Out of all the social media sites we manage for our clients, probably none confounds them more than Twitter. We’ve already written more extensive tutorials about “who to follow” on Twitter, along with info on frequency and types of content to tweet, so we’re not going to get into that here.
What I want to discuss specifically is how to grow your Twitter followers and also how to easily monitor who your new followers and unfollowers are.
QUALITY vs QUANTITY
First, let me say that having a gazillion followers on Twitter may be good for your ego and your Klout score but as is the case with many Key Performance Indicators, I personally prefer quality over quantity. Let me also say, that in terms of this discussion, my use of Twitter is 95% about BUSINESS, and not personal use (which is fine, but that’s another story entirely).
I describe “Quality” Twitter followers as having these characteristics:
- Fully filled out profiles (I have never and will never follow an “egg”)
- Published in English
- Relevant to my interests and my area of expertise
- Have at least 1,000 followers of their own
- Are responsive
- Practice engagements (retweets, favorites, replies)
REAL TWITTER FOLLOWERS vs FAKE FOLLOWERS
Not a day goes by without someone on Twitter who follows me in the hopes of me following them back with an offer to grow my Twitter list by 10,000 followers for $5 or something absurd like that. What makes it doubly absurd and revealing is that they, themselves, have only a hand full of followers. #fail!
That’s clue number one, that they are probably not even a real person but some spammy company selling Twitter followers, who themselves are probably not even real.
After being on Twitter since 2009 I guess I can just tell if an account is real or not. One way you can tell about your own followers is to use this free, handy, dandy tool called Twitter Audit. Here are my own results:
Fake followers are a waste of time so they are to be avoided for obvious reasons. I would rather have 2,000 engaged, responsive, real followers than 20,000 bogus, non-active subscribers.
HOW TO GROW YOUR TWITTER FOLLOWERS
While there are MANY ways to grow your Twitter followers organically and authentically, one of the major ways to do it is to engage your followers by replying to their tweets, retweeting their tweets and tagging them in your tweets with their Twitter handle. For example, our Twitter handle is @samsonmedia so whenever someone on Twitter uses that in a Tweet we are notified within the NOTIFICATION area of our Twitter account:
— InvestmentPal (@InvestmentPal) June 2, 2015
So you can see that “InvestmentPal” tagged us and three other people, thanking us for retweeting (RT) or favoriting their tweets. This is obviously a real, live entity on the other end since the ability to engage on Twitter like this can not be automated. At least not yet.The number 1 way to grow your Twitter followers is to engage with other people on Twitter. Click To Tweet
By tagging us in the tweet (or retweeting or favoriting my tweet) we were alerted that we were tagged which makes me more likely that I will at least look at their Twitter account where I have a 50-50 chance of reciprocating. So the number 1 way to grow your Twitter followers is to engage with other people on Twitter. Only tweeting a one way conversation will win you limited new followers. It’s all about engagement.Only tweeting a one way conversation will win you limited new followers. It's all about engagement. Click To Tweet
FOLLOW ME FOLLOW YOU
For some people, the unspoken assumptions in the Twitterverse are, if I follow you, you follow me. I do NOT subscribe to that protocol. If somebody follows me I will LOOK at their Twitter account to decide if I want to follow them back (refer to my criteria in the list above). But what I have discovered is that by ACKNOWLEDGING each follow that I decide to follow back has grown my followers by over 400 people in less than a month. People love being recognized and credited. So I’ve found a great, free, tool that helps me keep track of unfollowers and followers alike and also lets me communicate with them directly. It’s called “Who.unfollowed.me.” Who.unfollowed.me is free service (they also have a premium version) that shows me who has followed me and who has unfollowed me. But it’s real value is in seeing who followed me, and if I decide to follow them back using my own criteria (listed above) I can tweet that fact right from the tool, thanking then for following me, tagging them and tweeting it out right from the tool:
USER TIP: When using this tool, make sure you are logged into your Twitter account in a separate tab on your browser so the app can connect with your Twitter account.
Granted, you may not want to clutter up your Twitter feed with nothing but thank you tweets so I sprinkle a batch of these in with my more informational tweets during less popular time periods (evenings, weekends, non-9-5 hours), and the results have been enormous. Again, I try to be strategic who I follow back but if you want to see another version of this tactic that pushes engagement, check out John Sparks:
This account takes the Twitter engagement strategy to an extreme by asking people what I consider worthless questions like “what did you eat today” and in the scintillating post above, “What are you doing today?” in which we learn one tweeter is doing their laundry. But the guy has a QUARTER MILLION FOLLOWERS! Obviously, people respond to that type of engagement. I just prefer to build my engagement around business topics that reflect our expertise and interests such as website design, SEO, content marketing and related topics.
The key is to engage around YOUR subject area and YOUR area of expertise.
Is this whole process time consuming? To some degree, yes. Sorry. But some things worth doing (if you consider this worth while) actually take time and effort. And if you don’t believe that, I know someone who’ll sell you 20,000 followers for $5!