“Twitter is not a technology. It’s a conversation. And it’s happening with or without you.” (@charleneli of Groundswell) Keep that quote in mind whenever you decide to ignore Twitter.

For Twitter to work for you – you need people to engage with you and follow you. There are many great articles about how to create good content that is engaging and to practice better social techniques that work. However, there are not many good articles that explain how to reach out to the people in the first place, or get them to follow you. This is possibly one of the most difficult tasks, especially when you first start. There does appear to be a ‘tipping point’ or critical mass when your twitter following grows without effort. In the following tips we will talk about the techniques that will help you reach that special goal!

There are lots of ways to get more followers on Twitter, but do they all actually work? Go ahead and ask some users how they get new followers and many will reply: by begging for followers. Well they don’t literally mean begging but its similar – ‘please follow me – I follow back”!

Begging? Really? Is it that important to focus on the quantity over the quality of followers? If you have a business profile that needs more followers, quantity is definitely not an option and obviously so is begging. You need followers that can add value to your network. Here are some of the ideas we’ve gathered for you – most of them tried and tested by us.

Construct your profile carefully

Are you new on Twitter? Make sure you choose your username wisely and spend some time on the description text. You can stand out by creating something original and catchy, so potential customers can remember and easily find you. Your avatar is the visual representation of your brand. Then there’s background image and you’d notice that many users have impressive background image design. Twitter is quite limited when it comes to profile space so use it to your best advantage.

Search for users you already know outside Twitter

A great way to build a good follower base is to send a link to your brand’s profile and interact with people you know outside social networks, whether they are family, friends, customers or business acquaintances. Eventually, these people will help you build a bigger network, carrying your message to other users.

Announce your profile outside Twitter

If you already have a profile on Facebook, for instance, why don’t you use it to promote your Twitter account? Or post an update on Google+. When it comes to free advertising, every tool can come in handy. It’s also important to promote your Twitter profile in the real world. If you use videos or podcasts to communicate with leads or customers, don’t forget to mention the Twitter account and username. And, when you meet a new client, just include this information in your presentation.

Get retweeted and retweet.

Getting people to retweet you can be tricky. You certainly cannot order your followers to do it, as it’s against good social media etiquette. You can ask them though, but you need to be clever about it. A “please retweet” call-to-action in the end of your message might be just what you need to get more activity. Don’t forget the key to more retweets –sharing quality content and keeping your tweets sharp and short. Want to get somebody’s attention? Retweet a tweet or two they’ve posted recently and include your personal opinion in the tweet. If you think they’ve posted a great article, say it. If you learnt something new or you are intrigued, do include a short message about that.

Find out who’s tweeting your keywords.

Look for users who are tweeting the same keywords as you are by using the Advanced Twitter search tool. You can then add them to a list of useful contacts and engage with them. Make the list public so they can follow you. Occasionally, retweet some of their content and show genuine interest. Identify potential customers by identifying the trending hashtags in your niche. Use Followerwonk to search people’s bios, then follow and add them to lists.

Repeat popular tweets.

There is nothing wrong with using your best recipe more than once. If you’ve had a really successful tweet in the past, you might as well tweet it again, but remember to change the words so it doesn’t sound too repetitive. Understand that not everyone on Twitter sees everything you post, as not everyone is online at the same time or looking at the wall. When do you read your Twitter feed the most? Share with us in the comment box.

Go the extra mile.

You can use your mobile device to stay in touch – it’s a great way to show your human side and prove that you care about you followers outside of working hours too. How long would it take you to thank them using your Twitter app on the phone – under 30 seconds? It’s the ultimate way to show that you care and appreciate your followers.

Interact, ask and answer questions.

Well, nobody can give you the right recipe, but as long as you are online, you can surely interact more. Post a famous quote and ask if people agree, ask a thought-provoking question, retweet and include a personal opinion, answer questions others have asked. By tweeting a simple quote you can start a debate and attract the attention. Try to be timely with your responses, try not to leave people hanging if they have responded. There is a growing sense of entitlement and sense of speed, an expectation that you are there. Of course you can’t always be there, so don’t beat yourself up.

Stay tuned for Part II of this article and more useful tips for growing your Twitter follower base. What’s the best idea you’ve used?

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