Gaining Twitter followers is hard! Then again, gaining followers on any social media site is hard. But let’s stick to Twitter for the purpose of this post, because apparently I’m pretty good at getting Twitter followers (not so much when it comes to other social media sites).
I started my Twitter account for my new blog, Partners in Fire, on November 5. I remember because I used that date as my birthday (that’s not my real birthday!). By November 30th, I had over 400 followers, and I made it my goal to reach 500 Twitter followers by my Twitter Month-aversary. And guess what? I did it!!
How did I gain 500 Twitter followers?
How did I accomplish the difficult task of gaining 500 followers during my first month on Twitter? It actually isn’t that difficult, but it does take a lot of time and effort. Here’s the short-list if you want to get right to it:
1. The Basics
2. Engagement Engagement Engagement!!
3. Like Follows Like
4. Content is King
5. Hash it up
6. Support Groups
1. The Basics
Let’s start with the basics. First, you want an actual profile picture and cover photo. They can be avatars, pictures of pets, pictures of you, whatever. But nobody wants to follow an account that has the general Twitter egg as the main photo. That screams bot to me, and it probably screams bots to many others.
Next, you want to write a bio. Just tell us something about yourself! Followers want to know that you are a real person. I personally don’t like to follow accounts with a lot of emojis in their bio because in my experience, those have been the spammiest accounts. But you do you on that one, my personal opinion isn’t relevant to your brand. Last, it never hurts to put your website in or to have a pinned tweet.
So now that we’ve covered the bare bones basics that you all are already doing anyway, let’s get to the real tricks.
2. Like Follows Like
The best way to get followers when you are brand new is to follow similar accounts. By similar, I mean in size and in content. Let’s take my @partnersinfire Twitter account for example. I’m using this account to promote a financial independence and lifestyle blog. Therefore, I should be following small-time bloggers who are also looking to grow their audiences. I should also be following people who are into related topics: finance, saving money, budgeting, etc.
One tip that I always see on other “how to gain followers” posts is to follow the big shots in your field. I don’t like this advice. When I’m trying to gain followers, I don’t focus on following the giants in my niche. Mr. Money Mustache is one of the most popular financial independence bloggers in the world. He has amazing content, but he also has over 80 thousand Twitter followers. He’s not going to be excited about getting one more; and he probably won’t follow back. In fact, he’s only following about 50 people. It’s better to follow smaller accounts who are in the same boat as you are. Follow people who are just starting out with social media and who are trying to grow. They are much more likely to follow you back, and they will be an integral part of the community that you are engaging with. Their followers list is also a great place to look for new followers.
3. Engagement^3 (that’s engagement times 3!)
In my humble opinion, engaging with other Twitter users is the number one path to growth. By engaging, I mean commenting on their posts. Likes and Retweets are nice, but the person isn’t really going to remember you or acknowledge you if that is all that you do. Who are you going to remember, the person who opens a door for you or the person who tells you that they love your bag? It’s the same concept. If you want other users to notice you, you are going to have to comment on their posts.
What kind of comments should you make? The beauty is that it doesn’t really matter. You can write whatever you think of. I sometimes agree with the original commenter, or write a funny story about how that comment relates to my life. Sometimes I even disagree, but I always do so in a polite and respectful way. The only way to mess this up is to be rude, offensive, dismissive, or generally negative in any way. The point of Twitter (for us anyway) is to be positive, create a brand, and spread a good message. We don’t want to made anyone feel bad. So keep you replies positive, even if you disagree with something.
4. Content is King
We’ve all heard this a billion time when it comes to blogging, but it is true for getting Twitter followers as well. You want to post interesting, engaging things on Twitter that your followers and potential followers will appreciate. This is often a struggle for me because I don’t know what to Tweet about. What should I say? Will people like that? Will I get hate for this Tweet? Has this been said before? Will people actually engage with this? These are all questions that I have asked myself before Tweeting. But it really doesn’t have to be that hard! My Tweets usually fall into six categories.
This is probably the format I use the most. I ask Twitter questions all the time. I ask blogging questions, I ask social media questions, I ask finance questions. I’ll ask any type of question on Twitter. People love to answer questions! And sometimes people follow you because they want to know the answer too. I mix it up between asking a straight up question and running a poll, because as we know in the finance world, diversification is key. It’s important on Twitter too, you don’t want to bore your followers!
Everyone likes to see pretty pictures every now and then. And I’m sure a bunch of research shows that Tweets with pictures tend to get better engagement than Tweets without. So show some pictures! Share a cat or dog picture every now and again, or share a picture of your every-day life. Followers like to know that you are a real person.
Of course, if you are like me and every blogger ever, you are using Twitter to promote yourself. So, some of your original Tweets should be about you! Share your latest blog post, share something positive that happened in your life, share your social media accounts, share your wins (and your losses, Twitter can be incredibly supportive!). But make sure this isn’t the only thing you are doing. We have all seen accounts where all of their posts are self-promoting, and they just look spammy. Nobody is going to want to follow that.
I try to be funny every now and then. I figure if I can get someone to laugh, they may want to follow me. I’m not a comedian (though I laugh at myself a lot) and my blog isn’t a comedy blog, but its always good to keep people engaged with a bit of humor if you can.
I really don’t want to use my Twitter account as a soapbox, but sometimes I think it is important. There are a few issues gaining national attention that are extremely relevant to the blogging community and to our lives in general. I can’t help but to Tweet about them. The best example is the Net Neutrality issue. I’ve been regularly Tweeting about this issue on all of my Twitter accounts, because it is an extremely important thing that affects all of us. It probably also gets me a few followers, which is just bonus.
Another great way to post engaging content is to quote other people’s Tweets. Instead of hitting the easy Retweet button, add your own spin by quoting the Tweet. General Retweets are fine every now and then, especially for important topics, but they don’t add any value. They don’t add content to the conversation. So instead of hitting the Retweet button, quote the tweet and add your own spin. It doesn’t have to be anything profound. You can quote a Tweet and say how much you agree with the original author.
A great thing about using this method is that the original author will receive a notification, and will often engage with your quoted Tweet. They won’t do that with a Retweet. I try to limit simple Retweets to topics that I am incredibly passionate about and supportive thread Retweets (more on that later).
5. Hash it up
You have amazing content that you have written, but how are you going to get people to see it if you don’t have any followers? Twitter has an easy solution to that: hashtags! Hashtags are a great way to get your content seen by other people who share your interests. The important thing is to keep your hashtags relevant. I tweet about Financial Independence a lot, so I use #financialfreedom, #fire, and #finance. But if I’m asking a question about blogging, I won’t use those; I’ll use general blogging hashtags.
People do actually search hashtags. And they engage with you if your tweet is applicable to the hashtag discussion. I know a Twitter user who will use the hottest trending hashtag on every tweet, even if it is totally unrelated. This is not a good way to gain followers.
Searching hashtags is also a great way to find accounts to follow. When I was at a paltry 0 followers, I searched related hashtags that I mentioned earlier to find related accounts to follow. It works both ways!
6. Support Groups
For the most part, fellow bloggers are the most supportive people out there. Find fellow bloggers to follow and engage with, and they generally follow and engage right back. They don’t even have to be in your niche. I joined a “bloggers follow” thread and gained about 30 engaging followers within an hour of joining. These amazing Twitter users run blogs on all sorts of topics, from make-up to lifestyle to travel to living with traumatic injuries. Everyone supports each other and reads each other’s blogs. In addition to gaining a bunch of followers I gained a wealth of information on a huge variety of topics! You can follow the account @bloggerstribe to get a start on finding some supportive bloggers to follow.
Not all groups are equal
Be careful with follow threads though. Very Careful! I made the rookie mistake of thinking that all follow threads would be like the amazing blogger follow thread that I chanced upon. Oh how wrong I was! I joined a regular “follow thread” and it was a huge mistake. It was one of those “follow everyone who Retweets this to gain followers” things. So I Retweeted it and followed everyone else who did. Bad idea. First of all, most of them didn’t follow back, so I didn’t really gain many followers. But the worst thing about it is that my feed was suddenly filled with spammy Retweets of “follow for this” and “gain followers this way”. All of the awesome content that my real Twitter friends were publishing was drowned out. I promptly un-followed everyone who spent their time on Twitter re-Tweeting for followers.
What was the difference between the blog thread and the general one? The blog thread had real people involved who were genuinely trying to grow their brands, their blogs, and their Twitter accounts. They cared about engaging because it was more than just a number, it was themselves. The general “follow thread” was filled with accounts (people or robots, who knows?) that were just trying to gain followers. They didn’t care about having relevant content or engaging with people, they just wanted the largest number of followers possible. To be honest, that’s not the type of account that I want following me anyway. I want people who follow me to be interested in what I have to say and to engage with me.
Get to Twittering!
Growing your Twitter following really isn’t that hard. If you follow similar accounts, engage with other, post awesome content, use relevant hashtags, and join some support groups you will be able to gain at least 500 Twitter followers each month! So what are you waiting for? Get out there and Tweet it up!