Most social media experts will say that the core to Twitter greatness is:

  1. Providing real value and engaging with others
  2. Acting the way you would act in a real life situation
  3. Never spamming
  4. Building meaningful relationships

These foundational concepts are hugely helpful in making Twitter really work for you. And when you’re ready to build on these foundations and scale your Twitter engagement and reach, there are some useful next-level tactics that work great, too.  I’ve had a chance to test out some of the advanced tips and tricks to more followers and increased engagement on Twitter, and I’d love to share them with you and hear what you think!

counterintuitive twitter tips

1. The strategic way to follow people on Twitter

If you’re trying to promote a business or a startup using Twitter, you typically need three things to make it work:

  1. A story (or a message)
  2. Reach
  3. Engagement

Let’s focus on reach.

If you go to followerwonk.com and search for “content marketing,” sort it by “social authority” and pick the first five individual (not company) Twitter accounts, you’ll notice an interesting pattern:

Except for John Luke, do you recognize a pattern here? Most of these Twitter masters follow an amazing amount of people.

If you’ll look for the next 5 Top social authority twitter users ranking high for content marketing you’d get the same ratios (with a few exceptions of course).

Under followerwonk

This means that these people followed a large amount of other Twitter users to get to those big numbers of followers they have today.

Here’s where strategy comes in: It’d be great to get tons of followers but also make sure you have a qualified and engaged following.

This is where Twitter tools like Tweepi come in handy. Tweepi has two important features that will come in handy

  1. “Follow Followers”—a feature that enables you to see who’s following a specific Twitter account
  2. “Flush”—shows you who you’re following that isn’t following you back

Under Tweepi

One of the most strategic ways to get new followers who are relevant to your content and niche is to follow people who are already following a Twitter account that you share the same target audience with.

On Tweepi, you can find this information in the “Follow Followers” section. Enter the username of a Twitter user you admire and you can see all the users who are following that account. Choose a large handful to follow, and you are likely to see many of these users follow you back. I usually get a follow back rate of about 20-25%. 

Now for part two: Flushing.

Every so often, you can check into the Tweepi tool to see all the people you are following but are not following you back. If you want to keep your following/follower ratio balanced, you can use this information to clean up the list of people you follow (tools like Tweepi also can show you which accounts are no longer active, too).

Under Tweepi follow

Using this method of finding targeted, relevant people to follow on Twitter and regularly checking in with my follow/follower ratio, I was able to see some great results.

I went from 10-12 people following me per week to about a 100 per week.

Also, my engagement improved by over 32%.

More people are clicking on my content (raised my average by about 3x) and sharing it. 

2. The effective way to share a call-to-action

Occasionally, you may have the opportunity to engage with individuals and share with your community about some awesome things going on at your site—new products, new announcements, new ways to connect and share with one another. You don’t have to be shy with promoting (more on this below). It also feels great to do so in the right way.

Here are five tips that I’ve found to work really well when promoting your content on Twitter.

1. Remember to sound human and authentic –  People enjoy being spoken to in a sincere way. When composing your tweets, feel free to speak casually and comfortably with your audience.

2. Focus on the benefits – You don’t necessarily need to ask people to buy from you; instead, talk about what’s in it for him or her.

3. Be very specific – Don’t ask them to check your blog. Offer them to read more about the type of content your provide.

For example, if you were sharing with a new follower about the other places to find you online, you might say this: ‘Welcome aboard! Now that you’re following us on Twitter, you should also check out our blog!”

This will work better:  “Welcome aboard! If you’re interested in content marketing and growth hacking you should check out our blog”.

If your content is right for me, I will recognize it right away and will click on your link.

4. Make it the beginning of your funnel – Don’t just send someone to your site, but create a landing page welcoming them. That’s where you make the experience more personal.

5. If possible, use a branded link – By using a branded shortener you’ll make your new followers feel safer.

3. The new rule for following others back

I’ve often heard the Twitter advice to follow back all those who follow you. I’ve found a slight alternative that seems to work well for me:

Follow back the accounts that interest you.

