Your online presence is often measured by a set of parameters, like the number of connections or ‘followers’. Everyone wants to be followed so that their voices, so to speak, can be heard by many. In the pursuit to gain more followers on social media, many often resort to methods that are counter-productive or inefficient. There are some methods that do the trick on a short-term basis but to gain huge number of followers who really want to read your content, you need to put in some work. And, that is not to say it’s difficult. It’s simple.
It requires a change in approach and understanding how social media, Twitter in this case, works. This article addresses that — helps you understand Twitter, how it works and the scientific approach to gaining more followers.
Let’s get started.
Don’t keep tweeting about yourself
No one wants to keep seeing their timeline flooded with your stuff and experiences. It’s OK to tweet about your self once in a while but keep it to a minimum. A Georgia Tech study found that users talked about themselves in 41 percent of their tweets on an average. It’s a big turn off to see others keep talking about themselves. While self-promotion is necessary, it is equally imperative to understand that it is not well-received if it is imposed on others.
Tweet about things that help people. If you would want us to point to one single effective strategy, then this is it. Be useful! Help someone find something, give compliments, do a Do-it-Youself (DIY) article or find one and share it, break important news, share information that people want to read. It is that simple. The study found that informational content attracts followers at a rate 30 times higher than content focused on the tweeter. Give people news/information and stand out amid the noise.
What you tweet matters
The information you want to provide needs to resonate with your audience. What you think about the subject matters very less and the key to creating valuable content lies in your understanding of value on Twitter. How other value things; how each group perceives information differently; how you say matters that what you say (most of the time!).
Here are some scientifically-proven methods that help you structure quality tweets:
Old news is no news. Pretty self-explanatory, right?
Give your opinion to a trending story. When a story ‘trends’ on Twitter, people generally try make sense of the news by going through reactions. Be honest, think about the larger picture before tweeting. To keep people interested, add an opinion, a pertinent fact or otherwise add to the conversation before hitting “send” on a link or a retweet.
Another important aspect of your content: exude positivity. Remember, twitter is mainly based on weak social ties (most followers do not know each other offline), so it important that you stay away from negative posts.
Also, provide a context to all your tweets. Tweets that are too short leave readers unable to understand their meaning. Simply linking to a blog or photo, without giving readers a reason to click on it, will leave them wondering what you’re up to.
Hashtags are useful, no doubt about it. But it is also prone to abuse. Excessive usage of hashtags can be an eyesore. Remember, you’re trying to be useful and cramming your tweets with hashtags is not going to help your cause. Your tweeting for humans who would like to read content and share it. Anything that takes the focus away from the content (hashtags) is noise. If it’s necessary, try to limit it to one — that is the most popular one or trending.
Overuse of #hashtags, @mentions and abbreviations makes tweets hard to read. But some syntax is helpful; if posing a question, adding a hashtag helps everyone follow along.
The idea here is to limit Twitter-specific syntax and making your tweets more human. It should read like it’s written for humans by another human. The study found that the higher a Twitter users’ “hashtag ratio,” the less likely they were to attract new followers.
Don’t focus on getting more followers
Yes, don’t focus on getting more followers. Sorry, if that goes against the grain of the article. You don’t get more followers by going behind more people. It needs to be organic. Instead focus on user engagement and interest and see your followers list grow.
Engage people with original, witty and thought-provoking content. Work on the timings. Use Twitter analytics to understand your audience and tweak your content accordingly. Know how your tweets are being received, what your audience’s interest is, time of day when your tweets do well. Using these metrics, evolve your Twitter strategy and keep at it.
Your profile picture, bio matter a lot too. People will follow you if they believe you can provide them with useful content. And, the best way to advertise yourself is to have your short bio loaded and ‘to-the-point’ at the same time.
Also, focus on quality over quantity. Too many irrelevant tweets (for others) do more harm than not tweeting at all.
Replying to your followers is also a time-tested way to improve user engagement.
Use Twitter tools
There are plenty of applications that allow you to carefully manage your Twitter presence. But we’ll stick to Tweetdeck here as it’s Twitters own. The application is a must if you want to keep tabs on the happenings in your field of interest. Among the many useful uses, it allows you to schedule tweets. It helps you send out tweets even if you don’t have access to it.
The Tweetdeck dashboard looks like this:
The application also lets you build custom timelines, keep track of lists, searches, activity. You can integrate multiple Twitter accounts too.
Have a question? Ask others
Don’t be shy on Twitter. Tweeting a question generally evokes good response. And, if you can add a context to your question, you increase your chances of getting answers. In the process, you might end up getting few followers. Or, you might end up following a person who shares a common interest with you. Just remember not to ask for answers to questions that can be easily Googled.
Likewise, answer others’ questions. This is an extension of the ‘be useful on Twitter’ part.
Now, here’s a recap.