By Kevin M
With nearly 8,000 followers on Twitter, this is a question I?m getting pretty regularly these days. Most people assume I?ve signed up with an automated follower system, which isn?t remotely true. No, it?s just a regular routine?what?s now a habit?applied consistently over a period of several months.
Last year, I signed up with Twitter, Facebook, Linked-In and a few other social networks. I know all of the success guru?s say to get set up on all the various networks and start making friends and followers, but it?s equally true if you?re going to do any one of them well, it?ll take time and effort. So rather than spreading myself thin, I decided to pick just one and hit it hard.
After some weighing of options, I chose Twitter as the network to make my start.
In a world that?s overdosing on news, information and communication, the instantaneous nature?as well as simplicity?of Twitter feels like blessed relief. The 140 character ?tweet? (message) limitation forces us all to make our point in only one or two sentences, which is becoming increasingly important in the midst of the global information blizzard. These days, if you make your message too long no one will read it; there?s too much out there to grab our attention.
Increasingly, I?m using Twitter to get my news. The bullet format enables a large feed of messages that I can scroll through and click on to what I choose to read. Unlike the print media, TV and even the internet itself, there are no dramatic photos or carefully chosen layout priorities set up telling me that one news story is more important than another. I can make that determination based on a short, hard hitting message from the Twitter feed that?s neither manipulated nor edited. That?s how I want my news!
Then there?s the instantaneous connection factor?you can reach any one on the network and it?s the closest thing to sitting on the phone with them all day, which of course none of us have time for.
But the most basic advantage of Twitter is that it?s a free service. Since no one has to pay to belong, millions are on the network and the numbers are growing fast. If you?re trying to build a small business, a website or blog, or trying to get a message out to the largest number of people without having to go through expensive media gatekeepers, Twitter is the place to be. Fast, free and viral, it?s a media network that fits easily into any budget.
The all important question: How do you get followers?
There are three basic ways to get more followers:
- Attract visitors to follow you on Twitter from your website or blog
- Sign up with an automated follower system that will get followers for you
- Building a list from your own social network routine
Each method has it?s own advantages and drawbacks, and we?ll camp a bit on each.
Attract visitors to follow you on Twitter from your website or blog
There are two primary advantages to building your follower list from your website or blog. One is that it requires no effort on your part, the other is that the people who do follow you already know what you?re about, like it and are interested in getting updates on new content, products, offers or ideas. These will likely be the most loyal followers you can get.
My guess is that this works best for well established sites that already have heavy traffic volume. But if you?re a new or small site, you?re most likely counting on Twitter to drive traffic TO your site, not to build a large following on Twitter FROM your site. That?s a Catch-22, and pretty close to worthless if you?re a small fry.
As a side note, I?ve seen some pretty heavily trafficked sites with very small Twitter follower lists, so I?m not sure developing a large list from your site even works in many cases.
Twitter will of course work to bring previous visitors back to your site, but if you have an email capture system or an RSS feed set up on your site, Twitter or any other social media following system is really just competing with those for a prospective follower?s attention. I?m always happy to get followers as a result of people visiting my blog, but my hope and experience is that Twitter will drive visitors to the blog and not the other way around.
Automated follower systems
If you?ve been on Twitter any length of time, you?re already aware of these systems. You might have checked a few out, and maybe even signed up for one.
The two major advantages of automated follower systems are:
- They?ll build a large follower list fast, and
- Once you?ve registered and provided your credit card information, they?ll build your list with no effort on your part.
As attractive as that sounds, especially to a newcomer, it isn?t without a price?several actually.
Cost. The price of these systems looks to be all over the map. I?ve seen them as cheap as $8 for 1000 followers, and as high as you like beyond that. One ad I saw advertised 5,000 followers for $250. In truth the systems aren?t doing anything for you that you can?t do for yourself, but they?re doing it faster.
