Getting More Twitter Followers – or Losing Them

by Mark Dykeman on January 26, 2009

This is a reprint of an original post that comes from Mark Dykeman’s blog, Broadcasting Brain.

There are benefits to getting more Twitter followers, so with that thought in mind, I’m going to tell you about the things that will help you build your own Twitter following. I’ll tell you about some things that seem to work and some that don’t work: short term or long term.

Let me be perfectly clear: I am not writing this article for you to use Twitter to help you feed a fragile ego, expand your mailing list, build a fan club, sell products, become a top Digger, or sway political opinion to the exclusion of everything else. However, if you are trying to do this then you might see some reasons here why you are failing to attract followers.

On the other hand, if you want to expand your contacts, get access to a constantly stream of interesting information, give and receive advice, and to learn how to be a better human being, then I hope this article will help you to show other Twitter users that you’re an interesting, helpful, or at the very least entertaining person who’s worthy of being followed.

I’m particularly hopeful that this might help some honest-to-goodness lesser known creatives, artists, and talented folks who do want a chance to promote themselves and their works in a creative way (as long as they understand that it’s not a one-way promotion deal; you need to give, too.) The world needs more good content.

You will also find that these concepts will apply to many social media websites.

Twitter in 140 words or less

Let’s (re)examine Twitter. It’s a running stream of Tweets: messages, comments, links, and other communication that you can see on the Web or by a mobile computing device. You can view the general stream of information (the public timeline) that everyone contributes to. Most people see a personalized stream created by the people they have chosen to follow.

Being followed can be a compliment because it means that someone chose to listen to you out millions of other Twitter users. This is important because several months ago Twitter put limits on the number of people that you can follow. Some people have amassed a grandfathered follower list of tens of thousands of people. Now, you can’t follow more than 2000 people, so being followed is a bigger deal than it used to be.

Metaphors used to describe Twitter

Some people compare Twitter to a coffee shop or cocktail party, but I think that Twitter is more like a state or city fair where there tends to be a lot of friendly people who like to talk. The coffee shop metaphor, even the cocktail party image, fails for me because there are simply no coffee shops big enough to hold this many people. It’s more like the chatrooms that people still use these days, but slightly slower.

Like any community, Twitter’s composition has changed over time. Twitter probably felt smaller and chummier in its earliest days, like a single cohesive community, because it likely was a cozy group of a few hundred or so friends and colleagues.

The reality is that Twitter is a federation of communities that happen to use the same facilities. In a sense, every Twitter follower creates their own unique community composed of the people that they follow, since it’s unlikely that any two users follow all of the same people. There can be a lot of overlaps between these customized communities, but each has some unique composition.

Just as you build your own network of offline friends, family and contacts, you get to pick and choose who you follow as you build your own custom network of Twitter users that you follow. However, most of the time you’re going to want those same people to follow you back. Just like in your offline reality, if you make a gesture of friendship or contact towards someone, you’re going to appreciate it if your overture is reciprocated.

Following a stranger on Twitter is like leaving a calling card

One simple way to start up a Twitter network is to hook up with people that you already know offline or through online social networks. In fact, this is probably the best way to start using Twitter. You have already earned credibility and built up a reputation with those people so you’ll already have their attention.

Otherwise, your best bet will be to start joining other social networks or looking harder in your own world in order to get started with other people that you know. Maybe you can even talk a few friends into joining Twitter simultaneously so that you have a common starting point.

At some point you’re going to start following other people that you don’t know yet. By following them in Twitter, you are leaving them a digital calling card that’s similar to the real-world equivalent used in previous decades.

The outside of the digital calling card is your avatar and your username, which appear on the Follower page of the person that you’ve started to follow. These two things make up the “envelope” which contains your calling card. A friendly or interesting envelope gets more attention to a plain white, yellow, or brown envelope. If you don’t have a personalized avatar or a name, then you’re a plain envelope. People tend to ignore plain, non-descriptive envelopes when they are pressed for time or when they’re not interested in exploring a mystery.

