It’s time to talk about follower strategies and tips for building a solid following. I spoke about this briefly in Part Two, but I’m diving into detail here.
My goal with twitter is to discover new content and new expertise. I also want to share my own content through twitter, so I have tried to build a following of people who will be interested in what I write about. This means I look for people with interesting expertise in the fields I work in and follow them.
Six Ways to Gain and Maintain Followers
1 Follow People You Know
Twitter has been around since 2006, and now has 330 million users, so you do know people who are already there. People who already know you through work or professional connections are most likely to follow you back.
Search using the full name that they usually use, if someone is using twitter professionally they want to be found and their name will come up in the search results. Only one person can have the handle @JohnSmith, but an unlimited number can use the name in their profile and a search will find them all.
Click on “People” in the top bar to list accounts using that name. Twitter lists anything close to your spelling, which means that when I searched for John Smith, I got also got Nick Smith. You can refine your search with more terms, John Smith digital for example. But Twitter search engine seems to only look in profiles, so unless John Smith has added digital to his profile it won’t help.
2 Ask People to Follow You
You’ve probably already got an account on LinkedIn in or on Facebook, ask your friends, colleagues and connections to join you on Twitter.
Create a short post telling people you’re on Twitter, include your twitter handle, and invite them to follow you.
3 Follow the Followed
Search for industry experts or thought leaders in your field, follow them for their great content and then check who they follow. When you’re starting out look for people with followers in the hundreds or thousands rather than the hundreds of thousands – they’re more likely to follow back.
Search for a topic of interest and find relevant hashtags. If you’re interested in social media use by companies for example then #socbiz is a relevant hashtag, if you’re working on building leadership skills then #leadershipmatters has thoughtful content. Look for the hashtags associated with events, the Digital Workplace conference coming up in June will use #DW18 for conference related tweets.
By searching on the hashtag you can see who is actively tweeting on these subjects/events, and follow them.
5 Publish Your Twitter Handle
Include your twitter handle on your LinkedIn profile, you add it under your contact and personal info. Add it to your profile on your blog or website if you have one. Include it in any posts you publish, it’s common to see twitter handles included in footers on LinkedIn or Medium, sometimes as the author’s preferred method of contact.
6 Follow Back
This is so important to maintain a following, if someone follows you, follow them back.
I’ll follow anyone back on twitter who is vaguely relevant to my themes of digital, communication, innovation and leadership.
Twitter has put in place some limits around follower numbers in an effort to stop “spammy” behaviour.
You can follow up to 5000 accounts, although only 1000 per day. After that you can only follow more accounts if your own following/follower ratio is close to 1 (the actual acceptable ratio is not published). If you want to follow every politician in the world (for example) you would hit the limit pretty quickly, but there is a way around it by using lists (more in the next post).
I regularly search for new people to follow, and unfollow inactive accounts, but only perhaps 20 at a time. On Twitter aggressively following and unfollowing behaviour on twitter can also result in a ban.
These limits are put in place to limit spamming, and in a normal management of your account you probably won’t encounter them but it’s good to know they exist.
Your third assignment is all about followers
1: Publish twitter handle
Add your twitter handle to your LinkedIn profile (under the contact information section). If your Facebook page is somewhat professional you can add it there as well.
Search for hashtags in your field, just pick the keywords associated with your job and look for relevant content. Then see who is tweeting that content and follow them.
3: Follow the followed
Search for 10 people who absolute leaders in your field; influencers, thought leaders, and innovators who are active on twitter. Then look at who they follow, check the profile to find people whose interests match yours, and check their twitter account to make sure they’re active.
Aim to add 40-70 new people in total from tasks 2 and 3.