Musings on

Leadership

By March 18, 2011

Guide to Building Followers on Twitter for Business Leaders

Note: I updated this with new tips on Nov. 17, 2013

A lot of our clients are beginning to use Twitter. And, their number one question is “How do I get more followers?” It’s a good question because – like it or not – you don’t have much of an impact on Twitter without a significant following.

And, Tweeting can make sense for your company. If you’re a small business, Twitter can actually help bring in new customers. By a margin of 64 percent, users are more likely to buy from brands they follow on Twitter, according to an infographic by analytics company KISSmetrics.

I’ve tried lots of things on Twitter and have learned what works and doesn’t. So to help you avoid the pitfalls and time wasters, I’ve put together my top tips that can help you to grow your list of Twitter followers quite quickly. With only a few minutes each day, you’ll be surprised how fast your list can snowball into large numbers.

How to Build Followers on Twitter

  1. Be interesting: This is the number one thing that will build your following on Twitter. Tweet interesting information. Be creative, be funny, be informative, be friendly, be yourself.
  2. Start with your organization — follow co-workers: If you have other people you know in your organization who are using Twitter, start by following them. They’ll follow you back, and the people who follow them are likely to start following you as well.
  3. Follow colleagues, clients, vendors, and like competitors: This is similar to the first strategy. It just widens your net a bit. Follow other people you know who are on Twitter including clients, colleagues, and vendors. When you go to events, ask people if they are on Twitter and if they are, make it a point to follow them. (be sure to follow me @WendyMaynard and I’ll follow you back!)
  4. Follow with purpose: Develop relationships with people who are in the same universe as you. Pick people to follow who are thought leaders and authors you admire. Therefore, your follows should be strategic and intended to garner a follow back.
  5. Post regularly: You want to get in the habit of Tweeting regularly. Hop on your account for 3 minutes in the morning and 3 minutes in the afternoon and shoot out a couple of Tweets each time. You want people to know that you are an active participant. People are more likely to follow you if you are a super-Tweeter. In fact, studies show that Twitter users who Tweet more get more followers. Specifically, a person who has written 1 to 1000 tweets has an average of 51 to 100 followers, whereas users who have tweeted more than 10,000 times tend to be followed by 1,001 to 5000 individuals.
  6. ReTweet often and liberally: People like to be noticed. When one of the people you are following Tweets something interesting, take a second an Retweet it. This shares the good and makes it more likely that someone with more followers than you will Retweet you. When they do this, all of their followers will see your Tweet and some of them will follow you.
  7. Engage the authorities: If you can get a person who has a significant Twitter following to follow you and Tweet with you, you will gather more followers. So, for those individuals with whom you really want a relationship, follow them, RT their tweets, favorite their Tweets, @mention them, and make thoughtful comments on their Tweets. Enthusiastic engagement gets noticed and gives you a better chance of getting on their radar. (It goes without saying, be professional not a pest.)
  8. Help, help, help: If you see folks on Twitter who are asking questions about your industry, then by all means Tweet them an answer. You can reply to someone directly by putting the at sign in front of their Twitter handle. For example, if you wanted to Tweet something to us we are at @kinesisinc. One place you can go to look up keywords is the Twitter Search. Click on the Advanced link to get even more options. If I wanted to look for a potential client asking questions, I could enter the search term “marketing” and scan to see if anyone is asking questions about my area of expertise. When I answer them, they are likely to follow me.
  9. Thank people: If someone helps you out on Twitter (or outside of Twitter), acknowledge them on Twitter. People like to follow gracious people.
  10. Participate in #followfriday: When you put a # next to a word, it’s called a hashtag. You can use the Twitter Search function and look up words by hashtag. Go there now and look up #followfriday. You’ll see lots of lists of Twitter handles. Every Friday, people on Twitter post the handles of people they think are interesting. So, you can do the same thing! On Fridays, take the time to post a list along with the hashtag #followfriday or #ff. These people are likely to recognize you at some point in the future and when they do, Voila! You get more followers.
  11. Incorporate your Twitter handle into other materials: Put your Twitter handle on your business card, Facebook page, and other places where you promote your business.
  12. Follow those who follow those you like to read: A little bit convoluted sounding, but it’s quite simple. Go to the people that you follow and look at their list of followers. Start clicking on their links and follow them. Most people on Twitter will follow you back once you follow them. This is a very easy way to grow your followers quickly. One caveat: don’t follow too many people in one day – stick to 20 people otherwise Twitter will give you a warning.
  13. Follow those who follow your followers: By utilizing a free and low-cost tool like Tweepi, you can scan the list of accounts that follow your own followers on Twitter. As they are likely to share similar interests, you may consider following them as well.
  14. Use a timesaving tool to schedule your tweets. You can use tools like TweetDeck and HootSuite to pre-schedule Tweets. For example, if you are posting to your blog tomorrow, schedule a couple of Tweets to promote your latest post.  This allows you to maintain a consistent flow of content, while saving time.
  15. Build a great Twitter profile: Make sure your Twitter bio has some interesting info about you along (a dash of personality) along with your areas of expertise. Position yourself as an expert that serves a particular group of people. Include a link back to your website or blog. Use descriptive adjectives and creativity to entice people to follow you. People want to follow people who are interesting and have something to teach them. If you are a funny person, use humor (if you’re not funny, don’t even try.) Want to read more about this? Check out Mashable’s “How to Write a Rockstar Twitter Bio.
  16. Don’t look like an egg: Your Twitter profile gives you the option to upload a profile photo. If you don’t, your default is the Twitter egg. People don’t follow eggs – people follow people. So, don’t be an egg.

Following exactly these tips, I’ve grown my personal Twitter account (@wendymaynard) to 10,000 so I know they work. Let me know if you have any questions in the comments below and Happy Tweeting! Remember, Twitter is social so BE SOCIAL!

ABOUT Wendy Maynard

Wendy Maynard is the Strategic Director and co-founder of Kinesis, an award-winning marketing firm and business consultancy. She has over two decades of experience as a marketing strategist, business consultant, and executive coach. You can find her on Twitter and

Read Wendy's Posts