In the beginning of September I reached the eagerly awaited number of 10,000 Twitter followers. This important milestone was something I’d been expecting for months, since I’d been gaining new followers at a standard pace. Except for a short-lived dip in my performance that I mention at the very end of this post, I’d been gaining anywhere between 1,000-1,200 new followers per month.
Now, when it comes to Twitter, not everyone has the same strategy. Some people, including authors like me, prefer to use this social media platform to build a quiet, familiar community where every single contact is carefully chosen. I surely appreciate the benefits of such an approach, since it’s guaranteed a timeline where it’s easy to find things of interest, and you feel as least estranged as possible towards the stuff you read.
For me, the benefits of such a strategy end there. Actually, to me personally, it’s unheard of to be an online marketer (as every indie author who aspires to success at any level should aim to be), and waste the incredibly powerful marketing tool called Twitter, only to make friends and feel – well basically – cosy.
From the word go, my strategy has been to gain as many followers as possible. This means that I follow back everyone with very few exceptions such as: overly sexy or pornographic accounts as they don’t relate to my brand and generally put me off, profiles that use foul language, profiles that feel weird or awkward and of course, spammers.
Now, I do admit this strategy means I must take the smooth with the rough. Still, the annoyance I occasionally experience from embracing such a motley crew of strangers is something I’m willing to tolerate as I strive to expand my social media reach.
Other disadvantages of having over 10,000 followers for example can be:
- It gets increasingly difficult to keep track. You can’t always manage to respond to your followers’ enquiries, RTs and mentions in a timely manner and to engage as much as you’d like to.
- Your timeline becomes a messy tangle of everything and anything under the sun; and if you’re lucky it’ll be stuff you’re indifferent to, as opposed to things that will annoy or offend you. Sometimes it takes me to refresh my home screen repeatedly to find enough tweets that seem interesting or appropriate to RT. Having to wade through so much stuff written by virtual strangers, it also means you’re less likely to find the tweets of your friends or people you’re mostly interested in.
And now, to the strong points of my strategy. Why do I follow everybody back? Why is it so important to me to have a large number of followers?
Well, think about it. If like me, you’re on Twitter to promote a product, then it makes sense to want to appear popular. Say, next time you send out queries to a bunch of literary agents, don’t you think it would be more impressive to say you have 10K followers as opposed to 300 or even 900? After all, both literary agents and publishers nowadays are looking to associate with authors who understand the online marketing game and who are well-acquainted with social media. So, a large number of followers is an ace up your sleeve and will win you that extra point everytime – as long as you have a good book to sell that is!
The other, obvious advantage of having many Twitter followers is that you can then use Twitter to promote your blog. Your blog is the center of your operations. Without an author platform, how are you going to get hits on it? And please don’t talk to me about Facebook! In case you haven’t heard, it is admittedly a waste of time and money to advertise on it, while Twitter, even with zero costs for advertising can yield a lot more sales given time. I was very lucky to read about this very early on as I designed my marketing strategy, and so I never invested too much of my time on Facebook. By now, I have accumulated just over 500 followers on my FB author page, where I get a measly 0-2 messages (or likes) from strangers interested in my books per month. On Twitter, that’s a daily occurrence.
Now that I have explained my reasoning behind my chosen strategy, I will outline in the following HOW I’ve been steadily increasing my Twitter follower count for the past 10 months.
So how do I do it? It’s very simple.
Basically, you need to do these things on a regular basis:
FOLLOW NEW PEOPLE
AUTOMATE YOUR TWEETS
I will now explain these one by one, along with the tools I use for some of them. This method is guaranteed to bring you new followers faster than you could ever magine. As I said, this method can yield anywhere between 1,000-1,200 new followers per month. Right now, I have about 10,900 followers (900 more than early September) and counting!
FOLLOW NEW PEOPLE
About once a week, I choose one of my followers and I follow about 100-200 of their followers. The follower I choose has to be someone who mentions and RTs about me regularly, plus they must have the same interests as me (for example, a fellow indie author). Why? Because then their followers will know about me already (since that follower mentions and RTs about me a lot) so they’ll be most likely to follow me back.
Having said that, occasionally I try different things. For example, I may pick one of my followers at random (as long as they are either a reader or an author) and follow the people they are following. This has to be a person I don’t often interact with. This guarantees that we don’t have that many mutual contacts. This way I find new people more easily who will be either readers or authors. I point out here that by choosing to follow people among their ‘following’ as opposed to their ‘followers’, it is less likely to see nasty pornographic accounts in there. This is because not many authors and readers tend to follow back these accounts.