It?s a game of numbers over everything. Without some kind of direct (if brief) review from you as to a prospective followers profile, you?ll never know with any certainty that the people following you are even close to the ones you want?after all, if you didn?t participate in the selection process, they?re just numbers on a list.
Suspect quality. The systems work in different ways; some allow you to program in certain follower characteristics that they actively pursue in building your list, some are follower exchanges?you get someone else?s followers in exchange for yours?while some are outright list purchases. The problem with all of these is that you get a list with some good followers (real people who are active on the network) and a cornucopia of whatever else is out there (bots, dormant accounts, spammers, etc). One of the follower techniques that I?ve found to be crucial is the integrity of the follower list you?re drawing from. Some large follower lists are filled with quality contacts, but most others are overpopulated with?what ever else.
Turning your Twitter name and password over to the provider. While there are certain variations between the various automated systems, one feature that seems to be an industry standard is the need to give your Twitter name and password over to the provider. This enables the system to operate through your profile to draw others to follow you. However, it also means that someone else?who you don?t know personally?has both access and control over your Twitter account. By granting them access, you?re responsible for what ever they do with the account.
Do they even work? I have no doubt that some automated follower systems work the way we?d hope?to some degree at least?but I recently saw someone advertising ?up to 700 new followers per day? being pitched by a user that has fewer than 900 followers. Did he give up on Day 2? This week, I got a tweet from someone advertising ?how to get 20,000 followers? in a couple of months?according to her profile she only has a thousand followers herself, which raises the obvious question ?is she even using her own system????
My guess is that if they all worked as promised EVERYONE on Twitter would have tens of thousands of followers, but obviously, that isn?t the case.
Building a list from your own regular social network routine
This won?t build a list as quickly as an automated system will, but it does one thing automated systems can?t do that?s critically important: it guarantees that you decide who your followers will be. In addition, you won?t need to turn your Twitter username and password or credit card information over to a third party application as it will cost you nothing but your own effort.
This was the method I chose, and you can see from my follower count that I?ve had some success with it.
I joined Twitter in June of 2009, but did nothing with it for five months. Then one day in November, I was having lunch in a local bagel shop with my friend and frequent OutOfYourRut contributor, Dave Kelly and we got to talking about Twitter. Though not an expert, Dave was already up and running on Twitter and he helped me with the tactical details.
Only days before Thanksgiving, I started with seven followers (NO idea how they got there!) and zero knowledge of Twitter, but late in May, 2010, just about six months later, my account crossed the 5,000 follower mark! That wasn?t a target I was aiming for, it?s just where my efforts had brought me and much more quickly than I expected.
It wasn?t just the number of followers that was important either. If you check my profile ( @OutOfYourRut ) you?ll see that the great majority of people on both my Follower and Following lists are just that?people?not the nameless, faceless entities set up to blast out marketing messages that populate and often dominate many large lists. If you don?t have at least a name or a face then what value is a follower? Most of the people on my lists are also active participants, not dormant accounts who haven?t sent out a tweet in months.
I?d love to disclose complete details here as to how I did it, but space doesn?t permit. It?s not that it?s so involved, but more that any kind of how-to description is always more complicated on paper than it is in actual practice, and this is no exception.
But consistent with the philosophy of ?give a man a fish and you feed him for a day, teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime?, I?m offering a tutorial that will get you as many followers as your own time and efforts will allow.
As it took some time to develop this routine (it really isn?t a ?system? in the conventional sense), as well as to record it for all to see in an easy-to-read 35 page e-book, a small fee is charged. Please check out Do You Need 5,000 REAL Twitter Followers? for a concise, detailed program for how to build a large Twitter following with just 30 to 60 minutes a day.
As you can see from the Twitter Counter at the top of the right hand column of this page, you can easily go a lot higher than 5,000 followers. All it takes is some time, a consistently applied routine and of course, a plan. Follow this plan, and I?d be willing to bet that you?ll hit and surpass 5,000 new followers in a good bit less time than the six months it took me.