Last week I hit a milestone on Twitter, reaching 20,000 followers. Plenty of people, myself included, have said that your follower number isn’t as important as it’s made out to be. I think the term ‘follower’ implies that 20,000 people are actively attempting to engage with me. In reality, I would guess it’s only a small fraction, possibly as low as 1%.
But I know many people on Twitter want more followers, so I decided to share what I’ve learned in the last 3 years of using the site:
1 – Be helpful. I use Twitter primarily as a tool to connect with others. As such, I am always looking for ways to share something of value with others. Twitter, most than any other social media tool I use, works amazingly well as a networking tool, and that’s primarily how I use it.
Thing of it this way; what if you were at an offline networking event in a room of 100 potential employers. What if you could show everyone in that room one thing that would make them more productive the next day? At the very least, you would suddenly have 100 potential employers telling each other about what a great guy/gal you were for helping them.
But what’s more powerful than that, you wouldn’t have to go around the room promoting yourself to everyone, they would be telling each other about you.
Sidenote: I swear as I typed that out I switched to Tweetdeck to check my replies, and this one just came in on Twitter:
2 – Connect with people that want to connect with you. I am continually refining and changing how I use Twitter. Currently, I place a premium on following anyone that either RTs or replies to me. Because they are engaging in the type of behavior that I want to ‘reward’. I want to interact and engage with as many people as possible on Twitter, so when people are trying to connect with me, I want to encourage that.
3 – Introduce people of value to your network. One of the things I love to do is meet interesting people and help them connect with the people I already know. One reason is because I am appreciative for this person, and another is that I know my network will value from their insights, so it’s also a way to say ‘thanks’ to my existing network.
4 – Help people get started. I *love* helping people get their feet wet either with Twitter, or blogging, or social media in general. More than once I’ve had someone tell me they were grateful for my trying to help them, that others just ‘told me I was doing it wrong’. We need to remember that we have all been newbies at one time, and if you help someone take their first steps, they will be even more grateful down the road.
5 – Give back to your network. Look for ways to show your network that you appreciate and value them. For me, #blogchat is a good example of this. I try to use #blogchat as a tool to help others become better personal/professional/business bloggers.
6 – Promote others. Complete no-brainer. As I write this post, HootSuite is sending a tweet every 5 mins with links to posts that I picked over the weekend that I thought my network would value. My network is then RTing these posts to THEIR networks, and when I publish this post in a few minutes, it’s probably going to be RTed a few more times by the people that saw me link to their posts, and my network, which is (hopefully) appreciative of the great links I have been sharing with them this morning.
The upshot of all this is obviously, I use Twitter as a way to help others. But there still needs to be a financial gain for me as a consultant, or else this is all a hobby.
Last year I made more income on a yearly basis than I have in my life, and roughly 50% of that income came from sources that I connected with via Twitter. Within the last 12 hours I have received both work and speaking invitations from people via Twitter.
As with most areas of social media, Twitter is a great way to make things happen indirectly. Help others and create something of value for your network, and your network will attempt to return the favor. At least that’s how it’s worked for me.
Those are my tips for getting more followers on Twitter. What’s working for you?
PS: I thought I should clarify the timeline for how I reached 20,000. Simply to make the point that it took me a long time.
As of the fall of 2007, I had about 100 followers. I started really ramping up my Twitter usage in December of 2007, and by March of 2008 I had about 500 followers.
I had almost 7,000 followers by March of 2009, and am at 20K now. I add about 20-50 followers a day, on average.
BTW if you enjoyed this post, please consider subscribing so you can have posts from this blog sent to your reader for free! Or if you would rather have posts emailed to you, please enter your email in the Feedburner email form above. I will never share your email with anyone! Thank you!