People open this envelope by clicking on your username or avatar.

Your Twitter bio, including any links to your blog, social network page, or other websites, is the “calling card” itself. The bio gives people a quick overview of who you are and what you do. It, like your avatar, is a chance to show people that you have wit, compassion, and are otherwise not a stuffed shirt. Or a robot. Or a faceless organization.

If you’re already using Twitter and struggling with building up your follower list, you could look at the bios of people that you follow, decide what you like about those bios, and attempt to incorporate those ideas in your own terms. Do not blindly copy; just use this information to get some ideas. This is not a sure-fire guarantee of success, but it’s one of several good ideas to consider.

One thing to note, though: many people are picky about who they follow. Some people won’t follow strangers. Some of them won’t follow you because they don’t see any common interests OR they see material in your Twitter stream that they don’t like. Some people just don’t want to follow more people because they’re at their emotional or mental state of saturation and they can’t take anymore. And, unfortunately, some people on Twitter just want to take more than they give.

Why people will follow you on Twitter

From personal experience, I can tell you that people will follow you because:

  • They know and/or like you
  • They think you are interesting, informative, helpful or funny
  • You’ve piqued their curiosity enough for them to take a chance on a stranger like you
  • They just like adding people to their networks, regardless of how strong or weak the connections are

Why people probably won’t follow you on Twitter

  • Your account is the mouth and ears of an organization, not an individual. An account that represents a company name without reference to a human being looks and smells like a machine.
  • Your Follower/Following ratio is unbalanced in either direction. If you have a huge number of followers while you follow a much smaller number, then it will seem like you’re not receptive to new followers (or you can’t because you’ve hit the 2000 Following limit). If you follow a huge number of people compared to the number of people that currently follow you, then you look like you’re trying to the old “follow a bunch of people in the hopes that some of them will follow me back” tactic. Some of us are very wary about this, because that tactic is often done in order for selfish reasons (and I say that as having tried it several times in the past: it doesn’t work very well over the long term unless you happen to connect with a lot of these people in some meaningful way.)
  • You create a lot of automated Tweets instead of cranking them out by hand. It becomes pretty easy to tell what’s been automatically generated (and this is true for both regular Tweets, replies, and DMs (Direct Messages)). People are far more interested in the writings of a real human being than anything generated by a computer program. Sorry, but automated DMs really annoy me.
  • You don’t have many (or any) Replies in your Twitter stream. A reply appears in the public timeline and your own personal timelines, but it’s directed at a specific Twitter user. It’s a way of making conversation and it helps to build an online relationship between two people. In other words, it’s an indication that there’s a human being behind the Twitter account.
  • You Tweet a lot of content (including links) that are related to yourself, your organization, or your business. Unless that content is extremely relevant to me, I won’t bother signing up.
  • You produce offensive material (offensive is in the eye of the beholder).
  • You’re clearly talking to yourself about things that are relevant to you and you alone.
  • You don’t share useful, helpful, funny or interesting content.

Why people will stop following you on Twitter

  • You don’t respond to Reply Tweets – people don’t like to be ignored
  • You don’t respond to DMs – see previous
  • You don’t appear to respond to anything – see previous!
  • You start to produce offensive material on a regular basis (again, offensive is in the eye of the beholder) – no one wants to see stuff that they don’t want to see
  • You Tweet more about yourself and the things that you are selling than about other stuff.
  • You cease to share useful, helpful, funny or interesting content – therefore, why would they follow you?
  • You Tweet too much and it overwhelms a user’s Twitter stream so that it’s hard for them to see what anyone else is Tweeting.
  • You Tweet too little to be interesting or you stop Tweeting for a long period of time.

Conclusion: how to get followers if you’re not a star, captain of industry, or just plain famous

  • You need to be committed to a long term processing of sharing, helping, exchanging information, and building relationships gradually.
  • Share a lot of high quality content via links that other people have created.
  • You need to be a considerate human being.
  • You need to reach out to people but not bother them or overwhelm them.
  • Accept the fact that this involves a lot of work.

