No bull$#!t, tried and tested techniques to increase your Twitter following and drive consistent sales, even if you’re just starting out.
One liner: You’ll learn everything about Twitter growth, for free.
Some might call this a book, as it has more length and better content than some top Twitter marketing books out there. But I want to make it available on other mediums too.
Some might call this a paid, premium course, because it teaches you everything you need to know about growing your business with Twitter. But I want you to read it for free.
Some might have a full blog (entire blog, not a blog post) dedicated to this, not just one kickass blog post. But I want you to have all the info on one coherent page.
So I’m calling it the hustler’s guide to twitter growth. Because all you need is these lessons, tactics, and tools, and the willingness to hustle.
Get a quick overview:
Even though Twitter is no longer the darling of the social networking apps and websites, it’s still being used by hundreds of millions of people each day because of its simplicity and effectiveness.
I love Twitter because it’s the only social network where if you’re ready to put in the work, you can be in charge of your own destiny.
On Facebook, you can’t do much outreach yourself, if you’re not willing to pay. And even once you’ve managed to grow the number of your fans, your posts will only be seen by a small portion of them (between 2% and 8%), unless you pay. So Facebook is basically a pay to play network.
On Instagram, if you put out good quality content, and by using various techniques, you’ll be able to grow a good following, but it’s really hard to convert them because the only link you can have is the one in your profile bio. Or if you’re willing to pay. Thank you, Facebook for buying Instagram.
LinkedIn works really well only for a particular demographic, as most people don’t check their LinkedIn multiple times a day, as they do with Twitter or Facebook. Unless you’re looking for a job. In which case growing your audience is not a top priority. Massages and office dogs are.
SnapChat is the cool kid, but most people haven’t figured it out yet. What’s with all the dots in the profile pictures? Is it like a costume party, where everyone wears a ghost costume?
What will you learn in this guide?
- Why should you care about growing your Twitter audience in the first place
- How to optimize your Twitter profile, even if you’re not a Victoria’s Secret model
- How you can get over 1000 Twitter followers overnight (really!)
- How to use the reciprocation principle to build a targeted audience
- How to expand your Twitter growth outside Twitter
- How to grow your beard so you look like Santa (ok, maybe not this last one)
Download it as PDF
Give me your best email and I’ll send you the full guide, as a PDF, by email.
Many online marketers will charge good money for the tools and tactics described below. But I love to help! Plus there’s karma, Santa, the Easter bunny, and of course a real business strategy behind this kickass post. So keep reading.
So why do you need an audience?
If you have a business or you’re planning to start one, if you want to become a thought expert, or are thinking about becoming a speaker, coach or even a writer, you need an audience.
Build it and they will come does not work anymore, in today’s world.
Build it and you will hear crickets. Unless you have an audience.
Even if you are not working on building a company now, I guess there’s a large chance you’re planning to at one point. No, I am not a fortune teller, but because you’re reading this, chances are I’m right. So when you’re ready to build that company, write that book, or start your career as professional Twitter stand-up-er, don’t you want to have people that know, like and trust you, ready to buy?
The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The second best time is today. The same goes for audience building.
Check your basics – have a great profile
One liner: You should optimize your profile so when people discover you,they’ll want to follow you.
So now that you’re ready to grow your audience, let’s make sure you start off on the right foot.
Just like when a restaurant looks bad and feels shady, no amount of marketing will bring people in, you need to have a good looking profile to maximize your growth reach.
You might think the picture from the college party years ago is great, but that look might not work as well on Twitter as it did on that crazy night. Oh, the memories!
So get ready to beef up your profile for this decade.
The Twitter handle
Even though you might have a Twitter handle already, it’s not too late to change it. Being Twitter, it should be as short as possible, and as descriptive as possible.
These days it might be hard to find good, available handles. Even the handle for your first and last name might be taken. So what can you do?
Adding prefixes or suffixes can make you find a handle you’re happy with. Prefixes might include: The, ThisIs, Its, Meet or iAm for the personal handles. Get is frequently used for business handles. For business handles, you might use the domain you have spelled out (eg add “dotcom” at the end). For personal accounts, having an underline ( “_” ) between your first name and last name can also work. Plus it looks fun in the previous sentence.
Adding numbers can also work, but it will make you look spammy, so if you have to do that, make sure it’s not a long number.
Sometimes you’ll have to add both a prefix and a suffix to get a decent handle. And jump twice in the air. This is what you get for not joining Twitter in 2006.
If it’s your personal account, well, that’s easy. Just use your own name.
