I’m not good at keeping track of my stats. Whether it be blog visitors, Twitter followers, or Facebook fans, I just don’t pay much attention. There was a time I did, of course. We all do. I just stopped worrying about it somewhere along the line. I only know my Facebook page reach because Facebook has stuck it on my newsfeed page.
So it was completely accidental that I noticed I had more than 18,500 Twitter followers a few days before the end of the year. Being a tad bit OCD, and enjoying those round numbers (and a little bit just to see if I could), I decided to see if I could make it to 20,000 followers by the end of the year. (I made it with few hours to spare. By noon on New Year’s Eve, I had 20,000 followers.)
Of course I was excited, and of course I shared on Facebook and Twitter, which led to several people asking how I got that many followers. When I looked at TwitterCounter and realized that I had gained 8,000 of those followers in the last six months, I was even more excited, and knew I had to share my “secrets.” (They’re not really secrets, but it makes me feel important so just roll with it.)
These are in no particular order. I have no idea how many followers came from which method. I’m very sure the majority came from me following others first, however I found them. When you follow someone, there’s a pretty good chance they’ll follow you back, and most people will unfollow those who do not follow back after a period of time.
- Giveaways with Twitter follows as an entry. I’ve done a few on my own, but most were sponsored by someone else. Over all, I can confidently say that this is where the fewest number of followers came from. Maybe 2,000-3,000 since April 2011.
- Get involved in conversations. Then follow those you may not already be following. If they’re participating in conversations, then they’re engaged on Twitter, and those are the people you want following you.
- I use both the iPhone Twitter app and Twitter on my laptop because some functions are easier on one or the other. Once or twice a day, I get on the iPhone app because that’s the easiest way to follow those who have mentioned, retweeted, or followed me. This is cumbersome on the laptop, but it’s one (sometimes two) tap(s) on the phone. I can easily see the bios of these people so I don’t follow any obvious spammers. (The less-obvious ones will get deleted later. You can’t avoid all of them.)
- Speaking of avoiding spammers, please, for the love of all that is social media, do not use TrueTwit. That is the quickest way to cut down on the number of people who would follow you. (For a few more Twitter no-nos, read this.)
- Twitter lists are fabulous. Rachel Thompson, who knows more about Twitter than I can pretend to, recommends subscribing to lists that interest you. This keeps your feed from being cluttered and you can follow a select few who post things that interest you (or interact with you – whatever your particular criteria is). It’s all I can manage to check my own lists, much less any I’m subscribed to. In fact, while I have lists of authors, bloggers, marketing people, autism parents, and who knows what else, the only list I check regularly is my I Don’t Want to Miss This list. (Please don’t be offended if you’re not on the list. I add to it as I go.) While I usually do as Rachel suggests, in this I went my own way. When I get a notification that I’ve been added to a list, I go follow the other users on the list. I only do this with “real” lists: lists of bloggers, writers, editors, autism parents, and such. I know I’ll have something in common with these users and I’ll probably be interested in what they tweet. I prefer to do this on the laptop so I can see the bios. I don’t even bother with lists such as “my followers,” because while I appreciate being listed, that list doesn’t really help me. [One note on following list members: Twitter will only allow you to follow a certain number of people each day. This prevents spammers from running amuck. I’ve only hit a limit once, but if you do, don’t freak out. Just wait 24 hours to follow more people.]
- I also sometimes go check out the lists of people I follow. I’ll invoke the name of Rachel Thompson again, because she and I have a lot of the same interests. (Except Nutella. She’s a fan. I have no desire to even try it.) I can go to her lists and pick one that sounds interesting, and go follow those people (always checking the bios). If you’re active on Twitter, you’re probably already on several lists. Start with those. If you’re not on any lists, then start making your own lists (real lists) and adding people (not randomly). You’ll find that many will reciprocate. Then find someone in your field who has good lists and use those. (You can also use Rachel’s method of just subscribing to these lists, but keep in mind that the list members don’t know you exist unless you interact with them in some way.)
- Share interesting stuff. (“Stuff” is the technical term.) Share interesting articles and blog posts, but don’t stop there. You don’t want your feed to be all links. You can share quotes. You can share something personal. Not too personal, just something to help your followers get to know you. I post some of my weird observations and quotes from my kids that will fit in 140 characters.
The best way to get followers is to follow others and interact with others. You’ll follow some people who won’t follow you back, and you can decide how to handle that. There is no rule that says you must follow everyone who follows you. If you want to see who isn’t following you back, you can use a program like ManageFlitter. (I use the free option.) I usually follow about 100 people a day, and several times a week, I go into ManageFlitter and unfollow the “oldest” 100 people who aren’t following back. I have about 4,000 people who aren’t following back, so I figure I’m giving them at least a month.
You can also do keyword searches for your field or your interests, but I always end up with more junk results than good ones. I probably need to work on using better search parameters, but for now, I’ll skip the searches.
It’s very easy to build a good following on Twitter in just a few minutes a day, without spending any money, whether it’s on a legitimate system like ManageFlitter or buying fake followers (which doesn’t help in the long run and if Twitter catches you, they’ll suspend your account). These are the methods I used.
What methods have you used to get Twitter followers without spending any money?