Twitter Followers – Building A Quality Following

Twitter FollowersTwitter 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 overused 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 Interests’ 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. Unfollow 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 suspension of your account. The easiest way I have found to do a little housekeeping 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 followers 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 to 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.

11 thoughts on “Twitter Followers – Building A Quality Following”

  1. Interesting tips and tools. Depressing to see how many are NOT following in return, but then I’ve never gotten the hang of Twitter. Trying, but…

    How does one manage to keep up with it all – email, texting, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, and now Twitter. I’ve tried TweetDeck…no good for me.

    And to be more pointed, is it really worth it?

  2. Well Cyndi, it is only worth it if it achieves what you want. For some Twitter is about conversation, advice and interaction. For others is about inviting people nicely to something. A blog post or website more than likely. Or usually a combination of the two. But I do agree with you that there a lot of social networking sites, so you do need to be selective about the ones that are right for you.

  3. I know, Derek, but thanks for the reminder! It’s my fear of missing out, of not doing all I should be doing, that won’t let go. I’m working on it…still!

  4. Good post! I would also add to that to be sure and follow some people who have less than 500 people following them with less them, because they are more likely to follow back!

    Also, when people mention you, thank them!

    And, reply to tweets! That also builds relationships on twitter…

  5. LindyLouMacinItaly

    Although I do not have the desire to spend that much time on Twitter I do find it useful and this post is certainly of interest.

  6. I’m just finishing getting my blog sorted out, so this could be useful information when it comes to trying to get some actual followers in addition to the handful of people I know will read it.

    Another possible tip – if you follow somebody who themselves follow a lot of people, even if they follow you back it may not be useful. Their timeline will move so fast that they will probably never notice your tweets! Chances are those people don’t look at their timeline but just use lists instead – your challenge is to get onto one of those lists!

    BTW I enjoy reading your blog!

  7. Good, common sense advice, Derek. Do it manually, do it carefully, and go for quality over quantity.

    Keep an eye on those who are following you too. Not so much the followers that come as a result of you following them first, but those that you just get over the course of time through other sources/reasons. This is where all your spammers are coming from. Vette your followers and don’t be afraid to block and/or report the suspect ones.

    Spend a little time each day or week devoted to managing your a/c.

  8. Thanks for a great post about Twitter, which is a work in progress. Can always use more tips!

    Chick Dick Mysteries

  9. For me, Twitter is a great way to run across some great posts, and people. (It’s how I found your blog.) Often I read things people retweet. It is also a way to promote my blog a bit, and just share the social media experience with some really nice people (people are so polite on Twitter!).

    I have started being more selective about who I follow…and your points are excellent ones. I tend to follow writers (because I love to read), photographers (because I am an avid amateur photographer), and almost anything art (because I am an artist). But I have a few people/businesses that I followed before I realized those points you made. The good thing? If I don’t promote them (and I only retweet what I actually read first), they usually drop me after a while. :D

    Thanks for the solid pointers!

  10. Rene Peterson

    Thank you for a very helpful article! I tried using Tweetdeck and found that far more confusing than Twitter. I use Twitter as a way of sharing good information on writing. Managing a following is very challenging without these additional tools – frankly, I haven’t bothered until now. The only thing I’ve done is make sure they aren’t spammers. I only want followers who are legitimate human beings trying to connect without always trying to sell something!

  11. Hey, Derek. I’m updating my Market Yourself page on my blog to include a link to this post. Last time I taught a Social Media Class to my local writers’ group, ECW, we ran out of time to explain twitter basics. I don’t like the follow everybody method, so linking will save me time explaining and get you a few more page views after class, I hope.

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