30 Twitter Tools For Managing Followers

To manage your followers or friends on twitter is not an easy task. To be successful on twitter you have to analyze different things. You should know how active your followers are, do they retweet your tweets, do they update regularly and you should know those whom you are following are following you.

To manage all above things there are some helpful web based applications. Good news is you don’t have to search for them i have already compiled 30 twitter tools for you to manage followers. Read more

How Twitter helps me everyday

Social media works in so many different ways for everyone.

For me its Twitter, I am not a full on nutter like some of the people I follow but I find it informative because the people I follow are interested in the same or similar things that I am. This allows me access to heaps of information about things I am interested in, plane and simple.

If you follow me on Twitter you will get information not only about website design and project management but things that tickle my funny bone and we may not think the same things are funny or interesting but that’s what Twitter is about and there will be a little bit of gold that shines out every now and then, maybe not from me but from one of the people you follow.

My Twitter is Out of Control

twitterTwitter was my friend, we would play together many times every day, we laughed, we cried, we even went on holidays together but that was before our relationship got out of hand.

What went wrong

Like all relationships, and Twitter is no exception, if you don’t nurture it, it will go pear shaped while your not looking.

Looking back

With my 20/20 hindsight, I can see where it all went wrong. I got greedy, pure and simple, I wanted to be popular and that was what stuffed up our relationship.

What really happened

I used a service that subscribed me to whoever subscribed to my tweets, it seemed like the logical thing to do to build my list. It also unsubscribes me from those that stop following me. I got a heap of followers who, I suspect, also want to be popular and I suspect that when I un-subscribe from them they will do like wise to me.

The great content I was getting from the people I was interested in hearing from is still there for me to read but it is now lost in the jumble of marketing Twitter spam I get from the “want to be popular” crowd.

The stats tell it all

I also reviewed my stats and I see that am not getting the click throughs to my website in relation to the audience I have on Twitter so this indicates several possibilities including,

1. The people that are following me are there to build a marketing list in the hope that people like me will pay attention to what they are hawking, even if I have no interest.

2. My tweets are not compelling enough to get people to click through to my website.

I suspect that both are relevant but that the first is truer.

Actions to take

So what should I do?
1. The first and the best action I can undertake is to create more compelling tweets to draw the audience to my website attracting the type of reader that is interested in the blogging content I write about.

2. Consider unsubscribing from the people I am not interested in following

Conclusion

I want to improve my relationship with Twitter and so I need to put in the effort.
Part of what I need to do is to take a step back and review what I really want from my relationship and change to address that need.

I hope that this helps you with your Twitter relationship, it has been a great help to me as I type out each word, it made me look at what I wanted and what I have to do to get there.

Stay tuned, I will do a follow up on this to let you know the results.

Odd Twitterers

odd twitterWhat or who should I say who is the weirdest twitterer that you follow or just know about? I have a good one … different to say the least.

Out There

I did start this by saying ‘what’ in reference to the weirdest of twitterers and I think that this is the ants pants of them all because @AstroRobonaut (they call it R2) is a man made robot that is tweeting from the space station.

To Twitter or not to Twitter

To Twitter or not to Twitter, that is the question. Whether it is nobler to ignore the trials and tribulations you will put yourself through or to dive in and give it a go.

The question I hear from the non Twitterers is ‘that’s just kids stuff, isn’t it?’, ‘What is it?’ or ‘I don’t have time for that stuff’.

Now I know Twitter is not for everyone, it’s not practical for some businesses in so many ways but for a lot of businesses a few tweaks to their website and it can be an automated process.

Consider the potential, if you could start bringing people to you website you are raising your brand awareness and you have a new demographic to market to. Hey you may even make some sales.

Consider the possibilities, ignore it at you peril.

6 Things I Need in Twitter

twitterTwitter has changed since it first come to my attention, not in what it does but in the way people use it.

Most of all, marketers have taken to it ‘big time’, 140 characters to get you in and back to their website, wow what a way to sell.

I have to admit that a majority of traffic to Sitemaster comes from tweets.

I use Hootsuite to send out all my tweets using either the desktop or the phone version. At this time Hootsuite dose not do everything I want in an online application but it comes close.

6 Things I Need in Twitter

Here is a list of 6 features I need for my life in the tweet lane.

