Gone are the days when Grandma would plop you on her knee and whisper wise old sayings in your ear.
“Quality over quantity,” she’d hum as you annihilated a fresh batch of her famous cookies.
“Quality goes for Twitter followers too,” she’d add knowingly.
Okay, fine, she didn’t say the thing about Twitter, but to Gram’s credit, she would have if Twitter was even a thing back then.
Point being, there’s a right way to grow your Twitter followers, and it involves attracting, nurturing, and retaining the right people.
What good are a couple million followers if they’re completely unengaged or irrelevant?
No good. No good at all.
So, how do you grow your Twitter followers in a way that will bolster your business or personal development?
Define or reassess your target audience.
Who do you want to reach on Twitter?
You’ve been movin’ and groovin’ with those audience personas, right?
Remember, the peeps you want on Twitter won’t necessarily be the same ones you’re aiming for on other channels, like Instagram or Facebook.
Let’s say you’re a children’s book author. You might use Instagram to hit up the moms, but leverage Twitter as a direct PR line – it all depends on who’s your best audience in which place.
Your content, brand voice, conversations, and efforts must be laser-focused on your desired audience for each channel.
Of course, we all want to be efficient, but please, please, please don’t fall victim to quick-fix follower-growth scams.
As Grams says, “If it’s too good to be true, it probably is.”
There are loads of companies out there that promise to grow your follower counts from zero to 500 or 1 million or 50 gazillion in a matter of days.
While this may sound like an easy win, it’s kind of the opposite. Oftentimes, these shortcuts fluff up your follower base with fake, irrelevant, and inactive followers – and that means your Twitter analytics will be worth just about bupkis.
If you put the effort in, you can grow your audience the right way – organically!
(In fact, here’s one of our favorite success stories from someone who racked up 20,000 real, live followers in just six months.)
Okay, so you’ve locked in your target audience, and you’ve taken the vow to reach these peeps the right way.
Now, it’s time to get a handle on your Twitter handle.
If you’re just getting going with Twitter, choose or update (no shame in that!) your handle so that it’s intuitive and simple. We chose @MeetEdgar because, well, it’s way more obvious than @#1SocialMediaOctopus.
(Even if the latter IS incredibly accurate.)
That way, when we drop a bunch of knowledge bombs on the Twittersphere, there’s no question as to who gets credit!
Now, get to promotin’ that handle. There are zillions of ways to spread the word, but here are a few suggestions:
- During meetings, networking shindigs, and in-person meet-ups, connect on Twitter like you would on LinkedIn. Remember to engage immediately with your new besties (who doesn’t like a retweet or @-mention?).
- Cross-promote your Twitter presence in a MEANINGFUL way. Embed your tweets in a relevant blog post, or run a contest where you tweet hints or bonus tidbits. If you contribute to other blogs, link to your Twitter profile in your bio or byline. If people like what they see, they’ll seek out additional avenues for exposure to you and all that smart stuff you pump out!
- Adorn your company swag, collateral, presentations, email signatures, business cards, conference name tags, and private space station with your handle. Again, only promote it in ways that work for your audience. (Despite Edgar’s cephalopod roots, only four or five of our followers are actually octopi, so we opted not to invest in branded tentacle warmers.)
- Incorporate follow buttons or widgets in your funnel strategy by adding them to your website and campaign landing pages, like the thank you page for your eBook. (Speaking of eBooks, get your free download of ours: MeetEdgar’s Secret Blogging Formula!)
- Tat it up. Not naming names, but a certain cephalopod swears that he gained thousands of followers by tattooing his Twitter handle on his lower back (might be worth a shot).
Of course, if you’re going to put in the effort to get the word out about your Twitter handle, make sure you’ve got the goods to back it up – so let’s talk about that!
Make your tweets awesome.
It’s simple: tweet about stuff your audience cares about.
Whether blog post, retweet, industry article, poll, or funny video, make sure the content is for THEM, not you.
Of course, your efforts ultimately need to benefit you in the form of sales, sign-ups, awareness, or other business goals. This is the long game, though – so be patient!
