Twitter is a bona-fide Internet phenomenon, I think we can all agree on that. The micro-blogging service that has taken the world by storm, 140 characters at a time. Because of it's massive reach (646 million user accounts as of January 2014) it is incredibly useful for getting your word across to the world, whether you're selling a product, tweeting content that is close to you or simply voicing your opinion. However, you don't just sign up to Twitter and instantly get your voice heard by nearly 9% of Earth's population. You need to earn the right for your voice to become louder, this is done by gaining followers.
There are a ton of articles out there about this, and a lot of them suggest that you buy followers. This, in my opinion, is stupid. Bought followers provide no interaction, they are a fake number and their only use is to stroke your Twitter account's ego. Their is only one useful thing bought followers can bring to your account, and that is recognition. For example, when you view a Twitter profile, you're more likely to follow one that has 5,000 followers (bought or not, a user viewing your Twitter account doesn't know the difference) than one that has 50 followers. By all means go down this route if you want, but I want to earn my success and loud voice, and not spend a penny on the way. This article will not suggest this, and it will also not suggest following everyone and their dog/mother just to gain followers. I'm focussing on organic, interactive and interested followers, and keeping them engaged after they've initially followed. Whether you want to set up a business account, personal account, parody account, or inspirational quotes account, these tips are all useful for gaining organic Twitter followers.
1. Set Up Your Profile
No-one wants to follow an account with a little egg as an avatar and no description in the profile section. This is the first thing you should do after you have set up your Twitter account. Before a Twitter user follows an account they want to know what they're getting themselves in to, and it doesn't take much to push it one way or the other. People like to put a face to an account, they like it to be personal. This means that, if you're a business account, no using of company logos, get a nice shot of your face in there and let people put a face to your tweets! The same goes with personal accounts. There are a few exceptions to this rule in my opinion, for example parody accounts should have an avatar of the person they are parodying (somewhat obviously), and image and quote accounts are more successful using images of something interesting, motivational or inspirational than a random face. As far as the profile description goes, just keep it concise and to the point, a quick description of what this account brings to the world of Twitter, and maybe a link to your website. An example of my newest account Online Inspiration illustrates this:
"Tweeting quotes and photos to inspire and motivate you. Be happier. Sign up for infobarrel below to share your knowledge and earn some extra income!"
2. Follow The Right Accounts
To get the ball rolling you will have to get your name out there by following some accounts. But it's no use just aimlessly and frantically clicking around the Twitterverse following everyone, find people who would be interested in your content. The best way to do this, in my opinion, is to find accounts that are related to your account and follow them, and then go through their followers and follow some of them. This ensures that you are following people that will be interested in your content, and is the first step to gaining followers that are engaged and interested, which naturally makes them want to retweet and favourite your content.
3. Tweet Often
You will gain no recognition, and won't even be noticed, if you're only tweeting once every 2 weeks. No matter how poetic and brilliant your content is, it will get lost somewhere in the vast 58 million Tweets that are sent every single day. You want to be more active in order to get noticed by your followers. On my accounts, I tend to Tweet at least 10 times a day spaced at fairly regular intervals to get a higher reach. Try not to take it to the extreme either, don't tweet 300 times a day about how much milk you just put in your coffee, that will get you fast tracked straight to the Unfollow button. Now don't worry, you don't have to be on Twitter 12 hours a day to space your Tweets out, there are apps for everything these days. I use an app for my phone called Buffer, which allows you to plan your Tweets out for up to a week in advance (not recommended) and set the times at which it sends the Tweets. You don't even need to be on Twitter to Tweet, there's an app for everything these days! I tend to spend about an hour each day planning out my accounts' Tweets for the day.
This chart shows the response rate between users who Tweets at a different frequency
4. Tweet At The Right Times
Following on from the last tip, another good use of Buffer is that you don't even need to be awake to Tweet. This comes in handy because, as you would expect, there are certain peak times for traffic on Twitter, therefore there are times when your following will be more active and responsive. I have found these times to be from about 1pm through to 7pm Eastern US Time. Unfortunately, I'm not always around then, I get up early for work and live in the United Kingdom, so by the time 5pm comes around in the United States I'm going to bed. If I used Twitter for all of this I would miss out on a lot of Twitter action. If you only Tweet at times that are convenient for you then your content can go unnoticed by a large portion of Twitter users. Another quick note about Buffer, if you're a geek like me there's a cool little analytical feature on it that displays how many retweets, favourites and mentions your Tweets have received, and also their reach of people (e.g. if you have 300 followers and a person with 1,000 followers retweets you, then a person with 5,000 followers retweets that, that Tweet will have a reach of 6,300 people). My record for my new account is about a reach of about 95,000 people, not bad for an account with 350 followers!