To close, I’m going to leave you with great advice from Ari Herzog that he wrote on (you guessed it) Twitter:

ariherzog @nooozeguy Greg: Be yourself on Twitter. Be as authentic as you can be. Be @Greg. Don’t be @noooozeguy. WTF is a noooze?

P.S. If you have any observations, suggestions, corrections, or remarks of any kind about this, why not lead a comment below? We’d all benefit from your feedback!

Other references about Twitter and social media for your consideration:

The Ultimate Social Media Etiquette Handbook (Tamar Weinberg‘s excellent guide)

Facebook and Twitter (includes thoughts by Steve Pavlina about following vs. not following)

My Twitter for Dummies Tip: Be Yourself (Laura @Pistachio Fitton writes this post at the Touchbase Blog at Pistachio Consulting)

25 Ways to Build Your Community (check out Chris Brogan’s point 9 about promoting other people 12 times more than you promote yourself)

7 Ingredients in the Perfect Twitter Profile

{ 18 trackbacks }

Dolphini on Twitter: AdWords and Twitter, is it a good idea? | Dolphini Blog
January 26, 2009 at 3:32 pm
Please, tweet me good. « Social Overload
January 26, 2009 at 6:22 pm
» Twitter is for Twits? » Tom Doyle :: TALK
January 27, 2009 at 12:32 pm
How to Attract and Influence People on Twitter — The Ultimate Twitter Resource
February 24, 2009 at 8:18 pm
Le guide ultime sur Twitter | Nouveaux médias | Recrutement | Web 2.0
March 9, 2009 at 9:22 am
Nouks.nl » Dagelijkse samenvatting van 2009-03-13
March 13, 2009 at 7:28 pm
Entrepreneur Magazine » Blog Archive » How to Attract and Influence People on Twitter (The Ultimate Twitter Resource)
April 27, 2009 at 5:58 pm
Twitter Tips Ultimate Guide | Using social media to guide and help you connect to social networks: Twitter, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, YouTube using social media
August 20, 2009 at 7:53 am
翻译练习:Twitter的贴士:终极指南
August 23, 2009 at 9:47 am
Everything you ever wanted to know about Twitter | Charles Curle Design
November 20, 2009 at 3:04 am
Cecinestpasunblog? » Guide twitter
December 7, 2009 at 10:58 am
La madre de todas las listas de aplicaciones Twitter « ENRIQUE SAAVEDRA
January 30, 2010 at 9:50 pm
La madre de todas las listas de aplicaciones Twitter (Parte 3) « ENRIQUE SAAVEDRA
January 30, 2010 at 10:16 pm
Twitter: le guide ultime | twitJOB le Blog
February 23, 2010 at 6:56 am
The Ultimate Twitter Resource « Khaled's Blog
July 1, 2010 at 2:31 am
Get Much more Twitter Followers with TweetBrain
October 9, 2011 at 8:02 pm
Suggestions for Law Firms on Twitter, Part 3: Keep up Your Presence | Huff.mn
August 4, 2012 at 11:26 am
How to Increase Twitter Followers
July 19, 2013 at 3:49 am

{ 80 comments… read them below or add one }

dave January 30, 2009 at 3:27 pm

Interesting post…you might find twitzu.com interesting about this topic.

Nwankama W Nwankama February 15, 2009 at 12:32 am

Great article Mark. One the most important points I you made is that people must be authentic, in order to get and keep more followers. Thanks a lot. Nwankama

JONA April 30, 2009 at 12:20 pm

So Twitter is awesome for Taking traffic to you website . It is very
simple to setup and its a fun positive way to keep in contact with
people. To get more followers on twitter check out this amazing
tool.Twitter Traffic Machine

KurtReckz May 28, 2009 at 12:45 pm

you’re right when you say that “you need to give too.”
twitter is a two-way street.

and the world DOES need more good content.

thanks for the article!