1. Multiple Twitter accounts

It has to have the ability to allow multiple accounts. I have several Twitter accounts and I want to be able to view them all without having to log in and out.

2. Research function

I’m a nosey bastard and I like to know more about just about everything including what a particular subject is about. For instance, if I see a #paragliding tag I want to click it to know more but I don’t particularly want to leave the page I am on

I may just want to know about the person doing the tweet. I am not asking for much, just a good HTML5 interface with a lot of good thought behind it.

3. Auto follow

One of the feature I want in my tweet arsenal is to be able do an auto follow so that when someone follows me I follow them back. It’s a great marketing tool

4. Auto follow message

If you have signed to follow me on Twitter you would have received an auto generated message asking you to ‘like’ my Facebook page.

There is a whole discussion out there about what you should and should not be sending out in these welcome tweets, I am using a service that allowed me to have a heap of different thank you messages and it sends a random message in response to anyone signing up. Now I just have one message and that points at my Facebook page.

5. Auto un-follow

As well as an auto follow I use an auto unfollow so if someone unfollows me, I unfollow them. Twitter has limits to the ratio of people you follower to the number of followers you have, I don’t know what the ratio is because they say one thing and in practice it is totally different. That’s my reasoning behind not following people that are not following me.

6. Statistics

Who, how many and when are all questions that interest me. Sometimes it drives me crazy (that’s when I look at it to much) but it’s all good information to have.

How do you Organize your reading?

Some people in Twitter land have many thousands of followers and also follow many thousands of people. This makes me wonder how do they organise themselves to view all of the tweeted content getting thrown at them or what and how do they decide what to look at.

I have a select group of twitterers I look at that provide me with a range of information that satisfies my information needs and give me a good laugh now and then.

I always look at what’s coming through, you never know what gold you will come across.

If you have a way you organise your Twitter life, I would love hear from you.

My one-day Twitter engagement experiment

As many of you do, I use Twitter as a tool to build awareness for my blog, and to increase traffic.  In fact the site is the top referring site for this blog, and has been since Day One.

Usually, I spent anywhere from 30 mins to a couple of hours on Twitter a day.  My activities include sharing links (here and to other sites), and interacting with others.  Recently, I’ve been spending less time on Twitter, and am averaging about 600-700 tweets a month for the past few months.  But when you consider that about 300-400 of those tweets come from #blogchat, that means that I’m not spending a lot of time during the week on Twitter.

So I wanted to conduct a little experiment yesterday with my Twitter usage.  I decided to amp up my usage, spending several hours, sharing dozens of links, and interacting with others all day.  I wanted to see how big of an impact it would make on this blog, and my Twitter network, versus the time required.  To measure the effectiveness of this strategy, I set four goals for Monday:

100 new Twitter followers (Avg is 20-50 per day)

75 retweets on Monday’s post (Avg is around 30 per post)

5 new email subscribers (Avg is 5 new subscribers in a MONTH)

300 visitors to this blog on Monday (Avg is around 150)

I wanted to first walk you through exactly what I did during the day.

First, over the weekend I set up HootSuite to tweet a link to a new post/article every 5 mins, starting at 7am, and ending at 9am.  At 8am, I linked to yesterday’s post for the first time.  I linked to yesterday’s post a total of 5 times yesterday, starting at 8am, then every 3 hours, ending at 8pm.

So as far as sharing links, on Monday I shared a total of 36 links, 6 were my own, 30 were other sites.  So that’s a 5:1 ratio of other people’s links to my own.

I left a total of 182 tweets on Monday, and for reference, I left 711 tweets in all of April.

Now let’s look at the actual results:

For new followers, the goal was 100, and I actually got 75.  That’s not bad and well above my avg, but still missed the mark.  I think the discussions that I was engaged in throughout the day probably played a role in helping get me followers, although the links at the beginning of the day helped as well.

The second goal was to get 75 retweets of Monday’s post.  I actually got 85 RTs.  I decided to link to Monday’s post 5 times during the day in order to drive more RTs.  I think this was effective in the morning and afternoon, but seemed to be less effective at 5pm and 8pm.  Tomorrow I am only going to link to Tuesday’s post 4 times, at 8am, 12pm, 4pm and 8pm.  I’m thinking that 2-4 times per day is probably the right range for linking to your new posts.

