10 Tips to Build Your Twitter List NOW
One of the most common question we’ve been asked is, “How do I build my Twitter list?” And our answer is, “That depends.” While that may not be the answer that people like to hear, it is an honest one. If you want smoke and mirrors, a magical rainbow unicorn solution, or advice on where to buy “followers,” then stop reading this right now. Really, this isn’t for you.
Asking how to build a Twitter list is like asking how to build a house. Well, what kind of house? Who is going to live in it? Is it a vacation house or a full-time residence? Is the architecture traditional or modern? Seriously. Are we talking Frank Lloyd Wright here or Tudor? Just as there is no one right or wrong way to design and build a house, there is no one right or wrong way to build a Twitter list. There are, however, good and bad ways; we promise to stick only to the good.
How you build your list depends on who you are and what you want. For the purpose of this article we are going to assume that you want to build a list to establish yourself as an expert in your chosen field and to promote your business, website, and blog or podcast. This should be considered an article to help out intermediate users; those who already have an account, have been tweeting for a while, and have some followers, but are looking to ramp things up a bit.
Why we love Twitter
Compared to other social networks, there is a low amount of commitment required for someone to connect with you. Consider accepting a friend request on Facebook; most people won’t unless they already have an existing personal relationship with you. On LinkedIn most people connect with people whom they already know through business and networking. On Twitter you can follow almost anyone and the vast majority of users will accept that as normal. This means you can develop a relationship with a complete stranger… without being weird.
1 Be Prepared
This may seem obvious, but bare with us…
Before you begin bulking up your follower list, you should have a purpose in mind for your Twitter account. How does it fit into your overall marketing strategy? What are you trying to accomplish? Who is your target audience? What message do you want to share? What are you promoting? Knowing your audience will make a difference in what you share.
Stop. Think. Plan.
2 Know Your Brand
Be intentional in your marketing…
Make sure that your profile reflects the image that you are trying to project. Use the same elements in your background that you use in your other marketing. Your color scheme, logo, graphics, lettering, etc. should be the same (or close to) what you are using on your webpage, blog, and print marketing materials.
The look and message should be consistent throughout your marketing. Your Twitter account should be recognizable; people should feel as though all of the elements of your marketing are working together in harmony even when following a link from one format to another. (i.e. Facebook page to Twitter to blog or podcast). There’s really no point in attracting large numbers of people to your account if you aren’t proud of what you have to show them!
Know your brand standards and use them.
3 Find Your Voice
You can’t be everything to everyone. Who are you? What do you do best? What is it that you have to offer that makes you stand apart?
Tweet what you know. Stick to the topics and areas that fit in with your areas of expertise. It’s easier to build a community and cultivate a meaningful conversation when people know who you are and what you are about. Spend your time and energy wisely. Engage in conversations pertinent to your profession. You do what you do because you love it, right? Get in there and prove it!
Be positive! People like to listen to encouragement and praise. Successful people prefer to surround themselves with positive people who will lift them up and make them feel inspired and motivated. When you find your voice- use it to spread positive energy- and that’s what you will get in return. Win!
Know who you are. Own it. Be that!
Follow people who follow people like you. What? Look at the followers of other (more well known- perhaps) experts in your field and follow the good ones. Why? Because they already like what you have to say; they just don’t know you, yet.
4 Follow People Like You
Find your tribe…
Search out and follow people who share your interests. Some people are afraid to network with their “competition”, but here’s a tip: there are enough clients out there for everyone and more people are coming on the scene every day. People are NOT a scarcity. You will attract the people with whom you are meant to work (and people who are attracted to another message wouldn’t be working with you anyway!) The support and encouragement of like-minded individuals is priceless! Twitter can carry your networking activities to a whole different dimension- if you let it.
Follow people who follow people like you. What? Look at the followers of other (more well known- perhaps) experts in your field and follow the good ones. Why? Because they already like what you have to say; they just don’t know you, yet. Some of these people will notice that you followed them, they’ll check out your tweets, and then they’ll follow you because they’re genuinely interested in what you have to offer.
