How to Encourage Followers on Twitter

By Laura Fitton, Anum Hussain, Brittany Leaning

Twitter is a very receptive environment for forging connections with new friends and contacts, so amassing a list of followers is relatively simple. Typically, you gain followers in the natural course of using Twitter, but here are a few guidelines to follow:

  • Be real. Being genuine goes a long way, and you’re likely to gain followers without even trying.

  • Be interesting. You don’t have to fascinate with every Tweet you type, but do try to Tweet about things more relevant to the world at large than what you just ate for lunch or the heinous traffic on your morning commute. Talk about your interests instead. Talk about what’s in the news. Or talk about what you think should be in the news.

    The related point is that it’s better to be the good kind of interesting rather than the bad kind. Praise, enthusiasm, and kindness go far on Twitter. Drama, complaining, and self-centeredness do not.

  • Be involved. The more into a topic you are, the more people will respond to your enthusiasm. Say that you’re really into classic cars. Don’t talk just about your own fascination with them, but try to help other people on Twitter who might have questions on the subject, and make it your business to be a source of great links to images, videos, and articles about the topic.

    It’s even okay sometimes to engage in passionate conversations and debates, too. Position yourself as someone who has some valuable information on your chosen issue. This will help you grow your following the natural way and with relevant people who are less likely to leave later on.

Estimates in early 2014 indicated that 80 percent of world leaders — including the Pope (@Pontifex) and Barack Obama (@BarackObama) — are active on Twitter. In every field, exceptionally influential people use it to share and spread ideas. Heck, now that Oprah Winfrey (@Oprah) tweets, it’s almost proof enough in and of itself just to mention her.

If you’d ever become lucky enough that @Oprah posts a Tweet with your username in it — perhaps replying to an @Oprah message you sent to her — you’d be barraged by new followers who’ve seen your username in connection with that famous person’s.

Bear in mind that the most popular Twitter users have tens of millions of followers and thousands of people @replying to them per hour, so don’t count on a response from a famous twitterer as a way to get your foot in the door.

It’s also just rude to use someone. If you wouldn’t interrupt the person next to you in line at the store with your question, it’s probably not nice to interrupt someone with a lot of demands on her time with it. Conversation is two-way and most effective when it’s generous to the listener, not selfish for the speaker.

Some Twitter users try to lure followers by offering contests, giveaways, or other incentives to reach certain pseudo-milestones, such as number of Tweets or number of followers. This approach is cheesy and can look like you’re desperate for new followers. Your return on the time invested in Twitter will be much better if you cultivate carefully and just allow your network to grow organically.

Regardless of how you get people to follow you, make sure to keep your Twitter interactions genuine. What you post on Twitter and contribute to the conversation, along with your ability to listen, determines your authority more than any follower count ever could.

The more you listen and hear what people have to say, and then respond thoughtfully, the more you can find out about people and the more well-rounded your experience (and the experience of your followers) becomes. Listening is the golden ticket of Twitter; make sure to do it every day that you log in. And log in often.