When I am training people in how to use Twitter, the question asked most often is “How do you get Twitter followers?” When you are just starting out, you may not know any people that are on Twitter and don’t have any idea of where to start.
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If you have been on Twitter for awhile, you may find that your number of followers has stopped growing and are looking for ways to get new followers. Wrong or right many people see Twitter as a numbers game, so even ‘Power’ Twitter users are often looking for new techniques to increase their numbers of followers too.
Quantity vs. Quality
Before we think about techniques to get more Twitter Followers, it’s important to consider if it is more important for you to get a really high number of followers on Twitter, or is it best to get followers that are specifically interested in the topics that you are interested in. If you are using Twitter for business it’s important to ensure that you are getting followers that are relevant to your topic, so you need to balance out your activities to get numbers versus activities aimed at gaining specific followers in your target market – because some activities to get a massive amount of followers may turn off the targeted followers. So think about why and how you are using Twitter when deciding which techniques are best for you.
Using Black Hat Techniques to Get Twitter Followers
‘Black Hat’ online marketing techniques are those that are considered to be against the terms/guidelines of the online marketing services providers (i.e. Google, Twitter, Facebook, etc.). I do not use black hat techniques and do not recommend that you do because, besides getting your account penalised or disabled, these techniques can put off legitimate followers and make you look bad. I do include some of these tips here, clearly noted as ‘black hat’. You will come across these methods as you go along and it’s important that you know how to spot techniques that may bring you more trouble than benefits.
13 Techniques to Get More Twitter Followers
1. Get followers on Twitter with INTERESTING, RELEVANT CONTENT
What content is going to be interesting and relevant to the people you want to follow you? Figure that out and provide that content on a regular basis and watch your followers grow. Include a mix of types of content: straight messages/comments on relevant topics, links to your own articles, links to other relevant material, images, surveys, etc. – anything that’s going to make you worthy of the desired follow.
Posting content on trending topics may get you a number of followers that are interested in trending topics. As many Twitter users post about general and personal topics as well as those specific to their businesses this could be a way to attract more followers, but they won’t necessarily be interested in your specific topics as well, so balance out this type of post.
Black Hat Tip: ONLY post links to trending topics. Find interesting articles posted by others and repost them as your own without giving credit to the original source. Include only links to your website about such topics and no links from other sources. You may think that this is a good way to show yourself as an authority, but while not ‘illegal’, this will show you up as being limited and not very helpful.
2. Create a PROFILE that will get more followers.
As you will find people to follow using ‘Who to Follow’, people will also find you using this Twitter tool, and search engines, if the information for your profile includes information that is relevant to them.
- Your ‘Picture’ can influence if people read your posts and follow you. I’ve found that using a photograph of me, rather than some icon, has increased my followers and also helps people to identify me when meeting face to face; but this may be down to the services that I provide. A clever cartoon or other icon may be better for you, but it’s best to not change your picture too often as it will confuse people.
- Deciding on your ‘Name’ (whether you use your own name, a business name or a clever phrase) will be based on your overall Twitter strategy, but it’s important to consider if your ‘Name’ will appeal to those you want to follow you. The name you use may also help your profile come up in searches, so consider using keywords.
- ‘Location’ can be important if you want to get followers in your area, or if location is relevant to your posts.
- Include a link to your most relevant site under ‘Web’. If you don’t have a site include a link to another social profile (Facebook Page or LinkedIn) or a Posterous, etc.; but be sure that it has a good amount of information about you. Not including a link or including a link to a page with no relevant information will definitely turn off followers. If you don’t have such a page set up, do it NOW! Consider creating a special page on your site, a Twitter Landing Page, to specifically welcome those that have come from your Twitter profile and move them into appropriate areas of your website.
- ‘Bio’ is the most important element, so write it to attract the right followers and be sure to include ‘keywords’, the words that people will be searching on when looking for relevant followers.
@hankwasiak (http://twitter.com/hankwasiak) has a great Twitter profile: His Picture is interesting and distinctive, including his Emmy awards. He is known offline, so uses his own Name as people may be searching on it and it helps to boost his ‘brand’. He notes in Location that he is based in both New York and Los Angeles and under Web includes a link to his own website for people to get more information on him. His Bio includes who he is, what he does and the kind of information he will be sharing with his followers.
Is the design of your profile page important? If you can have a nicely customised background, that reinforces your brand, it can be a factor to influence people to follow you; but the content you provide in the profile and your posts is much more important. Many influential people on Twitter have nice custom Twitter backgrounds designed for the ‘Old Twitter’ that are now half covered by the main pane of information since “New Twitter” came along, and it doesn’t hurt their number of followers.
Black Hat Tip: Just list a bunch of high traffic keywords for all of the elements of your profile to come up for searches on these. But will it be interesting enough for people to follow? Or, put an image of a sexy girl/boy for your Picture. (Does that actually work for people?!)