If it’s your company’s account, you have three options:
- Use your company’s name or the name of the product (but no Ltd or other tax-related technicalities). This works best for larger companies where multiple people are in charge of the account.
- If it’s only one person tweeting from this account, let’s call her Jane, you can have as the profile name Jane from Company’s Name. Eg. Ovi from nugget. You can change “from” with “of” or “at”. As you’d like. This works best when you want to create more of a personal touch with your followers. People never talk to companies. They talk to people.
- Add a random name, with no link to the company whatsoever. Ok, maybe don’t do this.
Call the paparazzi. Get the camera ready. It’s photoshoot time!
If it’s your personal account, a headshot works best. Most important here – be yourself (everyone else is taken). Whatever your personality is, let it shine in this photo. Bring your authentic self.
It should also be a profile photo where people will be able to recognize you if they bump into you at a conference or in line waiting for that sweet cup of coffee.
If it’s your company’s account, you have three options:
- Just use your company’s logo. Make sure it looks great in a square shape. If your logo is mostly horizontal, see if you can add just your icon or if you can create a design that looks great in a square.
- Especially if you went with option #2 when naming your account, ie [Your firstname] from [Company’s name], you can add a headshot (see above) and add in the picture somewhere the logo of your company. But don’t add it straight on top of your face. Unless, well… you think it would improve the overall picture if you know what I mean.
- Use the Ovi.co logo as your profile picture. Let me know if you do. 🙂
The recommended dimensions are 400x400 pixels.
The profile header is a great bit of real estate from your profile, so use it wisely.
You can use it to showcase your personality some more, or to emphasize a marketing message you might have. If you’re running a current promotion or have a running marketing campaign, it can also be used to highlight it.
The recommended dimensions are 1500x500 pixels.
Being Twitter, you can’t write essays in your profile bio. Not a long one, anyway. But one that has 160 characters max. Which is 20 characters more than the regular tweet size. Thank you Twitter for this awesome bonus.
Just as with the rest of the elements, the profile bio should make it clear what you do, how you are unique and most important, why should somebody follow you?
Whenever you follow somebody (more on this soon), if they have email notifications enabled, they will get an email with all your profile info. And the profile bio will be the main information they will use to see if you’re worth following back, or at least checking out. So make it good.
In the profile bio you can use all the elements you can use in a tweet – @mentions of an account, #hashtags, and links. Use them to your advantage.
If this is your personal account, but you’re also a founder of a company that has its own Twitter handle, you might add that in your bio. Eg: Founder @SocialBeeHQ. If on the other hand, this is your business account, you might want to mention who is tweeting on behalf of it.
#Hashtags can be used in the profile bio to highlight some key words you find important. Eg: I’m a #marketer that loves tacos. Just don’t over crowd your description with #hashtags. #hashtags #everywhere.
Even though there’s a dedicated field for your URL in your Twitter profile, you can add here any other link you might want to promote now.
My current bio is: How to Start a Startup in 10 quick emails: http://www.HowToStartup.co | Founder @getnuggetapp & @SocialBeeHq | #Startup advisor.
I revise it regularly, as you should too, so by the time you’re reading this it might say: ‘Eccentric Billionaire’. Or something else.
If you’re looking to spice up your bio with some power words that will make you feel invincible, find some here.
Don’t ask people to also follow you on SnapChat, friend you on Facebook, connect with you on LinkedIn or help you move this following Saturday. People won’t do that anyway just because you’ve added it to your bio, and you’re taking away valuable bio characters for that.
This is your main URL. Straight forward, but there are a few tricks for this too.
Do not put up a bit.ly (or other URL shorteners) link. Sure, it might be shorter, but it does not matter. Twitter uses up 23 characters for any link, regardless of its real size. So there’s no gain and it looks bad.
And yes, bit.ly will give you some analytics, but so will Google Analytics. And the Google Analytics you get are private, while the bit.ly ones are public. Just add a “+” after any bit.ly link and see for yourself.
What you can do is have a landing page specifically for the Twitter audience. With a special message and maybe a bonus if they perform the action you want them to. Eg: they get a free ebook if they subscribe to your newsletter.
When checking out your profile, many people will click this link, so this is one of the consistent ways you can drive visits and sales from your Twitter.
Sure, you can use this to add the city/country where you live, and that might have its benefits, but nobody says it has to be an actual place.
You can use this piece of valuable Twitter real estate to further tell your story.
Like @TRVL who uses it to ‘brag’ about their impressive download numbers.
