Thursday, 1 September 2011

How to build a loyal Twitter following

Sure you can build up an audience by following 40,000 people for a percentage of follow-backs – but wouldn't you rather have people following you because they want to, not because they feel obliged?

What makes people follow and keeps them following?

Firstly, you have to provide great content, all the time. Secondly, you have to get people to notice your great content – then, because your content is great – they'll follow you. All you have to do then is keep serving up great content. Simple, right? Here are some ideas on how to do that.

It's not about you, it's about them

People follow you for their benefit, not yours. Remember that, and give them what they came for.

Tell 'em what they'll get

Unless you're famous, people aren't going to follow you because it's you. Use your biog to tell potential followers what to expect from your 'micro-blog'. It will head-off undesirables but also encourage those who will like the things you're going to say.

Tweet about what you know or what you care about

Only your Mum wants to know what you think about everything – and even that's debatable. Focus on topics that you understand or mean something to you. Knowledge conveys authority. Failing that, passion is always compelling. Tweeting about the colour of your carpet and what your dogs had for dinner isn't going to cut it.

Share relevant content

No matter how big your personality, extensive your wit, or colossal your brain, there really isn't that much you can say in 140 characters. Twitter provides a great entry-point for other web-content. If people get to know that you provide links to good stuff, they'll start to trust your recommendations and stick around.

Retweet intelligently

If someone posts a tweet or link that you dig, retweet it. You'll not only share that good content with your followers, you'll also get the attention of another player who shares your interests and may end up following you and RTing you back. It's a community, people.

Be yourself

Don't pretend to be someone else - nobody likes a fraud.

Don't block tweet #ff

One quick way to get yourself unfollowed - #ff everyone in the world to all your followers. Filling your followers streams with a list of usernames that have no context, meaning, relevance or reason why they should be followed will only end up with people unfollowing you in droves. If you really want to recommend people – pick a select few and explain why people should follow them. Spamming recommendations for everyone is pointless and annoying.

Remember followers aren't fans

And hence they don't want to read your epic chat exchanges with other people they don't know either. Twitter is not a chat service – respond and reply to provocative and interesting tweets – add to the debate by all means - but long, tedious and trivial noise between 'friends' you don't know just leads to unfollows.

Be interesting

People follow people for three reasons: they provide links to great content, they say great things, or the people themselves are great. Combine all three and you're onto a winner.

Anybody else got any Twitter turn-ons or turn-offs?


  1. Excellent points here, James. I blogged about them, with links back here.

  2. Thank you for your comment, Tony - and I appreciate your links on your very amusing blog-post. Keep up the good work!