If you have a message that you want to share with the world, Twitter is a great place to start. With just 140 characters, you can say what’s on your mind as well as linking to other users, websites and so much more.
But did you know that the average Twitter user has less than 200 followers? So how do you beat the odds if you feel like you’ve got something to say? How do you build an audience that will enjoy what you’re putting out there?
Keep reading and I’ll tell you.
Building a Twitter Audience: Background
Initially I’d started to write this as a short ebook. Thankfully I’ve abandoned that idea – it was going to be a lot of work. Plus, I’ve got some better ideas for books brewing.
But I do want to share what knowledge I do have. After all, getting your first 1000 of ANYTHING is a challenge.
I’m no Twitter guru but I have been using the platform for over 6 years. In that time, I’ve learned a fair bit about what works and what doesn’t. I’ve run two accounts that both have 1000+ followers as well as taking over another (a celebrity brand) feed going from 70 to several hundred followers in a very short time.
I’m not going to get deep down into the technical stuff. Instead these are the main things I’ve learned from the last six years – distilled and compressed for your benefit.
I’ve learned a lot from trial and error as well as observing what others do on their Twitter feeds. It’s a platform that suits people like me who are ESTP. That’s because I like to express myself outwardly (and copiously) – one of the reasons I started writing all those years ago…
In other words, I’ve got a lot to say. Some of it I mean, some I don’t (but I’ll say it anyway – just to see what happens). Twitter is the ideal platform for this form of expression.
So what are the top three things you can do to grow your Twitter following and reach that magic number?
Have Something Interesting to Say
Imagine meeting someone at a party who was dull. I don’t mean a little bit introverted, but some completely off-the-scale boring. Would that be a fun person to be around? Would you want to listen to what they have to say? Would you go out of your way to spend time with them?
Or would you ignore them and do your best to avoid them? I know what I would do…
So why should it be any different on Twitter? Interesting people have interesting things to say.
They have insight, sophistication, class, zeal or enthusiasm.
They could be a little edgy or offensive.
They’re unpredictable or funny.
That’s the kind of person people want to follow: Someone with a little bit of an edge. An angle.
Consider this: Twitter is a short term game – the average lifespan of a tweet is measured in minutes. Six minutes to be precise. So when you say something on Twitter, that phrase has a few minutes to connect with people or it will be lost forever.
Better make it a good one then! People who tweet about how bad their day is or how much they love fast food are going to get little interest – no one cares.
People who post pictures of their latest base jump are going to catch your eye – and you’ll want to see more.
Sadly I don’t base jump – but I do like to post photos of mountains:
I delete a lot of tweets before they’re sent as they sound lame or dull in my head – which probably means they will sound lame or dull to you as well!
If you follow my Twitter, you might have noticed some interesting activity, even trolling (!). Don’t worry, I haven’t lost it – I wanted to see what the result would be if I was a bit meaner to people.
To be honest, some liked it, others not so much – but it was interesting – engagements went up. It’s not really me – I’m a pretty positive guy – so don’t expect it to be a theme. Still, you never know….
Anyway, the takeaway point is that even offensive tweets are more interesting than dullness. So don’t be the boring guy at the party – share your message with flair and belief. People will respond and connect.
And your audience will increase.
Have Something Interesting to Show
It’s my belief that having a feed on it’s own isn’t really enough if you’re looking to build a big audience. I even posted as much:
You can't build a twitter following based just on your feed. Unless you're female. And hot.
OK, so this was using rhetoric and a little bit of trolling. There are plenty of examples of people who don’t fall into these categories and have build successful followings.
Anyway. It’s much easier (and quicker) if you have something to show people. When I started on Twitter all those years ago, it was primarily to promote my writing and especially on fitness and MMA. One story I wrote on the UFC went viral and I got over 100 followers in a few hours.
Having articles to share gives a focus for your feed. But, it shouldn’t just be your own stuff. That will get dull pretty quickly. Imagine you’re back at that party – you don’t want to be around the guy who just talks about himself.
I find people who just post scheduled tweets of their own content pretty tiresome (If you’re reading this and think I’m talking about you – I am. Stop it.)
On my original feed, I have about 1 follower for every 6 tweets. On @ThisDadDoes, it’s 1:4. The main difference? The latter account has been used to share content (including photographs) with others – not just write out my thoughts for the day.
And not just my own stuff either. After a few shares of the same article, most people who are going to have clicked the link. That’s it over.
Which is why I try to share as much other interesting content from other writers and content creators – it’s all stuff I like and enjoy. It’s only right that I share it with you.
In terms of building an audience, 1 follower per 4 tweets is a much better Return On Investment (ROI) than 1:6. Thats an extra 2000 tweets to reach 1000 followers – or 200 days at 10 tweets per day.
So what if you don’t have a website? Well you can fix that easily (assuming you want one of course) by signing up with BADNET. They set up your site for free. If you have an existing blog, they can move everything to your new hosting service too. I did this and have never looked back. This isn’t an affiliate sale attempt, just a recommendation of a great service.
But if you don’t want to run a blog (it’s not for everyone) then you can still share information with others. Link to blogs, videos, books and podcasts that interest you. You could even start your own YouTube channel and become the next Gabe Johannson.
Do this and users will find you and connect with you because you have something to show and something to give.
Which brings me on to my last point:
Being abundant is a big part of the Gorilla Mindset. Being abundant means you see the world in terms of what you have and what you can give.
This is opposed to having a mindset of scarcity – when you see the world in terms of what you don’t have or could potentially lose.
Abundant people stand out on Twitter. Why?
Because they’re in short supply. The internet is jam-packed full of narcissists and shallow, sad people who just want you to pay them attention for their own sense of validation. That’s why I don’t read most Dad Blogs – they don’t give anything useful to the reader.
When you think of an abundant person, who do you think of? I think of Ed Latimore (who I name checked in my previous post). He’s a fascinating and intelligent guy but has so much time for people on Twitter – engaging with fans, giving them retweets and sharing other people’s articles.
He recently tweeted this out, telling his followers to follow a bunch of users (one of which was me – thanks Ed!). They responded – over 50 people followed me on that day alone!
He doesn’t need to read this article because he’s got way more than 1000 followers. Why? Because he embodies all of the three concepts I’ve thrown up here. He has something interesting to say, has something interesting to show (his own blog Mind and Fist) and is a very abundant person – always looking for ways to give to people.
This approach reminds me of a quote (sorry I don’t know who said it):
People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.
Ed’s is an example worth following.
So, 1000 followers might seem like a big target, especially if you’re struggling to hit triple figures. But everyone starts an account with zero.
The difference between you and Mr Average-200-Followers is that you now have the tools to grow an engaged audience with an interesting and abundant Twitter.
Use it to give and people will give back – that’s the rule of reciprocity distilled into a series of 140 character posts!
If you find or write interesting articles, Tweet them out. You could even tag me. I’m always on the lookout for good content to read and share with my followers.
So go forth, tweet abundantly and may your followers multiply.
P.S. If you think my Twitter’s good, you should read my emails. You can sign up to get them here.