There are a lot of different methods for growing a following on Twitter. They range in morality from the purely white hat, completely authentic brand building to the amoral or immoral, gray and black hat techniques. One such popular technique, the follow/unfollow method, has even been covered here before. It’s not a very good method and can get your account suspended for follower churn, unfortunately, so I’m not going to recommend it today.
Instead, I’ve done a lot of research to find techniques, strategies, and tips you can employ to get as many legitimate followers as you can, as fast as you can, without risking the security or the existence of your account.
Before we being, there are three major “tips” that I’m not including here. Here’s what they are and why:
- Filling out your profile completely, writing an awesome bio, and other variation son the theme. I’m not including this one because it’s obvious; if you don’t have a good, fleshed out profile, no one is going to want to follow you. It’s just common sense.
- Post good content. Obviously, you want to post good content, not bad content. No one likes to think their content is bad, so nine times out of ten when I give this tip it’s just glossed over. No one blinks and has that lightbulb moment, “oh hey, my content is terrible!”
- Pay for promoted tweets, trends, or accounts. It’s pretty clear that you can use money to gain followers and engagement on your tweets. This is self-evident and it’s barely even a tip. My goal here is to give you things you can do without having to put money into it.
That said, I’ve put together quite a list, so let’s get started.
Use a Photo, Not a Logo
People engage better when they think they’re talking to a person. Well, everyone knows that there’s generally a person behind the post on Twitter, unless that account is identified as a bot account, like these examples. The point is, accounts naturally get more follows if they represent a person, even if that person is themselves representing a brand.
Unless you’re specifically a brand customer service account or something of the sort, you’ll want to use a picture of your store owner, CEO, or whoever manages marketing. For personal users, just use your own picture.
Mention Your Location
A lot of locations, large and small, will search for themselves on Twitter and will attempt to engage with the people talking about them. I’ve seen it with restaurants, shopping malls, colleges, and even entire towns. When you post about where you are, with or without hashtag, with or without geolocation tagging, you’re broadcasting to anyone in the area where you are. Often, these accounts will attempt to engage with you and may even follow you.
Mention Small Brands in Content and Tweets
One of the number one tips marketers give to small businesses is to engage with people who mentioned them. There are all sorts of articles about social listening, monitoring searches, and generally keeping an eye out for mentions. You can take advantage of this by being the one to engage with the brands, who will then jump on the chance to engage with you. It’s as simple as mentioning them in a tweet when you post about their product. If you’re lucky, you’ll be able to attract some of their audience as well.
Reply to Large Brand Tweets
There’s an interesting phenomenon where replying to the tweets of big brands, generally with something interesting or clever, will get you followers. People seem to browse the replies of these brands, and are liberal with their follows.
I don’t get it, but then, I’m fairly selective with who I follow. Many people are not. Of course, depending on what brand you pick, you may find followers trying to take advantage of your interest. Responding favorably to Disney, with a “wish I could visit the park” sort of tweets, can bring out the travel agents for example.
Make Replies Public
Speaking of replies, when you reply to someone by default the tweet starts with their @username. Any tweet that begins with @ is a reply, and is not made public on your feed or theirs. If you add a . before it, so it’s .@username, it becomes a public tweet and mention instead. This is great for replying when you want the reply to be broadcast, and can draw in more people interested to see where the conversation leads.
Mention Authors when Retweeting Their Content
Whenever you retweet content posted by a brand, check out their blog and see who the actual author of the content is. Usually, the post will be tweeted by the brand account, and the author doesn’t quite get credit for it. If you can find their personal account, tag then in it when you retweet. “Excellent post by @authorname here, really liked it.”
By doing so, you gain the author’s attention and favor. They’re likely going to at least engage with you, if not follow you simply because you recognized them and their work.
Post Your Twitter Handle in Guest Blogging Bios
On the flip side of things, when you’re the author of a post, regardless of where you post it, you should include your personal Twitter account in your author bio section.
It doesn’t matter if you’re on your own site and you already have Twitter engagement buttons; people like to know, and a nice personal link down at the bottom is a great way to get them to follow you.