The third goal was 5 new email subscribers, and I actually got 5 new subscribers.  I did two things to try to encourage new email subscribers.  The first is I moved the email subscription form to the top of the blog on the first sidebar.  The second thing I did was ask readers that found the post to please subscribe, either by email or reader, and linked to the Feedburner reader subscription form.

The final goal was 300 visitors to the site on Monday, and there were actually 716 visitors, which was well over double the goal.  I was a bit surprised by how high the traffic was.  However, I wanted to show you the hourly traffic to point out two things:

First, notice that the 5 spikes in traffic came during hours that I linked to the ‘How I got 20,000 followers on Twitter’ post.  That’s understandable.

Second, notice that each spike is followed by a sharp drop-off in traffic immediately after.  But also notice that the drop-offs are much more pronounced after the 3rd, 4th and 5th times I link to the post.

Also notice that the traffic jumps from 6am to 7am.  At 7am is when I started sending links to Twitter via HootSuite, and did so every 5 mins till it stopped at 9am.  So the fact that traffic jumped a bit BEFORE I started linking to the ‘How I got 20K followers’ posts at 8am suggests that simply linking to OTHER people’s posts was actually driving traffic back to MY blog.

And from around 11am-3pm I was interacting with other people on Twitter.  This corresponds with the above graph and the sudden traffic drop-off that you see from 4pm through the end of the day when I wasn’t interacting very much.  Minus the two spikes at 5pm and 8pm from my tweeting links to the ‘How I got 20K followers’ post.

So ALL of this suggests that three actions drove traffic back to this blog yesterday:

1 – Linking to the ‘How I got 20K followers’ post five times.

2 – Linking to other people’s posts a total of 30 times.

3 – Participating in conversations on Twitter.

The first is obvious, but I think the second two are very interesting because by directly promoting others and interacting with others, it seems I was also giving people the incentive to check out my site.

But I think the biggest lesson here is to track and test your social media efforts constantly.  Even with this experiment, I will need to test further to  get a better idea of exactly what happened. And it remains to be seen how much of a cumulative affect spending this much time on Twitter EVERY day, could have. I got great results from yesterday’s experiment, but I probably invested 5-6 hours into it. That’s a big chunk of time to invest even every weekday, and the results would need to be pretty significant to justify the time investment, I think.

BTW if you enjoyed this post, please consider subscribing so you can have posts from this blog sent to your reader for free! Or if you would rather have posts emailed to you, please enter your email in the Feedburner email form above. I will never share your email with anyone! Thank you!

How To: Spot A Twitterholic

I love Twitter and I know so many people who also love it as much as I do. We have a special bond that some people do not understand. Social media has really changed the way we live and view things.

Some people even question why we tweet a lot and why we value the social networking platform so much. I guess it is understandable why they ask those questions, and I know it’s hard for them to understand us because they have not gone through what we experience daily. Twitter is a lot of fun. You get to meet new people, share information, converse 24/7, play music and even help others in need.

Can you spot someone who is a Twitterholic? There are some signs and actions that will allow you to spot one. I have listed some of the signs that give away and expose our Twitter addiction. Twitterholics use these things and have these characteristics. Do you recognize any of them?

1. The pound sign (#) has a different meaning on Twitter – It is called a hashtag and it’s used for search words or trending topics.

2. We use @ not just on our email address, but also on Twitter.

3. We can communicate 140 characters at a time or sometimes even less.

4. We know the breaking news ahead of other people.

5. We tend to sleep less than others.

6. Everyone knows what we are doing most of the time.

7. We hug people almost everyday (virtual hugs that is).

8. We laugh out loud even when we are just in front of the computer.

9. We call gatherings “Tweet ups.”

10. We share our photos on Twitpic, not just on FaceBook.

11. Time differences have no meaning to us. Distance is not a barrier for our communicating and sharing.

5 Steps to Build a Twitter Marketing Strategy

So you want to succeed with Twitter eh? Before you run off and chase shiny butterflies and little blue birds, take a seat and collect yourself. Then read the following tips on creating a potential Twitter marketing strategy that will help you become more productive and successful using Twitter for business.

First things first. Who are you trying to connect with?

1. Describe your target audience on Twitter.  If you’re not an active participant on Twitter, then research. Do the homework and write it down, including Twitter handles of actual target users. If you’ve been able to go so far as develop a persona that represents your customers that spend time on Twitter or social media sites in general, that’s even better.