Before tweet, tweet, tweeting, ask yourself if your 140 characters are:
- On-topic: People follow you for a reason. Sure, an occasional joke or smoothie rec is fine (and welcome in our book), but stay on-topic for the most part. If you’re a marketing software company, you can’t assume your audience cares about your fantasy football picks.
- On-trend: Don’t go around chasing trend after trend just because. Weigh the relevance. Check out Twitter’s “Trends” section on the lefthand side of your desktop homepage for thought-starters.
- On-brand: From tweets to replies to your profile, maintain a consistent brand voice. Squeeze the most out of 140 characters by adding value AND talkin’ your brand talk.
You’re at the birthplace of the hashtag, so #DoItRight.
Yup, true story. Twitter is the birthplace of the hashtag.
how do you feel about using # (pound) for groups. As in #barcamp [msg]?
— Chris Messina (@chrismessina) August 23, 2007
However, hashtag misuse runs rampant. Here’s a refresher on a few best practices we try to stick with:
- Experiment with your optimal number of hashtags, but keep in mind that two hashtags per Tweet tends to work best.
- Track your hashtags, so you know what’s working or not working. There are tons of tools like Tagboard, Hashtracking, and Union Metrics that make the analytics easy-breezy. (The good ol’ gut check only gets you so far.)
- Balance the use of proprietary (those specific to your company), trending, and content-specific hashtags to target your audience at scale.
- Make hashtags concise and easy to read. Capital letters help with readability, but spaces or punctuation are a no-no.
Tweet up a storm.
Consistency is key. On average, nearly 6,000 tweets are released into the loud and busy world of Twitter every second.
Dang, there must be a lot of tired thumbs out there.
That doesn’t have to be the case for you, though! If you draft your tweets in advance, schedule them, automate delivery, AND recycle tweets again and again, you’ll save yourself time (and a potential thumb sprain).
Wait, send out duplicate tweets?
Yup, you heard right. Twitter is full of skimmers, and the majority of users don’t log on even once per day.
If you don’t recycle your tweets, chances are, they’ll get missed – which is why repeating them has become standard procedure, even for big brands with lots of followers.
Respect the time you spend on your content by making sure people see it! (Hint: Edgar can help with that.)
Okay, you’re no stranger to social media. It should be just that – social. Get out there and engage with like-minded communities and individuals!
Twitter moves fast. It can be tough to connect with everyone in your target audience, so focus on the peeps that are up in the action, involved in the conversation, and engaged!
How do you find these people? Well, we’ve had luck with these approaches:
- Go for the big dogs: Contribute on the regular to big and influential accounts by answering questions and commenting. Sure, they won’t always engage back, BUT their huge pool of followers might.
- And the little dogs: Show smaller companies or prospects a little love too. They may take notice a little more easily, since their community likely doesn’t overload them with engagements. Whether an @-mention, like, comment, or retweet, be sincere and authentic in your engagement. Nobody likes an opportunist!
- Keep the momentum going: Don’t squander any initiated or reciprocated interactions. Take the opportunity to thank people that engage with you, reply to their comments, or repay their retweet with a retweet of your own. Always seize the opportunity to network and start a conversation.
- Get your Twitter chat on: Join or host a Twitter chat where a group assembles to hold a discussion around a specific hashtag on a certain or reoccurring date and time. If your following is small, we recommend getting your feet wet by participating in an existing chat that’s popular with your target audience. After you’ve built up a decent following, try hosting one of your own.
- Set up Twitter Cards: Add a few lines of code to your blog page, so a “Card,” or photo or video, automatically shows up when fans share your content on Twitter, making their tweets and your content more engaging.
We’re all busy. Just remember to prioritize your efforts.
If your audience isn’t on Twitter, why are you spending your time there?
If your audience is on Twitter, commit to it – really commit to it – and find ways to improve your productivity along the way (remember, Edgar is here to help).
Give your audience what they want, and the followers will, well, follow!
How do YOU score more Twitter followers?
How do focus your efforts on audiences that are active?
How do you make your Tweets even more awesome?
What hashtag strategies do you rock?
Share your routine in the comments below!