While dubious-sounding ads promising to increase your Twitter followers by thousands in rapid fashion are ubiquitous, how should you actually approach attracting new followers in a way that genuinely benefits your business?

This post gives you five key ways to increase your Twitter followers and build a genuine community that truly benefits your business for the long-term.

But first, what exactly are the benefits for your business from attracting more followers?

Download this cheatsheet now to help you increase your Twitter followers the right way.

Why Increase Your Twitter Followers?

Generally speaking, more followers mean:

  • You’ll attract more engagement (see below).
  • Your content – i.e. your Tweets – will be more visible and reach more people.

However, it’s not just a numbers game. To enjoy the benefits, your followers need to be genuine, active Twitter users who have an interest in the type of content you share.

The good news is that by following the tips below, these are the exact type of followers you’ll attract.

There is however an alternative, quicker route to building your follower numbers, as mentioned right at the beginning. This involves purchasing followers.

However 'real' and 'genuine' offers for building your Twitter followers might appear, you should be aware of the dangers for your business. Stay away.

However ‘real’ and ‘genuine’ offers for building your Twitter followers might appear, you should be aware of the dangers for your business.

What’s so wrong with purchasing followers?

Let’s start with the fact it will bring little if any actual benefit to your business. In fact, it may actually harm it.

Sure, we all want to increase our followers, right?

Buying them certainly increases the numbers and might make you feel good. At least, temporarily. But that’s really where the ‘benefit’ ends.

Here’s why.

When you purchase followers, what you’re actually purchasing is for some automated process to run through hundreds or thousands of fake accounts, and to make those accounts follow you programmatically.

Yes, you will have more followers.

But they’re not real people with any interest in what you share. They won’t otherwise engage in any genuine way with your content.

Because it’s very hard to stop a Twitter account following you once they are doing so, your fake followers will either:

  • Suppress the level of engagement – in terms of the ratio between the number of followers you have, and the proportion who engage in some way – for a long time to come.
  • Make it impossible to tell the real level of engagement. Some ‘businesses’ offering followers for sale will also create fake engagement with your content, making it impossible for you to tell what is actually working with your community of genuine followers.

How can buying followers harm your business?

Firstly, there’s a credibility issue.

If someone looks at your profile and sees a high number of followers but no engagement with your content, it reduces your credibility and makes your profile less appealing for other followers. In other words, it can suppress the level at which you attract other followers.

i'll never understand why people buy followers.... like.... we can tell....

Secondly, there’s a risk your wider reputation will be damaged.

It’s easy to track and identify fake accounts, and see the other accounts they follow. This means your business could be publicly identified as one which has purchased fake followers, potentially harming your reputation long-term.

Thirdly, as mentioned above, it makes it harder to measure and accurately judge the effectiveness of the content you are sharing.

In other words, you will have to continually account for the fact that a certain proportion of your followers are fake when judging engagement levels, which will be an unnecessary and unhelpful overhead for a long-time to come.

Alternatively, where you are getting engagement, but much of it is faked, it makes any such measurement impossible.

This can become even more significant when reaching an exit for your business. Having to explain the reasons for the relatively low engagement levels on Twitter, perhaps compared to Twitter profiles for similar businesses in your niche, could not just suppress the sale price for your business, but cause a potential buyer to walk away completely.

The same applies to when you are apparently getting ‘engagement’ but on further investigation, many of the retweets, likes etc. you are receiving are from dubious accounts.

Again, it comes down to trust. If this part of your business is fake, what else in your business is not all as it seems?

Finally, purchasing followers (or any other type of engagement for your account) as well as using automated services to build followers is against Twitter’s rules, and can potentially lead to your account being suspended.

So, in brief, while we all want new followers, don’t be tempted to go down the route of purchasing them.

There are two kinds of people on social networks: those who want more followers and those who are lying - Guy Kawasaki

But There Is One Exception!

The only exception is where you are advertising through Twitter itself. Essentially, this involves promoting your account so that it is made visible to real Twitter users based on your targeted options.

If advertising on Twitter for followers, your account will be shown to targeted users as one they might wish to follow

You can also promote Tweets, which again makes your profile more visible and can attract more followers along with other types of engagement.

I tested the former option for a while and found it very effective for attracting a steady stream of targeted and active followers.

The cost worked out at around a dollar per follower. This can be brought down over time, probably to around half that, by refining the ad and testing targeting options.

However, it’s not a method I’ve used for a while as the tips I share below continue to attract a steady stream of followers on their own. I will no doubt revisit it at some point in future.

What’s Meant By Engagement?

I’ve mentioned engagement a few times so far. But in case this is all new territory and you’re not too sure what it actually means, here’s a brief explanation, including why you want more of it…

With respect to Twitter, engagement refers to people engaging with your Tweets by liking, replying, retweeting, adding you to lists, clicking through on links and so on.

