I love Twitter.
When it comes to promoting my blog, meeting likeminded people, increasing brand awareness, and just about any other benefit that is possible through social media, Twitter comes out on top for me every time.
I know that Facebook is the big boy on the block and Pinterest is growing every month but I have had more success with Twitter than every other social network combined. The fact is this — my success with Twitter is completely disproportionate to my success with other social media networks and the size and age of my blog.
You may be wondering how I’ve managed that. Well, in this post I intend to give you a step by step guide to the biggest causative factor of my Twitter profile’s exponential growth.
My Twitter Story
But before I get onto that, you may be curious to better understand the success I have had with Twitter.
It didn’t come easy. I created my Twitter account in June 2011 and in that year I scratched around for followers. Unlike Facebook, I had never used it before and didn’t really “get it”. By the end of December 2011 I had fought my way to 552 followers.
Then in the New Year — after I had quit my job – I decided to put a concerted effort into my Twitter profile. I reached 1,000 followers on 16th February 2012. I had repeated what had originally took me six months in just 47 days.
And the growth didn’t stop there:
At the time of writing I have nearly 5,500 followers (and you’re all awesome, by the way). My Twitter account is growing faster than that of some blogs 3-4 times my size (if you’re not convinced, just head over to Twitter Counter and do the math).
But what does this do for my blog? Well, statistically speaking, this:
Throughout the life of this blog Twitter has been the single biggest source of referral traffic, driving more visitors to my site than second-placed Facebook by nearly 80%.
But that doesn’t reveal the true positive impact of Twitter. In reality, the reason that I love Twitter so much is represented by tweets like these:
And emails like these:
I get this kind of feedback regularly. What I rarely get is similar messages about people who have found me on Facebook or via Google. Not only do these messages make me feel like I must be doing something right, they also demonstrate that Twitter is a fantastic source of highly valuable traffic.
And what really excites me about Twitter is that all of this is possible for just about any blogger. You don’t need a huge blog to grow a big Twitter following (tweet this). I don’t know of any other social media network than you can leverage so effectively without having a well-established presence.
I am about to reveal the precise strategy I have used to grow my Twitter following. What I am not teaching in this guide is how to engage with Twitter followers and build up a rapport. Growing a big follower base is only worth doing if you actually run an active Twitter account (which in reality, only has to take 5-15 minutes per day). Otherwise, you will find yourself with a whole load of followers who aren’t actually interested in what you have to say.
If you want to learn more about actually using Twitter (rather than growing your follower base), I recommend that you check out this article: How to Use Twitter for Exponential Blog Growth.
Furthermore, if you get too carried away with the strategy below you do run the risk of having your account suspended, or in the absolute worst case scenario, banned. Please note that anything you choose to do as a result of reading this post must be at your own risk.
Introducing Tweet Adder
If you’re desperate to get more Twitter followers and have yet to hear of Tweet Adder, I’m about to make your day. If you have already heard of Tweet Adder but haven’t got around to giving it a real try, I would recommend that you take this opportunity to have a closer look.
In a nutshell, Tweet Adder is a software application that you can use to semi-automate various tasks relating to your Twitter profile. Whilst I am not typically a big fan of automation when it comes to social media I make a happy exception in this case. Why? Because if you use Tweet Adder correctly and responsibly your actions never approach anything close to spamming and there is no downside. You get to connect with a whole bunch of willing people who wouldn’t have otherwise heard of you.
At the time of writing, a one profile license will set you back $55. Tweet Adder is (to the best of my knowledge) the best and most reasonably-priced partner to my Twitter growth strategy, and is worth every single penny. I purchased Tweet Adder many months ago, still use it today, and will continue to use it well into the future.
TweetAdder can do a lot of things, but for the purposes of this guide, we are focusing just on growing your following. This can be done in four simple steps. Let’s get to it!
