How to Get Real People to Follow You on Twitter

twitter followersIf you’re just starting out on Twitter, you might fall over in astonishment that some folks have 50,000 + followers. Regular people. Not just Ashton Kutcher.

“Do I need to follow everyone who follows me?” someone asked me yesterday.

“No, not really,” I replied.

A lot of the people that keep following you are just robots. Or people who follow you in the hope they’ll get a follow back for the sake of looking good because, hey, 50,000 followers is awesome.

Last time I checked I had something in the region of 2299 followers and in return I follow about 1,900. That’s pretty meagre for someone that’s been on Twitter since August 2008.

But I’ve never worried about generating a massive list of followers.

Why ? Because right from the start I wanted a list of people that I know and can engage with. Sure, I probably only have about 15-20 people who I really engage with on a weekly basis but it doesn’t matter it’s so few. Real conversations, genuine network building, participating in the sharing economy [check out the podcast] is, to my mind, much more significant than having a list of 50,000 that you can’t manage.

So instead of trying to follow everyone, bots and all, build a list of real people instead.

How to Build a List of Real People Followers

  1. Look for tweets in your community that you can reply to. Then reply.
  2. Look for tweets in your community that you help with or solve a problem. Then solve the problem.
  3. Look for tweets that use specific search words that relate to your business or industry and retweet them. Preferably add a comment.
  4. Add something personal like a greeting or comment to a retweet. I usually send a “Hello from Sweden”.
  5. Before you follow someone check out their stream to double-check they’re not a bot. Bots tweet garbage.
  6. Watch out for hashtags (#) related to your industry, services, skills or business interests: e.g. #dogtraining #sushi #marketingtips
  7. Don’t tweet out marketing messages 24/7. It makes you sound like bot.
  8. Retweet your followers tweets.
  9. Add a comment when you retweet to really start a conversation.

Over to You

If you’re active on Twitter, I’d love to know what persuades you to follow someone. Do you just follow those peeps who follow you ? Do you use Twitter search ? Or do you choose your tweeps with care?

  • http://twitter.com/der_schneider Elmar Schneider

    Hi Jon,

    great advise. I handle “to follow or not to follow” pretty much the same way as you do. (My numbers: A quick look at SocialBro tells me: I didn’t follow back about 40% of my followers, and the number of people who didn’t follow me back rank about the same percentage)

    I check out the new followers profile, too, to see if it’s not a bot and – in case it’s a human being – what that person is tweeting about. If his/her tweets are about one or more topics that interest me, I probably follow back. Another criteria is how much engagement I see in their Timeline. RTs or mentioning the author is always good, a “thanks for the RT” somewhere in the Timeline doesn’t hurt either. The most confusing Profiles to me always have been those with 20.000+ followers, exclusively tweeting quotes. But that’s another topic ;)

    One advise I’d give for judging if someone follows you just to get you to follow back: Don’t follow back right away. Wait about 1-2 weeks before you follow back. From my experience this seems to be the common time-period they wait until unfollowing you if you didn’t follow back.

    Greetings from Mexico
    Elmar

    • http://jontusmedia.com/ Jon Buscall

      Hi Elmar, Thank you so much for your comment. I have a similar approach that has come about by accident really. I often find myself going through new followers a week or so later and then you can see if they’ve disappeared or not.
      I use Echofon on my iPad and iPhone and I love the way you can get an overview of someone’s Timeline. That always gives you a good idea of who or what you’re following :=)
      Greetings back all away across the sea from Sweden to Mexico !

  • http://twitter.com/der_schneider Elmar Schneider

    Hi Jon,

    great advise. I handle “to follow or not to follow” pretty much the same way as you do. (My numbers: A quick look at SocialBro tells me: I didn’t follow back about 40% of my followers, and the number of people who didn’t follow me back rank about the same percentage)

    I check out the new followers profile, too, to see if it’s not a bot and – in case it’s a human being – what that person is tweeting about. If his/her tweets are about one or more topics that interest me, I probably follow back. Another criteria is how much engagement I see in their Timeline. RTs or mentioning the author is always good, a “thanks for the RT” somewhere in the Timeline doesn’t hurt either. The most confusing Profiles to me always have been those with 20.000+ followers, exclusively tweeting quotes. But that’s another topic ;)

    One advise I’d give for judging if someone follows you just to get you to follow back: Don’t follow back right away. Wait about 1-2 weeks before you follow back. From my experience this seems to be the common time-period they wait until unfollowing you if you didn’t follow back.

    Greetings from Mexico
    Elmar

    • http://jontusmedia.com/ Jon Buscall

      Hi Elmar, Thank you so much for your comment. I have a similar approach that has come about by accident really. I often find myself going through new followers a week or so later and then you can see if they’ve disappeared or not.
      I use Echofon on my iPad and iPhone and I love the way you can get an overview of someone’s Timeline. That always gives you a good idea of who or what you’re following :=)
      Greetings back all away across the sea from Sweden to Mexico !

  • http://joshuawilner.com/ Josh

    I have been trying to be relatively strategic in how I build my followers as well as who I follow.

    It is great to have a large following but it makes it far more challenging to interact with people. There is a point at which it becomes crazy.