Nwankama Nwankama June 14, 2009 at 3:59 pm

I re-read this article and caught, yet another helpful advise. Indeed, I have seen that those that tweet more about themself and the things that they are selling than about other stuff don’t do that well. Thanks again. I will re-read this article after 2 months to see how I’m measuring up (Nwankama).

Bill October 10, 2010 at 4:28 am

[You don’t have many (or any) Replies in your Twitter stream.]

I have never had anyone reply to me or vis versa. Being honest im kind of scared to. In what ways would it be good for me to begin to do this? I feel dumb but i dont even know how.

Thank you for the information

fiverr August 24, 2011 at 7:48 am

Hello! This is my first comment here so I just wanted to give a quick shout out and say I genuinely enjoy reading your posts. Can you suggest any other blogs/websites/forums that cover the same topics? Thanks a lot!

ri-ri November 5, 2011 at 9:26 am

thank you very much 4 the information!! it was very helful!!! xoxox :D

Michael Denmead March 31, 2013 at 4:36 pm

I like your piece. I actually read all of it. A question for you. You wrote this in 2009 – anything changed?

トリーバーチ June 18, 2013 at 12:26 am

Justification, the supreme deception could be on their own.
You may not be equipped to remove or get rid of all molds, however, in this way,
if the alternative does not appear in make contact with with all the
forms prolonged enough.

business loan unsecured June 30, 2013 at 6:03 pm

I believe what you wrote was very logical. However, consider
this, suppose you added a little information? I ain’t saying your content isn’t good, but suppose you added a title that grabbed a person’s attention? I mean Getting More Twitter Followers – or Losing Them — Pistachio is a little vanilla. You should look at Yahoo’s home page and
see how they create article titles to get people to click.

You might try adding a video or a related pic or two to grab people excited about what
you’ve written. In my opinion, it could make your posts a little livelier.

groups and individuals. July 1, 2013 at 9:14 pm

Thank you for another fantastic post. Where else may
just anyone get that kind of information in such a perfect means of writing?

I have a presentation subsequent week, and I am on the search
for such information.

buy twitter followers for $5 July 18, 2013 at 5:53 am

Make sure that your personal tweets have some meaning.
You will be able to get real time information about all the people that are
Twittering from that location. What is more to the point is that you need three things to convey an appropriate and well-done
online message to your audience via your video:.

free instagram followers July 28, 2013 at 3:06 pm

Moreover, it covers all the loopholes of Instagram and provides salient features to the
users. Instagram has a great privacy option that allows your account
and photos to only be viewed by your approved followers if
you wish; so you don’t have to worry about your photos being viewed by just anyone. She then allowed him to kiss her cheek, and three years of hard work had paid off.

guadagnare scrivendo August 5, 2013 at 1:19 am

Now there is a devoted worldwide following of obituary fans who pore over deaths
of everyone from celebrities to philanthropists to ordinary people.
The people who tend to succeed also often
get expert help to write and complete their books more quickly and to write a better book.
The paid to answer and paid to write websites can be subdivided in two groups:
the ones that pay you a precise amount for every writing or every answer you give and the ones
that permit you to make use of your adsense code
or your affiliate links on their web pages in which you wrote your content.

allah wallpapers|wallpaper murals August 7, 2013 at 4:12 am

I know this if off topic but I’m looking into starting my own weblog and was curious what all is needed to get setup? I’m
assuming having a blog like yours would cost a pretty penny?
I’m not very web savvy so I’m not 100% sure.
Any tips or advice would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks

Peoples Trust Insurance Company August 7, 2013 at 6:43 pm

I like the helpful information you provide in your articles.
I will bookmark your blog and check again here regularly.

