I avoided Twitter for years — in fact, I have only been tweeting for under 12 months. I was never big on pop culture and did my best to avoid the trending fads, assuming that most of them will dwindle and die shortly after their stardom. Yet Twitter was different — it was a trend that wouldn’t stop trending. So I decided to give it a try. And I loved it.
Twitter allows users to connect with others in, often at times, meaningful ways. If used properly, you can have your thoughts and ideas listened to by thousands, even millions. The more followers you have, the more people you are interacting with — the more lives you touch and become part of. It’s the best way for the common man to become a rock star.
The most important thing is quantity — you need to have followers and lots of them. The more followers you have, the easier it is to get more followers. So how do you gain followers? How do you get enough momentum to become a strong voice of our generation? Honestly, I only have a little over 1,000 followers — so I’m not the best person to ask. But there has been research done on the topic.
A group from Georgia Tech has just released a study that followed 500 twitter users over 15 months and the 500,000 tweets they all tweeted. The focus was on how each Twitter user built his/her network and the most effective methods of doing so. “We looked at how they built their network over time and what was important to building that network,” said research scientist at Georgia Tech C.J. Hutto (@CJHutto). Here are 9 tips for building your follower base proven by science:
1. Be positive
"It's like your mother told you: If you don't have something nice to say, you shouldn't say anything," says Hutto. Positive emotions and upbeat wording will help draw people. People seem to like following those that they believe will make them smile rather than those that will make them feel down or angry. Since most users do not know one another personally, there are few that want to listen to a stranger complain.
2. You’re not the center of the universe
Would you ever want to read tweet after tweet about a person you don’t know? Even if you are a fan of their work, you are more likely to want to get to know their perspective on the rest of the world rather than their thoughts on themselves. We don’t need others to tell us about themselves — we can figure it out on our own from their thoughts on everything else. Share your views and not only your achievements. And please… no food pics.
3. Tweet often, but in increments
Tweeters want to feel your presence, but they want to feel it sparingly — regularly, but not too intensely. If you send out 8 tweets, one after the other, then others will feel that you are bombarding them, spamming them. Users would rather read your tweets throughout the day. This way they don’t feel overwhelmed by your presence and at the same time are happy to have your company.
4. Be engaging
Use the @ symbol. Retweet. Give shout-outs. Reply to tweets. Become an active member of the Twitter community. Those that use Twitter, use it in order to connect with others, so connect with them. Make them feel as if they matter to you — have them know that you notice them.
5. Don’t overdo it with the hashtags
Hashtags are meant to be used in a way that others will be able to look up tweets belonging to a topic or category. Many use them because they think it’s funny. It may have been funny when they first became popular, but now it’s just annoying. If you are going to tweet and use hashtags then try to keep them to a minimum. According to Hutto, "They're a good way to put what you're saying into context. But if you use more than one in a tweet, hashtags become annoying."
6. Follow your followers
The more people you follow, the more likely they are to follow you back and keep following you. People are more inclined to follow those that follow lots of others. Personally, I rather not have my homepage swamped with the Tweets of those whom I am not interested in, but if what you are looking for is to amp up your following at any cost, then this will definitely help.
7. Use real words
According to the study, those who use more sophisticated words and a more advanced vocabulary have more people follow them. "People rely on linguistic cues like spelling and vocabulary for credibility," Hutto says. "If you write like a third grader, you won't get as many followers. And you'll get penalized if you use too many Twitter-speak terms or acronyms." People like to associate themselves with those they believe to be smart, intellectual. Use your grownup words and watch how the respect that others have for you grows.
8. Don’t hide your identity
People want to know whom it really is they are talking with and whom they are following. "You get a boost in followers from filling out all aspects of your user profile, with a longer description, a profile picture and a location. It shows you're a real person,” Hutto says.
9. Pick a genre
Do your best to focus your tweets on a certain topic or genre in order to rally up those that have similar interests. If you tweet about just about anything then people will be less likely to follow you — they are trying to read you and aren’t able to get a clear message of who you are and what you think. Twitter users want to get to know others just as we want to get to know those in our physical lives. Focus on a handful or less of your main interests and you’ll have an easier time building a fan base.