This works best for company accounts, but you can get as creative as you’d like and showcase your product’s benefits or your unique personality. Did you see my location info?
Yes, you can also customize the theme color. But unless you know what are doing, I suggest you don’t go wild on this one.
When people decide if they want to follow you or not, they first check your profile. And besides the profile info we talked about above, they will also look at what you’re tweeting.
As you should be tweeting often (more about this in another episode), you can’t know for sure what your last tweets are when somebody visits your profile.
But there’s one tweet you can control: the pinned tweet.
So make sure you have a pinned tweet that further builds on your narrative, or promotes whatever you’re currently promoting.
Ideally, it should be an image with a description and a link. Image tweets have better engagement, plus you know the old saying: an image is worth a thousand words. Plus, as you can write 30 (or any other number) words on that image, the image will be worth a thousand and thirty words. So that’s good.
Having a pinned tweet that has many likes and RTs (aka social proof) will do even better. I will show you how to get those likes and RTs soon.
Final words about customizing your profile
You now have a profile that would even make Jeff Bezos want to follow you (he doesn’t follow anyone). Hurray!
I bet it’s so good that I’ll want to follow you too. Tweet at me and I will.
If you still have questions, ask away, or find them in Twitter’s help center: https://support.twitter.com/articles/127871
The friends and followers count
One liner: The number of people following you should be greater than the number of people you follow.
People like to follow people with many followers because the number of people following you shows social proof.
An account with a large following number shows (at least in theory) that it’s a valuable account that many people chose to follow. While an account with only a few followers must mean it’s not worth following. Sure, pop culture shows us that value has nothing to do with audiences, but if you’re planning to build a large audience on Twitter, already having a large number of followers will help you get even more.
You always want your number of Twitter followers to be greater than the number of people you follow. This shows that you are a trusted (business or personal) brand and will make others want to follow you.
Fame breads fame. Money attract more money. And Twitter accounts with many followers get even more followers.
So how do you get many followers to get even more followers if you’re just starting out? Want to learn how to break this vicious circle? Keep reading.
Who’s on Twitter?
You can connect your existing email accounts and see which of your contacts are already on Twitter. Unless they’ve had enough of you because you keep emailing them about everything under the sun, they might be inclined to follow you back.
So go to: https://twitter.com/who_to_follow/import and import all your contacts.
Once you do, follow all of them. You might even @mention them with a personal tweet, to let them know you’re on Twitter and you’re glad to see them on Twitter too.
Beef up the Pinned Tweet
We’ve talked before about the importance of the pinned tweet. It’s the first of your tweets somebody who is checking out your profile will see.
So get retweets and likes on that tweet from your friends, followers, neighbours, that girl at Starbucks, anybody and everybody you can.
What you will see is that once you have a few tens of retweets on your pinned tweet, more real Twitter users will retweet it themselves (it still has to be a relevant, valuable tweet), earning you real reach.
Now that we have your basics covered, let’s go into the meat of your Twitter growth.
Use these tactics to grow your account with real, targeted followers
One liner: Follow relevant people. Many of them will follow you back. Use SocialBee.io to easily manage this.
The reciprocity principle
In social psychology, reciprocity is a social rule that says people should repay, in kind, what another person has provided for them; that is, people give back (reciprocate) the kind of treatment they have received from another. By virtue of the rule of reciprocity, people are obligated to repay favors, gifts, invitations, etc. in the future. Read more about it here.
What does this mean for your Twitter growth?
It means that if you will follow somebody, because of the reciprocity rule, they will be inclined to follow you back. Again, your account must look like it’s worth following, but reciprocity gives you a helping hand in growing your follower count.
But how to best find these accounts that will then reciprocate by following you back?
Follow users as a basis for your Twitter growth
You have a profile worth following. Check. You know about the reciprocity principle. Check.
Now it’s time to lift up your sleeves, get to work and get some new, relevant, followers.
The best way to get new followers is to start following relevant accounts. Every day.
When you follow someone they will get a notification. This might be over email, if they haven’t opted out of that, or just a Twitter notification. Most people, when they get a new follower, they will go over to their profile to see who they are. If they look like someone worth following, they will most likely follow back.
This is the tested and true method of how, over time, you can get to tens of thousands of followers. It’s recommended by many growth hackers, not just me. And you should use it before everyone does, rendering it less effective.
What users should you follow?
So where to find the users to follow and how to do it without spending half a day and giving up your firstborn child?
Don’t worry. I’ve got you covered. This is why we built SocialBee 😉
Bees of a feather flock together. Or was it birds? I don’t remember.
