 6 years ago tracycgold

    Colin, while I agree with some of your points, and am ecstatic to have inspired such a dialogue,  I think that some of your points take mine out of the context of the rest of the document.

    Point 3: Did you miss the word "qualified" in the title? Did you miss point 1 about strategy to find the right kind of people on Twitter? Following someone on Twitter is a great way to inform them that hey, my company is on this social media platform too. That's why I pointed out the list of people who will automatically follow you back  "follow-back," but gave a lot of strategies on how you can follow people who would actually add value to your follower list if they reciprocate, and would be likely to reciprocate because of the type of content you're creating and tweeting about.

    Point 7: Some people call a simple "thank you" polite, others call it noise.I always make sure to investigate the people I'm tweeting about to make sure that they're relevant for the people who are following the account, and are not spammy. Tweeting about people who are following me who are worth following back is another way to add value to my tweets.

    And you're right that the article did not talk about tweeting great content--a serious omission on my part. However, if you read the introduction, you'd see that I talked about the importance of having people who care about your great content in place. For example--I create content just like this on my company's blog, Marketing Trenches. We have a qualified but small audience for our blog, so we'll maybe get 100 visitors per post, and 10 retweets. However, by posting on this site, which has a large, qualified audience, my content is exposed to over 10,000 readers, and hundreds of retweets. The size of your audience does not just organically grow if you have the same people retweeting your content to their same followers. Unfortunately, the attention economics of Twitter just don't work that way. To truly succeed you need to constantly reach out to and engage new and different audiences.They're not going to just come if you build it, you have to let people know what you're offering.

  • tracycgold's picture
    Jan 17 Posted 6 years ago tracycgold

    Thanks for reading Natalie! If it's too overwhelming to individually thank people, I've also seen automated "Thanks for following" lists which is a nice touch in a pinch! And I absolutely agree with your "do numbers matter?" post--sometimes people focus way, way to much on quantity, not quality.

  • Jan 14 Posted 6 years ago Olivia Polk (not verified)

    Great article! Thanks for posting this! I also haven't quite figured out #6 yet but am interested in learning how and the benefit of creating lists. 

    @HiSpeedRailNews

    @Leolene

  • Jan 13 Posted 6 years ago @Coachmupboni (not verified)

    Tracy,

    This is one of the best articles I've read on the subject of Twitter and gaining quality followers.  Great job!

    Boni

    @coachmupboni

  • tracycgold's picture
    Jan 13 Posted 6 years ago tracycgold

    Thanks Trevor! Yeah sometimes the lists function on the Twitter interface and the different apps can be a little buggy. But I've found it to be a very easy way to engage, as well as being a tool for the sales team to gather information from. Feel free to DM me @tracycgold and I can send you my email to correspond further if you still need help!

  • tracycgold's picture
    Jan 13 Posted 6 years ago tracycgold

    Absolutely Brett, good additional advice. I am always more likely to follow people when I see that they're using Twitter conversationally and are mentioning others on a consistent basis. It's definitely important to use a tool like Hootsuite--I've used TweetDeck, Twhirl, and HootSuite. I do like Hootsuite but manage way too many accounts for the free version. So I use that mainly for my personal accounts, not my clients. Right now, I'm using Twhirl for monitoring my streams, but the Twitter browser interface for following people--I like the details that I see about people on the Twitter browser.

    And I can't stress integration enough. Huge pet peeve when people wonder why their social media isn't working, but refuse to integrate it onto their website and other parts of their lives! Thanks for stopping by and reading.

  • tracycgold's picture
    Jan 13 Posted 6 years ago tracycgold

    Absolutely Brett, good additional advice. I am always more likely to follow people when I see that they're using Twitter conversationally and are mentioning others on a consistent basis. It's definitely important to use a tool like Hootsuite--I've used TweetDeck, Twhirl, and HootSuite. I do like Hootsuite but manage way too many accounts for the free version. So I use that mainly for my personal accounts, not my clients. Right now, I'm using Twhirl for monitoring my streams, but the Twitter browser interface for following people--I like the details that I see about people on the Twitter browser.

