Building a Twitter Following

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By Mark Bartlett

Building your Twitter following can be daunting and difficult for organizations. Below are several strategies that can be implemented to help increase your following.

  1. Mass follow strategy

The Mass Follow Strategy is a concept in which one follows an abundance of accounts, in hopes that they will follow back.  Stefan Tanese, a social media researcher, implemented this strategy by following 50,000 people—but only 8,000 people followed in return.  That means Tanese had a 17 percent follow-back rate.

There are a couple pitfalls to this strategy, technically and practically. In a technical sense, Twitter has established rules that block users from following over 2,000 profiles unless they are also being followed by a similar number to deter automated accounts, mass marketers, and spam. In a practical sense, most of the followers that follow back automatically will be mass marketers and spammers, rendering the mass-follow technique useless.


  1. Equal ratio strategy

The equal ratio strategy can be defined as having an account that keeps the follower to following ratio as equal as possible. To successfully use this strategy, you should only choose to follow users that seem most likely to follow you back.  This strategy is usually too time consuming, unless the brand is well-known.


  1. Targeted follow strategies

The target follow strategy can be best used by first following (50-150) profiles that have similar interests, target audiences or even ideas as you.  This may include competition for some businesses.

Follow profiles that have the equal follower/following counts, these profiles are more likely to follow back. To increase the chance of a follow back, mentioning the account in a tweet will inform the person about gaining a follower.

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The above graphic shows Twitters “suggested followers” option. This is meant to steer you towards followers that might spark your interest or share your interest.


Crafting an Effective Twitter Channel

After you have successfully mastered the framework for building your following, keeping an effective channel with interesting content can be another challenge. Below are several tips and rules to consider for your channel.

  1. Self-promote cautiously

Rule of thumb: Do not market too much. Focusing on relationships first will distinguish you from the crowd of advertisers.

Provide others with links and mentions and they may reciprocate.

Keep a 10:1 ratio in mind at all times. For each self-promotional tweet, there should be 10 mentioned tweets. Generously mentioning other accounts will foster connections for the future.


  1. Choose optimal Tweet times

Post when people are updating the most—midday during mid-week have been shown to be the most frequent times.

A prime example of optimal time was Oreo’s “You can still dunk in the dark” tweet that was posted during the 2013 NFL Super Bowl.

Keep time zones in mind at all times.


  1. Respond to questions

Firms frequently use twitter to answer questions from their publics.

Example, Nike uses a separate Twitter handle @nikesupport to provide a single place to answer user questions quickly.

Micro blogging lets users seek input from others in a business context and responding to comments, questions, or issues that customers have.

Providing useful information can build a brands reputation and thought leadership.


  1. Gather feedback

Ask consumers directly for feedback. This is a much cheaper option then focus groups or other tools. When asked politely, twitter users are happy to give their opinion.

Feedback on twitter can be very helpful, so it is good practice to encourage and reward users who provide it. These give and take relationships can aggregate into a gathering input machine that could have a huge input on your organizations message.


  1. Provide unique value

Why follow and listen to the messages being offered? If you cannot answer this question, then your message is not clear.

A good way to keep viewer’s attention is to offer special deals like coupons, special products, free shipping, promotions, etc.

The most important aspect is that the deal is only available to Twitter users. Coca-Cola’s “Share a Coke” campaign is an example.

  • Followers get a sense of exclusivity and privilege from the special bargain that has their name on it.



How do you build your Twitter network? Let us know in the comments below, and check us out on Facebook and Twitter.

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