(image credit: tomsaint11)
Stop and think for a moment about the people you follow on Twitter the moment you see them.
These are the ones you have no hesitation in following — you’re delighted to find them on Twitter and look forward to receiving their Tweets.
Chances are they fall into two categories:
- You know them outside of Twitter.
- They’re doing something interesting outside of Twitter.
So if you really want to get more followers, you should do two things:
- Get to know people outside of Twitter.
- Do something interesting outside of Twitter.
It might seem counterintuitive, but if you look at things like this, one of the best ways to boost your follower count is to log out of Twitter and do something more exciting.
Remarkable People Don’t Spend All Day on Twitter…
The most popular people on Twitter tend to be those who are doing remarkable things elsewhere (e.g. Barack Obama, Stephen Fry, Tony Hsieh). The more interesting your background, the more people will follow you.
If someone gives the impression of being on Twitter all day every day, I can’t help wondering how interesting their day is in real life.
But if someone pops in from time to time with fascinating snippets of information, valuable links, thought-provoking questions or snapshots of their day that hint at an interesting back story, I pay attention.
Instead of skimming their updates as they flash past in the Twitter stream, I’m likely to stop, think and maybe respond. I’ll go to their Twitter page to see if I’ve missed any other interesting Tweets. I may pay their website a visit.
There are exceptions — like Chris Brogan, a social media maven whose job it is to have his finger on the pulse. I’d almost be concerned if Chris weren’t on Twitter most of the time — as if the lighthouse had been left unmanned. But of course Chris is also up to plenty of cool stuff outside of Twitter.
So if you really want more followers, spend time AWAY from Twitter doing interesting things. Pop into Twitter regularly, to connect with people and share something of your adventures – but don’t make it your home.
… Because Twitter Is Not the Main Event
Unless you’re a Twitter specialist or Twitter is the only online channel for your business (which I’d suggest is a risky strategy), Twitter is not the main event, and shouldn’t be where you focus most of your effort.
That isn’t a criticism of Twitter. I’d argue that it’s actually in the spirit of Twitter, which is above all an outstanding catalyst – for conversations, ideas and relationships. It’s now a cliche to describe Twitter as a ‘virtual water cooler’, reflecting its value as a place to chill out and catch up with people during a break. But a break is only a break if it’s sandwiched between times of effort and endeavour.
The results of Darren’s polls about blog readers vs Twitter followers suggest that most of you agree with me on this. Even here on Twitip, a site dedicated to Twitter, most of you would rather have more blog readers than Twitter followers.
Twitter is great for meeting new people and maintaining nonintrusive connection with the ones you already know, but subscribing to a blog is a bigger commitment. And for ‘blog’ you could substitute any activity outside of Twitter — such as a work project, a program of study, a shared journey or a political campaign — that involves greater engagement, energy and impact.
But You Still Need to Be Interesting on Twitter
This post was partly inspired by Maki’s response to Darren’s advice about attracting Twitter followers. Whereas Darren had written about connecting with people and delivering value on Twitter, Maki argued that Darren’s phenomenal follower count was mainly due to his fame as the creator of Problogger, Digital Photography School and other successful sites.
I think they both have a point.
I followed both Darren and Maki because I admired their blogs. But if they’d bored or annoyed me on Twitter, I’d have unfollowed them. The fact that they are both as interesting, generous and helpful on Twitter as they are elsewhere means I pay attention to their Tweets and makes me (even) more likely to read their other content.
Here’s a simple rule of thumb:
To GET followers — do interesting things AWAY FROM Twitter.
To KEEP followers — be interesting ON Twitter.
Create ‘Portals’ to Twitter from the Outside World
Don’t get so caught up in your remarkable adventures that you forget to direct people to your Twitter page.
Make sure you include your Twitter URL on:
- Your blogs and websites
- Your social media profiles
- Your e-mail footers
- Your forum signatures
- Your business card
And when you meet someone interesting in real life, ask whether they are on Twitter so that you can follow them. If you’ve made a genuine connection with them, they will almost certainly follow back.
What Do You Think?
Do you agree that the most interesting people to follow don’t spend all day on Twitter?
Does Twitter work best as the main event or a catalyst for other activities?
Could logging out of Twitter more often help you get more followers?