Getting Started with Twitter: How to Get More Twitter Followers

twitter-bird-white-on-blueLet me begin by stating that I do not have the single, magic bean answer to the question

How Do I Get More Twitter Followers?

While “social media experts” may tell you that a certain service (namely, theirs) will help you amass followers, they’re likely not the kind of followers you’d want (if they’re even real).
Some online sources say there’s little cachet in a large Twitter following, but we have a difficult time not ascribing some level of greater influence to those who have larger numbers of followers than we do. While numbers alone don’t tell the entire story, they help us to form a quick impression of someone we only know through a glass screen.
This, in part, is what gave rise to the sometimes controversial site Klout, which purports to tell you and the world around you how influential a person you may be. Last I read, they’re even attempting to incorporate real-world influence into their otherwise all-digital universe. But I digress.
The key to getting more followers is to be someone others want to follow.
That may sound simple, but there are multiple ways to achieve this goal. Celebrities, sports stars, authors, and business leaders have a built-in followership. That’s why they can easily have millions of Twitter followers in a short amount of time. But what about someone just starting out on Twitter, like a new business owner?
If you’re serious about using Twitter to enhance your personal online profile or to augment your business, you’ll need to learn how to use Twitter differently than if you were only using it personally. The following is by no means a comprehensive list, but I’ve experienced moderate success with my work Twitter account (@FVmomentum) by following a few simple guidelines.

1. Apply your alias to everything.

On your website (Use Twitter’s own widgetsto embed your tweets on a sidebar.) On your business card. In your email signature. On your correspondence. On your brochures. On your postcards. On your office entry window.
Choose the right Twitter name, stick with it, then promote it in as many places as you can. You could even make a big deal about joining Twitter by writing a blogpost or a specific newsletter article about that fact, encouraging those who already follow you in the real world to join you on Twitter.

2. Curate choice links.

As challenging as it may be sometimes, refrain from tweeting out that funny cat video that’s already made the rounds fifteen times since ’96. If an article especially piques your interest or you believe it will generate buzz about your business or product, tweet it. Read about and Buffer in My Recommended Twitter Apps to learn how to utilize these two great web services to find and tweet quality content.
Also, get to know and love Google Reader, an RSS reading app that allows you to quickly scan new content from hundreds of websites. Create folders that are relevant to your interests, subscribe to sites that provide great content on a daily or weekly basis, then use the favoriting option within Google Reader (i.e. click the star) to pick out the content that’s worth retweeting. This can provide you with a near endless storehouse of content to tweet about.

3. Create quality content.

Creating quality content is much more time consuming than reading and retweeting, but the benefits can far outweigh the time commitment. By taking the time to create content that will help your audience, you’ll earn their respect as a trusted source of knowledge. As with most online ventures in social media and marketing, be consistent, be true to your voice, and be shareable.
And, remember, content does not equal articles, especially given the rise of Pinterest. Throw a quote onto a solid stock image and share that. Record a five-minute interview with your boss about a certain topic just using your iPhone. So long as the information contained in the video is worthwhile, people will forgive (and maybe even appreciate) the low production value. This kind of content creation lends itself toward highly personalizing your business or organization.

4. Raid GoodReads.

Speaking of quotes, this is one of my favorite ways to earn followers. Find quotes that resonate with you and your audience. Thousands of quote sites exist online, but my favorite is GoodReads. It’s an uber-popular social media site for book lovers. You can search for any term, or use a number of categories to find relevant quotes. If you take time to scan the barcodes of your books (or perform a manual search) and create a digital bookshelf, the site is smart enough to show you only quotes from authors in your library under “My Quotes.” I often receive more retweets of choice quotes than I do of anything else.

5. Write guest posts.

This goes hand-in-hand with creating quality content. Guest posts should be your top-shelf content. While you may be led to believe your best stuff should live on your own blog, you’re likely to reap a greater benefit by showcasing yourself on someone else’s (likely broader) platform. By getting your name, Twitter handle, and homepage URL on others’ sites, you’re not only increasing your site’s SEO potential, you’re also augmenting your visibility online. You’re reaching new people who could be future followers. Jeff Goins provides helpful tips on guest posting in Seven Steps to Writing a Successful Guest Post.

6. Be personable, but not personal.

People want to know the real you behind your Twitter name. They don’t need to know what you just had for lunch. They want to relate to you as a person. They don’t need to know the details about your love life (or lack thereof). Always think about whether or not what you’re sending out will help your audience in some way.
Don’t pretend to know more than you really do about someone you’ve just met on Twitter. Don’t attempt to be buddy-buddy without first establishing some kind of relationship, whether that’s through answering a question, providing a resource, or offering a giveaway. Don’t sell yourself, your product, or your business more than you relate to others. Michael Hyatt talks about the 20-to-1 rule, which means that “you have to make 20 relational deposits for every marketing withdrawal.”
And don’t, please, try to engage me for the first time as a company with a random question, like so:

If their first tweet would have been along the lines of “We’ll give you 20% off your electricity for the next year,” I might have replied.
Be real. Be relational. But don’t tweet about this.

7. Be nice.

Tweet unto others as you would have them tweet unto you.
It’s customary to thank someone for retweeting you, even if it’s a short “@HankSchrader thx for the RT!” Pay attention to your direct messages and answer them in a timely manner. Seek understanding before jumping to conclusions. The 140-character limitation can sometimes cause confusion. Always cite your sources.

8. Be fortunate.

In Recommended Twitter Apps, I showed this tweet in order to display TwentyFeet‘s auto-Tweeting:
That tweet also shows the most fortuitous moment I’ve experienced since being on Twitter. My work Twitter account was included in a Top 25 list and that article made it to the front page of a popular website. I gained 493 new followers in five days. Few were spam, and all were in the circles I’m seeking to help. (Check your own Twitter account for fake followers.) By comparison, I typically gained 100 new followers per month before this helpful event. I believe I would not have been included on that list had I not been following the guidelines in this post.

9. Be consistent.

More than anything else you’ve read here, consistency is the key to amassing quality followers. Regardless of whether your follower count creeps up every month or experiences a sudden overnight increase, simply keep providing a useful and personable resource to your audience. They’ll appreciate it and, one would hope, tell their followers about you.
I’m certain I’ve missed a few guidelines that can help you gain Twitter followers. What would you add to this list? What have you seen work wonders for your own Twitter account?
Read all of the posts in Getting Started with Twitter: 10 Steps to Twitter Competence.