1. Find Potential Followers
In a nutshell, the key to growing your Twitter following is to find people who might be interested in your blog and follow them. It sounds simple, and that’s because it is. The logic is sound — if you follow people who might be interested in what you have to offer, some of them will follow you back.
So — the first step is to compile a list of Twitter accounts for users whose followers match your target audience. The more relevant, the better.
There are plenty of ways to find Twitter accounts similar to your own — if you have been blogging for any length of time, you will probably already have such a list (in your head at least). If not, here are a few tips to get you started:
- Search for related keywords in Google Blog Search
- Browse Technorati and other blog directories
- Search Twitter by hashtag (e.g. “#gardening”)
- Search Google for “[your keyword] top blogs”
That should get you rolling. Ideally, you’ll have a nice long list of Twitter profiles which you should sort broadly by relevancy (i.e. the most relevant profile comes first). Relevancy is key — the more their followers align with your target followers, the higher follow to followback rate you will achieve.
Once you’ve done that, login to your user account in Tweet Adder and click on “Followers of a User” in the sidebar. Then just enter the first Twitter username at the top of your list (without the @ sign), and hit “Search Now”:
You then may want to go make yourself a cup of tea because fetching usernames can take a while. To be honest, you are not going to want to run through the entire sequence, as too many of the older users will be inactive (more on this later). Fetching around 10 pages or so is usually enough.
Once you have fetched enough pages you can hit “Stop”. You will then be presented with a list of usernames such as this:
All you need to do on this screen is click on “Save All”. All of the most recent followers of your chosen account will then be added onto your list of people to follow in Tweet Adder.
The second step is a piece of cake and is where Tweet Adder begins to show its true value.
Click on “Follow” in the sidebar and you will see a screen like this:
Here you can set how Tweet Adder follows new people from the list you have just created.
You can ignore the “Send Follows Now” area — we’re interested in “Automation Settings”. The figures you put in here will largely be dependent upon the size of your account. For instance, I would never recommend that a smallish account (say 500 – 3,000 followers) send 300 follows per day. Twitter won’t bat an eye if I do it, but may take note if a smaller account does.
Fortunately, the maximum follows number becomes largely academic because the real key is that little checkbox at the bottom.
When it comes to following people on Twitter, I have one very simple rule — never follow more people than you have following you. It looks spammy and will affect the way people perceive you. As you can see, I personally have Tweet Adder set to stop following when my following to follower ratio reaches 0.98 to 1. So if I had 100 followers I could only follow up to 98. If you were to check my Twitter account right now, you would see that I follow less people than I have followers.
Therefore, the size of your account typically dictates the daily volume at which you can follow new people. If you have a brand new account I would recommend that you start with a very low number of maximum follows per day (say 10), and work really hard on attracting new followers through other means. That will provide the fuel with which you will need to start growing your Twitter account at a faster rate with Tweet Adder.
Ultimately, it is up to you. The more people you follow, the greater the chance you have of being suspended by Twitter (it is likely that you will get a slap on the wrist first, rather than a full ban, but don’t just take my word for it). It’s balancing act.
As for the Time Delay setting I recommend that you use a little math here:
Active Period / Maximum Follows = Time Delay
Your active period is simply the amount of minutes per day that Tweet Adder will be open (and therefore able to add new follows). So if your PC is on 10 hours per day, your Active Period would be 10 * 60 = 600. Divide that by your Maximum Follows (say 100) and your average Time Delay should be 6 minutes. Therefore, you could set your Time Delay range from 4 to 8 minutes which would mean that you would get through your 100 follows per day. The further apart your follows are the better (although I wouldn’t worry too much about this).
Once you’re happy with your settings, just hit the “Automation” button at the top of your screen. It will switch to “Automation On” and you’ll be up and running!
Alright, so that’s your following sorted. You may now be wondering how on earth you build a sizable following. Aren’t you going to fill up your follows quickly with inactive accounts and spammy profiles?