    And I can't stress integration enough. Huge pet peeve when people wonder why their social media isn't working, but refuse to integrate it onto their website and other parts of their lives! Thanks for stopping by and reading.

  • Jan 13 Posted 6 years ago Colin (not verified)

    I have to disagree with a few points in here. I think what you are outlining is what makes a Twitter account a bunch of noise and no real value, minimal influence.

    Point 3: So basically you are advocating going out and following as many people as you can just so they follow you back? There isn't enough time in a day to truely follow more than 100 people and brands, generally speaking, so if you want 5,000 followers you're expected to follow 5,000? That makes no sense. You won't pay attention to your followers - becase you can't logistically do that - and thus they won't pay attention to you. Everyone will be talking and no one will be listening.

    Point 7: Welcome new followers is beyond corporate, overly spam. If you are attracting people who really want to follow you and aren't just following you in hopes of a follow back, they'll engage with you early on and you'll have the chance to engage back. No need for a scripted, forced "hey, just saw you followed me!"

    And where in this article is there a mention of creating amazing content? Shouldn't creating a large Twitter following be as simple as creating amazing content that people want to read and reply to? And then ReTweet to their followers so you can amplify your message and follower base organically, not by cheating the follower system...?

    The above strategy is shiny and looks good to execs because you have X followers, but a seasoned social vet will pick it apart. And when the exec says "provide real, quatifiable results in dollars (or click thrus or what not)", the above will fall short because you've created a follower count, not a community.

    Just my two cents.

  • Jan 13 Posted 6 years ago Natalie Sisson (not verified)

    Yes I also love Hootsuite and it's a great way to track your interactions, manage your key words, follow your lists and manage multiple accounts.

    I like the idea of thanking people personally although this can be pretty timeconsuming especially if you're getting a lot of new followers each week in which case I think a simple thank you to the new people in your community message is a great start

    Ironically I also wrote a post on Quality vs Quantity that's been well received. Do Social Media Metrics and Numbers Actually Matter?

    Natalie

  • Jan 12 Posted 6 years ago Trevor Stanesby (not verified)

    A very good, helpful article - thank you Tracy. However, point 6 on lists is new to me and I'm still not sure how this works - tried it yesterday and wasn't sure what I was doing. More help would be appreciated @bluepigcreative.

  • tracycgold's picture
    Jan 11 Posted 6 years ago tracycgold

    You're welcome, thanks for stopping by to read! Always happy to point people to simple, useful strategies and resources. 

  • tracycgold's picture
    Jan 11 Posted 6 years ago tracycgold

    You're welcome, thanks for stopping by to read! Always happy to point people to simple, useful strategies and resources. 

  • sandeemiller's picture
    Jan 11 Posted 6 years ago sandeemiller Thanks for the article. It's a nice how-to on how to handle twitter. Also I appreciate you adding the mashable link, I missed that article.
  • BrettRelander's picture
    Jan 11 Posted 6 years ago BrettRelander

    Great advise Tracy.  All your points are important parts of the bigger pie but I would say that  #5 and #8 is where most people fail. It's amazing the type of uptic you'll see by simply thanking those who RT you, RTing others, using hastags, and mentioning people you find interesting.

    Integration is especially important. You need to remember that your entire market isn't all in one place and may not even be on Twitter, but if you make sure your handle is everywhere you are you're maximizing the potential for people to connect with you.

    One add on: I use HootSuite and recommend it to most people. Not only do they have a free version, but this is an easy way for you to organize the Twitter streams you want to follow (your lists, @Reply's, certain keywords, etc) as well as update Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn all from one place. It can save you a ton of time.

    Dedicate just 20 min, twice per day integrating the ideas above and you'll start seeing a difference the first month.

    @BrettRelander

    Tactical Marketing Labs

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