Welcome to the third and final installment of my series on how I gained 5,000 Twitter followers in six months. This is the fun part—where you really get to see those numbers climb. I’ve been adding about 1,000 followers per month with this method, the vast majority of them fellow writers. Once again, I’m writing with other authors in mind, but the basic methods should carry over to any profession or interest.
Step 3—Time to Fly
Naturally, the best way to attract followers is by being so fabulous that people flock to your profile, dying to see what tidbit of brilliance you’ll post next. If you can pull that off, I tip my hat to you. But the rest of us can still gather thousands of followers without resorting to the empty numbers of #teamfollowback and its ilk. For us, the name of the game is reciprocity.
The basic approach here is simple—follow people, and most of them will follow you back. Easy, right? I’ll give you a little more to go on than that, however, addressing questions such as whom to follow, where to find them, how many people to follow at a time and how to keep your ratio of Following to Followers in balance.
Choosing People to Follow
The first thing many people do when they join Twitter is to follow their favorite celebrities. Writers might follow best-selling authors, agents and publishers. By all means, go for it—you can learn a lot this way. But don’t expect these people to follow you. Anyone who has far more Followers than Following is not likely to follow you back.
It’s not hard to find people who will, however. The Twitterverse is absolutely teeming with other authors and artists who want to build their online tribe just as badly as you do. Most of these people will follow you back, and you end up with a Followers list full of kindred spirits. You’ll probably even find a few new friends, readers and blog followers in the process. I know I have!
Where to Find Them
So where do you find these kindred spirits? Here are a few ideas:
Poach from your friends’ Followers lists. Go to a friend’s profile, click on Followers and scan through the list, clicking Follow for anyone who looks promising. This method works particularly well if your friend writes in the same genre you do.
Find other authors in your genre and go through their list. Many of my friends write romance or urban fantasy, and I wanted to connect with more middle grade fantasy authors. I scanned through the list of people who were following me, found a few in my genre and went to work. Soon, I’d connected with a whole community of middle grade authors.
Use hashtags. If you type hashtag terms in the Twitter search window, you’ll pull up all the recent posts using that hashtag. This is a great way to find others who share your particular interest. Since I’m writing a middle grade time travel story, I used #MG and #timetravel. Other good options are #author, #amwriting, #YA, #kidlit. Get creative and try different terms to see what turns up. And don’t forget to use these hashtags in your own tweets so that others can find you!
World Literary Café. You can add your link to a list of authors who want to build Twitter followers, Facebook likes and blog followers. This list is also an easy source of authors who are likely to follow you back. Go to the WLC website to sign up.
How many should I follow?
This really depends on how aggressive you want to be and how much time you have to devote. I typically follow 100-300 people at a time. Obviously, the more people you follow, the faster your following will grow. Be sure to allow time to interact with your new followers. You’ll get a flurry of welcome messages and retweets that deserve a response.
Remember to follow back!
The more your name gets out there, the more people will find and follow you. It’s only polite to follow them back. Plus, if you don’t, many of them will drop you, so if you want to keep that follower, follow them back.
You don’t need to follow everyone—I stay away from the ones that look like spam on principle—but you also don’t need to be too picky since you won’t be reading most of those tweets anyway (remember the lists we set up in Step 2?).
Don’t use TrueTwit.
If you want people to follow you, don’t create an extra step that will drive some of them away. So what if spammers follow you? Just don’t follow them back. Twitter isn’t the place for personal information you don’t want to share with the world, especially if you want to build a large following, so who cares who’s reading your tweets?
Unfollow Those Who Don’t Follow You Back
This is my final piece of advice, and it’s crucial. If you’ve followed people with interests similar to yours, most of them will follow you back, but certainly not all. If you’re actively following people as I have described, you’ll soon find you have hundreds more on your Following list than Followers. Not a good thing. In fact, Twitter won’t let you follow more than 2,000 people if your Following/Follower ratio is too far out of whack.
I like ManageFlitter for this purpose. It will show you a list of your followers who are not following you back, and you simply click the ones you want to unfollow. Quick and easy, and you’re allowed to unfollow up to one hundred people per day for free.
And there it is. The simple, common sense method I’ve used to gather 5,000 Twitter followers in six months. I hope you found some useful ideas. I’d love to hear your ideas and experiences!