Building A Twitter Following
by Jeff Tippett

Lots of people ask for tips on building a follower base in Twitter. If you are wondering about this, you should also ask youself another question: what's your goal? My colleague and I are both avid Twitterers. However, we Tweet for entirely different purposes, and our communities of followers is radically different because we have different objectives.

Why I Tweet: JeffTippett

I Tweet in an attempt to build community. Admittedly I'm that annoying guy in the line at Starbucks that's asking how your day is going?"what exciting events are coming up in your life, etc. I have an innate desire to chat and build horizontal relationships. If you don't believe me?"just ask my colleagues! This natural tendency plays out for me in Twitter. I'm seeking a large group so I can learn from them, help them when they need help, and ask for help as I need it. Thus, a large horizontal group of followers is important to me. Of course, I'm always excited when a few of the relationships become vertical relationships.

Why I Tweet: Glowbird

For me, Twitter is all about breaking news, field-related links, and strategic partners. So I follow major bloggers and other news sources like Techmeme, Mashable, Jowyang, New York Times, and even an NBC cameraman who twitters his impressions before the news stories hit. My favorite corporate Twitterers are those who not only use Twitter to RSS me links to news, but who also speak as individuals. In addition, I want a strong local community of peers, so I will add people whose profiles let me know they are geographically nearby, particularly if we share industry or personal affinities.

My Strategy: JeffTippett

Ultimately, I find followers by following people of interest to me. I'm into social media, cycling, working out, running, politics, and social networking (well, plus a few others). I look for people that are talking bout these issues. My hope is that they will follow me as well. I've started noticing a trend that helps me predict whether or not the person will return the follow. If they have a higher amount of people that they are following compared to the number that's following them I find the odds play in my favor that they will follow me. Conversely, if they have a lower amount of people they are following versus following them, the chances are slim to acquire a new follower. I've even asked my followers (those with whom I have a close relationship) to Tweet out to their networks to follow @jefftippett. A great time to do this is after you've done something to help them. It doesn't hurt to ask!

My Strategy: Glowbird

For breaking news and field-related links, my strategy is often to work backwards: I look on internet sites that I like (for example, Mashable.com or MarketingPilgrim.com) to see if I can find people there who Twitter (like Pete Cashmore or Andy Beal). I also use Twitter-specific search engines like Terraminds.com to find businesses or people on Twitter. For local links, I look on wikis, get connected at events, and find people to connect with by browsing the profiles of followers of my other friends on Twitter.

A List of Where to Look and How to Add

Twitter's public timeline. Peruse the feed for conversations that interest you. Then check out a specific Twitterer's posts to see if they are a match for your goals.

Other people's followers. Check out your friends' followers. You may share common interests or goals. You can even ask your friends to invite their networks to follow you.

Traditional networking events. Ask people if they use Twitter and exchange Twitter names so that you can add each other.

Other social networks. Put a link to your Twitter account in other social sites like StumbleUpon, Digg, LinkedIn, LastFM, or Facebook. Often people that you like or are connected with there will also opt to follow you in Twitter.

Blogs and other sites you love. Where do you love to go on the internet? Is someone on the site offering a Twitter link or feed? Look in bio sections to find links for your favorite bloggers and add them.

Twitter search engines, aggregators, and specialty sites. Use Terraminds.com to search for subjects and people on Twitter. Watch for great twitters on StrawPollNow.com or Tweet140.com. Look at Twitterverse.com and click through to keyword conversations that engage your interest. Then add the people who are saying things you would like to hear.

Your email. Add a signature to your emails that includes a link to your Twitter account. Often people will click?"if for no other reason?"out of curiosity. Those that already Twitter may follow you.

Engage in the timeline conversation. Jump into the conversation of your current followers. The best tweets are helpful, friendly, and funny. If your friends enjoy and respond to your comments, then their followers will have the opportunity to see your tweets. If the conversation interests them, many times they will view your account and opt to follow. Tweet new followers and ask them a question. Chances are they will answer and then their followers have the opportunity to see your name and potentially follow you.

Set a goal and make it happen. Your goal may be higher or lower based on your objective. There are plenty of ways to make it happen!


About the Author

Jeff Tippett is the Outreach Strategist for Calvert Holdings, Inc. based in Cary, NC. He attended graduate and undergraduate school at East Carolina University, Greenville, NC. He may be reached at jeff.tippett@calvertholdings.com. He blogs at www.calvertcreative.com and is active on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jefftippett.



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