Follow Your Followers. You don’t have to follow-back all of your followers, but following only a few of them is selfish and rude. Where you draw the line is completely up to you, there really is no hard-and-fast follow:follower ratio that is “ideal”, but unless you are a celebrity in your own right, then you should follow people back who meet whatever criteria you set forth.
Play nice with others.
It’s Twitter, people! Make sure that you tweet EVERY DAY. Twitter is a real time stream- jump in!
I recommend a 70:20:10 rule for posting content. Meaning: 70% of your tweets should be sharing relevant, timely and useful information that is pertinent to your area of expertise, but isn’t about YOU. This information could include motivational quotes, links to articles by other experts, breaking news, or any other useful tidbits that appeal to your audience.
This also includes mentions, retweets, and other interaction with other Twitter users. 20% of your content should be useful information directly from yourself or your organization (branded content); most often this will include links to posts and articles from your website or blog, branded memes, video, or other helpful information that you are providing. 10% (or less) of your content should be self-promotional. Announcements about sales, promotions, events, etc. all fall into this category.
Once you have established yourself an authority in your field your content mix should change. By now your audience considers you an influencer and expects more original content from you. At this point your content mix should shift. You’re still using the 70:20:10 rule, but now you’re sharing 70% branded, original content designed to satisfy your ideal client’s needs. 20% of your content should be from trusted, vetted sources and power partners or affiliates. The remaining 10% is still promotional. (You may shift this briefly during launches.)
Follow the golden rule.
6 Don’t Be That Guy
You know. “That guy.”
The guy who walks into a networking event and just doesn’t get it. We’ve all seen him (and sorry guys, but it’s usually actually a guy). He walks into the room, heads to the bar for a drink, and then either stands there alone or in a small group of people whom he already knows. Eventually, he reluctantly walks up to a group of people whom he doesn’t know and jumps into the conversation, by interrupting, with unasked advice. When no one seems terribly interested, he moves on and approaches another loner. He shakes hands and immediately starts talking about himself and his business and then hands over his business card and walks on to another victim. The next day he wonders why no one calls him and then decides that networking doesn’t work.
Um… NO. Networking works. Offline and online. The rules are the same!
Listen to what other people have to say. Respond appropriately. Be genuine. Don’t barge in and start talking about yourself and what you can do for someone whom you’ve just met and know nothing about. (You may as well just shout, “Look at me! Look at me!” like a small child trying to get the attention of a busy parent.)
This includes autoDMs and thank you messages. We see you. Just stop it! There are places for automation, but this is not one of them. Yes, you may get some rookies to click and follow through but you’re turning more people off than on…
If it’s all about You, You’re doing it wrong.
7 Then There are Those
Unfortunately, there are people (and bots) out there with whom you’ll interact and wish you had never encountered. But, there they are. These are the people whom you definitely don’t want to follow (or follow-back). In my Twitterverse there are a few things someone can do that will catch my attention and cause me to take (negative) action. The severity of annoyance (or disgust) inflicted upon me by them will determine my reaction to them.
Spammers: report as spammer & block. There is just no room for these guys and interacting in any other manner only encourages them.
Bots: some of them are actually useful (weather, traffic, etc.) but for the most part they’re annoying. I just don’t follow them, but I don’t bother blocking them, either. (I have run audits of my followers from time to time and less than 1% were bots at any given time, anyway.)
*As of 2018m Twitter is doing a much better job of policing bots and they get shut down much more quickly.*
Adult: depending on your industry these accounts may not bother you or your audience. I choose to block every account that has anything to do with the “adult industry”. I don’t want to follow and I do not want to be followed. I found that adult industry people love to mention several users in one tweet, so my name was mentioned along with various adult entertainment celebrities, often. Thanks, but no thanks.
Political: New to my list of annoyance level accounts in 2019. There is nothing wrong with political accounts. Not at all. However, my business account was created specifically for business networking and serving a business audience. I don’t interact with political accounts and I have begun unfollowing others who interact with them because it clogs up my feed. I know that I need to stay on-mission and on target free from distractions. I have already blocked many words that keep politics out of my feed, but it still includes likes, retweets, and comments from accounts I follow. I do not block in this case because there is no “wrong” done; it’s simply outside the scope of my work.
