Imagine Twitter is a very large room packed full of millions of people (so a very very large room!) Everyone there is talking about something and some people are also chatting to each other. It’s noisy.
Now imagine you’re there in this busy room too but are sat in the corner with a paper bag over your head not speaking.
Is anybody going to want to follow you and listen to you? It’s unlikely.
Now imagine you take that paper bag off your head and you walk right into the middle of this very large room full of people. You start talking. You even start chatting to other people there (@ them).
You hold a few banners up related to what you’re talking about (#hashtags).
Suddenly people begin to take notice of you because they can see who you are and that you talk often. People on Twitter like listening to other people and you are clearly now someone worth listening to who is entertaining. They start following you.
Here are 11 ways to gain more Twitter followers ethically/legitimately.
1. Show up and tweet
Twitter is a community and to be successful and get more followers you need to take part, show up and tweet regularly.
The ideal number of tweets is twice or three times per day. Too many can be considered spam. Too little and you may be unfollowed due to not enough activity.
People following you want to read your tweets. When they check their Twitter feed they want good stuff to read. If you are providing good, regular tweets you will grow your followers naturally and ethically.
2. Have a bio and picture
The first thing everyone sees when you send a tweet is your profile picture (or avatar). The best way to get more followers is to have a real photograph of yourself. It’s more personal, and people will instantly connect with you and be more likely to follow a real person.
The worst mistake to make in terms of gaining followers on Twitter is to have no profile photo at all. Having the default image as your profile picture will put most people off following you. It’s like having a paper bag over your head and says you are not fully engaged in Twitter. You are anonymous.
Twitter is about interacting, and that means letting people know who you are when they “meet you” online.
Secondly fill in your bio. This is a short description about you and what you do. It can also include where you’re from. A blank bio is not very appealing for other people.
Here are the profile photos and bios of two very high profile Twitter users – Philip Schofield (@schofe) and Lady Gaga (@ladygaga).
3. Put your Twitter address everywhere
If you have a blog or website make sure you have a Twitter “badge” or widget fully visible with a simple “follow me” link. This lets your readers follow you with one click if they are already logged into their Twitter account (which they most likely will be if they are a regular Twitter user).
Gaining followers this way also means your readers already know who you are, what you do and they will be genuine followers who want to read your tweets.
Twitter has some simple instructions for adding your Twitter badge to your blog and website in their help* pages.
*HOW TO LINK – Click here.
You should also link your other social media accounts to your Twitter account to gain followers. If are already connected to people on places like Youtube, LinkedIn, Facebook, Tumblr and Google+ then these same people will likely want to connect with you on Twitter too.
There are lots of threads on forums where you can add your Twitter account, don’t spam though! Be descriptive so people know what you are about and why they should follow you.
4. Follow the right people
There will already be thousands people who are tweeting about your topic of interest. These are the people to follow because they will be interested in you too.
The more you use Twitter and read other people’s tweets, you will begin to notice that there are many different styles that people use for their tweets. You will get to know who you enjoy following and who you don’t.
To gain more followers you do need to follow lots of other people – but not too many at once. Twitter has ways of detecting those who mass follow and unfollow as a way of unethically getting people to follow you back.
So long as you are selecting people you genuinely want to follow and don’t mass follow hundreds all at once you won’t have any problems with following lots of people.
To get noticed and grow your followers it’s important to interact with other people. This means reading other tweets regularly and replying to them, retweeting some carefully selected tweets and mentioning people in your own tweets.
When you interact with other people using their name after the @ symbol, they are very likely to follow you back, they may even reply in a tweet mentioning you. This then allows their followers to see you in their feed and begin to follow you.
Retweeting selected tweets is not only a way of keeping a good activity level on Twitter, it also allows the original tweeter to see that you have retweeted them.
They may send you a tweet thanking you for the retweet, therefore allowing their own followers to see you in their feed and follow you too. They may also follow you back if not already, and mention you in future tweets.
Interaction is a crucial part of gaining Twitter followers ethically.
6. Have competitions and contests
Once you have gained a few followers, to encourage other people to retweet you and want to follow you too it’s a good idea to give them an incentive.
Many people do this by way of a competition or a contest and say “retweet to win…” or “retweet and follow to win…..” Retweeting is easy with one click and if there is a prize available for doing so they often will do it.