Nevertheless, 80% of the time, people who follow someone who is, let’s say, into startups, are also into startups. People who will follow a social media expert are into social media. And so on.
So the best way to find people that are into your target group, is to find people that are similar to you, from an interest point of view, and just go ahead and copy their followers. They won’t mind.
By copying their followers I mean just following all of their followers. I’ll show you how this is easy to do with SocialBee in a swing of a feather. Ok, maybe a few swings. Unless it’s a slow swing. Up to 25% of the people you follow might follow you back.
So who should you copy followers from?
First of all, think of who comes to mind when you’re thinking about who has a similar profile to you. It might be a competitor, or a partner, or just a celebrity (they can be just an industry celebrity, they don’t have to have a duet with Justin Bieber – who wants that?) in your industry, niche or general business space.
For example, I have created a free 10 day email course based on Sam Altman’s (Y Combinator president) video lectures, named How to start a startup. And because I have a tweet about this course pinned, for me, copying followers from @SamA is a great option.
If you’re an author writing science fiction books, you might want to copy the followers of Martian author Andy Weir. And so on.
But don’t just look at competitors, or celebrities in your space. Think of who else has your customers. It might be a company that has a product for that audience. Or a conference where everybody in your industry is going to drink and make connections. But mostly to drink.
And if you want to take it a step further, and see who is a celebrity in your space that you might even not know of, use Right relevance. It’s free. Just go to http://www.rightrelevance.com/, type in some keywords that are relevant to the following you’re trying to build, switch to the influencers tab, and be amazed. You’ll find here people in that space who have massive followings.
Unless your niche is some esoteric field that only a handful of people know of, copying their followers will take quite some time, so you’re good to go.
A good alternative to Right Relevance is BuzzSumo. You can basically use them the same way.
To easily copy the followers of an account, while staying within Twitter’s daily follow limits, just use SocialBee. It’s free and awesome. Sure, it also has some paid features. We need to bring in the honey somehow.
After you signup and we synchronize your account, just go over to Copy followers, add the Twitter handle of the account whose followers you want to copy and hit enter.
SocialBee will show you all of their followers. You can quickly go through that list and start following the ones you like by pressing the green “+” button.
If you see an account that you don’t want to follow, just hit “Add to blacklist”. This will make sure you won’t see that account in a list of accounts to follow any more.
You shouldn’t mindlessly follow everybody. Twitter forbids that.
And voila. It’s done. Now follow as many accounts as you want (more on limits soon) each day.
This is the best, easiest, and most certain way of growing your Twitter audience with relevant accounts. So use it!
Twitter follow limits
The technical follow limit is 1,000 per day. But this might be smaller because of your ratio (more about it soon). This means you can follow up to 1,000 accounts per day. Beside the daily limit, there are also hourly limits that may apply.
Besides the time based limits, once you’ve followed 5000 users, there are limits to the number of additional users you can follow: this limit is different for every user and is based on your ratio of followers to following. This means that if you’re following a lot more people than follow you back, you won’t be able to follow more users.
Whenever you reach your follow or unfollow limit, you’ll be notified by Twitter and you’ll either have to wait, in the case you’ve maxed out your hourly or daily limit, or will have to unfollow some accounts or get more people to follow you so your followers-following ratio improves.
These limits are part of the internal sauce of Twitter, so there might be some variants between different accounts, based on their follower and following count, the time since the account was created, and other factors.
Users from lists
Many people curate lists of people in a specific field. Some are truly hand curated and really good. Some are automatically created in the hopes that people will follow them back (but this tactic does not really work, so don’t use it).
Either way, if they were hand curated or created by an algorithm, they all bring together people with interests in a specific category. So if you find some good lists around your topic of interest, follow the people on that list too. The probability of them following you back is quite high.
Unfollow users not worth following
The reciprocity principle is a funny one. Not everybody reciprocates. It might be because your notification got lost in the information overload of today’s age and they did not see your profile at all, or that they checked your profile and they were not impressed, or that they think you’re not in their niche, or that they don’t want to follow more people, or that they’re Jeff Bezos and don’t follow anyone, or that you’ve followed them on a Friday the 13th and they see that as a bad sign…
The reasons for someone not following you back are countless, but the bottom line is that you should not take it personally.
If somebody did not feel like you’re worth following, why should you follow them? Stop making unworthy people famous.
You can use SocialBee to easily unfollow people who are not following you back.