Last, another approach is to follow tweeps from a specific country. I find that once I follow a few of them from any country, more from the same country follow me in the next few days and sometimes, this lasts for weeks. Once, without even meaning to, I kept having followers from Turkey by the dozens. It lasted for a few weeks and then stopped. No idea what happened there, but since then, I’ve been targeting specific countries like India or China to gain more followers (and hopefully some extra exposure) there.
Every 1-3 days, I go to my followers page to spot any new followers and I follow them back. This will diminish the chance that they’ll unfollow me. Some people are impatient and will unfollow you if you don’t follow them back in 24 hours but I don’t let that bother me. If they can’t pay me the courtesy to wait for up to 3 days, I’ll just follow someone else. After all, I’m not a bot! If they got this procedure automated, let them find other bots to befriend, right? Humans sometimes need time.
Unfollowing is basically a clean-up of my follower screen if people haven’t followed me back after a week or more. I give people plenty of time to follow me back. People are not machines! They have sick children, a well-deserved holiday or just too much stress to manage it all in a timely manner. So give people time to follow you back. This practice involves the website Crowdfire (ex JustUnfollow) which is a lifesaver and very easy to use.
Sign on with your Twitter account and when it analyses your follower data it will bring you a screen where on the left column, you will see on top the NON FOLLOWERS. These are the people you want to get rid of and if you have a free account with this site, it will only allow you to unfollow 200 a day (Just keep pressing the red no entry sign).
What I do, is use this site once or twice a week and always allow the last people I followed a week to follow me back. If they don’t after a week, only then do I unfollow them. To be able to do this, you need to keep a journal of how many people you follow and unfollow listed by date. I keep a daily journal where I record per day the actions I do on Twitter so I can always tell when I last followed back, when I did my notifications, when I last followed new people (and how many) etc.
Every 1-2 days, I go to my NOTIFICATIONS and MENTIONS screens and respond to any enquiries from other tweeps (whether they follow me or not).
I make sure to do a ‘favorite’ on all tweets that have RT’d me, mentioned me, or done an #SO, #FF or #WW for me. I also RT all the tweets there that promote/praise me and fellow authors in some way but take care not to RT duplicates (otherwise my followers will start to think I’m one vain individual which is definitely not the case).
Important: whoever asks me to RT for them, I always do, as long as it’s not a spam message.
I may also RT but never click the links when people ask me to check out their book or new music track as soon as they follow me. That’s just bad manners (if not a sign of their false sense of self-importance!) and I hope to goodness they finally see the light and stop annoying people like that.
Let me tell you something: Twitter is just like the real world. You wouldn’t go up to someone at a party to introduce yourself and say “Hi! I’m a writer and here’s my book. Read it and tell your friends about it.”
Hello? Who does that? Noone will give a rat’s tail about your book when they first meet you. Be a friend instead. Talk about the weather. Swap pet photos. Show interest in them and their lives and then they might grow interested in you and what you’re selling. Simple, isn’t it? Look how nature works. Everything takes time. From your hand healing after a cut to growing a flower in a pot. Shortcuts are awkward, unnatural. Waiting patiently yields results. Remember that.
Needless to say, on the notifications screen, you’re bound to meet spammers. If a message sounds like spam, open their profile and see if they’ve sent the same tweet to others. If they have, just block them. Life is too short for spammers.
Speaking of the block button, what a lifesaver that is! It saves me from pornographic pictures, ghastly negative images of children getting abused or violated, atrocities of war, not to mention weirdos. Have you had one on your tail? It can be scary! There was one of them I’d been putting up with for a long time sending me weird rhymes, many a day. When I started to ignore him, he sent me a DM and asked me to tell him what I really really think of him. Thankfully, I managed to keep my big mouth shut and blocked him instead. I tell you, the birds outside my window never sung sweeter than they did that day.
When you engage with people on line, always appear courteous, cheerful and thankful. Positive vibes are magnetic. They draw people to you. Remember you put out your brand with every word. And the internet is eternal. If you say something wrong, that quote may come back and haunt you. So think twice before saying something innapropriate. Even if someone annoys you, it’s better to ignore them or even block them than enter into an awkward tweet battle. I still remember the day I RT’d a beautiful photo of the US flag commemorating September 11. This guy (a follower I couldn’t even recall) came from nowhere and started scolding me for my RT, saying that it was the American government that was to blame for the tragedy. I told him kindly that I don’t discuss politics but wish to just honor the dead. He retorted that I should study history and basically called me ignorant, at which point he got himself both unfollowed and blocked and that was the end of the story. Easy, clean, and painless!
This is self explanatory. Basically, every day, once or twice, RT as much stuff as you can but select them carefully. If you’re serious about selling something online, steer clear from profanity and pornography. Even if your genre is erotica, go for subtle, tasteful eroticism, especially in pictures. You don’t want to alienate or offend and you have to look professional.