Post Content About Ongoing Trends
Following the trends is a good way to get more engagement simply because they’re trending. Trending means a lot of people are talking about it, and that means a lot of people are browsing the hashtag feed and checking out, responding to, and engaging with the people posting content to that tag. If you have something interesting, clever, witty, or deep to say about the trend, by all means, do so! People will follow you for how interesting your post is.
Follower Users Posting Similar Content
Twitter is a social network, which means people want to be social. One of the spammier methods of getting followers is to just follow everyone you come across. Some proportion of those people will follow you back. I suggest you don’t do this. Instead, look for people posting content you’re interested in, or content similar to your own.
These people are likely interested in the same things you are, and are going to be more likely to follow you back. Follow them and let them investigate who this is who followed them, and they’ll probably see something they like.
Create and Curate a High Quality List
Lists are often used as private feeds and for ways you can keep tabs on competitors, but you can use them in a more public way as well. I like building a list with a title like “Awesome People” or “Quality Content Sources”, something flattering. When you add people to a list, they’re notified that they’ve been added. They can then explore the list and see that it has a flattering title and that you’re the one managing it. They’ll then check out your profile to see who you are, and ideally will follow you as thanks for adding them to such a list.
Sharing quality content from influential posters on Twitter does two things. First, it gains the attention of the influencer. No matter how large you are on Twitter, you still like to see people sharing your content, so the influencer will check to see who you are. If you share enough of their content and engage with them enough, they’ll probably follow you as a way of saying thanks. The other thing it does is turns your feed into a source of quality curated content, which means other people are going to be attracted to you as a resource. They, too, will follow.
Avoid Talking About Yourself
The more self-absorbed and self-promotional you are, the less interested people are in following you or engaging with you. As Buffer says, it’s the difference between being an informer and a “meformer.” Are you telling people something interesting, or are you just talking about yourself for the ego boost?
Use Authoritative Words to Describe Yourself
Another tip from that Buffer post is to use words that present you as an authority, in your bio and whenever you talk about yourself. However, I’ll add a caveat to it to say that you have to actually be what you claim to be.
No one is really a “guru” and the word is overused by scam artists, but being the “official” something, being the founder of something, being an expert in something, or being the author or creator of something are all good descriptions. They will tend to get you more followers passively than other descriptions. It won’t be noticeable as a jump, but someone else putting in the same effort is likely to perform a little worse than you will.
Schedule for Slow and Steady Updates
Scheduling content is a way to avoid clumping, and it spreads out your engagement over the course of days or weeks rather than all at once. If you have six things you want to say, say two of them and schedule the other four. It’s unlikely that all six of them are immediately relevant. Ideally, you will have a small handful of posts every day, with flexibility to add more if there’s something important going on.
Post Exclusive Content, Offers, and Contests
People love to engage with brands and accounts on Twitter when those accounts have something exclusive to offer. It doesn’t really matter what it is, so long as you’re making it clear that they can only get it from Twitter. It could be a Twitter-based contest, it could be a Twitter offer claim, it could just be backstage images and behind the scenes content, whatever works for you.
Maintain a Positive Outlook
You can stray into negative thoughts on occasion, but the overall sentiment of your Twitter feed should be positive. People tend to engage more with positive posts, and in the case of Twitter, they like to be surrounded by positivity more than they want to be inundated with negativity.
Yes, there are a lot of political trends and current events that are difficult to talk about and stay positive, but that just means you need to steer clear of them unless you can find a way.
Verification on Twitter is one of the best signals of authority you can send. Unfortunately, it’s pretty difficult to actually get verification from the stingy site. You have to fit certain definitions of account type and business, you have to be active, and generally you have to meet certain standards. Though they do not publish minimum follower or tweet counts, they exist for all but the most important figures. If you’re in a position to be verified, pursue it. Don’t sweat it if you can’t get it, though.
Promote Your Twitter Everywhere
Your Twitter account name should be posted pretty much everywhere you have the chance to post it. Your website should have it. Your other social accounts should have it. Your guest blog posts should have it. Your business cards should have it. Your email signature should have it. Your print marketing, radio ads, and any other sort of marketing you do should have it. What I’m saying is that a Twitter account is very easy and very quick to promote, because everyone understands the blue bird and the @. It’s simple to get people to type it in, and if they don’t want to but have a smartphone, a QR code works as well. Put it everywhere to draw in as many people as you can.