If you’re not interested in a specific Twitter user’s content, you don’t need to feel the pressure to follow back. If they’re interested in your content, they will keep following you and become an engaged reader. When they start engaging with you – that’s when you follow back.

This is the right way to build the following/followers ratio—by posting great content that gets people to follow you and by not following people who aren’t engaging with you.

4. Influencer outreach can wait

One of the most important insights Kristoffer Tjalve shares on his post “The story behind #BeTech” is how to relate to influencers on Twitter.

Do not worry too much about the influencers. The influencers are already super busy doing their own stuff. Rather, you should focus all your energy in making the life better for those who are (connecting with you).

While most social media experts will tell you to try and engage with influencers so you’ll get more credibility and followers, it’s quite hard to do.

Influencers are extremely busy most of the time and are probably responding to tens if not hundreds of mentions on Twitter daily. They will usually have their own content to promote and their own very clear agenda to follow.

The content world is divided into roughly two major groups:

  1. Content creators
  2. Content curators

Content creators are the ones people seek their attention. Content curators and just-beginning content creators are usually the attention seekers.

If you’re just starting out and want to build your following, start by attracting the content curators, they are the ones who will actually share your content and be the foundation of your increasing reader-base.

After a while, when enough content curators notice you and start following and retweeting you, you will understand that for a small niche, you have become an influencer. Then, it will be the time to reach out to other influencers by email. Not as a newbie looking for attention, but as an equal.

5. Tweet the same content multiple times

Remember this tip? “If you share the same link more than once, your followers will take you for a spammer”.

Up until recently there was a strong belief that your audience doesn’t want you to share the same content more than once. That it is recycled content and you need to put more emphasis on creating higher value and share new stuff all the time.

In reality, most of your audience wouldn’t see your next blog post if you share it just once. As the good guys here are Buffer mention on ’The everything guide for Twitter success’ e-book, posting the same (valuable) content more than once won’t annoy your followers.

What it will do is get you more traffic, you’ll hit different timezones and reach new followers. Belle Beth Cooper explains it better than me in her post: ‘Why You Should Share Your Blog Post More Than Once on Social Media: The Case for Reposting Content‘.

Under multiple timezones

Some of the main takeaways:

  1. If you tweet something only once, a lot of people will miss it because their Twitter feeds are crowded with content. If you’ll tweet it multiple times there’s a bigger chance more people will catch it than people seeing it for the second time and thinking it’s spam.
  2. If your audience lives in different timezones, one’s morning is another’s nighttime. Posting the same content at least once per time zone is recommended.
  3. There are new followers on board – If you’re implementing the technique I showed you on the first section, then you’re getting about 100-120 new followers every week. This means that there are over 100 new followers who haven’t seen the content you shared last week. If you have interesting posts they might enjoy or find helpful, re-sharing them will increase the chances they’ll actually see it.

Read Belle’s post for a more in-depth analysis.

6. Forgo your timeline

If you’re using Twitter as a personal social media outlet, you’d want to keep your timeline clean and clutter free. If you want to get hundreds of thousands of Twitter followers, you’ll need to start following a lot of people and your timeline will soon be unbearable for the naked eye. Try following the feed of over 23K users. You’ll go crazy.

Most social media gurus will tell you to take advantage of Twitter lists in your marketing efforts, but keep your Twitter feed clean so you can interact with your followers. That’s nice advice, but not scalable.

What you really need to do is to come to peace with the idea that the timeline is not for you anymore. From now on, lists are your new home.

Under Lists

 5 Lists I Think Every Marketer Should Create:

1. The timeline you wished you had – This is basically the following mix you used to enjoy before becoming a Twitter master.

2. Journalists and bloggers – Keep a tidy and up to date list of every journalist that covers your area of business. You’d want to engage with them so they’ll keep you in mind, see what they’re writing about so you can offer more information or guest posts. Remember, a good relationship with journalists means more PR (if you play your cards right).

