Growing a Social Media FollowingYou’re probably sick of hearing how important it is to have a Twitter account, so that you can market your business, and interact directly with your audience

So you sign up, replace the little egg with a picture of your beaming face and then… what?

The task of putting out Tweets that people are actually interested in, and desperate to share with their friends and colleagues, is daunting enough – but first you need to actually have some followers.

Otherwise you’re going to be shouting your best ideas and insights into an empty room.

Growing your following – the slightly sneaky way

Many people will tell you that you simply need to create and share great content to be a success on Twitter.

This is too much of a ‘build it and they will come’ mindset for me. In truth, unless you have a lot of friends and existing connections, it’ll take a very long time, and you’ll waste a lot of effort if you attempt to grow your following entirely naturally.

Add your existing connections 

So the first step is to simply add people you already know. Ask them to spread the word about your page as well. Don’t worry if you don’t currently have many people to add, however – next we’ll learn how you can grow a following completely from scratch.

Find and follow relevant accounts

It’s no use having thousands of followers if they have no interest in you. Quality is far more important that quantity here.

A simple way to get people to follow you, is to follow them. It’s as simple as that. A lot of people won’t bother following you back, but you’ll find that a healthy percentage of the people who you do follow will reciprocate.

So who do you follow? You probably have a good idea of your target market, so you want to focus on these accounts, rather than using a scattergun approach and following random people.

A great tip for finding high quality followers is to look at the accounts of your competitors, or similar businesses to your own. Click on their accounts, and you can freely browse their follower lists – so feel free to start following plenty of the people you see listed there.

This way you’ll be reaching people who have an active interest in your market, and people who have active accounts and are clearly engaged – because they’ve physically gone to the trouble of following other accounts that are similar to your own.  

The dreaded follower ceiling

Using this tactic, you can quickly rattle up a few hundred relevant followers for your account.

You’ll be plodding along happily until, suddenly, Twitter takes you by surprise and prevents you from following anyone else.

To prevent spammers, Twitter only lets you follow 2,000 accounts – until you have a similar number of people following you back.

This will really slow you down, but it’s not the end of the world. Now we need to switch focus, and refine our audience a little.

Sign up for the free Crowdfire service. Using this online tool, you can go back through the list of people you follow, to quickly identify those who aren’t providing you with any value.

So you can easily identify people who you followed months ago, who are not following you back, and who you don’t have any real interest in.

By unfollowing 20/30 of these people each day, you’ll be able to add an extra 20/30 more relevant people each day – and the ratio of people you follow to people who you don’t follow will quickly begin to balance out, eventually allowing you to follow even more people.

Be consistent

The key to success on social media is to be consistent with your efforts. It’s no good spending a whole day going crazy with your accounts, only to neglect them for a week afterwards.

This strategy requires you to do a small amount of following each day, rather than working in huge chunks, as Twitter is likely to suspend your account if you look like a spammer.

Produce regular content

The more you post, the more visible you’ll be to the world, and the more passing visitors you’ll convert into followers.

Make sure the content and Tweets you post are worth reading, or people will start to unfollow you simply to shut you up and stop you from swamping their feeds.

Be realistic, and aim to put out five quality tweets each day.

Offer people value

Once you’ve got some followers, and a steadily growing audience, focus on answering questions your audience has, and solving problems for them. In this way, you’ll earn trust and respect, and the chances of them sharing your information will grow, as they develop a genuine connection with your account.

Some of these steps are flirting with the edges of Twitter’s rules – which are designed to stop spammers – so tread carefully, and don’t go overboard with the automated following and unfollowing.

Do you have any tips for growing a Twitter audience that you’d like to share? Leave a comment below!