By Dorie Clark and Daniel Vahab
Unless you’re a celebrity like Justin Bieber or Hillary Clinton, you’re going to have to work at building an initial following on Twitter. So what’s the secret? Instead of a slow-and-steady progression, treat your Twitter account like a short-term addiction. Make it your top priority for a month or two, double down and create lots of content.
That’s because studies have shown that the more you tweet, the more followers you’re likely to have (users who have written under 1000 tweets typically have fewer than 100 followers, while those who have tweeted more than 10,000 times usually have followings of between 1000-5000 people).
That initial immersion will pay off in terms of “market research,” as well: you’ll sharpen your editorial voice, get more comfortable with the medium and its quirks (hashtags, @ replies, and more), and learn the types of content that appeal to and engage your followers.
Indeed, if you’re a small business or brand, Twitter will 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. (It also works for individuals; Daniel recently inked a major consulting contract with someone he met on Twitter.)
To help grow your initial base of followers quickly and easily, here are some additional methods you can try.
Utilize your LinkedIn and email connections. Since you’re more likely to be followed by someone you already have a relationship with, we recommend finding your LinkedIn connections on Twitter and following them. Technically, Twitter doesn’t have a way to do this, so we’ve found a workaround.
First, visit your LinkedIn Contacts page and select “settings.” From there you’ll have the option to export your contacts into a .CSV file. The file can then be seamlessly uploaded to your email account contacts. Then from Twitter, you’ll be able to import your email contacts, which will include your LinkedIn connections, choosing which of them you want to follow.
Use a timesaving tool to schedule your tweets. Free and low-cost tools like Hootsuite allow you to schedule your tweets in advance so that you maintain a consistent flow of content, while saving time. People who post content on a regular basis tend to see more engagement and followers.
Join a Twitter chat. Every week, groups within various industries get together on Twitter to talk about a topic. By joining these chats and engaging with others, you’ll get the opportunity to meet new people in your sector, play the role of an industry insider, and learn valuable information. Some notable chats include #CustServ, #blogchat, #tchat, #HBRchat, and #mediachat.
Multitask. Many of us have spare pockets of time that we could put to use. For instance, tweet while commuting to and from work on the bus or train. Tweet while on the bike at the gym, during commercials of your favorite shows; tweet while in the waiting room for the dentist.
Respond to people who are interested in similar content. When you comment on, retweet, or favorite a Twitter post, consider following users who also engaged with the post. The users will notice that you share similar interests in content and therefore be more inclined to follow you.
Tweet inspirational quotes. Quotes tend to see higher engagement on Twitter because people enjoy reading them and sharing with others. With the free app Forismatic, for instance, you will receive a wide array of inspiring quotes that you can instantly post to Twitter. This will help you to increase engagement, as well as save time.
Follow users 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.
Follow the accounts recommended by Twitter. In the #Discover section of your dashboard, Twitter recommends “Who to follow” for your account.
What methods have you found effective? Do you have other advice for how to gain Twitter followers initially? Let us know in the comments below.
Dorie Clark is a marketing strategist who teaches at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business. Learn more about her book Reinventing You: Define Your Brand, Imagine Your Future (Harvard Business Review Press) and follow her on Twitter.
Daniel Vahab is a journalist and social media community manager who grew his own Twitter following by several thousand in just a few months’ time by using the tactics described in this post. His writings have appeared in Mashable, Yahoo! News, U.S. News & World Report, The New York Times, The Huffington Post, and more.