How to Grow an Interested Following on Twitter using RSS

by Corbett Barr of Free Pursuits – Follow him @freepursuits

time-to-harvestMany people use brute force techniques to grow their twitter followers only to be disappointed by the quality of relationships they form. I’ll show you how to grow a community of followers who are genuinely interested in what you have to offer using simple tools and techniques.

If your goal for using Twitter is simply to acquire as many followers as possible, there are plenty of common techniques you can use to accomplish your goal. For most people though, the quality of relationships made on Twitter is much more important than the quantity.

Maybe you’re trying to attract people to your blog, or sell a product, or find some freelancing work or just meet some new like-minded friends. Whatever the case, you can use the techniques here to build a high-quality Twitter following.

Stay on Topic and Write Often

In a lot of ways, Twitter really is just like blogging. One of the golden rules of blogging is staying on topic. When you’re building a blog audience, that audience needs to have a good idea of what you’ll be writing about.

If you switch topics to whatever you’re interested in day-to-day, it will be hard to gain and keep readers. Some people get around this rule because they are really interesting, but they are the exception, not the rule.

The same goes for Twitter. It is much easier to connect with people who will genuinely be interested in what you have to say if those people can figure out what you’ll be tweeting about. Pick a topic, or a handful of related topics, and write about them. Write often, and use the same keywords that you use to search for information about your topics.

Twitter Search RSS Feed

Have you ever looked for something on Twitter Search? It’s a great way to find out what people are saying on Twitter about a particular topic.

When someone tweets about something that you also write about, there’s a better chance that he will be interested in your twitter stream. You can search for various keywords on Twitter Search, and discover people who are talking about the same things you care about.

This is how I find make the best connections on Twitter. I search regularly for keywords related to the topic I blog about. I then check out the people writing on the subject and add them if I think they will care about what I have to say. It’s a focused approach, and it has helped me turn Twitter into the most powerful marketing tool for my blog.

To automate this process, you can subscribe to the RSS feed for each search you would regularly run. The search results will then be regularly refreshed in your favorite RSS reader, where you can keep track of the conversations and continually add people who might like your tweets. I’ve found that people I add this way are the most likely to retweet my best content.

Retweet and Ye Shall Receive

A lot has been said about retweeting here on TwiTip before. It also happens to be a great tool for gaining like-minded followers.

When you retweet something from someone you follow (on a subject that you regularly tweet about), you’ll set yourself up to gain some valuable followers. Here’s how it works and how to do it.

When retweeting, expect to give before you get. Start by retweeting things that you genuinely find interesting, and more importantly that your followers will find interesting. This will help you gain followers in a couple of ways.

First, some of the people you retweet will eventually reciprocally retweet your content. Since they write about the same things you write about, it’s likely that their followers will be interested in you too. Second, the people you retweet will also likely write “@ reply” thank you notes to you and/or recommend you for #followfridays.

Making Use of Your New Best Followers

If you use these techniques, you’ll start to find people writing more about you and your content on Twitter. It doesn’t take tens of thousands of followers to drive some meaningful traffic to your blog or website. I’ve found that with only a thousand followers, Twitter has become my best marketing tool.

Start building a better quality Twitter following for yourself today. Just stay on topic, write often, find people through Twitter Search and retweet people how you like to be tweeted.

[image credit: sir_mervs]


  • June 5, 2009

    I think this is a very good thing to analize. Thanks!

  • June 5, 2009

    Exactly! Even if you’re not increasing your followers count with 1000 followers a day, at least they are quality relationships which will benefit you!

    And everyone can try both ways, the brute force thing and the normal way and see which one does work! I always go for the quality relationships because it 100% pays off.

  • June 5, 2009

    this is right on the money- picking a core topic, or a regular topic, and sprinkle it with other posts, but stay mostly on-message. Build a killer following-a huge laser-focused following that way.

  • June 5, 2009

    TwitTipsCenter, it really does pay off in spades. One person, when they think you are credible and knowledgeable in your field, can RT or praise you in front of thousands.

  • June 5, 2009

    Only by optimizing the use of Twitter, one could gain the benefits from it. Some ideas aren’t new, but it’s to be reminded that we need to USE it to make things happen — RTs, interactions among tweeters. Quality is the key. Thanks Corbett.

    Social media/blogging

  • June 5, 2009

    Excellent advice. In fact, I wrote about this on my own blog exactly a week ago.

    I call it “TEO” (as opposed to SEO). Because common sense dictates: one of the easiest ways to improve your rankings and thus your traffic is to post fresh content and to post often.

    This invariably increases the number of pages (and therefore the number of keywords) indexed on search engines. Similarly, by posting a lot of great content on Twitter, as well as keyword-rich tweets, which cause your tweets and your name to appear more often in Twitter’s search results.

    For posterity (and please delete if you feel it’s inappropriate), here’s the link to that blog post…

  • June 5, 2009

    @TwitTipsCenter – definitely. There’s just such a low conversion rate when you use the shotgun approach. You get followers, but they are rarely people you’ll develop mutual interest with.

    @wchingya – some ideas are worth repeating, right? I occasionally find myself going way off topic and find that those tweets don’t generate any conversation. You’re right, quality is the key.

  • June 5, 2009

    I’m missing something important here. How can you “add people who might like your tweets”:
    The search results will then be regularly refreshed in your favorite RSS reader, where you can keep track of the conversations and continually add people who might like your tweets. I’ve found that people I add this way are the most likely to retweet my best content.
    … I mean, all you can do is follow, right? You can’t add them as a follower, can you? If all you can do via RSS/twitter searches is find new/interesting people to follow, how does that help you “grow an interesting following”?