3. FOLLOW people that you want to follow you.
It sounds very simple, but many people follow EVERYONE that follows them. Check out Twitter’s “Who to Follow”. See who Twitter suggests that you follow and also search for yourself. Follow those that you want to follow you: prospects, clients, influencers in your industry, media, etc.
Black Hat Tip: For those who are more interested in quantity rather than quality of followers; follow as many people as possible, regardless of who they are or what their interests are. Many will automatically follow you and your numbers will rise. You can then unfollow these. Some will unfollow you as well, but many will not. Twitter has disabled accounts found to do this, so watch the numbers that you follow and unfollow at once.
4. INTERACT with the people you want to follow you.
- ‘Listen’ to what these people have to say and ‘@reply’ to join in the conversation or start your own conversation with them. You then get to know each other and chances are they will follow you.
- ‘ReTweet’ posts by these people, using the old style “RT” so that the user will see that you are retweeting and may then want to follow you.
Black Hat Tip: ReTweet EVERYTHING the people you follow post and they will be very thankful and follow you back and perhaps retweet that you retweeted. Twitter may disable your account if the number of retweets is not balanced by regular posts.
- #FF or #FollowFriday is a common activity where you can suggest people to follow. If you #ff those that you’d like to follow you, it may get their attention and they may feel obligated to follow you (if that’s a good thing). It’s a higher quality #ff if you include in the post why people should follow the user.
Black Hat Tip: #ff all the people you see with a lot of followers, they may follow you or at least retweet your #ff as a thank you. I ignore any #ff that contains a lot of people and double check to see if they are doing loads of #ffs and I don’t acknowledge those.
Good example of a Follow Friday #ff showing why you should follow the user.
- Be gracious and generous. Thank users who follow you with a mention and others will see this and think to follow you as well.
5. Interact with the people that INFLUENCE the people you want to follow you.
- Look at profiles of the people you want to follow you and then see who they follow. If you interact, as noted above, with these ‘influencers’ they may follow you and then their followers may follow you.
- If you get a mention or a ReTweet by an influencer their followers will see that and may follow you. Once you have a bit of a relationship, don’t be shy to ask for a ReTweet. Many influencers like to help newer users, especially if they feel that you are making a good effort to provide good content and be helpful yourself.
- In these interactions with desired followers and influencers be sure to be relevant and watch the tone of your posts so you don’t appear aggressive or needy, which will be a turn off to them and your existing followers.
- Some new users are shy about ‘jumping’ into an existing conversation, but that’s what Twitter is about. Posts are public for all to see, if they wanted it to be private they’d go offline. I sometimes even put, if there’s enough characters left, “sorry for butting in…” or something like that.
Black Hat Tip: Send ‘@replies’ and ‘mentions’ to these people promoting your businesses and services without any context to something they’ve posted. This is spam and can get you blocked by the users and get your account disabled for abuse. As with email and SEO spam, many people get away with it, if only for a short spurt of getting attention; but it won’t bring long term relationships or success.
6. All good things take TIME, including more Twitter Followers
Be on Twitter when your desired followers are online so that you can interact with them in real time. Post regularly so that they will see a good stream of information coming from you; but not so often that your posts take over the stream and cause people to unfollow you. Find the right balance.
7. EXCLUSIVE OFFERS for your Followers
While many people think that special offers are the way to get RTs, statistics show that users are more likely to retweet links to useful and interesting content rather than to special offers. Posting ‘exclusive’ special offers for your followers may increase your numbers, but you may find you get followers only interested in special offers and not in becoming long term relationships.
8. Attract New Followers with TWITTER COMPETITIONS
Twitter competitions, like special offers, may bring more numbers but it’s important to make sure your competition is well organised so that you attract the right kind of followers that will become long term followers and to also avoid conflicts over the running of the competition and how the results are determined.
Black Hat Tip: Run regular competitions that encourage users to retweet a post over and over, or to open multiple accounts to get more chances to win. These techniques are both against Twitter guidelines, so your account may be disabled. Even if the account isn’t disabled, such techniques may show you in a bad light and you will lose good followers.
9. ‘LIVE TWEET’ Events and TV Shows
I heard a report on the radio yesterday that the TV industry now sees Social Media as a big threat because people are on their social media channels while watching and not paying as close attention to the shows. In Ireland, there is a great community on Twitter of people who follow TV shows together and I have found a number of people to follow, and who follow me, during these ‘live tweeting’ sessions. This is true in other regions and for most popular shows you are sure to find a group of people on Twitter interested in following along. The types of shows most suitable to ‘live tweeting’ are live and reality shows like The Apprentice, Academy Awards, sporting events, etc.
‘Live Tweeting’ is a big part of most conferences, webinars and other events (online and offline) these days, particularly those related to the internet and technology. Whether you are attending the conference or following on Twitter, posting about what is being said and/or your reaction to it will be a good way to interact with others interested on Twitter and will get you exposure and followers.
Include the official #hashtag for the ‘live tweeting’ session so that all involved will see your tweets during the session, and after if they do a search.