Misc: For whatever reason, there could be people whose message just doesn’t seem appropriate to your purpose. If you don’t like what someone has to say, then don’t follow them. If you really don’t like what they have to say and want to make sure there’s no association- block them. It’s as simple as that. Really.
Non-Participants: Those people whom I have followed who have stopped tweeting, never interact, or don’t follow-back after an extended period of time. Eventually, you’ll reach the limit of followers set by Twitter, at which point you may do nothing or you may choose to unfollow people who are inactive and don’t follow people back to create more room in your list for active, interesting people. Guess which option I choose?
You can choose your tribe.
8 TGIF! and #TweetChats
It’s Friday! Woohoo!
On Twitter it’s #FF (or #FollowFriday). Take the time to recommend the people who were good to you throughout the week. Pay attention to who mentioned you, who re-tweeted (RT) your messages, and the like. Who are your cheerleaders? Return the favor! Recommend them with a #FF. You can mention a few people in the same tweet, but leave room at the end for RTs and occasionally give a reason why someone should be interested in following the person you’re recommending.
Friday is a fun day to share, but it’s not the only day, of course. You should mention, re-tweet, and interact with your community every day. The more the better, within reason, don’t overdo it!
Tweet chats are fantastic!
A tweet chat is an organized conversation around a particular topic at a pre-specified time. They are tracked around a #hashtag or group of hashtags. This is a great way to connect with like-minded individuals and peers. If you are unable to find a chat around your favorite topic or in your industry, there could be an opening for you to start your own. Definitely participate in a few others before hosting so you know what type of expectations to set and how to manage conversations, invite guests, and more…
Shout out to your favorite people & chat.
9 Monkeys Do It
Yes! There are many, many tools out there to help you along your Twitter journey. There are some that I use daily and some that I use occasionally, but which tools you choose to use will largely depend on your personal preference. Here are just a few of my favorites and what I primarily use them for:
CoSchedule with Buffer: Scheduling Tweets (Plus Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, and WordPress posts.) Keep your calendar organized and full. Also has analytics to let you know what’s working. Works brilliantly for automatic blog and podcast promotion.
Hootsuite: Saved keyword searches, monitoring lists, etc. Also has reporting capabilities to track your data.
CrowdFire: Article recommendations for curation. Manage mentions and DMs. Analytics. Scheduling.
TweetChat: Easily organize and follow hashtags for Twitter Chats for easier participation.
There are many more, but that ought to get you headed in the right direction…
You choose, but make sure you use tools.
10 Lather, Rinse, Repeat
Consistency is the key.
Keep at it. Building a quality following will not happen overnight, but it will happen. Be creative, be interesting, be social, and most of all be yourself. Build a house that you’ll be proud to live in, whatever your personal style. Start with a solid foundation and the rest will follow in time. I’m sure that there are short-cuts that you could take to build your list even faster, but I won’t be outlining those any time soon. What I will do, for those who are interested in more information, is expand on each of the suggestions made here in future articles and videos. If you have questions that you would like answered, contact me or tweet @SocialSavvyGeek.
You’ve got this!
This article was first published in September 2011 and was last updated in May 2019
[…] 10 Tips to Build Your Twitter List Now – Asking how to build a Twitter list is like asking how to build a house. Well, what kind of house? Who is going to live in it? Is it a vacation house or a full-time residence? Is the architecture traditional or modern. Seriously. Are we talking Frank Lloyd Wright here or Tudor? Just as there is no one right or wrong way to design and build a house, there is no one right or wrong way to build a Twitter list. By Laura E. Pence. […]
LOVE this, Laura. You are single handedly getting me back on track with Twitter!
Thanks, Dee! I’m glad to hear it. Let me know if you have any questions while you’re building your dog empire. 🙂
Thank you Laura. It is a great article, I have just started a blog and even not twitted much. But now I know how imp.social media is. Real eye opener
Thank you for find me on twitter, I’m in love with your articles…
Thank you very much! I’m glad that you enjoy them.