It’s hard to get followers on Twitter until you start following people yourself. The key is to follow the right people, not just anyone.
If you’re reading this, you probably want to use Twitter to further your career or reputation in your field rather than to simply chat with your friends. As such, the following advice is meant for people who have potential “customers” – that could mean customers for your product, or people who might hire you for a speaking gig, or become fans of your band, or watch your next Broadway performance, read your next book, donate to your non-profit, vote for you in an upcoming election, and so forth.
How many people should you follow?
To start, follow 20-25 people per day with similar interests to you. That’s a manageable number that will keep Twitter from becoming a massive time-suck.
If you have fewer than 2,000 followers yourself, you will only be able to follow up to 2,000 people. So you don’t want to follow just anyone, and you don’t want to follow all 2,000 people at once. Do not automate the process of following people – you should be picky about who you follow. This will make for a better experience on Twitter, and will keep you from accidentally violating Twitter’s terms of service. If Twitter sees you following too many people at once or using a batch-follow service, they may think you’re a bot and delete your account (don’t worry – they’ll warn you first.)
Who you should follow?
No matter your goals on Twitter, aim to follow people with similar interests to you. If you will be tweeting about your work or industry, there are three primary types of people to follow:
- Peers in your industry
- Key influencers and trend-setters in your industry
- Potential customers (including competitors’ customers)
For example, if you’re a fiction author, follow fellow authors, professionals in publishing, and people who read in your genre. Or if you work at a nutrition software company, follow well-regarded nutritionists, fitness experts, and people who are just starting a fitness regimen.
Take a moment now to think of a few peers, key influencers, or ideal potential customers you’d like to target. This plan will help you follow the right people.
How can you find the right people to follow?
Most “Twitter gurus” out there will tell you to find people using Twitter directories like WeFollow or Tweepz. If you want to follow their advice, get ready to waste oodles of time. There are almost a billion people on Twitter, and you can’t even follow a fraction of them. Don’t waste your time sifting through Twitter directories. Instead, use these time-saving methods:
Search for keywords using Twitter search
The most obvious way to search for relevant people is using Twitter’s search function. Enter a search term in the search bar.
On the search results page, click People in the sidebar.
This will show you people who have your search term, or similar terms, in their bio. Scroll through the list and find people who look interesting. It’s also worth checking their profile to make sure they’re regularly tweeting, but aren’t tweeting TOO often. You don’t want a few people to overwhelm your Twitter timeline.
Follow people the top influencers are following
While you should follow some of the top influencers in your field, you shouldn’t expect them to follow you back or reply to you if you reach out – chances are, they’ll have a very high follow to follower ratio, and won’t have time to reciprocate. But you can look at whom they follow and see if any peers stand out.
Don’t bother doing the reverse and see who’s following the top influencers. People with high follower counts also have a lot of fake followers, or people vying for attention from the top of the ladder. So there will be more to sift through in this case.
Just head over to the influencer’s profile page, and click on their following number.
Follow people following your industry peers
Conversely, you can look at the people following your industry peers – people with similar expertise, experience, roles, etc. People who follow those similar to you will be much more likely to follow you in return.
Head over to a peer’s Twitter profile and click on the number of followers they have.
Follow people following your competitors
You should definitely start following people who follow your competitors. Not only are these people likely to follow you in return, but you’ll also snag some of the attention away from the people or companies and people you’re up against.
Follow people on peers’ curated lists
Twitter lists are not easy to find and search for. But if you check out your peers’ lists, chances are you’ll find one full of relevant people to follow.
To find people’s Twitter lists, go to their Twitter profiles and click on the More arrow to reveal the Lists dropdown.
You can then view any of their public lists to find people that may be worth following.
Follow people on the lists you’ve been added to
It’s fun to let other people do the work for you. Once people start adding you to their Twitter lists, stalk these lists because they’ll be filled with peers similar to you! You’ll receive a notification whenever you’re added to a list.
Follow people tweeting relevant hashtags
Search for a relevant hashtag – it could be from an event or webinar you’ve attended, or a hashtag that’s regularly used in your industry. For example, #TwitterTip is one I often use and follow. Search for your hashtag and follow people who have contributed something valuable to the conversation.