The first step in scoring is knowing all about the goal.

2. What outcomes are expected from Twitter participation? Besides being able to say you have 50,000 followers, of course. Incidentally, we experiment with Twitter accounts and those that have a substantial number of followers do not always result in the the most retweets and web site visits. This is important in the fans/friends/followers game. It’s not how many connections you have, it’s who you’re connected with that determines the propagation of tweets, spread of links, traffic, etc.

It’s essential to know how success with Twitter will be measured. If it’s just follower counts, heck those could probably be purchased. (Which TopRankMarketing does NOT recommend)  However, that would be a fake network without effect.

Where does Twitter fit in?

3. Where does Twitter fit within your overall online marketing strategy? Is Twitter meant to be a customer service tool? Brand monitoring? Monitoring for sales opportunities? Promotion of other corporate social activities? (ie blogging, Facebook, YouTube, Etc) Does it support some other communications function?

As a communications and social networking tool, Twitter can connect with customers, prospects, journalists, employees, candidates, investors and marketing partners. Understanding where Twitter fits within the overall mix of online marketing and communications will help with: allocating monitoring and engagement resources, establishing a working social media policy, workflow management and reporting. You may very well find a number of synergies available through Twitter, such as connecting with journalists and bloggers for PR purposes but also encouraging link usage when citing the company to assist with SEO efforts.

Twitter is a tool and only as useful as the tactics you use.

4. A firm grasp of the first three steps really needs to be addressed before useful tactics should be implemented. If all you do is focus on Twitter popularity tactics without addressing a plan for reaching other goals (hopefully being popular isn’t the sole goal) then the investment in time and effort becomes more like guesswork.

First and foremost for tactics, the Twitter page needs to be designed and optimized. If a business has the expectation to be perceived in a significant way, then the Twitter page needs to avoid looking insignificant. Tweets need to be diverse, yet follow a theme that is consistent to the messaging and audience goal. Kudos to customers and offering tips are great but alone are not going to attract followers fast.

There are a few tactics with Twitter that are almost always a good idea regardless of the audience, goals and overall plan:

  • Having a persona or target profile in mind, research Twitter users and follow them.
  • Associate the Twitter account with something else that is social, such as a YouTube Channel, Facebook Fan Page and/or a blog.
  • Make an effort to link to a small number of high quality and creatively written resources, daily. Mornings are best. Brand these with a hashtag like #yourbrandtips, where “yourbrand” is the brand within your company that this Twitter account is focused on. It could also be a behavior or action. Ex:  #niketips or #runningtips.
  • Schedule a #yourbrandtips Twitter event every month, two weeks or weekly. This would be run like #blogchat where a real person from your company hosts a chat on Twitter about topics relevant to your offering and useful to who you’re trying to reach. Ideally there would be influential guests involved so that their tweets attract new followers to your brand’s Twitter account.
  • The company should really post their twitter handle everywhere their web site address is posted.
  • Find a way to ask followers questions, then use those answers in blog posts, which are promoted via the business twitter account.
  • Create a Twitter list of a segment of the target audience. One list for each segment. Then solicit followers asking for recommendations of people that belong in the “segment one” list or “segment two” list. Ex:  ”librarians” or “network administrators”. Mention that anyone who retweets a link to the list can get added to that list – provided they belong. Lists must be relevant and managed to be of any use. Promote lists with Listorious.com.
  • Use #FollowFridays or #FF to recognize people that retweet the brand’s Twitter content the most. Also mention influential Twitter accounts that you have had some connection with. They might retweet the #FF and expose the brand Twitter account to new audiences.

Measure twice, Tweet once.

