How to Increase Your Twitter Followers

“AJ, how the hell do you have 2,500 Twitter followers?”

This, from my friend who has a much more active and interesting Twitter feed than I do, but who only has 500 tweeps right now.

Without further ado, here’s my

4 Easy Steps to Increase Your Twitter Followers

  1. Find a Big Name in the Twitter space you want to move into. For instance, if you want to connect with people around meditation and self-help, maybe use @AniPemaChodron as your starting point.
  2. Follow the Big Name’s followers. A lot of those people will follow you back. Some will even engage with you.
  3. Send new followers a personalized DM thanking them. It helps to solidify your relationship a little and demonstrate that you’re not just looking for “numbers to monetize.”
  4. Every so often, remove people who haven’t followed you back.

A Big Fat “But”

Before I go on, there’s a caveat about all this work: I’m not convinced about the value of the audience we build following this method. Yeah, we can get a bunch of people following us online. But are they the right kind of people? Will they engage in a meaningful way around the issues we’re interested in? Do they want to hear what we have to say, and vice-versa?

Maybe this is something of a numbers game: Get enough followers, and the cream will rise. For now, this feels like a question without an answer; I need more time with my audience to get a better handle on it.

Twitter Growth Pro Tips

  1. You can do this stuff straight from the Twitter interface. Using a specialized tool helps speed this process immensely. The one I like the most is audiense.com. Yes, it’s a paid tool. No, I don’t get any kickbacks. Here’s why I use it:
    • I can create filters to apply to audience segments. For instance, my current fav finds people who have at least 1,500 followers, have sent out at least one tweet in the last month, but not more than 20 per day, and who have an followers/following ratio that suggests they’re likely to follow me back. Sounds like a pretty damn good starting point, right?
    • It’s easy to follow/unfollow a bunch of people quickly. It’s not batch operations (Twitter doesn’t seem to allow that), but it’s as easy as I’ve seen.
    • It gives me a bunch of different ways to visualize my Twitter audience and understand the numbers I’m seeing.
  2. Be choosy about who you follow.
    • Are people in a different country or who are half-way around the world going to help you meet your Twitter goals? Maybe; maybe not.
    • Try to follow actual people and not companies, spammers, robots, etc. Just pay attention to people’s bios, and it’ll be pretty clear.
    • Don’t follow “eggs.” These are Twitter accounts that don’t have a profile pic associated with them. Most of the time, that’s a really clear indication of a spam/robot account.
  3. I think the personalized DM is a huge thing. It really makes you stand out as a human who’s interested in the other person as a fellow human, not just a mark with a wallet. I can’t stress enough how this can help you stand out as someone people will want to continue to follow. Of the last 500 people I’ve followed, guess how many sent me a personal DM? Go on, guess. None. Not one. Do you want to stand out? This is a great way to do it.
  4. Clean up the cruft. Once you get close to following 2,000 people, Twitter starts limiting you. It has a sort-of-closely-guarded formula for determining an acceptable following/followers ratio. If you don’t have enough followers, you’ll be blocked from following anyone else. This is where removing people who haven’t followed you back, who are inactive, who don’t add value to the conversation comes into play. Think of your Twitter account like an apple tree: getting good fruit requires regular pruning.
  5. Outsource this work as much as possible. Once you figure out your own version of the workflow, this becomes something to essentially grind through. Pay someone else to do it. I pay my VA $0.11/DM for making personalized replies to new followers. (And yeah, I realize that a “personal” DM from my VA who just plugs your name into a template isn’t much better than a robo-DM, it is better.)

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