Just go to the Non-followers tab within your profile, and hit the red unfollow button. But don’t do this right away after you’ve just followed somebody. Give them 3 to 5 days so they can follow you back. And if they don’t, you can unfollow them then.
There might be some great accounts that you want to follow even if they don’t follow you back. You can then add them to your whitelist.
You shouldn’t mindlessly unfollow all the people who don’t follow you back.
Once you’ve unfollowed people who don’t follow you back, your ratio (the number of people who follow you vs the number of people who you follow) will always stay in your favor. This also lets you to keep following new accounts and not have a problem with Twitter follow limits.
You’re on your way to Twitter domination!
Convert followers from other mediums
Just because you want to build a Twitter audience does not mean you can only build it on Twitter. So where else can you find new Twitter followers and how can you convert them?
Other social networks
You should regularly share your Twitter handle on all the social networks you’re using. It’s a good way to cross promote your account from one social network to the others. Just don’t overdo it.
Ideally, create images to go along with your posts on Facebook and Instagram. LinkedIn also allows you to add your Twitter handle(s) to your profile. Use SnapChat, Periscope, Blab, or other social networks built around video to promote your Twitter too.
And once WhatsYourInstaSnapFace comes out (give it enough time and it will), promote your Twitter account there as well.
Different social networks are used for sharing different forms of content. That’s why it’s important to cross promote all your accounts.
Email – the original social network
OK, maybe it’s not a social network per se. I don’t know. But it’s still the most used medium to communicate, either one to one, one to many or many to many. Even Many to nany.
So when you start out you can email people you know that are on Twitter to let them know you’ve joined too, and they can be following you there as well.
A personal email can go a long way.
Don’t forget about your email signature. You’re probably sending out tens or hundreds of emails each day, so not having an email signature to promote your social presence and your business is a missed opportunity.
Your existing mailing list
You might have already an existing email list. Here are a few tricks you can implement to grow your following.
The welcome email
In most email marketing providers you can set up an automated welcome email. In MailChimp (one of the most common ones), you can use the Sign up “thank you” page or Sign up “welcome” email found under Signup forms/General forms to create a thank you page or email for free. Or you can use their Automation feature (this is a paid feature) to send a welcome email like that.
Make this email personal and ask people to follow you on Twitter as well.
Follow Calls To Action in any newsletter issue
Each time you send out a newsletter, you can remind your subscribers that they can follow you on Twitter too. You can even make a newsletter issue have the main CTA that they should check you out on Twitter and then follow you.
You can also have links to your social accounts in the footer of your newsletter, as you would have in your regular email signature. Some people will follow you starting from that.
MailChimp Social Profiles
A powerful but less known feature of MailChimp is the possibility to find the social profiles of the people on your list. Meaning that MailChimp will look up all of your subscribers on the main social networking sites and when they find them, they’ll show you their profiles.
You can then for example send an email only to the people that MailChimp saw they are on Twitter too, to let them know about the awesomeness of your Twitter account.
Or to follow them on Twitter so they might follow you back too.
See how you can get the social profiles of your MailChimp subscribers here.
Your own website
Your website is also an invaluable source to gather new followers. In today’s world, it’s mandatory to show the main social accounts you have on your website. Most common places to promote your social profiles are in the header, footer, or sidebar of your website.
A Twitter wall that embeds your latest tweets into your page might also help.
Paid Twitter ads
And of course, if you’re willing to spend some money, you can always use Twitter ads.
Getting the most of your investment in Twitter ads is a whole new subject on its own, that I’m far from mastering so I won’t even try to give you any tips and tricks.
I might update this section at one point with the help of a Twitter ads expert.
Until then, I just wanted to remind you that this is a great option too, if you’re willing to invest a bit.
Content & Engagement
Great content is a prerequisite to growing your Twitter audience. Great content will also drive traffic and sales to your business.
Engagement will turn simple followers into fans and advocates.
These are vast and important topics on themselves, so I’ll write such a kick ass guide for each of these subjects.
So if you haven’t already, make sure you subscribe to SocialBee to know when they’re out.
Feeling overwhelmed? Let us do it for you.
SocialBee Concierge – Fully Managed Twitter Marketing
We’ll organically grow your Twitter following + we make sure your account has always relevant tweets.
Download the Guide as PDF
One liner: Signup for SocialBee and start growing your audience.
With great power comes great responsibility.
Make sure you use these newfound powers for good. Don’t spam and don’t abuse these tactics.
I’d love to hear from you to see how these tactics are working for you or if you’ve found some new ones. So feel free to contact me.
Make it buzz,