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Updated 26 Dec 2015

Twitter Followers Deep Dive

Learning how to promote yourself on twitter can be a real adventure, but more often than not it can be overwhelming and daunting. Your head will be filled with questions when you start out, such as: What works? What is allowed? What will it cost? How long will it take?
There are literally hundreds of ways to get followers. That statement might make you angry if you’ve been struggling, so give me a moment to explain. I’ve listed all the methods for getting twitter followers in our playbook. If you take a look through the playbook you’ll notice there are a lot of ways to promote yourself. Some are free, some are paid, some are easy, and some are hard.
Knowing which method to use is often the hardest part of the process. Once you figure that out it’s easy to dive in and start promoting. This guide will demystify the process for you and get you moving in the right direction.



Who do you want to follow you?

Are you looking for anyone to follow you? Or are you looking for followers in your niche? This is an important distinction, because it will immediately cut the list of methods you can use in half. We call this targeting, and we generally break it down into three segments:
Broad targeting is the process of promoting yourself to anybody, or at least to a very wide group of users (such as people in a certain country). Because it is less restricted, it is generally the fastest way to grow your audience. It tends to lead to less engagement from new followers because their interests may not be aligned with yours. But it can offer quick gains, and it works well if your niche is very broad too. Targeted promotion means that you will target a specific group of users - usually those in your niche. It is slower than broad targeting but allows you to gain followers that are more aligned with your interests. This can lead to higher engagement down the road, and works best if your tweets are topical to your niche. It can often be more expensive in terms of time, effort and money, but can create more valuable connections in the long term. One-to-one is the most focused of the three. This involves targeting a specific person, with the aim of getting them to follow you. It can be very time-consuming, and is generally only suitable for high-value individuals. However, it can also lead to your most valuable followers – i.e. those that are influential, and pass on your message to their audience. There’s no right or wrong answer in terms of which to choose. You have to look at what your goal is and decide which targeting is right for you. Be wary of advice that religiously argues for one type of targeting - it is usually only considering one outcome.
All of these options have their place, and you may even find that you need to use different targeting at various stages of your campaign. For example, you may start with broad targeting to get some traction and social proof. Then you may transition to targeted promotion while you build substance and look for higher engagement. Finally you may do one-to-one targeting of key influencers in your niche in order to increase your reach.

Why will they follow you?

What is your appeal? And what are they going to get by following you? There are countless reasons why people follow each other on twitter, but we broadly break them down into five categories:
Substance is what you’ll hear the most. It refers in large part to the personality, voice, and content you put across in your tweets. Are you an expert in a specific field? Do you share awesome information, funny videos, or motivational advice? People will follow you because of your tweets and what they expect to get from them. If this is your thing then activities that allow you to demonstrate your substance to others will work best for you. Relationship allows you to leverage your existing real-world connections. People may follow you because they know you. They may be family, friends or acquaintances - and they may not even care what you tweet about. Reciprocation relies on the principle that people will follow you back. It is sometimes disliked in the community, because it can be spammy if done wrong. If done correctly though it can add real value to the connected parties. People need to be willing to engage with each other afterwards in order to build lasting connections. Incentive based promotion means enticing new followers with gifts, discounts, and incentives. This is a good way to get someone to follow you initially, but it requires quick follow-up and demonstration of substance in order to make the connection last. There are also certain types of incentives that are not permitted by twitter’s rules, so make sure you read them first. Reputation accounts for most following online, but not the sort we are focused on. We use this term to broadly encapsulate real world popularity, fame, or status. Almost all celebrities are followed due to this factor, along with politicians, company CEO’s, and the like. You can argue that some will follow this group for their substance, but a large initial factor is reputation. Millions of follows take place each day because of this, but you can only use it if you have it in the real world too!
Of course there are many ways categorize the motives for following, but we feel these five cover the majority of reasons that we encounter in the playbook.

When will they follow you?

What is your timeline? How quickly do you want to see results? Some methods are faster than others, while others may grow your audience long into the future. We think of timeline in three ways:
Direct following occurs during an activity, and as such the results are almost immediate. It usually requires a platform that can facilitate the connection, or measure it after it has taken place. It is usually easy to measure the results from direct following because they are so immediate in nature. Indirect following occurs after an activity. An example of this is when you do something, and then someone follows you a few weeks later because you did it. Indirect following is much harder to measure because of this delayed reaction, but it can deliver results for much longer, possibly even years into the future Amplification occurs after an activity, but only when you reach people through other methods. An example of this is when you make improvements to your profile (your photo, bio and username). People will not follow you because you did this, but they may be more likely to follow you when you reach them in other ways. It’s a way to increase your conversion rate. The lines can obviously blur here, so it’s important not to get too caught up about timelines. Rather just understand that some activities have a more direct and immediate response than others, and some will enhance your other efforts over time.

How will you promote yourself?

Once you’ve answered the questions above you’ll have a pretty good idea what you need to do, but you may not know how to do it yet. This requires learning and practice, and a little trial and error. Pick one method and try it out. If you find it works for you then look at using similar methods. For example, if you are good at doing peer outreach then look to do some influencer outreach too. There are many common themes to the methods:
Tweeting methods include tweeting, commenting, and replying in certain ways. Outreach methods involve reaching out to people on twitter. Offline methods are done off the web, using your real world assets. Many other groupings exist too, such as advertsing, online, contests, etc.

What will it cost?

Believe it or not, most promotional activities are free. Some can be executed more easily with paid tools, and some carry usage-based fees, but 90% of what you can do will only cost you time and effort.
Free methods should form the bedrock of your promotion. There are plenty of free things that you can do on a day to day basis that will grow your audience. Check out the playbook and try some of them out. Paid methods are relatively scarce, but they can greatly increase your reach. A single day of paid promotion can grow your audience more than a month of free promotion. Paid promotion is available on the twitter ad platform, and through featured listings on legitimate websites like twiends. Don’t ever buy twitter followers on websites that sell them in packages (eg. $5 for 1000 followers). These are all fake and they will likely get your twitter account suspended. There are also lot's of good tools that can make your free activities a lot quicker and easier to manage. Some of these may carry a fee.

Dive In

It bears repeating that you should read twitter’s rules of the road. Our advice is to create value for others, don’t be spammy, and you’ll do well. Don’t just chase a number, but rather try and engage with others.
Don’t be afraid to make small mistakes, just get out there and start taking part. Decide which type of targeting is best for you, how long you want it to take, and what your appeal will be. Then pick a method from the playbook and dive in!
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