I’m quite sure I’ll learn plenty of new stuff right here!
Good luck for the next!

home based busines August 7, 2013 at 8:12 pm

Hello, simply wanted to provide you with a brief suggestion to permit you to know that
a few of the photos just aren’t launching as it should be within your web page. I am not sure the particular reason why nonetheless I think it’s actually a linking
matter. I actually have tried it in two various internet browsers and both still present the identical end
result.

singapore digital piano August 8, 2013 at 11:36 am

A motivating discussion is definitely worth comment.
I think that you should publish more about this
issue, it might not be a taboo matter but usually people don’t speak about such issues. To the next! All the best!!

Foreign exchange Scalping: BRAND NEW Tested Forex currency trading Methods as well as $600 a day. August 8, 2013 at 8:57 pm

What’s Happening i am new to this, I stumbled upon this I have discovered It positively helpful and it has helped me out loads. I am hoping to contribute & help other customers like its helped me. Great job.

Magdalena August 8, 2013 at 10:05 pm

I needed to thank you for this fantastic read!!
I absolutely loved every little bit of it.
I have you bookmarked to look at new things you post…

Denver Colorado Bathtub Refinishing August 9, 2013 at 6:56 am

It really is challenging to purchase bathtubs in virtually any color a single
wishes. planning to contract for a house or thinking of
constructing their own are considering. One may think of
replacing the whole set up to have new ones.

microsoft point gratuit August 9, 2013 at 12:05 pm

Hey there! This is kind of off topic but I need some guidance from an
established blog. Is it difficult to set up your own blog?
I’m not very techincal but I can figure things out pretty quick. I’m thinking about making my own but
I’m not sure where to start. Do you have any points or suggestions? Many thanks

Wizard 101 Crown Generator August 10, 2013 at 9:00 am

Asking questions are really nice thing if you are not understanding something completely, however this paragraph presents good understanding yet.

hangzhou hgh airport August 10, 2013 at 3:10 pm

What kind of questions does the doctor ask when
getting birth control pills?

minnie mouse cakes August 11, 2013 at 5:48 am

I liked them because they gave me more feeling of the string and more sense of control of the sound.
It battled against Drew’s Flygon and Absol, alongside Squirtle; however, the fierce battle left only Combusken and Absol on stage after the first half of the five minutes. Neon colors such as bright yellow, lime green and tangerine orange are a hot commodity this spring and classic colors such as red and white are also trending.

paychex August 14, 2013 at 4:37 am

Do you mind if I quote a few of your articles as long as I provide credit and
sources back to your webpage? My blog is in the exact same niche as yours and my visitors would truly benefit from some of the
information you present here. Please let me know if this alright with you.
Many thanks!

online business ideas August 15, 2013 at 12:05 pm

Hello, I just want to provide you a brief notice
and assist you to know that many of the image files aren’t showing very well on your internet site. I don’t know why but I assume it happens
to be a linking complication. I actually have
additionally tried it in two separate web browsers and both still offer an identical outcome.

ativan August 16, 2013 at 7:03 am

you’re in reality a good webmaster. The site loading velocity is incredible. It kind of feels that you are doing any unique trick. Furthermore, The contents are masterpiece. you’ve done a great task in this matter!

rainbow and unicorn game touch to chase your dreams again August 17, 2013 at 12:51 am

whoah this weblog is wonderful i like studying your articles.

Stay up the good work! You understand, many individuals are
looking around for this info, you can aid them
greatly.

Alarm Systems Vancouver August 26, 2013 at 3:27 pm

In that case, then you tend to be very protective of your property and the family that exists with you.
Also, the captured details of intrusion detection help the
personnel to identify the reason and persons involved in the vandalism.
The more specific a theme the better the video will turn out.

how much green coffee bean for weight loss August 29, 2013 at 12:11 am

A person essentially assist to make significantly articles I would state.
That is the very first time I frequented your website page and to this point?
I surprised with the analysis you made to create this particular submit amazing.
Excellent process!

http://journals.fotki.com/jamie14635/my-blog/entry/wqfbffqdfgrqf/ September 1, 2013 at 3:01 pm

Excellent post. I was checking constantly this weblog
and I’m impressed! Very useful information particularly the remaining part :
) I care for such info much. I used to be seeking this certain info for a very long time.
Thank you and good luck.

neverwinter zoom hack September 8, 2013 at 2:35 am

Thhe camera does switch to ann over-the-shoulder perspective
when closing in forr precision aiming, but thee is no option to
swap shoulders, a feature that has now become a standard in action-oriented titles today.