If you are a business the prize could be related to the product or service you sell, or you could offer something simple like a big box of chocolates. Everyone likes to win something and this is a great way to get people to talk about and notice you. There are plenty of competition sites and forums that are looking for people to add content (competitions) so if you start a competition go and search “competition sites” on Google and add yours.. If you spend maybe an hour it will be worth it with the amount of traffic you could get from 10-20 competition websites.
— Prezzybox (@Prezzybox) February 24, 2013
Here’s an example of a brand on Twitter giving away a prize and asking people to retweet and follow for a chance to win.
7. Tweet high profile celebrities occasionally
You may choose to follow some high profile celebrities on Twitter, one of the most well known in the Twittersphere being Stephen Fry. If a celebrity has tweeted something you can compose a genuine response to it’s worth sending a reply back to them. Make sure it’s something useful or positive.
Not only is it a good way to interact with someone you are a fan of or admire, if they reply then several hundred thousand people (depending on how many followers they have) will see the tweet and you will naturally gain some extra followers this way.
Here’s an example tweet of somebody interacting with Stephen Fry and asking him to retweet one of his tweets. Stephen Fry obliges and instantly all of Stephen Fry’s millions of followers will see this retweet, increasing the visibility of the original tweeter.
Not all celebrities will reply back or retweet you, but many do and you could be one of the lucky ones!
Of course a popular profile does not have to be a celebrity as such, tweeting journalists and popular brands in your niche can have a similar affect.
8. Use the #hashtag
It’s worthwhile occasionally using the hashtag in your tweets. Use it sparingly as too many hashtags in a tweet can look like spam and make people unfollow you.
Using the hashtag has advantages when users are searching Twitter for particular topics. If you have used a hashtag with a word related to what you want to talk about, e.g. you make and sell art, so you may use #art at the end of your art related tweet.
Artists who want to follow more art related people can find you more easily when they do a search for #art.
Think of hashtags as like flags or banners you hold up to make your tweet more visible.
Here’s a tweet by an artist using the hashtag for art to encourage other art followers to follow them.
9. Ask questions
When people are scanning through their Twitter feed and see that you have asked a question, it can start a conversation for other Twitter users to join in.
You will instantly be seen as more interesting and an engaging and interactive person who is interested in what your followers have to say. People like to talk about themselves and asking regular questions gives them this chance.
It also raises your profile when the followers of the person who replies sees you and may follow you too because of this interaction.
People enjoy following someone who regularly interacts with their followers and asking questions is a great way to do it.
10. Engage in what’s trending
When a topic on Twitter is being talked about by lots of users it begins to “trend”. If you mention a trending topic in one of your tweets others who are viewing all the trending tweets (by clicking on the what’s trending lists), may see your tweet and follow you.
Engaging with trending topics is another good way to gain visibility. Make sure you have something valuable to add. It’s possible to get a “top tweet” in the trending topics list and this will increase your visibility to others even further.
Here’s an example of a trending list at the time of writing this article. Trends change all the time. You will notice that when there is a big event on or particular tv programme it tends to trend because many people are talking about it at the same time.
11. Consider the time of day you tweet
It’s worth bearing in mind that there are times when Twitter is at it’s most lively. This depends on your own timezone.
If you want your tweet to be visible to the maximum amount of people in your timezone (e.g. around 5pm) you can either wait until your preferred time to type the tweet, or you can schedule it using a programme like Tweetdeck, Hootsuite or Twuffer. You can also use http://www.tweriod.com to see exactly when your followers are most online.
These programmes allow you to set lots of tweets ahead of time, and be specific about what time and day they send. This means you can schedule lots of Twitter activity at the best times for your audience.
A word of warning however, even if you are scheduling tweets, it’s still important to engage with your followers regularly.
It’s not easy to gain hundreds of natural Twitter followers overnight, but slowly and steadily you will gain followers by consistently showing up, tweeting, interacting and being visible to others.
Remember it is not about how many are following you, but about the quality.
When in doubt, copy what works. Look at people who are big on Twitter in your industry, what are they doing?
Good ranking is increasingly about how you brand yourself on your own website and on social media websites. Build a brand for yourself, get a custom Twitter background build it yourself or get one made on Fiverr.
Offer value and offer what people want and what works!
Be genuine and your personality will shine through and increase your popularity – and your followers.
What are your tips on building a Twitter following? Leave them in the comments below.
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