Even the day after the Eurovision Song Contest was broadcast on television; it is still trending on Twitter – for good and bad reasons.
Black Hat Tip: Post promotional messages using the #hashtag of a “live tweeting” session to ‘piggy back’ on the popularity of the session. Lots of people may see your post, but most will be annoyed by it. You’d be better off ‘meeting’ the people during the session, working on building the relationship, then promoting yourself more gracefully later.
10. Use #HASHTAGS, if relevant and commonly used for your topics
I don’t recommend the technique of tagging EVERYTHING you post. Hashtags will help if the topic itself is not used in your message or, as noted above, you are posting about a specific event that has a designated hashtag. Some industries may have hashtags that are regularly used and then it would be good practice to use the agreed hashtag. I expect that people overuse hashtags in hopes of coming up in searches, but this tends to make messages hard to read and hard to retweet. I recommend you just use the desired word/phrase in your message and it will come up in searches just as well.
#hashtags – helping people find your tweets or a waste of space?
11. TWITTER APPS & DIRECTORIES that will help get more Followers
There are a lot of Twitter Apps out there that claim to get you more followers. Well, they actually help you find followers with similar interests to you or show you who you follow that doesn’t follow you, etc. Whichever ones you do use, only proceed if you feel comfortable with how they use your information, only login with Twitter Auth (which brings you to Twitter to login and then takes you back to the app) so you don’t need to give them your logins and, if they autofollow or send direct messages for you, ensure that you have control as Twitter now restricts the number of automatic actions that can be taken at a time.
- http://friendorfollow.com – shows you who you are following that is not following you.
- http://tweeteffect.com – shows you what tweets caused you to gain or lose followers
- http://wefollow.com – directory of Twitter users tagged by topic
- http://www.tweriod – tells you when your followers are online
- http://klout.com – popular app that measure a user’s influence based on a number of Twitter metrics
- http://refollow.com – an app that helps you manage follows/followers
- http://www.twellow.com – a ‘Yellow Pages’ for Twitter users
- http://twitaholic.com – ranks Twitter users by number of followers and also provides statistics on your followers if you sign up.
- http://twiends.com – find users with similar interests
- http://paper.li – generate a daily or weekly online ‘paper’ showing links posted by the people you follow or a Twitter list you have created. I find that many of the people included really appreciate being included and retweet the link that comes out under my account so it has brought a number of new followers with relevant interests.
- http://tweetpdif.com – compare follows/followers of two or more users
- http://twtrfrnd.com/ – another app to compare follows and followers between two users.
- http://twidiumapp.com – $45 after a 7 day trial for app that will send follow requests to related accounts.
- http://socialnewswatch.com/top-twitter-users/ – top Twitter accounts that will follow you back (from 2009, but still useful if you want to try getting more followers by following a good few that auto follow back.)
Most of these are free apps, some have premium versions, so remember you get what you pay for!
Black Hat Tip: Don’t have time to develop relationships and provide good content to attract followers? Buy more followers!
- Buy followers yourself — either through cash, gifts or donations to charity.
- Buy followers through a third party application like Usocial (100,000 for $3,500)
- Buy an existing account that has a number of followers. This may work for you if the account is related to your business.
If you do buy followers, let us know how it goes. I haven’t read anything about it and haven’t felt the need to try it myself. I’d like to hear some feedback.
12. MENTION your Twitter account EVERYWHERE possible.
- Website(s) using a link to your Twitter profile and a widget to show recent posts.
- Business cards, letterhead and any other printed materials you have
- Email signatures
- Other social networking profiles, most now have facility to connect profiles across networkds
- Online and offline advertising
- Listings for networking groups and other organisations you belong to (clubs, teams, alumni organisations, community groups, etc.)
- Shop window, receipts, packaging
- Tell people when speaking in groups, networking events, etc.
- Include it in any biographical information or profiles with articles published.
13. Get members of your OFFLINE COMMUNITY to join Twitter
I often work with organisations of people and tell them that the power of the group working together will make them a much stronger presence online. If all of the members of the community are on Twitter, promoting themselves and their joint organisations, it will benefit all. Look at the following groups of people as potential new Twitter users and followers:
- Connections on other Social Networks
- Members of offline networking groups you belong to
- Your boss, staff, colleagues, suppliers, etc.
- Members of professional and industry organisations
- People you worked at in previous employment
- People that belong to personal interest groups you are involved in: community associations, sports teams, arts organisations, clubs, charities, etc.
- Family and friends
Your support and examples of using Twitter can influence these people to take the plunge themselves. Okay you probably won’t get 100,000 new followers on Twitter this way, but you can get a solid base of very relevant followers that know you well and will give good referrals for you. Your circle of influence will grow as these people reach out to their community, and so on, and so on, and so on ….
Have you tried any of these 13 Techniques? Do you have any other techniques that have helped you get relevant targeted followers on Twitter? I’d love to hear about your experiences, so please post in the comments below.