Twitter has become a must have tool for authors, however it can be daunting for a Twitter newcomer. While there many ‘How To’ guides available on the Internet, one area that is not so well explained is how to build a quality following that is relevant to your area of interest. The following tips can be applied to any niche you are interested in, but I’ll stay with books, authors and writing.
1. Your Twitter Account. No one will follow you if you are an egg. The egg is the default avatar when you start a Twitter account, so your very first task is to change this and add an appealing photo of yourself. Next is to write your bio. Make sure it is interesting, honest and perhaps amusing. Try to avoid over used clichés such as ‘avid reader’ and ‘aspiring author. Be creative. Make sure you add your website or blog link to your profile too. Then add a Twitter background and perhaps change the standard colours of your page.
Using your real name is far more likely to attract followers. Clever nicknames are best avoided. Your account needs to be appealing for people with similar interests to follow, so don’t put up barriers such as protecting your Tweets or using annoying validation services.
2. Follow Targeted Users. Perhaps a few people might stumble upon your account and follow you, but the best way to attract relevant and active followers is to follow them first. The easiest way to do this is to find one or two large Twitter accounts that are in your area of interest. You can find these by clicking ‘Who To Follow’ at the top right of your Twitter page. Then click ‘Browse Intersests’ then ‘Books’ from the list. One of my favourite accounts to find people to follow is @Goodreads . Click on the account name and the profile will pop out. Now click ‘Followers’ Now you can see the list of users following Goodreads. When you click on a follower’s name you will see their information. Now it’s time to be selective. I use these factors when deciding who to follow:
- Is there a personal avatar and bio? If not, don’t bother. If there is, click and look at the details.
- Check the bio to see if it’s relevant to your area of interest.
- Follow Ratio. I prefer users with fewer followers than following. Simply because they are more likely to follow back.
- Activity should be very recent. Preferably in the last 24 hours as this indicates an active user.
- Recent tweets can tell you if the user is conversational or just posting rss feeds and ‘buy my stuff’.
- If it’s a protected account you won’t see any information at all, so I would normally not follow.
- An account with a huge number of followers and following very few is usually a celebrity account, so little use in following.
- Then if all looks promising click ‘Follow’.
- Continue down the list and add more, but don’t go crazy. Twitter has follow limits, so perhaps 50 or so follows per day.
3. Unfollowing those who don’t follow back. A little cleaning is necessary as you’re looking for interaction from Twitter and you can’t do this if you’re not followed. So wait a week or so and unfollow some of those accounts that didn’t follow back. Take it easy though as ‘churning’ on Twitter can result in a susention of your account. The easiest way I have found to do a little house keeping is by using two effective tools for the job.
Who Unfollowed Me is a simple tool that tells you who unfollowed you. Scan the list and if someone you are following has unfollowed you, you can unfollow them. I use this every few days or so.
The other tool I use is Manage Flitter. When you log in and run this for your account you are given details on your whole account. The first tab I click is ‘Inactive’. These are users who have not tweeted for four weeks or more and have more than likely quit using Twitter. Normally worth unfollowing these accounts. The other tabs are self explanatory, but the main one of interest is of course, ‘Not Following Back’. When you unfollow here, make sure you unfollow your oldest follows and not your newest. Don’t go crazy though. Remember my earlier warning about churning. If you followed 50 users a week before, some will have followed you back, so perhaps as a guide, unfollowing 35-40 at most would be reasonable.
4. Little by little. Don’t go berserk with following and unfollowing. A few minutes a day spent finding quality and relevant users plus a little cleaning from time to time will help you build your Twitter following.
Of course the most important thing to do now is interact and communicate with your new followers. It is amazing how many new followers you can get just by being conversational, friendly and informative. So have fun and enjoy Twitter with your new followers who share your interests.