Recently, my personal Twitter account reached the 5,000 followers benchmark. Having joined Twitter in June 2009, it’s taken me 7 years to the month to reach that milestone. I wanted to share some observations and musings about my journey and strategy to 5k.
I’ve tweeted just shy of 13,000 times on Twitter. I’ve watched some accounts delete older tweets to give the impression that they’ve built a large following based on fewer tweets. That may fool the uninformed, but if you built your following organically, there’s no way you reached 5k followers on 128 tweets unless you’re a celebrity. Besides, tweets are great for SEO, so if you want to be found on Google, your tweets should stay.
Speaking of organically growing your following, my following count is is 100% organic. I have not purchased 1 follower to reach that number. While I can see that helping a business get started on Twitter, I would otherwise not recommend it as I believe it’s better to have quality over quantity.
I don’t automatically follow-back the accounts who follow me. I do look at each follower and read their bio, look at their number of tweets, the number they’re following and the number of followers they have. I also look at the industry they’re in and/or the topics they tweet about. I scroll through and read their last 5-10 tweets. If the account seems legitimate and that I’d get value from their content, I follow them. It’s time consuming compared to automating the process, but I believe it makes my Twitter stream more valuable to me.
I believe consistency is key to growing your following on Twitter. You need to be consistent with the topics you tweet about and the frequency with which you tweet. It’s also very important to be familiar with Twitter etiquette (or Twitiquette) and engage with other users. Remember the basic rule of thumb that no more than 20% of your tweets should be self-promotion (and perhaps no more than 10%).
I’ve seen numerous accounts try to game the system by following several accounts, waiting for those accounts to follow back, then unfollowing those people. This makes their followers count larger than the number of accounts they’re following, giving the false suggestion of importance and influence. Because I’m active on Twitter multiple times a week, I use a tool (https://web.crowdfireapp.com/#/grow) to see who has recently unfollowed me. Almost always it’s an account trying to manipulate their followers-to-following ratio. If someone unfollows me for that reason, I unfollow back. Once or twice a year I’ll review the accounts I’ve followed and will unfollow accounts that have been abandoned or haven’t tweeted in 12 months.
Use metrics and apps to enhance the Twitter experience. You can learn about best times and days of the week to tweet, where your engagement comes from and which accounts provide the best interaction. Twitter by itself is somewhat basic, so if you’re wishing it could do something bigger and better, chances are, there’s an app for that. Some are free and some are paid.
Try to minimize the automation. While it’s fine to schedule tweets ahead of time (I use https://hootsuite.com), your account should not be so robotic that you neglect to interact with others. As far as automatic direct messages, does anyone read them or like receiving them? Just turn those off and reach out to me after we’ve engaged each other a few times. It may work on some, but I think the quantity that are annoyed by that practice is significantly larger.
Lastly, know your audience and goals. How I’ve chosen to use Twitter for my personal account is quite different than how I’ve used it for clients I’ve worked with. Why? Different audiences and different goals require different strategies and methods.
How are you using Twitter? As a wise woman once said to me, “Twitter isn’t stupid if you follow smart people!”