The answer, to a degree, is yes. However, there is a solution — Tweet Adder’s UnFollow function. Its settings screen (accessed via the “UnFollow Users” link in the sidebar) is very similar to the Follow function:
Again, you can ignore the “Send UnFollows Now” area — let’s get straight onto the good stuff.
First of all, you need to set the maximum number of unfollows per day. I would recommend that you set this to be identical to the number of automated follows. With that same number in mind, your time delay should also be the same.
It is unlikely that you will need to use the checkbox option for stopping unfollows. Unless your account grows at a spectacularly fast rate you will always be in a position where your number of follows aren’t too far off your number of followers.
Finally — but no less importantly — you will want to specify two things:
- Who is unfollowed
- How long you wait after following them to unfollow them
The logic here is simple. You follow someone then wait a few days for them to follow back. If they don’t, you unfollow them so that you have made room for a fresh follow (that may result in a follow back). By this method you’re never following anyone who isn’t following you for more than a few days, which theoretically gives you endless opportunities to follow new people. I personally feel that 3 days is long enough for an active Twitter user to decide whether or not to follow back, but again, you may wish to rely upon your own personal preference.
I recommend that you select “UnFollow nonreciprocal follows that were followed using Tweet Adder” from the drop down menu. This means that any people you manually follow — via the Twitter website or any other Twitter app — will not be automatically unfollowed by Tweet Adder. I like to follow certain people, regardless of whether or not they follow me, and this feature allows me to do just that.
4. Rinse and Repeat
This final step is extremely important — you must not miss it out if you want your Twitter account to grow quickly.
There is one key thing that Tweet Adder can’t do for you — it can’t spot inactive or spammy accounts. So for instance, an inactive account can have autofollow enabled, which will gain you a new follower, but will not in reality actually be of any benefit. Similarly, you can follow spam accounts who follow you back but again offer you nothing.
The first thing you should do to combat this is keep an eye on your growth statistics. You can use Twitter Counter for this. Just check your account week by week, and look out for a slow down in the number of follows you are receiving on a weekly basis. As soon as you spot a slowdown, clear out any existing users from your “To Follow List” in Tweet Adder, and add fresh users from another Twitter profile. The following week, you will almost definitely see a notable uptick in the number of followbacks. Alternatively you can choose to preempt this — I add a fresh “batch” of people to follow to Tweet Adder every Monday morning.
The other thing you should do is unfollow inactive and spammy Twitter profiles with ManageFlitter. This is a freemium web-based app but you only need to use the free option. Just sign in via your Twitter account and you’ll see a screen like this:
The two functions we are interested in are “No Profile Image” and “Inactive” — both available in the sidebar. “Inactive” Twitter users are those who have not tweeted in the past 30 days. It is fair to say that they probably won’t be much of an asset to your blog. Twitter users with no profile image (i.e. just the infamous Twitter egg) are usually spam accounts. I say usually rather than always — it is up to you to decide whether or not you want to make the exception.
Once you’re ready to zap some redundant follows, just click on each icon in turn and you will be presented with a list of all relevant follows. On that screen, click on the “Quick Edit” link, select all of the profiles and hit “Unfollow”:
You will need to repeat this process if there are more than 100 follows as ManageFlitter only includes 100 per page.
I typically clean house like this a couple of times a week. You could do it every day if you wanted to, or once a month — it’s entirely up to you. Obviously, the more regularly you keep on top of it, the quicker your account is likely to grow.
Finally, you will want to make sure that you keep on top of the number of users left to follow in Tweet Adder — you can see that on the Overview screen:
If the number is getting low, you will want to top up by sourcing new follows from your list of related Twitter accounts. I personally have an ever-growing list which I cycle through. By the time I’m done with the last user the first one has attracted enough fresh new users to make coming back to them a viable move.
Above is the strategy I have followed to grow my Twitter account steadily through 2012. There are few (if any) internet marketing products I have tried that have been as effective for me as Tweet Adder and I would heartily recommend that you take a closer look if you are interested in growing your Twitter account.
Creative Commons image courtesy of shawncampbell