Monday, February 1, 2010

8 tips to build more followers on Twitter

Many people have asked me: How do I get more followers for my Twitter account.

I basically ask the following question:

1) What do you generally use twitter for?
2) Why do you want/need more followers?

To use twitter as a tool to keep in contact with online friends, and follow the latest news and get industry information, you do not need a lot of followers. I really depends on who do you want to read and respond to messages you post on Twitter.

For most of the time, conversational tweets are not helpful to others, and updates on your life may not be relevant to people unless you are a noteworthy public figure.

However, if you own a company and would like to talk about your products and engage your customers, getting people to follow you and spreading awareness is important to you. If you want to brand yourself as an expert in the industry and you would like to share knowledge and information in your industry, then getting more followers is great for that.

For Twitter, I feel that a few things work for me to get to more than 10,000 followers on @robin_low. To get followers, firstly think of your target audience, who do you think will be reading your tweets? I have tested with a few different accounts on Twitter, and for @robin_low, it is my personal twitter account. I use it to tweet the happenings that I experience around me. I tweet the most updated blogs I have, and news about the industry and my company. The followers I have are friends, Entrepreneurs and people I meet at Social Media meetups.

I feel that if you have a niche you want to target, a very focused account would be good. @dmediaacademy is my other twitter account that I use to have discussions on Social Media. I re-tweet (RT) other interesting Social Media tweets and interesting articles and I post my blog updates on this twitter account. From time to time, I will discuss with people about their blog posts or respond to comments when they ask me a question on my twitter account. It works, and I have a targeted followers who I could say are interested in Social Media.

Basically to get followers, you have to do the following:

Ask yourself this question: Why would I follow someone on Twitter?
Why do people want to follow me on Twitter?

1) Tweet value:

Most of the time, the answer is: "I would follow people who provide good information" I follow people who tweet things that interest me. If I am interested in the Red Sox, I would search Red Sox on Twitter and find the relevant people who tweet about it and see who is tweeting the right information I want to read about. Of course, a lot of them would be conversational, I just have to find the ones who tweet things I would like to know about and I may follow them.

The reason why @mashable and @guykawasaki are so popular is because they have a lot of good information on Social Media to share.

Constantly sharing good consistent information (of an industry) is a good way to get focused followers of that industry.

2) Re-Tweet (RT)

Dan Zarrella, an award-winning social, search, and viral marketing scientist and author of “The Social Media Marketing Book“ and "The Science of Retweets" has a lot of great information on how to get followers and how to get RT by your followers.

As one of the main purpose of having a lot of followers and getting your message virally spread amongst the Twitter community is the main goal, you probably also need to RT. If you have come across some interesting Tweets on the people you follow, feel free to RT if you think it is relevant to your followers. The author would definitely appreciate your RT, and if you also tweet value, the author may also follow you.

Since it is very time consuming to write blogs all day and tweet about them, the easier way to provide value is by filtering good tweets and RT them to your followers. This is a great mechanism in Twitter that makes Twitter so powerful.

To help in RT, it would be optimal for your message to be "@yourusername_" shorter than 140 characters so your message does not get truncated during the RT.

3) Stop Tweeting about your life.

Most of the people use Twitter to update their friends about their life, however, when you want to get more followers, get more RT, reduce the number of "self-relevant" tweets. If it is a tweet that is only relevant to yourself or your friends, you may want to post it on your Facebook Update. For most of twitter, (I call them nodes) users tend to simply update their personal status, which is fine for connecting with friends, but not relevant to the followers who follow you for industry news and information.

4) Tweet constantly but not excessively

If you want people to follow you, you must have something to say. There is no hard and fast number on the optimum number of tweets you should tweet a day, but I usually find I can get followers after my tweets. (I think some followers find me through Twitter Search on certain keywords) So if you want to gain more followers, you need to tweet more often. I usually have about 5 - 20 tweets a day. Do not tweet out in a blast of tweets. It is fine to respond to messages in short bursts as Twitter uses a filter and when your messages begin with an "@" symbol, only the user you are messaging to and those who follow both of you will get the tweet. Sending too many tweets in a short burst may make you feel like a "spammer"

5) Plan before you tweet

Like an email, when you send a tweet, it goes off instantly. Although there is a delete function, a wrong tweet will often stay in the system for some time, and may show up in someone's new feed until the next refresh. Make sure your message does not exceed 140 characters. you can use and other URL shorteners to shorten URLs, and if you have a lot to say, write it in your blog and tweet about it.

6) Follow relevant people in your industry

To get more tweets to RT, it is a good idea to follow the relevant people on Twitter. I use (and other twitter directories) to search for people in the different industry to see what they tweet about. Simply type in the relevant keywords that describe your industry and you can follow the right people. You can also add yourself in the Twitter directory.

A note on following: When you follow, there is also a chance of people following back. So it is always a good idea to follow people, and your followers as long as they are not spammers or bots, but you need to know more about your following to follower ratio. See following article:
Twitter : Followers and Following

7) Participate in #Followfriday

#followfriday or #ff is an international event that happens every Friday to promote people you follow to your followers. The idea is to think of interesting people you already follow and recommend them to others.

On the first FollowFriday, there were almost two #followfriday tweets per second at its peak.

It is common for people to reciprocate. When you recommend someone on #Followfriday, there is a high chance the user will do so, otherwise you will get their attention and they may follow you.

FollowFriday is successful because of three main factors:

1. It’s easy. It takes little effort to send a tweet, something people do dozens of times a day.

2. It’s participatory. You don’t need to be part of the “Twitterati” to participate. You can suggest one person or 100 people. You can get endorsements from one person or a hundred people.

3. It’s karmic and it feels good. It’s a great feeling to simply say, “I think this person is great. You should follow them.”

How to do a #Followfriday.

There are 2 ways.

1) A very common way is to list a list of interesting Tweeps to follow and add #Followfriday or #FF hashtag

E.g. #FollowFriday Follow these interesting tweeps @greenyarnllc @sgbrands @sgtweetup @8gen @reviewsguru @robin_low @dmediaacademy

2) You can do a personal #Followfriday, and it adds more impact and you will get attention from the user you recommend.

E.g. #Followfriday @oliverschmid - He is a great user, full of humorous tweets and information on Social Media.

8) Use of #Hashtags

A #Hashtag is a word with a preceding "#" Hashtags are a community-driven convention for adding additional context and metadata to your tweets. It can be used to display locality, e.g. #Boston or #NewYork or it can be used for an event, e.g. #TCon2010

#Hashtags can also be used as part of the sentence for context. e.g. The #RedSox must win the last 2 games to become the ALCS Champions again!

As #Hashtags are searchable tag that is used in Twitter to search on a topic. Any tweet with the #hashtag will be returned when the #hashtag is clicked on.

E.g. A #bumfondle is a mark of love, respect, friendship and brotherhood. Give one today!

When you click on the tag #Bumfondle, all other tweets with the #hashtag is displayed.

So when you tweet with a #hashtag, you may also gain visibility as people may come across your tweet through the #hashtag used.

-- Robin Low

Related Blog: Twitter Tips (Use of CAPS)

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