Someone asked me yesterday how I have built a following of 1,900 in 5 months on Twitter, so I thought I’d write a blog post about it! (thanks @mcescobar1 for the question!) Before I get started, I also wanted to add that I don’t think that the number of followers you have is the only indicator to look at on twitter (# retweets, etc.) but I do think it is an important one.Twitter Counter

Add value

One of the best ways to add value is to find articles, videos or blogs online and tweet about them.  To do this, I subscribe to the RSS feeds for a lot of blogs, and at least once a day, I scan my list and post interesting articles to Twitter.  Another way to add value is just to talk about things that are happening in the world, including what’s on the news, the weather, etc.  I’m starting to get more and more of my news from Twitter, and I have noticed that people find that information valuable.

Be yourself and be transparent

I think being a real person on Twitter is important.  Only reporting on business stuff is boring.  For example, yesterday, I tweeted that I am committed to losing 38 pounds, and every week I’ll report on my weekly loss.  That got a lot of conversation going, and it showed that I am a real person, with real life challenges.  I do think there is a fine balance though… you need some business AND some personal, and you CAN get to a point where it may be TMI (too much information).

Ask questions

I ask a lot of questions.  Much of the time they are questions about something I need help with (i.e. Does anyone know how to compress a photo), and other times they are questions to get people thinking or engaging (i.e. What do you think of auto-DM’s?).  Both methods are effective, and they engage people in a conversation.

Retweet

Retweeting someone else is one of the best forms of flattery on Twitter.  If you retweet someone, they will most likely follow you back if they are not following you already.  In addition, if you found what they tweeted valuable, chances are that someone else will find it valuable.  Again, adding value is important on Twitter.

Don’t be too “salesy”

Twitter is NOT about making a quick sale.  It’s about developing relationships.  Sure, everyone is on here for some reason or another, so you may need to try to sell at some point, but it needs to be subtle or more occasional than frequent.  Instead of frequently saying “I’m looking for a Social Media and Marketing job or consulting work” (although I have done that a few times), I say things like “I just got a great lead on a Social Media consulting project!”  People get the message, but it’s not as hard hitting.  If you are too hard hitting, many people will unfollow you.

TweetstatsTweet!

You need to tweet to get noticed.  Listening to others is important as well, but you need to be tweeting for people to know you!  I probably spend way too much time on Twitter (it’s addictive!).  In February ’09, I tweeted 1,631 times (that’s 54 tweets a day).  You can see clearly from the graph that I’m getting more and more addicted.

Have strong opinions

Having strong opinions was a suggestion from @ghawk, but I agree for the most part.  It’s a way of conversing and again, engaging with people.  Personally, I think some people on Twitter are too opinionated, but it’s every one’s personal preference.

Putting these methods into practice will get people responding to you or retweeting you.  Then the people who follow them will see that they are interacting with you, and will follow you.

By the way, to gather data for this post and see if people who follow me agreed I followed my own advice, I surveyed people on Twitter using Rypple (cool program for quick confidential feedback).  Here’s what they thought… (only 11 people completed the survey so it’s not statistically significant).  I guess I don’t ask as many questions as I thought!

Rypple

What other thoughts do you have?  Why do you think people follow you?  How do you choose who to follow?

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    • Barry Kirk

      Rachel, great post. You are definitely doing all of that which is why I’m a loyal follower of yours on Twitter. Personally, I think “Be yourself” is the most important goal, but also the hardest part of Twitter. For newer users (I count myself in that group as I’ve only been active a few months) the hardest part of this channel is conveying personality. Its easy to tweet cool links, but getting the ‘real you’ across in the process is sometimes challenging. The most successful twitterers seem to have mastered that skill, though.

    • Barry Kirk

      Rachel, great post. You are definitely doing all of that which is why I’m a loyal follower of yours on Twitter. Personally, I think “Be yourself” is the most important goal, but also the hardest part of Twitter. For newer users (I count myself in that group as I’ve only been active a few months) the hardest part of this channel is conveying personality. Its easy to tweet cool links, but getting the ‘real you’ across in the process is sometimes challenging. The most successful twitterers seem to have mastered that skill, though.