5. Measurement with Twitter can be tricky such as identifying referrers via various URL shortening services, but it’s the most important. By “measurement”, I also mean monitoring on an ongoing basis, not just counting outcomes or KPIs. Followers is just one dimension. Based on what the brand is trying to achieve, a mix of data points and measurement tools should be implemented. Some example metrics:

  • Tweets published
  • Retweets & potential reach from those retweets
  • New targeted Twitter users that are followed by the brand’s Twitter account
  • New followers of the brand’s Twitter account acquired
  • Direct traffic from Twitter to brand’s web pages. URL shortening services should be used like bit.ly
  • Mentions of the brand in Tweets without links
  • How many lists the brand Twitter account is included in
  • What new Twitter users has the brand’s Twitter account added to it’s own organized lists?
  • How many engagements or discussions the brand’s Twitter account has with other users
  • Connections (follow, retweet, @message, DM) with targeted Twitter users

Example Tools:

  • search.twitter.com
  • social media monitoring like socialmention.com, trackur.com, scoutlabs, Techrigy SM2, Radian6
  • Web analytics
  • bit.ly
  • cotweet.com, hootsuite.com, tweetdeck.com

Obviously, there are many other tools for Twitter out there, including overall social media marketing campaign management tools such as: Wildfire, Objective Marketer, Spredfast, SocialTalk, pop.to and others.

Sure, you can “experiment” with tools like Twitter and find your specific strategy as you go, but you could also find productivity and valuable connections a lot sooner (as well as effective time and resource management) if you create a plan that addresses who you’re trying to reach on Twitter, what goals you hope to achieve and a plan for getting there. Make no mistake, there will always be a component of on-demand and real time  or opportunistic marketing with Twitter. The platform is still so new that the community is finding new and innovative uses every day. You might find new uses too, so don’t get too committed to a single focus in your Twitter efforts. Be flexible, curious and willing to participate.

Some tactics are always a good idea and some will reveal themselves as you develop your Twitter network and participate with the community.  Measuring success on Twitter has everything to do with goals, so make sure you’ve spent at least a little time figuring out where Twitter fits in with your overall social media marketing strategy and then what tools make the most sense to use when measuring success.

Change Your Default Twitter Following Email Notifications

By default (but optionally) Twitter sends you an email “notice” of each user who starts following you. Unlike Facebook, for example (where you have a separate page listing all your new contacts for you to be able to befriend any of them), those email alerts are the only way for you to timely find out about a recent connection on Twitter.

This is why I have this email alert enabled: once someone new follows me, I want to know instantly. However the default email notifications are quite limited. All you are able to tell from the default email alert is the following information:

  • The number of followers;
  • The number of people who the user follows;
  • The number of tweets.


While this info does tell you something about the potential friend, these numbers have never been the most important factors that would make me follow back. I want to see the bio, website, most recent Tweets, etc – this way I will only click through to follow back (otherwise, just ignore the notice) – this saves time immensely!

So let me share a couple of tools to make the most of those default Twitter notices.

1. TwiMailer

I’ve been using TwiMailer for a year now and I have never felt like switching back to default Twitter notices. It is quite easy to install and creates a “bridge” between your Twitter profile and your email box. Just get yourself registered, grab your unique TwiMailer email ID, go to your Twitter account settings and provide it there:

TwiMailer set-up

From now on, each new follower email alert will contain lots of useful information:

  • The new follower’s basic info: number of followers and people he follows;
  • The new follower’s account info: profile photo, name. location and bio;
  • The followers’s most recent Tweets.

TwiMailer alert

This info is more than enough for you to decide if you feel like following back!

2. Alerts Grader

Your following back tactics are up to you. I for one follow back anyone with the similar interests (regardless of actual “Twitter Power”). Many people prefer to follow back only established users. This tool is for those people. It grades Twitter users based on a number of criteria and alerts you ONLY on most powerful followers. The grade is claimed to be calculated based on:

  • Number of followers;
  • Power of followers (calculated from the same algorithm);
  • Number of updates:
  • Update recency: “Users that are more current (i.e. time elapsed since last tweet is low) generally get higher grades.”
  • Follower/Following Ratio:
  • Engagement (how much the user is retweeted and cited)

*You can try the grading system here*

You can set the minimum grade of the user to be alerted of via settings. You can also disable instant notifications and only receive daily digest of new followers:

Twitter email alerts settings

You can also access the list of your recent followers online (the list is sortable by time, grade, and tag):

Alerts Grader web interface

Do you use any tools to get timely notified of new Twitter friends? Please share them in the comments!

Go Ahead, Call Me A Twitter Snob!

Here’s a collection of the comments I find in my Twitter replies on any given day:

  • You’re a snob.
  • What an elitist bitch!
  • You obviously have a HUGE ego.
  • You think you’re better than everyone.
  • I hate your face.