3. Influencers – A great way to keep up to date with all current trends is by following other influencers. See what they are posting, share the best content they put out, plan your own content by seeing what works for them and see who they are engaging with, so you could get into the conversation as well.

4. Customer/ Clients – You want to build a strong relationship with your clients, so follow them on Twitter, help them when they are in need and spontaneously engage with them on daily events, just so they will see how much attention and effort you are willing to spend on them. They are worth it.

5. Competitors – Yes, you should have a list (probably private) dedicated only to your competitors. You want to know what they are up to and how you can learn from them.

7. It’s okay to sell your content & your product on social media

Content marketing is about providing value for your followers and engaging through interesting and engaging content. If your product / blog post / Ebook has real value (and I hope it has!) feel free to drop in a clear call to action along with the content you post regularly.

Take Retweeting for example: Do you know what are the best methods to getting more retweets? It’s asking people to retweet your content. You get a 12% more chance of getting retweets if you simply ask for it.

Under ask for RT

Same goes for downloading an Ebook, reading a new blog post of buying your product. If you provide the right context a direct call to action will significantly improve your chances of getting people to take the desirable action.

Which counterintuitive tips might you use?

With the evolution of social media and inbound marketing over the past 5 years a lot of what was considered as rude or ill-advice on Twitter has become obsolete.

You are no longer struggling on creating the best content out there, but to get noticed and acknowledged by as many relevant readers as possible. Like every meaningful growth, you will never achieve it by doing what everybody else is doing, only by finding the right combination that works for you.

What are your biggest Twitter tips that were counterintuitive to social media expert advice?

Image sources: The Noun Project, Blurgrounds, Startup Stock Photos

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Written by Roy Povarchik

I help start-ups and brands grow and build a community around their product. I talk about Growth hacking, social media, inbound and content marketing.

  • Great, informative post, Roy!

  • “How to Spot Content Curators”

    This is worth it’s weight in gold. Instead of focusing on optimizing the way that you share your own content – I’ve found that it’s more effective to focus on building a community that can share your content for you.

    • Great point, Kevin! Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this! 🙂

    • How do you find “content curators” and build community which will share your content?

  • Faiza Farooqi

    This is something i have been trying for a while.. It works wonders !! The best part is that you are always screening your followers to retain the ones who want to connect (who follow you back)

  • Go Roy! what a great post 🙂

    I really loved your approch twords buildting realtionships as scael! It’s not trivial to engage when growing, and you gave great tips and insights 🙂

  • Black Bankroll

    nice article, very useful, also good to use with geting new followers is http://fangrow.com also for increasing engagement of followers

    • dianne9836

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  • Emmett Hughes

    Awesome article, Roy – You may fancy this blog I wrote a few weeks back on organically getting more Twitter followers: http://experience.stratusinteractive.com/blog/bid/398587/4-Ways-to-Organically-Get-More-Followers-on-Twitter-in-15-minutes

    Cheers!

  • Following back automatically is actually terrible advice… If someone follows me and I don’t know him / her, and this person already follows thousands of accounts (and doesn’t add me to a list), I’m sure as hell not going to follow back… And I think it’s the same for many people over here. What’s the point of following a broadccaster who obvisouly doesn’t care about what you tweet?

    • Thanks so much for the comment! I can totally see what you mean here, and I’d imagine many people share this sentiment! Definitely a good one to keep in mind as folks consider a good strategy.

    • Andy Vale

      My personal bugbear is in a similar ballpark. I always get marketers following me, then I see they’ve unfollowed me two days later after I didn’t follow back for whatever reason. I’ve noticed one guy do this about 8 times. Clearly they weren’t that interested in me, my posts, or what I do. There’s no benefit to that relationship (for either of us) other than bumping the numbers up slightly. They always have tens of thousands of followers and are following a similar amount of people. It’s not a strategy I’m fond of, but some people clearly like it.

      • Ryan

        I agree Andy, they do the same thing to me all the time. I actually take my time, and read the person who followed me’s entire profile, and I even go to their timeline to see if I am interested in what they have to say. If not, I don’t follow back… it’s that simple. I won’t cry at night thinking about how they may or may not unfollow me either that’s for sure.

