On March 25, I had 4,267 followers on Twitter, where my handle is @jeffelder. Today, June 24, I have 43,968 followers. This post will tell you exactly what I did to grow my follower base so dramatically. First, a disclaimer:
I do not believe in the popularity-contest view of social media: That the little number beside your face on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn defines your desirability or value as a connection. But I am a realist. As a social media professional, I like what my follower base says about my effectiveness: Many of my clients want me to grow their fan bases. (When I ran social media for a Fortune Fifty company, I grew its Facebook fan base 700% in one year, to 500,000 fans.) I want the largest audience of potential clients, colleagues, collaborators, and friends that I can get. So on this issue, I choose to take the bait. I respect those who don't, and are content with a patient, organic growth that is not encouraged by the tactics listed here. And I concede that these are tactics to boost your follower base. But I also give myself some credit for being entirely transparent in how I've grown my account. On to specifics:
- I joined Twitter Counter, Klout, and Twiends -- sites that measure and encourage community building. I bought ads or placement that highlighted my profile so other users could see what I do on Twitter and decide if they want to follow me. I did not "buy followers." I simply promoted my account to show potential real followers what I do on Twitter. That highlighted my content, and let it speak for itself.
- I held a promotion on my Twitter account in which I gave $20 to the favorite causes of some followers. This was extremely popular, and has been emulated by others, who have credited me for the idea. It highlighted worthwhile causes and gave them positive buzz. It also gained me lots of engagement, followers and positive sentiment. (Should I do this again? I'm asking.)
- I tweeted strong content with helpful links, and left space at the end of my tweets so others could share them with their thoughts. This is very important. I cut back on my @replies that were purely conversational, and concentrated on contributing good information that any Twitter user might want to see -- and share. The retweets of my information -- both automatic and old school (RT) -- soared.
- I got my Twitter handle, @jeffelder, "out there," by mentioning it in media. (See what I just did?)
- I followed back real Twitter users who followed me. Want me to follow you? @reply me, and I will.