When people engage with your content in this way, it tends to encourage and attract others to do likewise.

For example, it’s easier to retweet a post which has already been retweeted, than to be the first to do so. Plus, content that has attracted engagement already becomes more visible and stands out.

If someone retweets your Tweet, then that content reaches their followers as well, not just your own. In other words, it extends your reach.

The result is an even bigger pool of people to potentially engage with the content – retweet it further, click on a link, and so on.

Retweeting also of course attracts more followers to you by making that content visible on the timelines of people who aren’t yet following you.

So, all in all, the more Twitter followers you (genuinely) attract, the more your online visibility, authority and influence grows.

Get the picture?… 

Let’s go through exactly how to start building your Twitter followers the right way with real benefits for your business.

Download this cheatsheet now to help you increase your Twitter followers the right way.

How to increase your Twitter followers (without buying them)

Share Content Regularly

Whenever I publish a new Tweet (via one of three accounts I’m currently using), I attract more followers. The more I share, the more followers I attract.

Most of these are following because they have an interest of some kind in the content I am sharing. This is why you should ensure the content you share – the Tweets you post – are of interest and value to the type of follower you want to attract.

Conversely, if I don’t share content, I see the opposite occur.

This doesn’t mean people stop following because they haven’t seen new content in a day or two, it’s just part of the natural process. Followers drop away for a wide variety of reasons.

By sharing content regularly, you tend to attract more followers than you lose, and so you have a continual net gain. Your follower count grows.

So what type of content can you share?

Some people and businesses struggle with Twitter, at least to start with, because the idea of having to post content on a regular basis is daunting.

Here are some ideas:

  • Tweets that link through to new content you’ve published, whether on your blog or elsewhere. Here’s an example from the previous post on this blog. (Click here for information on using Twitter Cards to ensure Tweets linking to your site are shown like the media-rich Tweet shown here).

  • Suitable images: for example, a relevant quote for your niche displayed as an image, perhaps with other accompanying text. You don’t need to include a link in every Tweet.

  • A purely textual Tweet – for example, just offering a helpful tip to your marketplace.

  • Relevant content you curate from elsewhere. In other words, relevant articles and other content from other businesses that provide interest and value to people in your market.

By having a regular stream of content like this flow through your Twitter account, you’re increasing your visibility on Twitter and thereby the chances of potential followers finding and choosing to follow you.

Avoid the temptation to send out promotional Tweets. It’s ineffective and you’ll discourage rather than attract both followers and engagement.

Instead, use this general approach as part of your overall Twitter strategy:

  • Share Tweets that are of interest and value to your marketplace, linking to content on your own blog and elsewhere.
  • Within the content that you’re linking to (e.g. a blog post) integrate opt-in offers such as content upgrades to encourage visitors to join your email list.
  • Use your email list to communicate and build the relationship further and to encourage the sale.

Use Hashtags

If you’re unsure what hashtags are, click here for a full guide.

In brief, hashtags are used to track social updates on a similar topic or to group updates together. You should use hashtags in your Tweets to help people in your marketplace find your content, and thereby attract followers to you.

Users searching Twitter for specific hashtags are more likely to find and follow you.

As illustrated above, many Twitter users search for specific hashtags for the latest updates on particular topics, and follow relevant accounts as a consequence. This can also occur automatically, with a certain hashtag tracked, and relevant accounts followed.

Hashtags within Tweets can also be clicked to find other content on the same topic of interest.

Users also click hashtags within Tweets to view related content

Use a variety of relevant hashtags in your Tweets to help attract followers to you and increase your visibility.

Use Images

When you include images and other rich media within your Tweets, they generally attract more engagement than those that don’t. So uses images as often as possible to increase your Twitter followers.

With respect to Tweets that share your own blog content, the easiest way to do this is to:

  • Use a Featured Image in your blog posts (you’ll see one for this post at the top).
  • Implement Twitter Cards on your blog so the image is shown automatically when your content is shared.

This also means your content will be shared more widely by others (and further engaged with) simply because it looks more appealing on their own timeline.

Follow Others

One of the main ways to increase your Twitter followers is to simply follow others.

Some don’t like this approach or have some misplaced moral indignation about it. Ignore them. The truth is, it works – you’re helping to attract more people to your content who will stand to benefit from it. I don’t see much of a moral issue with that.

The fact is, a proportion of those you follow will follow you back. After a while, you can choose to unfollow those who have not reciprocated.

However, you do have to be careful about your approach so that you’re not doing this aggressively, and thereby abusing the platform or falling foul of Twitter’s rules.