The game waas designed to be very “free-form,” meaning that
it is simple fun too just level up or become tthe head of the thieves’ guild, completely ignoring the main quest.
GURPS uses a flexible points-based character system that lends itself to being transported to different settings.

dofus hack September 11, 2013 at 11:40 am

I have gathered so many bad reviews and that this work, in a review posted some “not so” what you are seen.
The Nintendo8 is a lot of exuberance in their brain after checking out my Online NFL
online football games Football Regular temper Week 16.
As for this case, people from all walks of life vary.

Leonard September 12, 2013 at 5:56 am

I am in fact grateful to the holder of this site who has
shared this wonderful piece of writing at at this place.

high on mel September 14, 2013 at 10:45 am

Exceptional post however , I was wondering if you could write a litte more on this subject?
I’d be very thankful if you could elaborate a little bit
further. Thanks!

pru protect September 14, 2013 at 7:53 pm

It’s remarkable designed for me to have a web site,
which is useful in favor of my knowledge. thanks admin

http://www.classycareergirl.com/ September 14, 2013 at 9:43 pm

Hello there! I just want to give you a huge thumbs
up for the excellent info you have got right here on this post.
I will be returning to your blog for more soon.

business short term loans September 16, 2013 at 1:58 am

Why visitors still make use of to read news papers when in
this technological globe the whole thing
is accessible on web?

doctor September 16, 2013 at 10:04 am

Thanks for some other excellent article. Wherre else
may just anybody get that kind of information
in such an ideal means of writing? I have a presentation subsequent week, and I’m on the look for such
information.

deathwarp.com September 17, 2013 at 12:58 pm

It’s actually a nice and helpful piece of info. I am happy that you just shared this
useful info with us. Please stay us up to date like this.

Thanks for sharing.

fidojones.com September 18, 2013 at 6:36 pm

Hey! Do you use Twitter? I’d like to follow
you if that would be ok. I’m definitely enjoying your blog
and look forward to new posts.

becoming comfortable September 23, 2013 at 8:05 pm

Wow, that’s what I was looking for, what a stuff!
existing here at this website, thanks admin of
this website.

Tankless Water Heater September 23, 2013 at 11:34 pm

Hello too every one, since I am reallpy eager
of reding this blog’s post to be updated daily.

It contains nice information.

Rex September 24, 2013 at 12:59 am

Since the admin of this web site is working, no doubt very quickly it
will be famous, due to its quality contents.

tankless water heater lowes September 24, 2013 at 6:19 am

I appreciate, cause I discovered exactly whaat I used to be having a loo for.

You’ve ended my 4 day long hunt! God Bless you man. Have a great day.
Bye

gadżety warszawa September 26, 2013 at 11:50 am

Hello there, just became alert to your blog through Google, and
found that it is truly informative. I am going to
watch out for brussels. I’ll appreciate if you continue this in future.
Many people will be benefited from your writing. Cheers!

bingo bags at kmart September 27, 2013 at 1:28 pm

I amm actually delighted to read this webpage posts which carries plenty of useful data,
thanks for providing such statistics.

Wilbert September 29, 2013 at 5:41 am

There will probably come a time when you have to clear away a tree from
your garden. That is a struggle but the bigger difficulty is taking
away the tree stump that remains. It’s imperative to eradicate it if you don’t you’ll
attract pests to your garden (and usually your residence) so you really should start thinking about your solutions for this.

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: