In my prior post, A Newbie’s Take on Twitter, I explained five benefits of Twitter from my perspective as an author. Now, I’d like to share what I’ve learned about beginning to build a Twitter following.
In the past month and a half, my Twitter following has grown from virtually nothing to well over 2,000 followers. If you’re not familiar with Twitter that may sound like a lot of followers, but it isn’t. Every Twitter follower—and each of his or her followers—ideally are people who need to hear what you have to share. They may even be a future customer. Having a large targeted following can only help spread your message.
From my concentrated crash course, here is what seems to be working to increase my Twitter following:
1. Create an authentic, appealing, and non-offensive profile.
Before snatching followers from the Twittersphere, you must establish a credible presence. Design a profile that warmly and concisely communicates who you are and gives others a flavor for your “brand” (i.e., what you represent, your cause, your style, whatever is important for you to share to enhance the lives of others).
Start with a good head shot that allows people to see your eyes and face, the window to your soul. Add an engaging wall photo that reflects your passions. For the written portion of your profile, use succinct verbiage that describes who you are and what you’re about. Include your interests as well as your vocations. It’s appropriate to let others know what do you stand for, but avoid any abrasive or blunt commentary. Providing your general location adds credibility. Lastly, a link to an external website will help people investigate you further if they want to.
The tweets you share with followers will help strengthen your brand if they are consistent with your profile. Twitter also allows you to pin one of your Tweets at the top of your feed. Select a Tweet that reinforces who you are and what you represent. Don’t leave people guessing. Tweet original content that brings value to others and periodically retweet content from others that is consistent with your brand.
2. To have a friend, you need to be a friend.
Take the initiative to follow other users. Show a genuine interest in them by liking or sharing their content or by messaging them directly.
When someone follows you first, consider following him or her back. Look at profiles and tweets to determine which users you should follow.
While the number of followers you gain is important, their quality is too. You don’t want to follow just anyone, but rather people who share your interests and can be mutually supportive or who can benefit from what you offer, since you want them to follow you back.
3. Use tools to expedite the Twitter following process.
Software such as Tweepi and Crowdfire act as filters. They will give you a dashboard view of people who follow you, those you follow, and other users you could follow, and will allow you to more quickly follow and “unfollow” other accounts. You can also run keyword searches to look for people who might be interested in your content. For example, as a bicycle tourist with inspirational content, I ran searches on “cyclist,” “adventure,” “seeker,” and various forms of “God.” Then, I read the profiles of the matches and followed some of them.
Consider the suggestions Twitter either emails to you or posts in the sidebar. Once you’ve established a pattern of who you like to follow, Twitter will provide suggestions that in most cases line up well with your interests.
Twitter’s real cost is denominated in time, not in dollars. Be prepared to carve out some of your day as you ramp up your Twitter following. You will be choosing people one by one, and it’s time consuming. However, where else can you quickly find people who can benefit from what you have to share, and handpick them? Everyone’s profile is an advertisement. You’ll be reading many of those “ads” if you want to develop a relevant group of followers. Eventually, as you gain traction, followers will find you!