Acquiring new Twitter followers is one of those great mysteries that seems impossible to crack. Around the blogging circles, I always hear “I really need to work on my Twitter following” or “It’s so tough to build followers”. I too had the same thoughts running through my mind as I was ramping up. Growing at 100-200 followers a month was great and all but at that rate, I calculated that 3 and a half years to get to 10k followers. That was completely unacceptable and so I started to ask some of my social media guru friends and that’s what ended sparking my hockey stick growth.
In last week’s TBT, I introduced Twitter Analytics, a new tool for analyzing how we’ll you’re doing on Twitter. If you’ve read it then you’ve no doubt see the follow section.
I know many of you are eager to find out how I went a turtle’s pace growth to complete blast off in terms of Twitter following. The way to do it is actually quite simple as you’ll see below. Got you hooked yet?
It’s annoying but sadly brands and sponsors still place a heavy emphasis on following as a gauge of influence. What sparked this was when two things happened in the same week.
- I was denied into a Facebook group because I didn’t have enough followers
- A PR company stated very clearly in a response to my pitch that they only work with bloggers that have >10K followers
I know you know my frustration. Let that be the fuel that propels your rocket ship!
Twitter upward trajectory
As a disclaimer to everything I talk about below, I’ll admit that it’s “gray hat” but honestly that’s what growth hacking is all about.
Once I explain it, this is going to seem like the most obvious thing ever. It’s also likely that you’re already doing this in some form or another. You just didn’t know it.
What you’ll realize with Twitter is that the behaviour on the platform is extremely reciprocal. You retweet someone – they thank you. You favorite something of theirs – they favorite something of yours. You follow them – they follow you back. Everyone wants to be followed and Twitter makes it extremely to follow back. Everyone wants to be friends right??
I know the counter argument here is that you want to build quality followers because it’s those “real” readers of your blog that you want to attract. Quality of your followers is important of course and that’s why you need to be targeted.
So you see, you’re already doing this right now whether you realize it or not. Someone follows you then leads to “Oh look it’s another travel blogger, lets follow them back”. Take that a step further, I know you’ve been following those suggested Twitter users on the right hand side or down below. I’m sure the light bulb has gone off before where you realize it makes a helluva lot of sense to follow other travel bloggers and travel lovers because they’re the ones that care about travel content the most and will most likely click through to your blog.
The next question from this is then, okay targeting is great and all but who exactly? Well this is where the experimentation comes into play. Here are a few things that’ll give you some food for thought.
- If there’s another travel blogger you admire, it probably means something that they follow who they follow.
- Oh gosh a lot of people interested in travel seem to use the #travel and #ttot hashtag quite a bit.
- Travel blogger XYZ has a lot of followers, I wonder who they are.
The gist of all that above is, if your niche is in say “backpacking”, then who another fellow backpacking blogger follows and their followers might be good targets. Hashtags could be another way of going about it too.
There are then 3 main lessons that come out of this:
Lesson 1: It’s the whole nature of Twitter. Follow someone, and you have a chance they’ll follow you back.
Lesson 2: To increase your chances, target specific user groups that care about what you’re writing about. In our case, it’s travel.
Lesson 3: Target Twitter users that your favorite bloggers follow, who follow them and find users that often use travel related hashtags.
Great but how the heck is that scalable? This is where I introduce to you the ultimate tool.
Introducing Tweepi. It’s up there with other strange startup names but once you see how it works, you’ll begin to understand how bloggers like I and others (you know who you are) are taking advantage of the key breakthrough insight – that is “people love to followback”.
Creating an account with Tweepi is a cinch. Just make sure you’re logged into Twitter and simply click on Sign Up and make sure you scroll down to the hidden section below for free access. After that, all you have to do is authorize Tweepi to connect to Twitter and then you’re all set.
One thing I’ll say about Tweepi is that it isn’t the prettiest but I appreciate how simple and to the point it is. There are really only 7 different things you can do in Tweepi as a free user.
The ones that are of interest to below are highlighted.
