Twitter can be pretty intimidating for new users for a variety of reasons, such as knowing what to tweet, how to tweet without running afoul of ethical and regulatory rules, and deciphering the Twitter lingo (Hashtags? Mentions?). But one of the most frustrating aspects of starting out on Twitter is figuring out how to get and grow followers. Indeed, to many, follower count is one of the most important measures of success on Twitter. No one, especially busy lawyers, wants to spend the time it takes to ramp up on Twitter when it feels like they’re talking to an empty room. Fortunately, with a little perseverance, a healthy dose of good faith, and these 12 tips, you can grow the kind of audience that makes your social media efforts worthwhile.
- Tweet often. A lawyer with a lot on her plate won’t like this very much, but it’s a fact: the more you tweet, the more followers you’re likely to have. According to research, users who have written under 1,000 tweets typically have fewer than 100 followers, while those who have tweeted more than 10,000 times usually have followings of between 1,000-5,000. While it might feel strange to tweet with just your mom and a couple of BD managers following you, you want to keep generating content that will find its way into ongoing conversations, sets off notifications in others’ feeds, and makes your own feed look like something worth following.
- Use your existing connections. Since you’re more likely to be followed by someone you already have a relationship with, see if you can find your email contacts on Twitter and follow them. You can easily import select contacts from Outlook and other email services through your Twitter profile settings. As a bonus, you can export your LinkedIn connections to your email address book using a .CSV file and bring in contacts that way.
- Use a timesaving tool to schedule your tweets. Part of successfully tweeting more often is finding time for it in your busy schedule. Free and low-cost tools like Tweetdeck, Hootsuite and Buffer allow you to schedule your tweets in advance, so that you maintain a consistent flow of content, while saving time. Not only should you post often, but posting consistently means more engagement and more followers.
- Tighten your Twitter bio. Make the most of the 160 characters Twitter allows for your profile bio. Your bio, along with a photo, is often the first information people will glance at to determine whether you’re someone worth following. The bio is searchable on Twitter, so use keywords or even a few hashtags to briefly convey what you do and what topics you might cover in your feed to lure people who are interested in what you have to say, but might not know they’re interested in you.
- Join a Twitter chat. On a weekly or monthly basis, groups within various industries get together on Twitter to talk about a specific topic. By joining these chats and engaging with others, you’ll get the opportunity to meet new people in your sector, play the role of an industry insider, and learn valuable information. Find chats by searching for keywords in your industry, paying attention to leaders in your space to see which chats they join, or checking with affinity groups to which you belong—they occasionally host such chats. If all else fails, your favorite search engine should surface some chats, too.
- Multitask. Utilize your spare time. Tweet while commuting to and from work on the train. Tweet while on the bike at the gym, during television commercials, in line for coffee, or while in the dentist’s waiting room. Twitter and many of the third-party apps you can use to tweet have mobile apps for tweeting on the go. Download one and get familiar with it.
- Find your people. When you interact with a tweet, consider following users who have also engaged with that post. This is a good way to discover individuals to follow and more content to share based on mutual interest which, in turn, will likely lead to encouraging others to follow you back.
- Follow users who follow your followers. Related to finding your people, peek down the “rabbit hole” of your follower’s network. A handful of tools such as Tweepi can scan the accounts that follow your own followers on Twitter, and suggest potential new connections. Following them or observing to see what kind of content resonates most with this crowd could be the key to improving your own feed.
- Promote your @username everywhere. Don’t just expect people to find you on Twitter. Give them visual cues by displaying your @username both on and offline, including your professional online bio, business cards and other social networks you might belong to.
- Return favors. Acknowledge people who engage with your tweets, especially when they take the time to share a comment with you. The more you reach out, the more folks will reciprocate—by following or broadcasting your content with their networks.
- Build a list. A lot of noise is on Twitter, but you don’t need to read everything that your followers post. Set up an “A-list” of people you most want to follow. Then, when you only have a few minutes each day, you can just check to see what your A-list is posting. This allows you to focus your efforts and build a rapport with the most important people.
- Unfollow. It may seem counterproductive, but to protect your time you will occasionally need to unfollow people on Twitter. If you follow someone who spouts nonsense or posts distractions, simply unfollow them. Following on Twitter is not a long-term commitment. When you unfollow someone undesirable, your Twitter stream becomes more useful and you’re more likely to gain value for your time. And if you’re concerned about any hurt feelings, you can mute an account instead of unfollowing altogether.
Above all, the best route to gaining followers is to tweet relevant and high quality content. If you do, people will visit your feed regularly to share your tweets. Remember, if you want Twitter to work for you, you have to work Twitter. Think of your Twitter account as a short-term addiction and, at least for a little while, make it a priority, double down and create/share lots of content. That initial immersion will pay off in terms of “market research,” as well: you’ll sharpen your voice, get more comfortable with the medium and its quirks, and learn the kind of content that appeals to and engages your many new followers.
About the Author
Nakia D. Hansen is an attorney, and a digital strategist for Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP in New York. Follow Nakia’s tweets on social media at @BettyStrategy.
(Feature Image Credit: ShutterStock)