    • http://jontusmedia.com/ Jon Buscall

      Spot on Josh. I struggle to manage masses of email and contacts on social media. I guess that’s why I try to keep a relatively specific list on Twitter.

      Thanks for stopping by.

  • http://joshuawilner.com/ Josh

    I have been trying to be relatively strategic in how I build my followers as well as who I follow.

    It is great to have a large following but it makes it far more challenging to interact with people. There is a point at which it becomes crazy.

    • http://jontusmedia.com/ Jon Buscall

      Spot on Josh. I struggle to manage masses of email and contacts on social media. I guess that’s why I try to keep a relatively specific list on Twitter.

      Thanks for stopping by.

  • http://twitter.com/pawelbanaszak Paweł Banaszak

    Good post Jon. Though the advice seems intuitive many people get it wrong. I’ve had my twitter account for over 3 year I started to really utilize it for the last three months. Paying attention to what members of my personal VIP list do on Twitter was a great lesson.
    One piece of advice I would give to someone who sticks to your advice is use Twitter-specific phenomena such as Follow Friday hashtag. The power of #ff lies in the fact when people mention you in their #ff posts they (usually) genuinely recommend you to others you most probably don’t know.
    As I tweet both in Polish (some 70%) and in English I get a sense the differences of Twitter uses in Poland and countries like the US or UK (where most of my foreign followers come from). People from the US and UK follow me back more often than Poles. I also get more follows based solely on single twitts including a given # or @. People in Poland seem less prone to follow back but once they do the interactions are deeper (this does of course have other reasons like language or number of Titter uses – btw there are only about 1,5 mln Twitter accounts in a 38 million nation here in Poland).
    And a loose remark – you’de be surprised how few people in the communications profession (PR, marketing, interactive) here in Poland use Twitter regularly.

    • http://jontusmedia.com/ Jon Buscall

      Interesting comments Pawel. thanks for coming over to the site. I’m not sure the #ff has much worth nowadays. It’s been done to death I’m rather unsure as to its value now. Do you take any notice of it ? Lists of shout-out #ffs are not something I ever click on. Still, of course it can be a great way of being seen for some.

      Globally speaking, it’s fascinating to see how Twitter works in different countries. I have a very Nordic / Anglo-Saxon perspective. Initially it was very limite to marcoms but it’s becoming increasingly mainstream. When junior high school kids are on Twitter it’s achieving much greater penetration.

  • http://www.squash-blog.pl/ Paweł Banaszak

    Good post Jon. Though the advice seems intuitive many people get it wrong. I’ve had my twitter account for over 3 year I started to really utilize it for the last three months. Paying attention to what members of my personal VIP list do on Twitter was a great lesson.
    One piece of advice I would give to someone who sticks to your advice is use Twitter-specific phenomena such as Follow Friday hashtag. The power of #ff lies in the fact when people mention you in their #ff posts they (usually) genuinely recommend you to others you most probably don’t know.
    As I tweet both in Polish (some 70%) and in English I get a sense the differences of Twitter uses in Poland and countries like the US or UK (where most of my foreign followers come from). People from the US and UK follow me back more often than Poles. I also get more follows based solely on single twitts including a given # or @. People in Poland seem less prone to follow back but once they do the interactions are deeper (this does of course have other reasons like language or number of Titter uses – btw there are only about 1,5 mln Twitter accounts in a 38 million nation here in Poland).
    And a loose remark – you’de be surprised how few people in the communications profession (PR, marketing, interactive) here in Poland use Twitter regularly.

    • http://jontusmedia.com/ Jon Buscall

      Interesting comments Pawel. thanks for coming over to the site. I’m not sure the #ff has much worth nowadays. It’s been done to death I’m rather unsure as to its value now. Do you take any notice of it ? Lists of shout-out #ffs are not something I ever click on. Still, of course it can be a great way of being seen for some.

      Globally speaking, it’s fascinating to see how Twitter works in different countries. I have a very Nordic / Anglo-Saxon perspective. Initially it was very limite to marcoms but it’s becoming increasingly mainstream. When junior high school kids are on Twitter it’s achieving much greater penetration.

  • Brett C

    I do follow back to, i also have some pretty funny tweets, or so i have been told. I don’t tweet every second, so don’t worry about me spamming all you’re news feed :)

    follow me :

    brettjcollier

  • Brett C

    I do follow back to, i also have some pretty funny tweets, or so i have been told. I don’t tweet every second, so don’t worry about me spamming all you’re news feed :)

    follow me :

    brettjcollier

  • http://twitter.com/MaythelDG MDGOfficial.

    im surely follow you back
    follow me @MaythelDG

  • JITHENDRA

    follow me il follow u back ..@kumarjithendra

  • Sandeep Hiremath

    Hey , nice post. Can you please suggest me any tool or an app that I can use to do some basic analytics or manage my twitter account , because its quite madding when your following a lot of people (like you do , close to 2k ?) . Thanks !

    my twitter : @hiremathsandeep

  • Sandeep Hiremath

    Hey , nice post. Can you please suggest me any tool or an app that I can use to do some basic analytics or manage my twitter account , because its quite madding when your following a lot of people (like you do , close to 2k ?) . Thanks !

    my twitter : @hiremathsandeep

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