There are some people on Twitter that have ridiculously large numbers of followers. What might not be apparent from many of them is that most of their followers are bots or broadcast-only people who don’t read their streams. These followers are useless because they don’t interact with you or read you. Some exceptions to this are certain TV or movie celebrities, but if you are one of those I doubt you care that much about learning how to use Twitter.
There is a trick that some people use that involves running a “marketing” application that is programmed to autofollow types of accounts. I put marketing in quotes because in my opinion its un-targeted (translation: terrible) marketing.
This concept takes advantage of some people’s willingness to follow back. It also takes advantage of others who have an application running that auto follows back. A particularly annoying variant of this are accounts that autofollow and then unfollow you once you follow them to make it falsely look like they have a lot of “fans” that they don’t need to follow back. Why, everyone worships them of course!
You can’t judge a person’s popularity or effectiveness by the number of followers that they have. The real question is: How many quality followers do they have? How many really care about what they do and listen to them?
Want quality followers? Read on.
1. Read your stream – Some types of twitter accounts are broadcast only. For example a convention might have a stream just for panel cancellations. Generally, this account is there as a courtesy for people who follow their main Twitter account. If you are trying to build a following, broadcast only isn’t the way to go. You’ll need to read and engage in your stream to build anything worthwhile.
2. Reply to people – If you haven’t said hello to a particular person in awhile, do it! This is how you engage and create a community of friends.
3. Follow people – Don’t expect people to find you, and don’t follow people randomly. Look for some new friends! The best way is to see who your friends are following. It’s just like real life, “Hi, I’m a friend of Mike’s and I saw your twitter…”. This way you’ll meet people who are like-minded. If you make R rated films in America, following a conservative housewife in Japan won’t help you at all. You need to find people like you!
4. Don’t follow too many people at once – If you follow too many Twitter may ban you. Also people can tell how many other people you followed after them from your following list. If it looks like you are just trying to get higher numbers people can tell. It’s a bad idea because it looks shady and you won’t be getting to know people as well as you grow.
5. Reply as much as you want, but try not to tweet too many mundane things – If you post 4 tweets about your lunch in 1 hour, you are probably annoying people. In fact, unless you found a unicorn in your sandwich or you are eating a super special lunch in the Weinermobile for some reason it’s probably not a good idea to mention it at all.
6. Do not be an RSS feed – One of the few things that gets me to unfollow people is when they post the same message with a link to their website over and over. If I wanted to read your site I’d subscribe to your actual RSS. Twitter is best used like a chat room and is only as good as your ability to interact with people.
7. Don’t auto DM people – People can tell it’s an auto response and many will unfollow you because it seems uncaring and sometimes demanding. In fact, don’t DM new followers right away with real DMs. I had a few assume it was an auto reply and dump me when I was really writing to them!
8. Always follow people back – Not everyone takes social media personally, but a lot of people do. Since you can’t control how others think, you need to follow people back so that they don’t assume you don’t like or don’t care about them.
Some creators whine and cry that they don’t follow people that they don’t know. This shows me that they are absolutely clueless about business, professionalism, and the fan/creator relationship.
If you want privacy, send your friend a text on your phone or create a secret Twitter account. If you are a creator its part of your job to be social. If you don’t like people, this probably isn’t the field for you and being on a public networking site was probably not the right choice.
9. Advertise – Put your Twitter icon/link on your website, in your email signature, on your business cards – wherever you advertise your brand.
10. Understand your audience – Don’t sell to everyone. Not everyone is your customer. Many are your peers-your equal. In the comic/art field I see so many artists trying to sell to artists who are also trying to sell to artists.
Some artists buy art, others are honestly just there to sell and make friends. Lets be honest, if i bought everyone’s art I’d have to buy a whole building to store it in! It just isn’t possible.
Don’t turn away good networking and friendship opportunities by viewing everyone as a dollar sign. When times are tough, your fellow creators are the only ones who will understand and support you. Working together is one of the best ways to maximize visibility for everyone. There is no downside. Every popular creator can be traced to another popular creator or benefactor who helped push them up. No one succeeds alone. Think about that.