The 5 step strategy
Step 1: Follow Followers or Follow Friends
- Depending what you feel like, you can decide to follow the followers of someone you look up to (someone that has more followers than you) or the friends of that someone.
- From my experimentation, Follow Followers gives you targeted list of users that are primed to follow back. The list of followers is typically a lot bigger than friends.
Step 2: See 40 rows per page
- By default, you only get to see 20 rows per page. You can extend this to 40. All you have to do is tweet a message out and it’ll activate the 40 rows for a month.
Step 3: Filter as you wish
- To keep your list tight and focused, I recommend filtering the results.
- The most useful filter is “# followers”. I will typically try to follow accounts that have greater than 100 followers. This is just a way to weed out users or bots that really haven’t done anything on Twitter and wouldn’t bring too much value.
- If not on by default, I always sort descending by # followers.
Step 4: Click madly
- The beauty of how the app is designed is that the page scrolls down as you click so all you have to do is click like machine gun rapid fire and you’ll be through an entire page in a matter of seconds.
- If there are users that are already following you, clicking them will simply just have no effect.
- Here, you can decide how aggressive you want to be.
- For me, I always have Tweepi active on my browser so I’ll follow 2-3 pages every of users once awhile during the day.
- How many people you follow is ultimately up to you.
- Keep in mind that Twitter has max limits on how many people you can follow. Eventually you’ll hit it which is what forces you into Step 5. The max limit depends on how many followers you have.
- Also note that aggressively follow a lot of users every day will cause your account to be locked. All this means is that you will have to change your password. I try not to let this happen as it is a bit annoying.
Step 5: Flush
- Flushing means unfollow users that don’t follow you back.
- The technique for flushing is the same as following and should be easy to go through several pages of users.
- I typically will only flush once a week depending on how aggressive I am. I also try to do the flushing before I hit Twitter’s follow limits.
- The key here is not to flush users you just added. You don’t want to be THAT obvious right?
- You also want to give users a chance to follow you back. Not everyone is on Twitter every day so what I do is, let’s say I have 60 pages of users I can flush, I will start flushing from page 55+.
- What about users I don’t want to flush such as guys like @NatGeo or @nomadicmatt. Well there’s a way to “safelist” users. It doesn’t quite prevent you from unfollowing them but it changes their row color to green. That’s usually good enough for me know that I should stop madly clicking.
- If you follow this strategy, eventually you’ll 5+ pages at the end of your flush list that should be all safelisted users.
- Upgrading your account will give you a feature where it’ll keep track of all the users you’ve flushed so you don’t follow them back again.
Rinse and repeat. My recommendation is to experiment with what works for your target audience. Think about: Is there a better time of day to be doing this? Should I follow friends or followers? What filters should I use? Should I try this on a user that has mega following (i.e. @nomadicmatt) or someone with a modest growing following (@goawesomeplaces)?
Consistency is key. Having a daily schedule for this is the best way to go in order to propel that growth higher and higher.
This has paid off in dividends. Just look at to incremental jump in followers for me since I started this strategy. In two months, I’ve grown by 4170 followers.
- July 1, 2014 -> 2991 followers
- September 1, 2014 -> 7161 followers
- October 1, 2014 -> 10,712 followers
What about other tools?
There’s a bazillion tools out there for this. I actually started with JustUnfollow which I still use for Instagram but what makes Tweepi so awesome is that the free tier gives you everything you need without any limits. Unlike JustUnfollow which only allows you to follow and unfollow 50 a day, Tweepi allows you to do this to your hearts content.
If there’s a better tool out there for this type of growth hack, do let me know!
One thing I wish it could do is filter out completely all the users that you are following already. You’ll notice that every time you start a new session of Tweepi and try to follow a user’s followers, you have to remember roughly what page you left off at. Otherwise, you’ll be going through pages and pages of users that you already follow. It’s easy to lose track when you’re on page 142 of 500.
Hopefully I haven’t given away too many blogging secrets in this one post but this is pretty much been the recipe I’ve followed to go from 100 new followers a month to 1000. Mind blown right?
- Ready to learn more? I encourage you to read more from the Travel Blogger’s Toolkit series.