This is what the Twitter Rules currently state on the issue:

Twitter's rules on following and unfollowing people

At first glance, this appears to suggest you shouldn’t be following anyone in order to build followers. But that’s not actually the case. Twitter’s concern and prevention strategies relate to aggressive following and unfollowing behaviour.

But what does that actually mean?

Their Following Rules and Best Practices page makes it a lot clearer, and is certainly worth a read if you’re unsure about this.

Twitter's guidelines make it clear that it's aggressive following and unfollowing they're most concerned about

What you don’t want to happen of course is that you lose your Twitter account.

Based on Twitter’s guidelines as well as personal experience, the following is the approach I would recommend:

  • Stay away from any automated following and unfollowing tools, even though you might see them recommended in certain places. I’ve even seen some social media ‘influencers’ recommend their use, which is worrying to say the least. It’s very clear such practice is against Twitter’s rules and is likely to lead to the loss of your account. Stay away, it’s not worth the risk.
  • Follow and unfollow no more than a hundred accounts a day in total. This ensures you’re well within their guidelines and not using their system aggressively.
  • Avoid repeatedly following and unfollowing the same accounts in the hope you might just catch their eye one day and get them to follow you. To avoid this, it can be better to just concentrate on follows for a few weeks, then switch to unfollows for a while (other than following those who are engaging with you – see below) to redress the balance.
  • Avoid following or unfollowing accounts in rapid quick-fire succession. This can also be seen as aggressive. Spread out the activity during the day, and spend a bit of time deciding who to follow and/or unfollow rather than just say rapidly clicking down a list of accounts with no thought put into it.

In general, be respectful of Twitter’s platform and of other users, and you should be fine. Accept it will take time and persistence to build your followers. That’s why authority, influence and visibility have value – it’s not a cheap commodity.

How to Find Suitable Followers

So where do you find Twitter users who are likely to be interested in your own Twitter profile, and likely not just to follow you back, but to engage with your content?

Here are three main approaches.

Find Relevant Tweets

Look for people who are tweeting with content of interest to your own market. For example, run a search on Twitter for certain relevant keywords and hashtags.

Find Tweets that have attracted engagement in the form of likes and retweets.

Open the Tweet, and you’ll see the avatars of some of the Twitter users who have engaged with the post.

Follow people who have engaged with the Tweet

Hover over each avatar, and choose accounts to follow yourself.

Alternatively, get a full list of people who engaged by clicking on ‘Retweets’ or ‘Likes’.

Click for a full list of people who have retweeted

In choosing accounts to follow, avoid those that look more dubious. For example, there may be no profile image, a less-than-credible profile description, or the account might be obviously spam-related in some way (some fake Twitter accounts ‘engage’ with normal Tweets for the purpose of trying to attract attention for adult sites or other purposes).

Use Your Competition

Find accounts similar to your own, or accounts likely to attract the type of people you’d like to be following you. Where does your market congregate?

One approach is to then click through to view their followers.

Click to view the followers of accounts that attract your market

Don’t follow everyone, but follow more credible-looking accounts that sound like they might be interested in your content, and therefore in potentially following you back.

Another approach is similar to the Find Relevant Tweets one above. See who is engaging with their content, and follow them.

Follow Those Engaging With You

Keep a close eye on those who are engaging with you. You can do this through the Notifications tab on Twitter.

People who have already shown interest in your content will be on your Notifications tab

For example, you’ll see a listing of people who have followed you, added you to a list, liked, retweeted or otherwise shared your content, and so on.

You'll see a list of Twitter users who have engaged with your content

Go through your notifications regularly, preferably at least daily, and follow relevant accounts.

As you can see above, many of these notifications relate to people already following you. However, you’ll also find Twitter users interacting with your content who aren’t yet doing so. By following them too, and doing so reasonably promptly, there’s a high chance they’ll follow you back.

Engage

You’ll notice in the previous tip I referred a lot to following people who are engaging with you and/or other Twitter users.

Well guess what?

That’s how other Twitter users are finding people to follow too.

By engaging with others, you’re building the visibility of your profile, and attracting followers as a consequence.

So… engage:

  • Retweet and/or like content that’s relevant for the type of people you want to attract.
  • Reply to Tweets to offer your own thoughts, ask advice or provide a link to related content they might be interested in.
  • Create lists of relevant accounts.
  • And so on.

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To Conclude

Remember to download this cheatsheet now to help you increase your Twitter followers the right way (without losing your account or credibility). The cheatsheet includes 5 extra power tips to help you build your Twitter followers as quickly as possible.

Even so, you should still be aware that increasing your Twitter followers can feel like a slow, laborious process, particularly in the beginning.

This is partly because a new account is less appealing for others to follow when you only have a few followers yourself.

However, stick at it. Once you get past your first few hundred followers, and then your first few thousand, it becomes rapidly easier. And as your authority, influence and visibility grows, you’ll know it was all worth it.