    • http://www.thisisherd.com/ Dirk Singer

      Hi Rachel, I think there are some excellent points there, in particular share useful stuff but once in a while remind everyone you are a real person.

      Dirk Singer’s last blog post..More social media fakery

    • http://www.thisisherd.com Dirk Singer

      Hi Rachel, I think there are some excellent points there, in particular share useful stuff but once in a while remind everyone you are a real person.

      Dirk Singer’s last blog post..More social media fakery

    • http://ariwriter.com Ari Herzog

      Transparency is key. Don’t be afraid to be boldly authentic. Be controversial, if you must, but be yourself.

      As someone who reached 1,000 followers during the second week of November (http://twitter.com/ariherzog/status/998353432) and has nearly 5,300 today, I agree with your statements, Rachel. The cliche works: value, value, value.

      Also, depending on your sleeping metabolics, keep in mind that Twitter is used worldwide, so while some tweeps of mine are asleep at 11 p.m., others are arriving at work across the globe. I’ve gotten to know many cool Brits, Israelis, Kiwis, and Australians from what others might call tweeting at abnormal hours.

    • http://ariwriter.com Ari Herzog

      Transparency is key. Don’t be afraid to be boldly authentic. Be controversial, if you must, but be yourself.

      As someone who reached 1,000 followers during the second week of November (http://twitter.com/ariherzog/status/998353432) and has nearly 5,300 today, I agree with your statements, Rachel. The cliche works: value, value, value.

      Also, depending on your sleeping metabolics, keep in mind that Twitter is used worldwide, so while some tweeps of mine are asleep at 11 p.m., others are arriving at work across the globe. I’ve gotten to know many cool Brits, Israelis, Kiwis, and Australians from what others might call tweeting at abnormal hours.

    • http://www.savingtheworld.net/ Mark J. Carter

      Thanks for the post; love the fact that it gets right to the point with advice you can start using the same day.

      It definitely will help me get more active and productive on Twitter!

    • http://www.savingtheworld.net Mark J. Carter

      Thanks for the post; love the fact that it gets right to the point with advice you can start using the same day.

      It definitely will help me get more active and productive on Twitter!

    • Moustache

      uh…. do you still have time left for working ? :P

    • Moustache

      uh…. do you still have time left for working ? :P

    • http://millionchimpanzees.blogspot.com/ James

      I agree for the most part, but having an already recognizable name (such as @timoreilly) probably helps, too. Also, while having strong personal opinions can help, I think it depends on what kind of opinions are expressed. If you are a conservative person for example, it might not be quite as much a “people magnet” as expressing more mainstream moderate or liberal views. JMHO.

    • http://millionchimpanzees.blogspot.com/ James

      I agree for the most part, but having an already recognizable name (such as @timoreilly) probably helps, too. Also, while having strong personal opinions can help, I think it depends on what kind of opinions are expressed. If you are a conservative person for example, it might not be quite as much a “people magnet” as expressing more mainstream moderate or liberal views. JMHO.

    • Anonymous

      What has worked for me is to recognize my actions and interactions on Twitter will change as my comfort level and involvement with Twitter grows/changes.

      When I decided to dedicate myself to understanding Twitter, at the end of December (for my job hunt in media planning integrating social media), I wasn’t Tweeting very often.

      I didn’t know anybody, and since I only followed a few people, my Tweetstream was kind of slow moving & boring.

      The most important thing I did at the start is to find interesting people and follow them! I started following Twitter ‘experts”, journalists, politicians, celebrities, everyone and anyone in advertising (my field). I found that at least 2/3 of the people I follow, just out of politeness or to grow their own, follow me back. If they have interesting conversations or Tweets, I’d RT, comment, ask questions and when comfortable, start chatting with them.

      Now, I’m a little hooked on following interesting people and seeing what’s going on with them in real time (like Demi Moore’s Twitpic shots from the hair & makeup chair before a photo shoot).

      I hit the 2,000 following wall about 3 weeks ago, the point at which you MUST maintain a following/follower ratio of 1.1:1 (you can only follow 10% more than the number following you). So now every time I find someone interesting I want to start following, I have to go back and remove someone else interesting from my Twitterstream. Its a real pain and slows the process of being able to DM someone.

