How to Build Your Twitter Network - dummies

By Kyle Lacy

Building a Twitter network organically to market your company or product takes a long time. You find your friends and colleagues, you find people who are interested in what you have to say, and after a while, you eventually build a network of people who are truly interested in what you do. The problem is that it takes quite a while to build a network organically.

You can ramp up your network by adding a couple hundred followers a day, but you usually get those followers by using a plug-in to your browser or a website made up of followers who want to juice up their follower stats by following each other. You can even pay to become a VIP on some sites, which quickly boosts your follower count.

While building your organic network can take a long time, a bigger downside exists to having artificial followers: These people don’t actually care about you or what you think or write.

However you choose to build your followers, keep the following points in mind:

  • Your follower/following ratio: Twitter wants to make sure that you don’t start following too many people without having many people follow you back. Twitter does it to control spammers who hope to game the system by following tens of thousands of people at the same time, hoping that a portion of those people will follow back. So, Twitter never lets you have a large difference between the people who are following and your followers. The Twitter folks call it the aggressive follower churn rate.

    For example, if you have 1,000 followers and you are following 2,500, it looks as if you are trying to build followers to spam them.

  • Limited followers: As a way to prevent spam, Twitter has also limited the number of people you can follow in a single day to 1,000. So, even if you do try to game the system through artificial means, Twitter still lets you follow only 1,000 people per day.

To get a jump on building your network, you can find your friends and colleagues on Twitter in two ways:

  • After you have signed in, click the Who to Follow link at the top of the page. This link takes you to the Find People page, where you can use the search box to find users by name and people with similar interests that you want to follow or people whom you don’t have any other way to reach. When you find the person you want to follow, click the Follow button next to his or her name to follow that person.

  • Import your e-mail contacts list. You can import e-mail lists from Gmail, Yahoo!, Hotmail, LinkedIn, and AOL. You can choose whether to follow people on your contacts list.

After you follow your friends, go to your Twitter homepage and click the Following link in your profile. Even if they are your friends in real life, keep your eyes open for people who don’t have a photo for an avatar. If it’s still the generic egg symbol, click the person’s name and view his or her profile preview. Check out his or her past tweets and followers.

If this person hasn’t tweeted for several months, he or she has only a few followers, or it otherwise looks like an abandoned account, unfollow that person by clicking the green Following button. When the button turns to a Follow button, you have successfully unfollowed the user.

Some applications let you find people you should follow based on your own interests, who your friends follow, and even keyword searches:

  • Listorious: This site helps you expand your Twitter fiefdom by finding users who are grouped in lists or have certain keywords associated with them. By using the search function on the homepage of the website, you can find users grouped in certain areas like activism and charity.

  • Twitter Grader: Not only can you grade your Twitter profile, but also locate members of the Twitter elite based on a city, state, country, or even across the globe.