Twitter has a stronghold on the blogosphere, yet sometimes, it’s hard to be heard. If you’re struggling to grow your Twitter following, you’re not alone.
I have more than 160,000 followers now, and quite a few readers have asked how I’ve grown my following. Here are my tips.
1. Leverage your other “engagement media” profiles
Do you have an existing online profile somewhere outside of Twitter (big or small)? Use it to springboard into Twitter. If it’s a blog, mention that you’re using Twitter in a post, add Twitter sharing buttons to your home page and individual posts, and link to it from your profile and contact pages.
If you’re on Facebook, use one of the numerous tools or apps available to republish your tweets to Facebook. If you promote your blog on Google+, share your Tweets there. Using Pinterest? Cross-pollinate between those followers and your Twitter followers to maximize the return on the time you’re investing in social media.
It goes without saying that you should add Twitter, along with your other social media account details, to your email signature, business card, and so on. The same applies with any online (or even offline) presence that you have—link to your Twitter page and link to it often.
2. Tweet often—but leave space for engagement
The more active you are on Twitter, the more likely you are to have others find and follow you. However, tweet too frequently and you run the risk of losing followers. I try to stick to one topic at a time and create pauses between them to let others interact.
Striking the right balance takes time and experimentation. Watch who retweets your updates—and which updates they’re sharing—to get a sense of your strongest advocates.
And be sure to engage with those who share your updates and those who respond to you. Thank them, answer their questions, and ask them why they likes that tweet or this post. Consider this engagement part of your ongoing market research for your blog, and your social media strategy.
3. Get talking
The secret to building your follower list is interaction. I get most new followers on those days when I interact with other Twitter users_and over time, that’s grown to a massive number of people.
We call them @ replies but you can, of course, also use the @_name functionality to engage with people you don’t know or follow—and who don’t know or follow you.
Asking questions is perhaps the best way to get conversational on Twitter. Get ten people to answer a question you’ve tweeted and if even just one person retweets one of those ten replies (or your original question), you’ll have gained exposure to whole new rafts of potential followers.
Just as important is to participate in other people’s conversations. Reply to their questions and ideas as much as possible.
The key with Twitter really is shared interests. people will share your tweets with their followers if they think you share a common interest with them, and your tweet is relevant. So, be conversational about topics that will interest others. Be conversational in a way that encourages your followers to reach out to their own networks.
Finally, you might find your first few engagements on Twitter easiest if you’re not talking about yourself—I find I do better when I’m not talking about me! No one likes to hang around with people who just talk about themselves, so get the balance right between talking about yourself and talking about others and other topics of interest.
4. Provide optimal value
Tweeting on a personal level is fun and for many that’s as far as it goes, but if you’re interested in growing your Twitter influence, you need to provide your followers, and potential followers, with value.
It’s the same principle as growing a blog—if you help enhance people’s lives in some way they are more likely to want to track with you, read more of what you have to say, and share your ideas with others.
Make your conversations matter on some level. Sure you can throw in personal tweets and have some fun, but unless you’re providing something useful to people (information, entertainment, news, education, etc.) they probably won’t follow you for long, or share your content with their own networks.
5. Tweet in peak times
Last week I tracked when I had new Twitter followers add me, and found (as I expected) that the frequency of follows where made during business hours in the USA.
Tweeting at the times when your followers are online only increases the chances of their finding and adding you to their lists, and sharing your tweets—timing certainly affects sharing on Facebook, and if you look at your retweet stats, you’ll find it does on this network, too.
My being situated in Australia can have some positives and negatives, but one of the things I don’t enjoy about it is that I miss out on a lot of interaction with my followers who are on the other side of the world. While many social media management apps will let you schedule status updates and tweets, there’s no substitute for in-person, real-time interaction on Twitter.
Bonus tip: tweet from the heart
Don’t worry too much about how you “come across” on Twitter. Just be yourself and tweet form the heart. Don’t stress too much about the numbers—instead, use the platform to connect genuinely with the Twitter followers you already have, and let the rest take care of itself!
Top Twitter Blog Marketing Tips has more Twitter tips.
Oh, and if you’re feeling overwhelmed by the burden of social networks, read my post on how to beat the social media beast!