“Wow”, you’re probably thinking to yourself, “Lisa must have done something horrible to deserve that!” And I did. I made the deliberate decision to keep my Twitter follows as small as possible, thereby breaking every social media “rule” known to man. I should be hung by my toes. Here, I’ll get the nails for you. Actually, I won’t.

I’m too elitist to gather my own supplies. You go. I’ll wait here.

I’m not going to tell anyone that there’s a right or wrong [coughGuyKawasakicough] way to use social media, but there are legitimate reasons for keeping a small Twitter/Facebook/whatever network. And they hold true regardless of whether you’re an individual or a business. Because I get so many folks disagreeing with how I run my account, I thought I’d give some clarification as to why I run it that way. Maybe it will give you some insight into how I view social media. Or, if anything, I now have somewhere to direct the next person who calls me a Twitter bitch. W00t!

Following Everyone = Following No One

The biggest reason I don’t follow thousands of people on Twitter is because I can’t handle the noise. I view following everyone as following no one because when your stream is being updated lightening fast, there’s no way to keep up. If I followed a thousand people, I may miss the everyday, human tweets from my followers. I’d miss the tweets about how much they love their dog, what book their reading, where they’re going on vacation, etc. And, as the great Aerosmith once said, I don’t want to miss a thing. I want to be actively engaged with the people that I choose to invite into my network. I think that’s sort of the point of following something. That may mean I follow less, but I’m guaranteed to interact more with those that I do choose to follow.

Also worth noting is that I don’t use any tools to manage my personal Twitter account – not Tweetdeck, not Seesmic, nothing. I get everything from the Web version. That means that following a thousand people would turn my Twitter feed into a complete mess. It also means that I am as adorable and outdated as a typewriter.

I Don’t Like Relying On Twitter Lists

I think there are a lot of great uses for Twitter Lists, especially private Twitter Lists. But I don’t like the idea of creating a large network that I have to segregate and banish to a separate part of my Twitter life. This may sound all types of rainbows and bunnies, but I like my community together. I like the stream of constant information, not having to check in with various lists throughout the day to see what my different friend groups are saying. For me, it feels awkward, cumbersome and a lot more impersonal. Again, I like to be really engaged with the people that I do choose to follow. It’s hard for me to do that when they’re banished to my sidebar. Again, that’s just how I work.

It Encourages Me To Switch People Out

Though I try to keep my Following list under 500 people, that doesn’t mean it’s always the same 500 people. I follow/unfollow people like it’s my job, constantly looking for the right mix of voices, information and humor. If I followed more people, I probably wouldn’t have to do this because I wouldn’t see what anyone was saying anyway. By keeping a smaller core, it makes me more engaged and aware of who I am following.  It keeps me on the hunt to track down the best of the best of my network.

Small Groups = Better Learning

Everyone learns differently. Some like to be one of many, some are visual learners, some need to be locked away with a book and highlighter. For me, it’s all about small groups.

Something you may not know about me is that I received a BA in Print and Multimedia Journalism from Emerson College. The typical class size at Emerson? About 25 students. My Journalism classes often had as few as 12. That provided a very intimate learning environment where you knew the folks you were talking with and you could easily observe and learn from others interactions. That’s how I learn. That’s how I take in information. And it’s a reason that I purposely keep my social networks as intimate as I can. Not because I’m a giant bitch (which I may be, but it’s not a result of Twitter), but because that’s how they provide value to me and how I can provide value to others. I understand that some of my friends thrived off the lecture hall college experience. Some of those people also drank in college. I didn’t do that either. I know, as cute as a typewriter, right?

A Follow Begins To Mean Something

When someone with a low Following count follows me on Twitter, I feel a closer relationship to that person. I know they didn’t just follow me because they were hoping I’d follow back or because they’re not discerning enough. It tells me that I did or said something to get myself on their radar. And as a brand, I think that’s something you want to strive for. You want to be relevant and interesting to your audience, not to the masses. A follow from someone in your niche, and who doesn’t follow often, means you’re on the right path.

