Twitter 6x6
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Some people, as well as services like Klout, partially measure your influence by the number of people following you on Twitter. More Twitter followers can also mean more readers of your blog, and more opportunities to spread your message. So how do you increase your number of followers? Here are 11 Tips for increasing your Twitter followers.

Before I start, however, let me say a word about quality versus quantity. There are techniques, some that violate Twitter’s terms of service, some that don’t, that are aimed at generating large numbers of followers, regardless of whether they’re relevant to the content of your blog or the themes of your tweets. You can also pay for users. I avoid these techniques, and I don’t pay for users. It may take me longer to build up to thousands of users, but the end result is a more engaged audience.  And for me, that’s the whole point of adding Twitter followers.

Tip 1 – Polish Your Twitter Profile

Visitors make a very quick judgement when they see your profile for the first time. Make sure that your picture is inviting, interesting, welcoming. In general, I think a personal picture is better than an icon (or a picture of your pet), but for some people, the right cartoon or other image works. The next most important piece is your bio – make sure that your description is interesting and unique, and include the most important key words that people might search to find people like you. Also include your location and your web site or blog. Lastly, I recommend a custom background. Here’s a good article on how to create a custom background.

Tip 2 – Have Something to Say

Just as with your blog, people follow people who have something unique and interesting to say. If most of your tweets announce the latest badge you earned on FourSquare, you’re unlikely to attract or retain followers. Some tweeters tend to use Twitter as email – sending what would normally be private messages via the @ command to all of their followers. If you want to send a private message, learn how to send direct messages in Twitter.

Tip 3 – Take Curation Seriously

I have a few themes to my tweets: agile marketing, lean startup, sales, startups in general. If I retweet something, I always read the article, and I try to tweet things that I think my audience will find genuinely useful. I read 10, 20 sometimes even 30 articles before I send one out. I also try to avoid sending stuff that is already popular; I’d rather discover new information for my audience.

Tip 4 – Be Consistent

I have a timer on my desk, set for twenty minutes. I try to spend twenty minutes every morning, and sometimes twenty minutes at night, on Twitter. This time is mostly to read my Twitter stream, and to re-tweet stuff I find interesting. If I’m trying to build up my followers, I may need to spend another twenty minutes in the morning. I generally send out 2-4 tweets per day, every day but Saturday.

Tip 5 – Measure

I have a spreadsheet that I use to measure many different things, but for Twitter I measure the number of tweets I’ve sent out each month, the number of followers I’ve added, and the number of mentions. There are a number of sites that provide twitter metrics. My favorites are TweetStats, TwitterCounter and TweetReach.

Tip 6 – Find People with Like Interests

OK, this is the heart of how to increase your number of followers. The general principle is that many people who you follow will follow you back, particularly if they don’t yet have a huge Twitter following, and your profile seems to match their interests. Start with Twitter’s Who to Follow tab, at the top of your Twitter page. Decide that you’re going to follow a certain number of people a day for five days. Depending on your ambition, this could be 10 people, it could be 200 (I don’t recommend following more than 200 new people a day, or Twitter may suspend your account). After a week has passed, you may want to stop following people who are not following you back. The general principle is that you don’t want to get too out of balance – it’s fine to have 10-20% more Friends than followers, but once you get too out of balance, Twitter tends to think you’re trying to game the system.

You can also use services like Listorious to find people with like interests. Both of these services tend to list people who already have lots of followers, who tend not to follow you back. Another technique is to search for tweets using a hash tag relative to your interests, and follow people who tweet about that hashtag. You can also look at the people you’d like to follow you, and see who they follow. There are tools like TweetAdder that will automate this process for you.

Tip 7 – Follow Back Those Who Follow You

Unless someone is obviously a spammer, I follow them back. Hey, if I want people to follow me, I need to return the courtesy.

Tip 8 – Interact With People

Thank them when they retweet your tweets. Thank people for a shout-out. Mention them (with @their name) when appropriate. Direct message those who follow you.

Tip 9 – Encourage People Off-Line to Link with You

Add a link to your Twitter page in your email autosignature. Add it to your business card. When you meet people, if appropriate, encourage them to follow you on Twitter.

Tip 10 – Participate in a Few TweetChats and Tweetups

A TweetChat is a live discussion around a particular topic (#hashtag). You can use tools like TweetChat to participate, or you can use tools like HootSuite.  Twitter maintains a Twitter chat schedule.  A TweetUp is a chance for your to meet your followers in person.  TwtVite allows you to organize your own tweetup.

Tip 11 – Run A Competition

You can run a competition with a prize, and require people to Pay with a Tweet as part of the competition.  You can also ask them to follow you, although of course they could just as quickly unfollow you.

So those are my 11 tips. I’m sure many of you have your own ways of growing your Twitter followers. Please feel free to share in the comments.

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Jim Ewel

I love marketing. I think it’s one of the most difficult and one of most exciting jobs in any company. My goal with this blog is to evangelize agile marketing and help marketers increase the speed, predictability, transparency, and adaptability to change of the marketing function.

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