1. Basics – Tools and Techniques
The basics will be broken down into five sections:
- Following people
- Joining Conversations
Before you do anything to try to grow your following, you need to have a Twitter account that’s worth following.
That means that when someone sees you pop up in their feed they’re interested in learning more about you and can clearly see why they should follow you.
This breaks down into three areas: Content, Bio, and Pictures.
You have to create a unique voice on Twitter. I bet you don’t like following people who sound like robots, so you can’t sound like one either. Your word choice, the content you share, the people you retweet, it should all fit the voice of you and your Twitter account. If you like to swear, swear! Don’t feel like you have to follow any arbitrary rules about what to post aside from being yourself.
Some parts of the content to make sure you’re keeping consistent:
- People you retweet
- Articles you tweet
- Quotes you tweet
- Personal anecdotes you tweet
The first thing that someone will look at when you show up in their feed, on their followers list, or elsewhere is your bio. You only get 160 characters to tell the world who you are, so make them count! Don’t do a boring list like: “Entrepreneur, growth hacker, writer, marketer, lover of technology.” It sounds generic and boring.
Here’s Justin’s Twitter bio:
Co-author of Traction Book, the guide to getting startup traction. http://tractionbook.com.
It’s clear, to the point, and highlights the thing that he’s most likely going to be discussing on Twitter (since a lot of his followers came from the book). Make sure that you have a similarly clear Twitter bio that focuses on a couple of the most important things about you, while making you seem interesting and inviting.
Feel free to add a couple hashtags, but don’t over-do it. Hashtag soup is a big turn off, and people will assume you’re going to spam them with articles they don’t care about.
Last, make sure that you have a location (people sometimes look for others in their area) and a URL. If you don’t have a personal site, you could put your LinkedIn or a link to your profile on a company page.
Last but not least, have a nice profile picture and header that show a bit of your personality. Keep it fun, and don’t make it overly promotional. If you’re using Twitter for a company, then you should have the logo and a header that represents them. Feel free to use one CTA in the header, but don’t make it sound spammy, or it will turn people off.
Alright, now that you have a great Twitter account, let’s build some followers for it.
1.2 Following People
Assuming you’re not a celebrity, published author, journalist, etc. you’re not going to have a ton of exposure where people will naturally want to follow you. That means that to build your following, you have to get in front of people and pique their interest. The most reliable way to do that is to follow people.
Anywhere from 10-50% of people will follow you back if you follow them. A small portion of them will be using auto-follow-back programs, but a lot of them will just follow you back because you seem interesting, and you followed them.
But you don’t want to follow randomly! You should only be following people who would be good candidates for being interested in your content, and who would be most likely to follow you back. The best way to do this is to try to “steal” other people’s followers. Here’s how it works:
- Go through your followers, find people who write about similar things as you and who have a lot of followers
- Go to their page
- Start following their followers in the hopes that they’ll follow you back
But doing it manually kind of sucks. Instead, check out Tweepi and Manage Flitter which both offer services to make it very quick and easy to follow a lot of people at once, and to target who you’re following. For example, with the paid version of Tweepi, you can pick a user who’s followers you want to follow, and then add filters like:
- Only people who are following more people than they’re being followed (these people will be more likely to follow back)
- Only people who’ve tweeted in the last few days (no inactive accounts)
- Only people who have at least 50 followers (less chance of spammers / totally new accounts)
- Only people who I haven’t followed / unfollowed before
- And so on
The other important step is to unfollow those who don’t follow you back. You won’t have a 100% success rate, so it’s important to prune the people who don’t reciprocate. Tweepi and Manage Flitter can do this for you, and we’ll give you some code to automatically do it later. Or you could do it manually… but that’s no fun.
Don’t get too eager with your following! For more active, established accounts, Twitter will let you follow up to 1000 people a day. For a brand new account, you shouldn’t do more than 100, and you may never want to go much above 200 to be totally safe. Twitter does give you one warning though, so if you want to see how far you can push it go right ahead!
1.3 Favoriting Tweets
Before we explain this, go to Twitter and tweet something like:
Here’s what happened when I posted that:
Those 18 favorites showed up in less than 5 minutes–that’s an absurd engagement considering none of these people follow me.
Sadly it’s not engagement. All of these accounts are using auto-favoriting scripts or programs to find people tweeting about certain topics, and then favorite their tweets to hopefully get them to follow them.
Depending on your industry, this is a very effective tactic. It’s good in an area less inundated with “social media gurus” (for example, fine tea curation is probably low-competition) but it’s bad in the case above where everyone and their mother is running an auto-favoriting script. I’d say avoid doing it for things like social media, growth hacking, startups, and anything tangential to those.
Even though it’s not quite as effective as following people, it is nice because it doesn’t require you to inflate your following number. That would be desirable if you don’t want to look like you have an artificially high follower count just from doing follow / follow back.
Again, you could do it manually, but tools are better and we’ll show you how to write code for it later. In this case you want to use a tool like Twitfox. They’ll let you pick certain keywords to track, and then they’ll go out and favorite tweets related to those topics for you.
Try it for a bit, see how it converts, change your keywords around, and go from there!
1.4 Joining Conversations
Another way to gain exposure is to join conversations on Twitter. These conversations revolve around a certain hashtag, and if you look at a company’s Twitter page you can usually figure out pretty quickly if they do a regular Twitter chat.
Although you won’t get as many followers from Twitter chats, you will get your name out in the field and you might be followed by some high influence people. If you’re followed by someone with influence, they’re a great candidate for “stealing” followers from (a la 1.2) since when you follow their followers, their followers will see that the influencer they’re following follows you and assume that means you’re important and an influencer yourself.
There are also some conversations that aren’t hosted by companies but that come up organically. Search for certain hashtags related to your industry and see what comes up!
Those three things will be the main way you get discovered, but if you want to keep your followers, you have to not only have good content but well timed content.
First, go to Tweriod, sign in with Twitter, and see when your followers are most active.
Then, take that schedule, go to Buffer, and set your tweets to go out during those high-activity times.
Now so long as you post your tweets through Buffer you’re guaranteed that they’re hitting your audience when they’re most active!
Alright, so that’s the basics. Now let’s cover how you can do some programming and do all of this on your own (and for free!)