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5 Tips to Grow Your Twitter Presence in 2012

Posted By Darren Rowse 8th of May 2008 Featured Posts, Social Media 98

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.

Tweet button

My posts all display a Tweet button

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.

Sharable tweets

Make your tweets resonate with a broad audience

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!

About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.
Comments
  1. #3: I try to converse, with an occasional heated debate on Twitter on tech matters.

    #4: I believe providing value is important. I personally share interesting links, and my own thoughts on Twitter.

    #5: Peak times is a big head-ache for me – I live in India (GMT+5:30). I believe you’re in a fix of that sort too, Darren – being GMT+10:00.

    Initially, I’d followed minimal number of my followers. Now I’m a lot more conversational, having switched from web to Twhirl and engaging in conversations.

  2. I have to say that I have found Twitter very useful and it is a great way to get information and feedback quick.

    I have found a lot of useful tips and tools just by following the tweets or various people on twitter.

    I’m increasing the number of people I follow gradually and have found that my followers are also gradually increasing.

    Best thing to do, is be yourself and provide quality information when you can.

    http://twitter.com/coqui2008

  3. Really useful stuff thanks.

    Increasingly seeing people launching several twitter accounts (as I have done) to ensure they direct their Tweets to the right audience. Finding Twhirl is making this really easy to do.

    Still waiting for the action sports industry to get busy on Twitter – could be a really useful resource for contest updates etc.

  4. Thanks for sharing these tips Darren. I’m currently looking to increase my activity on Twitter, so the timing is more than perfect. I’ve been observing your Twitter activity and I see that you have a very strong and successful strategy.

  5. I noticed it took a while for my own followers to get up over a hundred, but once it did, it seemed like in a month or so it doubled. Dunno what I did, but it must’ve been right. :D

    http://twitter.com/andrea_r

  6. Good post – I’m working on the too little, too much thing at the moment… Both in twitterland and on my Blog… Will get there eventually.

    Thanks,
    Sime.

  7. Ed Dale sent out a tweet that I quoted in a recent blog post (which I linked my name to) that is worth sharing here:

    “Twitter is not getting followers – it’s creating a reason to BE followed. You are in the hands of your market. That’s how it should be.” -Ed Dale

    You are a great example of that advice in action, Darren!

  8. Great tip – I’m using #3 on twitter right now!

    http://twitter.com/davenavarro

  9. Thanks for putting your tips together for us. You have quite a following that instantly translates into “expert.”

    I completely agree with your warning on Tips #2 and #4.

    I added one of the most popular people one day. I’ll leave him nameless here, but it was a HUGE mistake.

    After 15 minutes, I had 22 tweets and no one in my list of 70 had time to get an a word in edgewise or cared to reply to anything.

    Tweet with caution, I say.

  10. Excellent post. Am following you on twitter.
    I’m rather new to twitter as have only been on it for 3 weeks or so..have managed to grow my followers a bit.
    More apt at replying twits then making them.. still have lots to learn from you.
    http://twitter.com/DominiqueGoh

  11. Darren,

    I have been thinking about this topic for a while now. Thank you for posting about this. I am glad to see that you put a point up about providing value.

    Although my online footprint is small, I find that my best activity occurs wthen I post something that helps someone in some way.

  12. I posted a link to my twitter on blogcatalog as well as posted about it on my main blog. Since then I’ve been getting a few followers here and there, but I’m not sure if they are just companies trying to get more fans by adding fans…

    http://twitter.com/starfeeder

  13. I was worried for a moment that this post would say “Make a super-awesome blog, then place a link on it”

    Still, though, making a colorful, highlighted Contact Me page with my Twitter information prominently displayed helped a lot.

  14. I still don’t get the whole twitter thing. I have been all over the internet trying to get a better understanding of what it is all about. I guess I have to get started in it to really have it sink in. I have so many other social accounts, I didn’t want another account to keep up with. But with the flame surrounding twitter right now, it seems to be the hottest thing going.

  15. Great post – I have to agree with your ‘bonus’ post. I haven’t done much to increase my # of followers, but I am closing in on 300. Of course, no where near what you have, but I’m also pretty much an unknown yet! :)

  16. Good advise. Thanks for sharing. Especially the part about too much texting. I’m in the process of dropping some followers right now. I don’t care about people’s stupid rant’s every two seconds.

    Twits are no exeception to the rule: content is king.


