I’ve often been asked how I got 50,000 followers on Twitter. I’ve thought long and hard about it and it’s time for me to tell publicly how I did it.
If you’re looking for secret hacks or special autofollow software, I’m sorry, but you’re in the wrong place. They are against Twitter’s terms of service and I would never endorse them. To paraphrase Robert Kiyosaki, it’s too easy to become rich (or have a large twitter following) legitimately, why would you want to defraud the system and risk having it all taken away from you?
Now there’s plenty of discussion about quantity versus quality and how is it possible to communicate with 50,000 people on a meaningful basis. I’m with the people who go for quality of connections. Hear me out…
If you “only” have a few hundred followers, don’t stress! If they’re all people who know you and you’re building a trust relationship with them (this is my definition of quality followers), you’re ahead of the game. To tell you the truth, we probably have about the same number of quality followers. With a lot of my followers, I only have a conversation here or there, as something one of us said takes our fancy. I believe in following back all my followers so we can communicate efficiently. But that’s just me.
Of course there are a few, gifted people, like my friend Lesley Dewar, who I’d term a “hyper-connector”. At the time of writing, she has 10,000+ followers, most of whom I’d term quality followers. I enjoy spending time with people, but Lesley leaves me for dead when it comes to networking!
You might ask why I don’t just follow back the “quality”… There was a period where I decided to do that and unfollowed about 10,000 people. That stopped when I had a conversation with someone at that time that changed my perspective. Rightly or wrongly, having 50,000 followers gives me a certain level of credibility. It seems to show that I know what I’m talking about and can be trusted to give social media advice. I’m just a regular guy – there’s nothing that makes me better than you. As I was trying to help a few organizations with my social media knowledge (I’m no guru, but I’ve been around a long time and have picked up a thing or two), I realized that my huge following gave me the edge I needed to get my opinions listened to.
Having said all that – here’s what I’ll bet you came here for…
The secret to having 50,000 twitter followers is:
Be a valuable member of the twitter community
That’s “all” there is to it. Of course how you do that is a little more complex than might first appear. Here are some tips:
- Limit the boring stuff. You know like tweeting “going for a walk now” and “home from the walk. Did you miss me?”. If you absolutely HAVE to tweet the boring stuff, at least make it interesting. Like if you went to a picturesque park for the walk, take a photo, upload it to twitpic.com and tweet something like “How can your day not be brighter when you have walks like this to look forward to?” – Turn the boring stuff into things that add value to your followers lives.
- If you’re like me – what I’d consider a power user – consider using software like Pluggio to easily schedule your tweets over time. I have a tendency to tweet a whole lot when I’m on twitter (or a 3rd party application), which leads to famine/feast syndrome. For some of my followers who follow less people, my tweets would be the only thing they’d see for a time and that’s just not being a good twitter citizen, in my opinion. I used to have a lot of people unfollow me or complain about my volume before I figured this one out. Now I tweet just as much, but it’s spread out over time, rather than being in one big hit.
When you’re following too many people to keep up with, make use of lists. Take for example my VIP List. These are the people I get the most value from. There’s usually about 200 people on this list. I add more people if they come to my attention and remove if I stop getting value from them. With Pluggio or Tweetdeck, it’s easy to setup your lists so you don’t have to see what everyone’s saying unless you want to. I use the tweetdeck app on my iphone and have it setup so there’s only three columns: VIP List, DMs & Replies. I use Pluggio when I’m on my computer (sadly, there’s no app for that) and from time to time I’ll also use the web. It makes twitter so much more enjoyable for me. I also have lists for things like SEO, inspiration, etc, for when I’m in a particular mood. Lists are a great feature. Make use of them.
- Talk to the “big dogs”. The love to hear from you if you’re adding value to the conversation. If you’ve really got something worth hearing and they like it, your message could go before tens or even hundreds of thousands of people. Having said that, talk to everyone, not just those with more than 10,000 followers – you never know what relationships will be beneficial to you.
- NEVER spam anyone. Period.
- Get rid of your automated DMs, whether they send a link or they are just a “thanks for following me” – quite frankly, they are annoying and I know lots of people (myself included) who just delete them without looking at them or even noticing you. I can’t speak for others, but if I get a few auto DMs from the same person, I delete them and block the person, reporting them for spam. Don’t risk it.
- If you want a large following, get rid of truetwit. While I believe truetwit offers a useful service for some people, I really dislike how they don’t have the option to signup for their service and automatically be validated WITHOUT blasting all your new followers with truetwit links (heck, I’d pay for that if it meant not having to deal with 10-20 truetwits per day). Why should you get rid of it if you want a large following? It’s just another unnecessary barrier between you and someone you don’t know, who could be a very valuable follower some day. Imagine if you were networking, but you made people fill out a captcha before they could speak to you. Ridiculous. Oh, and truetwit doesn’t stop all spammers.
- Jazz up your profile. Get a graphically minded friend to help you, if you can’t do it yourself. Put a good, clear profile pic up, a cool background, with a bit of a theme (make sure your background is easily readable still). It will do wonders for you.
- In the website area, link directly to a place where people can read more about you. It helps establish that you are a real person and that you’re pretty cool and worth their time.
- Get listed in
wefollow and twibes – they’re free and a great way to find more people interested in the same things as you.
- Be active. Follow people like @Zaibatsu, @mashable, @dudeman718, @GuyKawasaki, @TweetSmarter, @CynthiaY29, @NanaStories and @iconic88 – they are excellent examples of twitter best practices, in my opinion. They all have large, loyal followings and if you also want a large, loyal following, watch what they do, communicate with them and watch how they communicate and what they share.
I hope this was useful. I know I haven’t covered everything (by a long shot), so ask away in the comments section below.