I Don’t Have To Follow You To Talk With You

One of my favorite things to do with folks who call me a Twitter snob for not keeping my Following/Followers numbers more closely aligned is to chat with them. Because I think it proves an important point – while I may not choose to follow everyone and their five step-brothers, I do my best to chat and converse with the folks who choose to chat and converse with me. And that doesn’t require that we’re immediately following one another. That’s how you FIND people to follow on Twitter – you start chatting with them through someone else. And then suddenly you get to meet them, share a few conversations, stalk their blog, and you become friends and followers. It’s that whole building relationships thing.  We can chat, share information and have great conversations without immediately attaching ourselves. It’s like Twitter dating.

You can call me a Twitter snob, but I’m just using Twitter in a way that provides me the most value.  And that means keeping a small network and actively manning my replies tab. What are your standards for following someone on Twitter? Do you think it’s important to keep your numbers close or are you gosh darn tired of people calling you a Twitter elitist?

How I got 20,000 followers on Twitter

Last week I hit a milestone on Twitter, reaching 20,000 followers.  Plenty of people, myself included, have said that your follower number isn’t as important as it’s made out to be.  I think the term ‘follower’ implies that 20,000 people are actively attempting to engage with me.  In reality, I would guess it’s only a small fraction, possibly as low as 1%.

But I know many people on Twitter want more followers, so I decided to share what I’ve learned in the last 3 years of using the site:

1 – Be helpful.  I use Twitter primarily as a tool to connect with others.  As such, I am always looking for ways to share something of value with others.  Twitter, most than any other social media tool I use, works amazingly well as a networking tool, and that’s primarily how I use it.

Thing of it this way; what if you were at an offline networking event in a room of 100 potential employers.  What if you could show everyone in that room one thing that would make them more productive the next day?  At the very least, you would suddenly have 100 potential employers telling each other about what a great guy/gal you were for helping them.

But what’s more powerful than that, you wouldn’t have to go around the room promoting yourself to everyone, they would be telling each other about you.

Sidenote: I swear as I typed that out I switched to Tweetdeck to check my replies, and this one just came in on Twitter:

2 – Connect with people that want to connect with you.  I am continually refining and changing how I use Twitter.  Currently, I place a premium on following anyone that either RTs or replies to me.  Because they are engaging in the type of behavior that I want to ‘reward’.  I want to interact and engage with as many people as possible on Twitter, so when people are trying to connect with me, I want to encourage that.

3 – Introduce people of value to your network.  One of the things I love to do is meet interesting people and help them connect with the people I already know.  One reason is because I am appreciative for this person, and another is that I know my network will value from their insights, so it’s also a way to say ‘thanks’ to my existing network.

4 – Help people get started.  I *love* helping people get their feet wet either with Twitter, or blogging, or social media in general.  More than once I’ve had someone tell me they were grateful for my trying to help them, that others just ‘told me I was doing it wrong’.  We need to remember that we have all been newbies at one time, and if you help someone take their first steps, they will be even more grateful down the road.

5 – Give back to your network.  Look for ways to show your network that you appreciate and value them.  For me, #blogchat is a good example of this.  I try to use #blogchat as a tool to help others become better personal/professional/business bloggers.

6 – Promote others.  Complete no-brainer.  As I write this post, HootSuite is sending a tweet every 5 mins with links to posts that I picked over the weekend that I thought my network would value.  My network is then RTing these posts to THEIR networks, and when I publish this post in a few minutes, it’s probably going to be RTed a few more times by the people that saw me link to their posts, and my network, which is (hopefully) appreciative of the great links I have been sharing with them this morning.

The upshot of all this is obviously, I use Twitter as a way to help others.  But there still needs to be a financial gain for me as a consultant, or else this is all a hobby.

Last year I made more income on a yearly basis than I have in my life, and roughly 50% of that income came from sources that I connected with via Twitter.  Within the last 12 hours I have received both work and speaking invitations from people via Twitter.

As with most areas of social media, Twitter is a great way to make things happen indirectly.  Help others and create something of value for your network, and your network will attempt to return the favor.  At least that’s how it’s worked for me.

Those are my tips for getting more followers on Twitter.  What’s working for you?

PS: I thought I should clarify the timeline for how I reached 20,000.  Simply to make the point that it took me a long time.

As of the fall of 2007, I had about 100 followers.  I started really ramping up my Twitter usage in December of 2007, and by March of 2008 I had about 500 followers.

I had almost 7,000 followers by March of 2009, and am at 20K now.  I add about 20-50 followers a day, on average.

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