    George
    http://www.twitter.com/gesses
    http://www.flickr/photos/gesses
    Facebook: George Esses

  17. So in other words, what you are saying is that we need to market our twitter url so that later we can market our website on twitter? Well if thats not the point, then what is it? Chitchat?

  18. Very interesting about time zones. I find that it’s much easier to find twitter followers in 2008, as most people have an idea what twitter is – compared to 2007 where you had to explain it to everyone.

    http://twitter.com/definetheline

  19. Twitter has other uses than just marketing your website. For example, blog projects or simply getting ideas for new posts.

    Anyway, my biggest tip (or my biggest peeve maybe) is not to post link after link which would be part of #4. If your blogs automatically post on Twitter, try and add other valuable content in between.

  20. i like twitter, but I find that I don’t tweet enough. I’ve got more followers than I thought I would though. No one really responds, maybe you can make a post on getting people to respond?

    http://www.twitter.com/joen05

  21. Hi Darren,

    I have to say that so far I’ve noticed the most adds on days when I’m more active or when I provide information that one of my follows needs. I also see a definite link between my activity on Facebook and adds on Twitter. So there’s another idea.
    twitter.com/cindyszponder

  22. My number of followers has been growing faster on Twitter than anywhere else. I of course benefit from my other networks adding my friends from there.

    But I find the most valuable advice being great value. That is what gets people to notice you, retweet you and recommend you to others. Write something interesting, share love and you will be loved.

    Asking good questions is also a good method of establishing contact. Just like on LinkedIn. Somebody may forward your question to their followers for support.

    Hjörtur

    Oh, and one more thing. Commenting on posts like this one with your twitter account in the signature ;)
    http://twitter.com/hjortur

  23. Hi, Darren! You may want to clarify that a person’s Tweets are only put on the Twitter Public Timeline only if they do NOT checkmark “protect my updates” in their settings. But you also may be making the assumption that in order to grow your Twitter presence and make the most of its functions, to not protect your updates. Do you see any value in protecting updates so you can filter who follows you? Or is the downfall of not being on the Public Timeline not worth the protection?

  24. #1 is definitely the most powerful way to get followers and pretty much goes without saying. If you have 1,000s of blog followers it is easy to convert them to Twitter followers. Unfortunately, most people don’t have this luxury.
    For the rest of us the following three pronged strategy will get you moving in the right direction:

    * Try to get someone on twitter with thousands of followers to reply to you or go back and forth with you a few times. This requires the ability to take rejection, because the Twitter ‘players’, those with many followers, will simply ignore you if they don’t know who you are. (see #1)

    * Look at who the Twitter players are following and start following everyone they are following. You will get you lots of twitter noise, but for every 100 you follow, you will get 3-5 to follow you back. After a few weeks, stop following everyone that is not following you unless they are sharing tweets with value. Rinse and repeat.

    * The rest is just grinding away, saying something of value when you tweet, ask questions, and answer questions.

    You can follow me at: http://twitter.com/John_Lessnau

  25. I really have to work on my timing. I get up at 5am every day, I am sure my heart meds have something to do with it, and I’m pretty much done energy and brain wise by noon.

    It seems that a lot of those I follow are just going to bed when I am getting up.

    I wish I could reset my internal clock somehow to start getting up at maybe 9 or 10am. Then maybe I could even have a bit of a night life again.

  26. I must also admit I don’t really get the whole twitter thing. It does seem popular with bloggers and internet marketers but outside of that circle not many “ordinary” people seem to use it.

    It is the kind of thing I do for a while then forget all about. I really can’t see it getting outside of the internet marketing/blogging group of people. I am not giving up on it completely though.

    http://www.twitter.com/retireyoung

  27. @Mike

    I struggle with the same question, is it more a waste of time than it is worth?

    I think twitter will provide value if you can get a few thousand followers and then do a tweet every time you do a new post to bring more people into your blog.

    I know stock market followers are getting on twitter for “hot stock tips.” I am sure there are other groups coming also getting on the bandwagon.

  28. Good points, i think #’s 3, 4 and 5 are probably the most important. I had a twitter convo going w/ someone who has over 1,000 followers, and 10 minutes later I had 5 new followers! “Peak times” reminds me of the cell phone’s “whenever minutes”, but it makes a big difference. Sending a tweet about your new blog post (for example) at 9:00am (during the week) is likely to be read by more followers than the same tweet sent on Sunday night. There is a method to the maddness, it just takes some time to figure it out.

    http://twitter.com/urbannerd

  29. Nice tips Darren…I am new Twitter..I know it is not waste of time (is used properly) but right now I spend way too much time on it…Its like a kid in a lolly shop…

  30. i’m on twitter but i still dont really feel compelled to contribute much to the conversation there…

    its either use that or spend time commenting and i think bloggers appreciate comments more…

  31. AMYalcin says: 05/08/2008 at 6:05 am

    Thanks for the tips Darren. I’ve been trying to be more active on Twitter so this is very timely!