  • June 5, 2009

    That’s right lawton! If you’re interesting and talk from experience people won’t hesitate to RT your entries!

  • June 5, 2009

    Very well said, Corbett. On the iGoMogul blog we’ve touched on some of these points, such as the need to stay on topic and write regularly, in terms of blogging, but had not yet considered how it also applies to Twitter. That’s definitely something we’ll want to cover in the future, so thanks for the idea!

  • June 5, 2009


    Thanks for taking the time to write such a great article. It’s relevant, and contains a lot of food for thought for many of us in Twitterverse. Loved your “Retweet and You’ll Receive” para header.

    Thank you also for allowing your readers the ease of contributing to your blog without asking to ’sign in’. This is a shortcut I’ll gladly take!

  • June 5, 2009

    Great advice for us newbies with twitter fears!

  • June 5, 2009

    Great tips as usual, however I find that reciprocity on the internet is hard to come by.

  • June 5, 2009

    I’m struggling to define my twitter use. I’ve recently started a twitter account to promote my blog because our readers, and future readers, use it to keep informed. This article answers some of my questions, but leaves others, mainly: is there a place on Twitter for someone (who is busy) who only wants to tweet a few times a week? My main goal to use twitter is to find interesting tweets on our blog topic, tweet new posts and re-tweet interesting posts and links.

    This post makes it sound like the only tweeters who will develop a following need to spend an amount of time on twitter I don’t think I have. Hmm, I’m going to have to think on this.

  • June 5, 2009

    I mainly wrote about 2 topic (productivity, preaching).
    Would you suggest to use 2 different accounts?

  • June 5, 2009

    Checking back, hoping someone will chime in with an answer to my ? above.

    Again, as far as I know, the following excerpt from the post is not possible to do on Twitter (the italic part):
    I search regularly for keywords related to the topic I blog about. I then check out the people writing on the subject and add them if I think they will care about what I have to say.

    How can you “add someone”? All you can do is follow someone, not add them as a follower to your twitter stream.

    Or it’s possible I’ve missed a huge feature/command someplace in my Twitter settings … any help appreciated!

  • June 6, 2009

    Excellent post. I think it’s worth stating that it is perfectly OK to proceed slowly when following and acquiring followers rather than trying for world domination in the first few Twitter days.
    This is the process I have adapted myself. In my experience, I have found Twitter less useful for promotion and more useful for acquiring links to great information. Your blog is a case in point.
    That being said, you have posted some great tips here.

    Wayne C.

  • June 6, 2009

    I also find that adding in some humor & personality (even if off topic) gets people sticking around :)

  • June 6, 2009

    @AM, I’m sorry I wasn’t clearer in the article. By “add someone” I mean to say “follow” them. There’s no guarantee that someone will follow you back, but if you practice some of the other methods I mentioned above (staying on topic, writing often, participating in conversations and retweeting), it’s more likely that people will follow you back. Also, my experience lately is that the majority of people are willing to reciprocally follow (if you’re not a spammer, and the person you want to follow you back isn’t a celebrity).

    @Wayne, I’m glad you also have found Twitter to be useful for both promotion and discovering great new sites and information. Thanks for checking out my blog as well.

    @Andrea – you can use different accounts if the topics you write about don’t intersect much. It really depends on if you’re trying to reach people who are interested in both topics, or if they are really two different audiences.

    @Eric – don’t let your time constraints keep you from using Twitter. You will still find it useful even if you only post a few times a week as you proposed. Twitter is like most social media tools in that its benefits increase as you invest more time, to a point. You just need to decide what part it plays in your overall strategy.

  • June 6, 2009

    got it … thanks Corbett!

  • June 7, 2009

    Fantastic post. I’m new to Twitter and am still finding my way.

  • June 7, 2009

    I hope Twitter doesn’t become another MyBlogLog where some people follow you only because they want you to follow them.

  • June 7, 2009

    @Corbett – Thanks for the feedback. Your post was helpful and I’m thinking my Twitter use will grow organically.

    Question: what Twitter resources (ie informative blog posts) about Twitter do you recommend?

  • June 9, 2009

    @eric – the answer to your question really depends on what type of information you’re looking for. There was a great post over at Web Worker Daily today about networking on Twitter. I’d suggest checking it out as a primer to using Twitter.

  • June 10, 2009

    Corbett, thanks. Basically what I’m looking for is a good primer on tips and techniques to make the most out of Twitter. I only recently began blogging, and by reading posts and, I felt like I got a strong firm base on knowing what to do and what not to do when starting a blog. I haven’t found resources like that yet for Twitter. But your post has been one of the best things I’ve read so far.

  • November 5, 2009

    Great post Corbett. A lot of newbies to Twitter still think it’s just about getting as followers as possible so that they can flog a product and get some additional income. This is one of the reasons why Twitter has become so spammy.

  • December 15, 2009

    how are people informed when you retweet? how do you create the RSS feeds for twitter, or is it just for key word searches generally…

  • December 19, 2009

    “Retweet and Ye Shall Receive” resonates with me: give and it shall be given on to you, good measure, pressed down, shaking together and running over shall men follow you…. Great analysis!
    More grace.

  • December 19, 2009

    Thanks for the info. This is a great help to us newbies!

  • March 17, 2010

    Clear and concise. When it comes down to it- followers with no interest just aren’t followers.

  • October 27, 2010

    for me, follower does matter and I think I definitely never tried any one of those tips you have mentioned above. A good tips for a newbie like me

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