Do you aspire to be followed by hundreds, thousands, or even millions of other Twitter followers? Recently, Selena Gomez became the 10th Twitter user to have more than 10 million Twitter followers, joining the ranks of Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber, President Barack Obama, Katy Perry, Kim Kardashian, Britney Spears, Shakira, Rihanna, and Taylor Swift. Dozens more Twitter users are “Twitter famous” (as I overheard someone refer to a celebrity in a restaurant tonight), as these people are followed by millions of other Twitter users without having to sell out hundreds of concerts per year (or, well, just sell-out) to amass such a following. So what is their secret? How do people like iJustine have over one million followers — without having to sign to a record label or audition for a television show?
The secret is that there is no secret. Twitter users who amass a large following all follow a few simple steps that you can easily follow as well. Sure, it helps if you’re already famous — we already know how well this works out for people like Charlie Sheen, who gain thousands of followers upon joining Twitter without even tweeting. And that’s exactly what “secret” #1 is about.
You must share interesting content.
Charlie Sheen didn’t necessarily need to share interesting content on Twitter for the world to know that he shares interesting content (and I use the phrase “interesting” in this case with a grain of salt). If you don’t have a controversial acting career or other notable fame, you may first need to prove that you also have interesting content to share by tweeting this content. This content may need to be in other forms of media — such as blog posts or YouTube videos. The bottom line is that, if you have nothing to offer potential followers, they will not want to follow you.
You must share interesting content from others.
It is important to emphasize that even if you have the most interesting Twitter account — however that may be defined — standing on a soapbox projecting this interesting content is selfish if you don’t share what others have to say as well. If someone replied to one of your tweets with helpful, funny, or useful information, be sure to share this with your followers using the retweet function. Be sure to also share the organic content of others to help promote them. Remember: If you scratch their back, they’ll scratch yours. Alyssa Milano has almost two million followers, but regularly shares interesting content she finds from others — including from blogs like LockerGnome. By sharing content with your followers, they will be inclined to share that content with their followers by retweeting or hashtagging you. Their followers may then want to follow you since you’re a great source of useful, informative content.
Follow targeted Twitter users.
A great way to gain Twitter users — especially if you are not Charlie Sheen — is to follow other Twitter users who may want to follow you back. Targeting specific Twitter users who may be interested in your content is especially useful in building a Twitter following that will share and engage with your content — similar to the way celebrities like Justin Bieber target and market their musical specifically for teens and tweens, but not people such as ourselves. Consider searching for Twitter lists about topics you are interested in or will tweet about. (Listorious is a great source for searching lists by topic.) Whatever you do, do not buy Twitter followers, no matter how cheap or affordable you think such a service is. These users are often inactive or bots, which will not help you share your content and help you continue to build your following on Twitter.
Attend meetups, tweetups, and conferences.
How do you think celebrities stay so famous? They’re always in the spotlight, performing, and attending award shows, parties, and other gatherings. While you may not need to walk the red carpet to gather more Twitter followers, meeting new people offline can help you quickly build your Twitter following online. Events that are social media focused, such as Social Media Club events, are especially good for this, as the online buzz about the event can allow you to jump into the chatter and easily draw attention to your Twitter account. LinkedIn and Meetup.com are other good place to look for local events — just be sure that you include your Twitter @name on your nametag or business card so others can easily find you online and follow you.
Participate in Twitter chats.
One of the fastest ways to find other Twitter users with the same interests as you that you can follow and expect to follow you back is by participating in a Twitter chat. A Twitter chat is a “chatroom” style discussion that is facilitated with the use of Twitter hashtag on a weekly basis on Twitter. A list of some of the best Twitter hashtag chats to follow, including my favorite — #blogchat — is available at Mediabistro. To use a Twitter hashtag or join a Twitter hashtag chat, you may want to set up a separate column in TweetDeck or HootSuite to stream the search of the hashtag and conversation, or use an app like TweetChat, which is designed specifically for this purpose. After you participate in a Twitter chat, you can easily follow all the users who participated in the chat by using a tool like FollowBlast to follow all the the participants by searching for the chat hashtag.
Do you know any other “secrets” to getting more Twitter followers? Feel free to share yours in the comments.