  32. I’m having fun using Twitter and it’s one social media tool that I don’t focus on as far as “how to grow numbers”. I have some followers and I am also following, but honestly I’m using it to connect and stay accountable – to my health and fitness goals.

    So far it’s working, and I’ve found others who also are interested in the same thing. Well, I also love to follow your tips Darren, and find out about what else is going on in the blogosphere and such (I don’t only tweet about healthy eating and exercise). In fact I wouldn’t have known about Dooce being on the Today Show this morning if I hadn’t been on Twitter – pretty cool, blogging is really in the spotlight, and Twitter gave me that news!

    http://www.twitter.com/jb108

  33. Good advice, and good kick in the pants for me. I’ve been on Twitter for a bit, but mostly in a casual way. I think being more proactive there really will pay off.

    http://twitter.com/simplemom

  34. “If you have 1,000s of blog followers it is easy to convert them to Twitter followers. Unfortunately, most people don’t have this luxury.”

    “I think twitter will provide value if you can get a few thousand followers and then do a tweet every time you do a new post to bring more people into your blog.”

    John raises some excellent points. I do think Twitter has very limited value unless you have thousands of followers, but naturally unless you put in the effort you’ll have no possible chance of reaching those kinds of numbers. In the early days (and as I’ve said on here before), it does feel a little bit like sending text messages out to random numbers, hoping you’ll get a hit.

    Here’s the thing: people who have large numbers of followers on Twitter already had large numbers of followers on their blogs (or websites, or whatever.)

    For everyone else, it’s a long process! And as Mike says above, virtually no ‘ordinary’ people are on Twitter. Nobody I know in real life uses the facility, and neither do about 90 per cent of my online friends. It’s quite a strange phenomenon – it’s hot stuff in a select group, but immediately dismissed as basically useless by everybody else. Or something they’ve never heard of.

    I’m reminded of a fairly recent incident where William Shatner responded to a query about whether the William Shatner on Twitter was actually him, and he said, “I don’t even know what Twitter is. It is not me.” :D

    Link: http://twitter.pbwiki.com/Fakers

    For a blogger, however, to abstain seems to be somewhat self-defeating.

    In conclusion: keep plugging away… ;)

  35. Lynn – great quote. Ed’s on the money

    Sipboy – I was the same – I didn’t see the point until I started using it.

    I should say – Twitter can be a complete waste of time if you don’t use it in a focused way. But then again so can blogging and most other mediums.

    Paula – 300 followers is fantastic if you harness it well. I mean imagine the power of what 300 people can achieve, consider the amount of people that those 300 people collectively know and influence!

    Learn SEO – sometimes it seems like a bit of a vicious circle – but the thing is, the more places you’re engaging the more chance you have of influencing people more deeply, reinforcing your brand, finding a medium that some of your readers prefer to engage in etc.

    I will add that I think the main reason to get people who connect with you else where to add you on Twitter is that it opens up your potential network significantly. Sure connecting with people that you already connect with is a little crazy – but it’s who THEY connect with that is also important.

    Cassie – spot on. If all you are doing is posting your own links to your own blogs you’re going to peeve people off. Gotta mix it up – very wise.

    Joe – I think it’s about asking questions that are relevant to your followers. This is hard when you have a real mix of followers and is one of the reasons I’m glad I used ‘problogger’ as my twitter id. It gives me license to focus a lot of my tweets on the topic of blogging.

    Cindy – great observation on the link with Facebook.

    Meg – good point. I personally don’t see the point in protecting updates unless you’re talking about more personal things or you want to keep your group VERY focused. There is a place for that but it’s not my style.

    John – good points. I was going to put something in about trying to engage twitter users with a lot of followers but decided not to because recently I’ve had one or two followers who have been ‘tweetbaiting’ (or perhaps a better description would be ‘TweetStalking’) me and while it can work – it can also get you in trouble. I’ve been close to publicly calling them out on the tactic because it is so annoying. So tread with care and engage people genuinely and in a way that adds value and you’ll have more success.

