Hopefully I was able to make clear to you in my last post how Twitter can be a critical part of your overall strategy for building a following, or what Seth Godin calls a “tribe.” Today I want to tell you how I built my Twitter following from 129 to over 1000 in just over two weeks. Of course you can find stories much more dramatic than this, but considering the new rules Twitter has implemented, and how easy it can be to get your account suspended, I think my advice here is solid. [Note: I will not be held responsible for accounts being suspended, even if yours is suspended doing EXACTLY what I am suggesting here. Twitter is vague about this, so caution is highly encouraged.] What I did here (and am continuing to do), ANYONE can do. Luck has nothing to do with this. All you have to do is learn the system and then do it.
1.Open Twitter and do a search for someone with interests similar to yours, who has a much higher profile. If your blog is about social media, for example, you may want to do a search for Seth Godin, Guy Kawasaki, and other popular people who write about social media.
2. Click on the name of one of those people, and you will be able to see their profile. You will also be able to click on a button that shows you who that person’s followers are. Follow those people. Yep, just start hitting the follow button. You can easily follow three hundred people in a couple of minutes. Do that. Follow up to three hundred people. But don’t just do it to build up your own numbers. Of course you want that, but if you are going to succeed as as blogger, it needs to begin with a true desire to connect with those who have similar interests to yours. If you are into social media, chances are good you will be interested in the opinions and views of many people who follow current social media gurus on Twitter.
3. A certain percentage of people you follow will follow you back automatically. You will almost immediately see your follower count begin to increase. This will be exciting!
4. Give people time to follow back. I recommend anywhere from three days to a week. Remember, you want followers who are active on Twitter, so people who don’t check their Twitter accounts at least once a week probably won’t contribute much to the conversation anyway. Make sure you’re not one of those people! Check your Twitter account every day. Post something every day, or at least most days. Which leads to my next point.
5. Be part of the conversation. If you’re not every bit as interested in hearing what others have to say as you are in saying what you want to say, you’re doing this for the wrong reasons. Retweet tweets that impact you. Direct message people you find interesting. Check out some people’s blogs and leave a comment here and there. When someone retweets one of your tweets, reply or direct message them and thank them for it. It’s a two-way conversation. Get involved. Doing this, by the way, has the distinct advantage of making it less likely your account will be flagged and possibly suspended. People who follow massive numbers of people, tweet about their own stuff all the time, and don’t get involved in the conversation look like spammers — and many are.
6. Give the group of people you followed between three and seven days to follow back. Then decide which of those people you may want to unfollow. This is important for two reasons. First, you are only allowed to follow 2000 people. (Complicated, so read here). DO NOT SIMPLY AND IMMEDIATELY UNFOLLOW ALL WHO DO NOT FOLLOW YOU BACK. This shows it was always about you to begin with! If you’re truly interested in good content, you will end up continuing to follow some people who don’t follow you back. [I use ManageFlitter.com to whitelist everyone I follow who doesn’t follow me back yet who I do not wish to unfollow. Out of over 1000 followers, I currently have over 300 people on that whitelist.] But as you realize there are some people who don’t follow back, who don’t tweet often, who are offensive for various reasons, who always tweet in a foreign language, etc., you will probably want to unfollow some/most of them. Second, remember it’s not just followers you want, you want quality followers — people who engage, use Twitter often, care about what you care about, are part of the community, contribute to the conversation, are courteous, etc.
7. Continue this process. Follow a few hundred people (I strongly suggest you not go above a few hundred, and if you are comfortable with fewer, that’s excellent. Keep a low profile.) every day or two who are followers of someone who is popular and/or a recognized authority in the area you’re interested in and blogging about. Give them some time to follow back, engage with your followers, and continue posting content you think they will find interesting. Retweet, reply, react, respond!
8. Mix it up. Find numerous people who have large numbers of followers in the areas you blog about. Don’t just make it about following all the followers of one other person on Twitter.
9. Use tools that can help you do this more efficiently. Though Twitter has recently banned use of some of these tools, they can still be used in ways that are not against the rules and yet will help you greatly as you get going on Twitter.
10. Stick with it. Consistency is key.
After all this you may be asking how you stick with it. It sounds so time-consuming, doesn’t it? I will introduce you in my next post to a few tools that will make it much less time-consuming and much more enjoyable for both you and your followers to engage on Twitter.