      This is just one of the strategies I use – I also agree with all of Rachel’s strategies in her post.

      In 10 weeks, my Twitter following has grown to 1,400.

    • Debbie Horovitch

      What has worked for me is to recognize my actions and interactions on Twitter will change as my comfort level and involvement with Twitter grows/changes.

      When I decided to dedicate myself to understanding Twitter, at the end of December (for my job hunt in media planning integrating social media), I wasn’t Tweeting very often.

      I didn’t know anybody, and since I only followed a few people, my Tweetstream was kind of slow moving & boring.

      The most important thing I did at the start is to find interesting people and follow them! I started following Twitter ‘experts”, journalists, politicians, celebrities, everyone and anyone in advertising (my field). I found that at least 2/3 of the people I follow, just out of politeness or to grow their own, follow me back. If they have interesting conversations or Tweets, I’d RT, comment, ask questions and when comfortable, start chatting with them.

      Now, I’m a little hooked on following interesting people and seeing what’s going on with them in real time (like Demi Moore’s Twitpic shots from the hair & makeup chair before a photo shoot).

      I hit the 2,000 following wall about 3 weeks ago, the point at which you MUST maintain a following/follower ratio of 1.1:1 (you can only follow 10% more than the number following you). So now every time I find someone interesting I want to start following, I have to go back and remove someone else interesting from my Twitterstream. Its a real pain and slows the process of being able to DM someone.

      This is just one of the strategies I use – I also agree with all of Rachel’s strategies in her post.

      In 10 weeks, my Twitter following has grown to 1,400.

    • http://www.earthconnectionskuranda.com/ Diana

      great advice!

      be yourself!
      be bold!
      be respectful
      be engaging
      be useful
      offer fresh perspectives
      be playful
      be genuine
      be yourself!

      Twitter ID: DianaRusso

    • http://www.earthconnectionskuranda.com Diana

      great advice!

      be yourself!
      be bold!
      be respectful
      be engaging
      be useful
      offer fresh perspectives
      be playful
      be genuine
      be yourself!

      Twitter ID: DianaRusso

    • http://www.thecasualgardener.com/ Shawna Coronado

      Nice post with positive advice. I have over 5,500 followers and got them all within six months.

      I stopped “working” to get followers after about 1,000 people and instead concentrated on content and connecting with other people as genuinely as I can. Building friendships, replying to everyone possible, and showing people that one person can truly make a difference in the world by doing simple every day things all helped this along.

      If I see someone out there I’m interested in, I might follow them, but really I wait for people to find me now and do not aggressively “recruit” – – for me, Twitter has become a relationship building experience and not a numbers game.

      When I adopted that attitude, my presence on Twitter changed and became more rewarding. It makes it easy to gain followers, but more importantly, easy to connect with some wonderful people.

      Take care,

      Shawna Coronado says Get Healthy! Get Green! Get Community! http://www.thecasualgardener.com, The Green Blog – http://www.gardeningnude.com, or The Garden Blog – http://thecasualgardener.blogspot.com

    • http://www.thecasualgardener.com Shawna Coronado

      Nice post with positive advice. I have over 5,500 followers and got them all within six months.

      I stopped “working” to get followers after about 1,000 people and instead concentrated on content and connecting with other people as genuinely as I can. Building friendships, replying to everyone possible, and showing people that one person can truly make a difference in the world by doing simple every day things all helped this along.

      If I see someone out there I’m interested in, I might follow them, but really I wait for people to find me now and do not aggressively “recruit” – – for me, Twitter has become a relationship building experience and not a numbers game.

      When I adopted that attitude, my presence on Twitter changed and became more rewarding. It makes it easy to gain followers, but more importantly, easy to connect with some wonderful people.

      Take care,

      Shawna Coronado says Get Healthy! Get Green! Get Community! http://www.thecasualgardener.com, The Green Blog – http://www.gardeningnude.com, or The Garden Blog – http://thecasualgardener.blogspot.com

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