    • Alan Martin

      I didn’t think you got a notification when someone unfollwed you?

      • No but I had notifications via “justunfollow”. I use it to see who unfollows me and I try to figure out why. If I see that many of my French followers unfollow me, I know it’s probably because I haven’t tweeted enough French stuff for them. I try to figure out correlations between my tweets and those who unfollow me 🙂

  • Stephanie Mulrooney

    Good stuff. Worth keeping in mind that you can add people to lists without actually following them – useful for keeping following numbers down whilst staying up to date with competitors, influencers etc.

    • Great one, Stephanie! Thanks for sharing the tip. 🙂

  • 21 new followers in 24 hours! I like posts like this, practical and to the point. Cheers Roy!

  • Following on from this here’s a post about how your newly acquired twitter following can generate more sales for your or your clients: http://jbh.uk/1uBYOSw

  • It’s hard to believe that up until recently, people assumed tweeting a link more than once was “spam.” Even a feed of several thousand, like ours, gets cluttered. Lists are important, as you mention, but tweeting the same link a few times (spread out, of course!) is necessary now. Great article, it was so informative and easy to follow. 🙂

  • Fred KravMaga

    This was a very useful blog, but I have to agree with mr Roth. This post only focus on getting higher number of followers and not the quality of the followers. So, basically, we should fill up and bloat our follower list to seem influential, when we in fact have a lot of people on our list who are “not that in to us”. Additionally, you tweet to a group of followers who doesn’t care, they just “followed you back”.

    The focus should be on quality followers, who are following you because of who you are, the company you represent and the product/services you have to offer. They should follow because they are fans and want to hear from you!

    I see too many blog posts like these, who focus too much on the numbers and not the quality of the people following you.

  • I like all the points but helpful for a new twitter user…including me..

    Thanks .

    Looking forward for more information

  • Andy Vale

    Only following back the ones that interest you is good advice. It seems obvious, but a lot of people seem to think you should always follow people back. Every Tweet pushes down something that could be of interest to me, if a profile isn’t Tweeting something I’m interested in then I’m not keen on following them back just to be polite. Earn my follow! I’ll do my best to do likewise 🙂

  • Ryan St. John

    Roy,

    There are some greats tips and insight here. It was a good idea to post the 20 most retweetable words and phrases. You may be interested in a recent blog we posted on how to organically get more twitter followers in just 15 minutes! Here is the link: http://experience.stratusinteractive.com/blog/bid/398587/4-Ways-to-Organically-Get-More-Followers-on-Twitter-in-15-minutes

  • Dirk

    Great tips! Thanks for sharing these tips with us! Gathering more Twitter followers is my main goal today and I really have this problem of getting more followers. It’s indeed a big help for me. Keep it up!

    Dirk,
    http://www.serpshake.com

  • I’d love to have a tool that tells me the ratio of a person’s at-replies to their tweets. That’s what i care about. People who actually read other people’s tweets and reply.

  • Brett Quigley

    Thanks for the article, Roy, good stuff. I am working with some friends on a new company called “The Free Thinkers Collaborative” where we connect creative individuals of all kinds and share our passion to learn, create, and inspire. We have not yet formally organized. What is your take on a social media or general marketing strategy for a brand new venture? Thank you to anyone who can share their thoughts.

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  • Wow! that just gave me a lots of information and ideas Thanks! great article

  • If these are counter-intuitive, I guess I’d hate to see what passes as intuition these days.

  • You might as well take the points 1, 3, and 6 and create a post titled:

    “How to increase the number of people who don’t care about you and your content”

    Increasing followers by “strategic follow back” just creates a number.

    Having 200 followers who actually engage with my content is worth a lot more than having 20K followers who don’t!

    Imagine having 200 followers and 1 retweet/favourite on one of your last 10 tweets, and having 20K follower with the same amount of engagement because they just follow you back “strategically”, which one is worse?