In the last 4 years, Twitter has quickly become a social media powerhouse. As marketers, it’s impossible to ignore it reach and influence.
Still, some marketers have found growing their following and generating leads from Twitter challenging. This is a pretty common experience when starting out (I’m still going through it!). The challenge is half the fun, right?
What do most people do when faced with a challenge? Look for a short cut! Of course, the short cut for growing your Twitter following is to buy Twitter followers. There are lots of sites out there that offer this service (NONE of which I endorse in any way shape or form). The problem is, the followers that you pay for are low quality accounts mostly consisting of bots, spammers, abandoned and low activity accounts. These accounts most likely wont engage with you, they won’t generate leads, and most certainly will not convert to sales. This is definitely not the way to go. So, we’re back to the daunting task of organically growing our Twitter following.
Increasing your Twitter following may be a struggle, but it doesn’t have to be frustrating. There are lots of methods we can utilize to organically. Below is the step by step approach that I’ve used to gain thousands of followers for clients, and techniques I’m currently employing to grow my own Twitter following.
1. Follow Other Tweeters
Believe it or not, one of the easiest way to gain new followers is to follow other people. A lot of Twitter users out there will follow you back simply because you followed them. Some of them even use automated programs to do this.
To take full advantage of this, you should be selective in who you follow. Target users in your industry or niche, those that are more likely to engage with you. Target users who are more likely to be interested in the content you Tweet about.
The tool I use to target Twitter accounts to follow is Followerwonk. Followerwonk allows you to search Twitter bios for keywords, locations, names, URLs, and more. Here is an example of a search I just ran looking for Twitter users who are interested in SEO in my area.
So get out there and follow other people! Remember to not go overboard and follow too many people at once, as Twitter frowns upon this and may see it as spamming. Spread it out, follow a handful of new people every day.
2. Engage With Potential Followers
The next step, is to actually engage other Tweeters. Reach out to people in your industry and engage them in conversation. Find a blogger in your niche who recently published a post, read it, and comment on it on Twitter. Come up with a compelling question or follow up to the article, and tweet it at the author. You may be surprised at the response you get, and you may get a follower out of it.
The saying “even bad press is good press” is certainly true in some situations, remember that we want to build a Twitter following that is full of the right followers. While you may feel compelled to engage with other users in a controversial manner, you should be striving for a positive response.
Tip: When writing a Tweet that begins with an @username, only Twitter users who follow both you and the person you are tweeting to will see the tweet in their feed. It’s somewhat of a public-private message (if that makes sense). If you want the tweet to be publicly visible, start the tweet with something other than an @ symbol.
3. Use Appropriate Hashtags
If you’ve spent more than five minutes on Twitter, than you’re already familiar with hashtags. Hashtags are used to tie Tweets to keywords that other users can search. Twitter uses hashtags to determine what keywords, topics, and events are trending in the socialsphere.
If we write Tweets with hashtags that are appropriate to our content and our niche, other Twitter users will take notice and begin associating you with those keywords. It’s a great way to get involved in your target niche. A lot of brands will run routine searches for their brand hashtag and will respond to you, even if you didn’t intend them to see the Tweet in the first place.
Remember not to overdo it with hashtags, keep it to a few or less per Tweet, otherwise you may look like you are spamming.
4. Target Champions of Your Industry
Every good marketer knows who the kings and queens of their industry are. What better way to get noticed and gain some traction in your niche than to reach out to the biggest influencers and engage them in a conversation on a public forum? The single biggest one-day follower increase I ever got for a client was by Tweeting a question to a leader in my clients niche, and I managed to stumped them! The Twitter conversation was blasted in front of their hundreds of thousands of followers, and a hoard of them followed my client because of it. This is most likely an atypical case, and not all Twitter “celebrities” will want to answer your questions, so make sure you think about your Tweet or your question, and give them a reason to reply to you.
By reaching our to your industry leaders, you may be able to gain their trust and get them to follow you. Sometimes, this is a tall order, but well worth the benefits if you’re able to do it. Because people trust celebrities and industry leaders, they’ll naturally make the connection that if so-and-so is following whats-his-name, then whats-his-name is definitely worth a follow! See how that works?
5. Tweet During High Traffic Hours
Bitly ran a study on the best time to Tweet, and the data shows pretty much what you would expect.
Twitter gets its most use during work hours in US time-zones. That’s right – most people are Tweeting at work!
In order to maximize the exposure of our Tweets, it really is important to Tweet them at the right times. If your followers don’t see your Tweet, it will be forever buried in their feed of thousands of past tweets, and most of the time it will never be seen again. If your up late and Tweeting at 2 AM EST, chances are the vast majority of your followers (and Twitter users as a whole) will never see your tweet.
The problem is that it’s not always possible to tweet during these peak times. The solution to this problem is using a service like Buffer to schedule your tweets ahead of time, and send them out when you know you have the highest chance of individuals seeing your message. Sometimes waiting for the right time is all that it takes to go viral.
6. Utilize Vine
Vine is the latest and greatest in viral content. In short, Vine is a mobile app used to share 6 second or less videos. The app gives you the built-in option of sharing your Vine on Twitter and Facebook, both of which I strongly suggest doing. Vine makes it incredibly easy to shoot short, interesting videos, you literally just touch the screen to record.
To get the most out of Vine, most people turn to humor. Funny vines get the most attention, the most likes and shares, and the most retweets on Twitter. Because the app gives you the freedom to create whatever you want, it’s incredibly easy to turn everyday situations into hilarious short clips. It’s not out of the question for these Vines to go viral, reaching thousands of Twitter users, and undoubtedly getting you some follows.
Twitter is of course a social network. If you don’t plan on being social, then you won’t get a lot out of it. Twitter accounts that are used solely for self-promotion rarely succeed, while Twitter accounts that actively engage their following are consistently growing their reach and influence.