    John (2nd comment) – I can see why people think Twitter is a waste of time (and as I said above it can be if you let it be) but I think there are so many potential benefits if you use it well. Personally I get more out of twitter from the interactions than the traffic it drives to my blogs. Sure it does drive a little traffic but for me the real benefit is in what my Twitter followers tell me. For instance – yesterday I asked my followers to answer a question that I was asked in an interview that I was doing for a newspaper. The answers were so amazing that what I was able to respond to the question was so much better than I’d have come up with alone! To me, that is the power of twitter – not the 50 clicks I might get on a link to my latest post. The clicks are a bonus – but just periphery to the real benefits.

    Sheamus – “people who have large numbers of followers on Twitter already had large numbers of followers on their blogs (or websites, or whatever.)”

    While this is true of some on Twitter it’s not of all. There are a few Twitter people that I follow who have done it the other way around. They’ve become almost twitter famous. I saw this in action at SXSW with a few bloggers who had tonnes of people come up to them and say that they knew them from twitter – it was quite amazing to watch.

    You are right though – it’s a long process and even if you have a kick start of having some profile already it can be a long one!

  36. Thank you for these great tips. I will try to be more active on my Twitter account.

  37. “While this is true of some on Twitter it’s not of all. There are a few Twitter people that I follow who have done it the other way around. They’ve become almost twitter famous. I saw this in action at SXSW with a few bloggers who had tonnes of people come up to them and say that they knew them from twitter – it was quite amazing to watch.”

    @ Darren – Yes, you’re quite right. I shouldn’t have made such a generalisation. However, I do think in most cases my point stands. A lot of the Twitter accounts with thousands of followers already had a very popular website to begin with, and that traffic just followed on.

    Even then, however, it’s quite relative. TechCrunch has an RSS readership of some 884,000 (yes, eight hundred and eight-four thousand!), but ‘only’ 16,493 followers on Twitter. That shows to me that Twitter is still a bit of an unknown quantity/of no interest for many people. Even techies! That’s a ratio of only 1.86 per cent!

    If we all applied that to the RSS readership of our own blogs it might give a good working target to aim for, and at the very least ensure you don’t feel too discouraged in these early days. :)

  38. Great tips Darren. I have been using twitter and actually found your blog through it through merkal. It is a very exciting communications device and I think if I adhere to your tips more I can build a bigger following. My twitter account is twitter.com/sogeshirts

  39. I remember even before I had made my first 10 tweets, I was able to get followers simply by following others. Oftentimes, if you follow someone, you will be ‘rewarded’ with a follow in return.

    I wouldn’t get too worried about the followers/following ratio as long as you’re happy with the level of relevant responses you get to your posts. That said, be careful not to follow too many people because you’ll get called out for it.

    Great post, Darren!

  40. Why on earth would you want so many followers? I like to talk with my followers, and I can’t do that if I had that many.

  41. Thanks, this information helped a newbie–a lot. I am still learning how to “jump in” somehow it feels like I am interrupting—and I wonder when a question is asked–are they really twittering to ME?? Guess, it takes time and posts like these.

  42. Great Post. I keep hearing about this twitter and now I think I’m going to go and take some action after reading your post.

    looks interesting and I’d love to test the results.

    Thanks

    Ross Kenny

  43. Thanks you for sharing your twitter tips! I greatly appreciate it. The one thing that is a bit confusing/frustrating for me on twitter is that I may be following someone, but they don’t follow me. I may respond to what they are saying or ask them a question, but they never get it or reply. I have no idea how your followers talk to you on twitter. I do follow you, but don’t know if you would get anything I twittered to you.

  44. So true is the last part of your post. I find that I have to un-follow some people because they are unnatural and over the top, and not in a way I generally want to post up on my own blog. Usually upon further inspection the same thing is happening is their posts. I hope people take to heart the message of passion, but not insanity!

  45. I Tweet about life, new media, and culture @ DC Music Fusion

    http://twitter.com/dcmusicfusion

    Cheers!

  46. What I want to know is, what are the benefits of Twitter?

  47. My addition.Use hot discussions for your future Twitter updates.For example,TechMeme.com can help.

  48. Twitter is outstanding for building traffic and getting readers to your blog. I compared Twitter to being in a band, and handing out a free CD at a show. You may only strike gold with 1 out of every 100 people, but if you that frequently you can quickly grow your readership. I posted an article about it on my blog.

    http://www.manvsblog.com/2008/04/23/using-twitter-to-increase-readers-and-make-friends/

    Scott

  49. Thanks for the info

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