Twitter is one of the most amusing social networks available nowadays. It takes the blogging experience and spices it up by allowing you only 140 letters to play with. The result is usually witty and funny comprehensive tweets that are hardly a sentence long. But Twitter is not as fun or as rewarding with no audience (followers) to applaud your joke or refute your political argument. Twitter followers make the experience much more personal and exciting. So how do you gain (and keep) Twitter followers?
Your Twitter Profile
Unlike most other social networks, Twitter doesn’t require (or encourage) you to introduce yourself or share personal information on your profile. If you are unfamiliar with what Twitter is, you can catch up with our article on Understanding How Twitter Works here.
Your Twitter friends – better known as followers – will adequately be introduced to you (and you to them) through your tweets. Accordingly, what you should care about the most is the quality of your tweets. If you’re original and funny, or have a strong opinion about a current event, your tweet would get the attention it deserves.
As a Twitter newbie, you start with no followers at all, unless you have friends on the website. That means that, in most cases, you’ll have to earn your Twitter followers one by one. How do you do that, you ask? The first step is to devote a little attention to your profile before you start a following spree.
Most Twitter users would ignore a new follower with no profile picture. The default “egg” avatar that Twitter sets for you implies, naturally, that you’re new and, instinctively, that you’re lazy. A profile picture of you or something that represents you will give your profile a more personal and human feel.
Twitter gives you a slightly longer space right beneath your picture to share a few words with your profile visitors. Your biography (also called “bio” by the Twitter folks) is a 160-character box where you can write practically anything you fancy. Some choose to fill it with adjectives describing themselves; and here’s an example of that: Green thumb, movies enthusiast, gym rat. Others fill it with hashtags of their favorite team and/or their favorite TV show, or their occupation, for example, #ManchesterUnited #BreakingBad #Engineer. And some would write a long eloquent sentence describing how they view life or themselves. Choices are truly endless, as long as you stick to the 160-character limit.
Whatever it is that you choose to write in your bio, keep in mind that it will count. When someone comes across your profile, be it because you followed them or because they encountered one of your tweets on their timeline, they will check your bio and part of their decision to follow you will be based on how much they like it. Consider it the title of your book. If it is attractive enough, the reader will be intrigued to read more. Based on mutual interests or perhaps your impressive language skills, you might get a few follows just because you invested some effort in writing a good bio.
Your Following List
If none of your friends is already on Twitter, you’ll need to put a little effort into getting noticed. Start by cruising the website using the accounts of people you know, celebrities, politicians, or known faces you recognize from other social networks like Facebook, Tumblr, YouTube, etc. That way, you will be following people with whom you share a few interests. Check their timelines and, if you come across a retweet that amuses you, check its author. It can be a fun ride to jump from one Twitter profile to the next, choosing carefully the kind of timeline you will have.
If you don’t know what a retweet is, you can read more about its basics in our article How to Use Twitter: Proper Twitter Usage or the Consequences.
Don’t go on a mass follow though. Following over 500 Twitter users when you still have zero followers implies that you don’t really care about the quality of your following list, and it will discourage others from following you back. So in short, it’s advisable to start by following 30-40 people whose tweets you enjoy and who share common grounds with you. You’ll be followed back by a few of them, and never expect follow backs from celebrities or verified accounts.
If you haven’t written any tweets yet, it’s highly unlikely that you will get followed back. Why would anyone follow you if they don’t know how you write and they have no idea if you’ll be a fun or a valuable addition to their timeline? Therefore, have at least 4-5 tweets on your profile before your start following. These tweets will be your first introduction to your new Twitter followers.
You may have also heard about “buying” Twitter followers. You can read more about this subject in our article Who Would Want to Buy Twitter Followers?
Team Follow Back?
One of the guaranteed ways to get followers quickly is to announce that you would follow anyone back, and this is commonly known as Team Follow Back. These people are usually young Twitter users who are willing to follow anyone to increase the number of their Twitter followers. You would know them by noticing how suspiciously similar and exaggeratedly large the numbers of their followers and followings are. Although a vow to follow back is a shorter route to gaining Twitter followers, you’ll unfortunately be compromising the quality of your Twitter experience for the quantity of your followers.
The number would be large but vacant; you’ll end up with hundreds of followers who never communicate with you or appear in your Interactions tab. And you’ll also find yourself stuck with hundreds of Twitter users who share nothing of interest with you. It’s simply not worth it.
Following back is courteous and nice but it is never obligatory. If you find yourself followed by someone whose tweets you find annoying, offensive or of bad taste, you don’t have to follow them back. And similarly, no one “has to” follow you back. The beauty of Twitter is that you can completely customize your timeline, choosing only those you really enjoy reading for.
Another feature a new Twitter user can rely on is hashtags. Hashtags give you the chance to go public with your opinion beyond your followers’ reach. For example, if you add the hashtag #StopSH (stop sexual harassment) to a statement of yours about the topic, your tweet will appear among others’ tweets on a public thread that everyone who searches for #StopSH can see. Consequently, more and more Twitter users get to see your tweets and, if your tweet is good, you will probably gain more interested Twitter followers.
Current events usually come with trending hashtags. Participating in the hashtag guarantees you more attention. So next time there is a World Cup match or an Oscars fest, grab the opportunity and join the fun. And remember, the Twitter followers you gain based on cool tweets on your part are often here to stay.
Pay It Forward
Twitter is not about fame or the number of your followers; it’s about the joy of expressing yourself and getting to know complete strangers on very intimate basis through the short, candid spurts of words that they willingly share with you. Interaction highly betters the experience. You can make great friendships with people across the world through Twitter.
As you start gaining followers, and you will as time passes, make sure you can also keep them. Don’t be rude, don’t be insensitive, and don’t be a bigot. Differences of opinions will arise, and you must respect the individuality and the beliefs of each of your following and followers lists. If someone mentions you asking for something or commenting on one of your tweets, reply properly. Ignoring your followers or disrespecting them is repulsive and will cost you their attention. To put it simply, don’t be a social media bully!
If you come across a cool tweet, give it a star and a retweet! Your Twitter followers will appreciate the attention and show you the same courtesy. Socialize and explore and make the best out of your stay. As you familiarize yourself more with Twitter, you’ll realize that it opens real doors for you. You can use it along with millions of others across the world, and if you’re a nice and helpful tweep, your Twitter followers can be a great and loving family.
If you want to read more about how to gain Twitter followers, we recommend this article on Forbes.com.