5. Content Is Still King
Yes, you need followers to get your content heard, but content was, is, and will always be the king. If you don't have interesting content then even your followers will ignore you. You want content that is engaging and interactive. Don't just Tweet about what you had for breakfast or where you're going for dinner, no-one cares unless you're a celebrity. Tweet about popular, interesting stuff but put a personal twist on it to make it less like a news bulletin. This will make people want to retweet and reply to it and increase your reach, and consequentially, your following. Whether it's a humorous take on something or just your insightful opinion on something you're knowledgeable about, put your own spin on things!
6. Use Hashtags
On Twitter there is a section on trending topics, a certain topic that a lot of people are interested in and tweeting about or searching for. Using these to your advantage increases the amount of users who see your content dramatically. All you need to do is go onto Twitter, go onto the "Discover" section and view the trending topics. For instance, right not the term #snookerworldchampionship is trending right now. If you had a sporty Twitter account you could tweet any updates, or opinions and predictions and end the Tweet with #snookerworldchampionships. This Tweet would then be displayed under that trend and you get instant reach into a massive niche that is interested in what you're tweeting about.
7. Tweet Top Users
On Twitter you can use the "@" function to send a Tweet to any profile on the micro-blogging platform. They don't need to be following you to receive this message. Use this to your advantage by finding Twitter accounts that are related to yours (therefore have the same kind of following) and Tweeting them with questions, interesting insights, and generally content you think they would be interested in. If you find a good account with a large following that is very interactive then you can get retweets and replies from these top users, this extends your contents reach to their whole following and gains you some recognition. Try to avoid doing creepy stuff like tweeting Scarlett Johansson 150 times a day asking what she's wearing, that won't gain you any followers.
8. Develop Your Own Niche
Unless you are a huge celebrity (in which case non of this list is applicable), tweeting about anything and everything has no future. You will have a small mish-mash of followers that will only be interested in a small portion of your content, therefore for each Tweet you will only have a certain percentage of your followers that care. The best way to build an engaged and active following is by tweeting about one thing a lot. For Online Inspiration, I decided to focus on motivational and inspirational quotes and images. I noticed that I took notice of accounts that tweeted this images of our world, and also of accounts tweeting quotes. But there wasn't any accounts that regularly Tweeted both of these things, so I decided to do it. It has a huge following potential, with some Earth photo accounts and quote accounts having upwards of 1 million followers. People who follow this account know exactly what they're getting when they click "Follow", and as such every one of my followers is interested in everything I Tweet. Find your niche and stick to it!
9. Give Back
We don't want to be that guy who is all take and no give. A user is more likely to follow you if they can look at your profile and see that you follow others as well. That you're not just self-interested and not interested in what everyone else has to say. This goes for retweeting as well, a good way to make your followers more engaged and active with you is by retweeting and favouriting their Tweets, and commenting on their questions. This makes them more likely to think of you as a person behind a Twitter account rather than just another number on their follower list.
10. Promote Yourself
Promote your Twitter account through other social media sites. Let your 'following' on Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Google+ and even InfoBarrel know about your Twitter account. You can't expect to gain any recognition if no-one even knows that you're there can you?
Twitter isn't going anywhere, it's here to stay. People like being able to get the gist of a topic in a short two line tweet. This doesn't mean they don't like reading long, in-depth articles on the subject either, but more that they would like a summary. This means Twitter is a great place for promoting all sorts of things, from products to websites to InfoBarrel articles. It is a truly fantastic opportunity for promotion and shouldn't be ignored by anyone. I'm not going to lie and say it's quick and easy to gain a massive amount of followers, but with the right strategy, content, and promotion it is definitely possible. Using it can increase the revenue for your business, your websites, or your articles, not to mention the fact that it can be used as revenue itself once you have a large enough number of followers.
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