When you start getting thank you messages and RTs regularly from the people you often RT, it means they now remember you and you got a new avid supporter! Congrats! Remember: people have a natural tendency to reciprocate. The more RTs you do for a person, the more likely they become to do the same for you. Similarly, if someone RTs for you often, you’ve got to bend backwards to return the favor whenever you get the chance.
As always, it’s my pleasure to RT the tweets of all my friends but I eagerly seek to RT interesting messages from total strangers too. Paying it forward like this yields new followers. When I RT for strangers, I tend to follow that person too. So what if they don’t follow me back? Thank goodness for Crowdfire, so you don’t have to worry when you pay it forward in this respect.
On the subject of retweets, to have faster results, you can use an automated service. I use Roundteam. It’s free and easy to set up. For my best tips on how to set up Roundteam the right way, visit this post on my website here. There, I also explain why you need to set up Twitter lists and show you how to do it.
AUTOMATE YOUR TWEETS
For this, I use Socialoomph. You can use it to schedule tweets that will go live on Twitter at specific intervals or at the date and time that you choose. You can do this with a free account but every day you must submit the tweets anew. However, with a small subscription per month, Socialoomph allows you to keep your tweets permanently on the system in Queues that are never-ending. The automated tweet on the top of the queue gets tweeted and then returns to the end of the queue for next time. Nifty, isn’t it?
Basically, I’ve set up 3 queues on Socialoomph:
The first one tweets about my blogposts (author interviews, writing tips, travel articles, Greek recipes), basically anything that can win me an extra hit on my blog. So this queue coughs up one automated tweet per hour. This alone ensures that I have a presence on Twitter 24/7, even when I sleep!
The second queue is for tweets that direct people to other sites; sites that host my interviews or interviews of other authors for example. This is where I pay back the kindness of friends who promote me too. I play around with the frequency of these tweets but they can be about 4-6 every 24 hours.
The third queue is where I post promotional messages about my published books. These don’t come out often. Again, I tweak them every now and then but they are about 4 every 24 hours. This ensures that the majority of my tweets per day aren’t to make a fuss about my products. On the contrary, most of my tweets are meant to inform or entertain while having a connection with my brand; be it my chicken casserole recipe, a handy author tip or the stunning photos from my last trip to Corfu.
As it happens, a great portion of my automated tweets is dedicated to promoting the work of fellow authors; something I enjoy doing. By helping each other and sharing useful information, I believe that we all grow together and we all benefit. The way I see it? As we walk the path of adversity that will take us to success, the town we’re all bound to come by is called Service To Others. There are no shortcuts, folks. You gotta hit that town or be ready for disappointment. It’s as simple as that.
Now, a word of warning about automating your tweets:
It may be handy but there’s a catch! Twitter expects the majority of your daily tweets to be done manually, not through an automated service. Therefore, if you’re going to have your Twitter account cough up tweets even while you sleep, it comes with a price. This means that you HAVE TO use Twitter every day to tweet manually too!
Thankfully, you don’t have to tweet necessarily; you can simply RT a bunch of other people’s stuff. Twitter doesn’t care if you issue manual tweets or just RT, as long you use it manually for a while every day. If you don’t, the next day you’ll find that your automated tweets didn’t go through, say, via Socialoomph. If you keep this up for a number of days, chances are Twitter might notice and block your account – so beware!
Do keep this in mind when you’re going to be inactive for a number of days. In order to avoid problems with Twitter when I’m going to be on holiday for example, I hold my queues on Socialoomph and also pause my Roundteam account (no automated tweets and retweets respectively).
Before I end this long-winded speech, one last tip.
Have you ever heard of the TFF ratio?
Your TFF Ratio (Twitter Follower-Friend Ratio) is the ratio of your followers to friends (or people who you follow). The higher the ratio, the more of a big-shot you appear to be on Twitter.
Basically, you want to look popular which means you must always have a TFF ratio above 1, i.e. always having more followers than friends (people you follow). Also, please note: FOLLOWERS – FRIENDS = FANS (you can also see the number of your fans on the Crowdfire site).
For more info on the TFF ratio, and to check out where you and your Twitter buds score, look here.
I’ve just done mine and it said ‘1.04 Keepin it real’. That put a smile on my face, I tell ya…
Hope you find this report useful, folks! It’s all guaranteed to work; every action tried and tested. If you follow my method, don’t forget to return in the next couple of months and tell me how you’re getting on. I’d love a chance to cheer alongside you! Make sure you note your progress in a journal every 3 days (max every week) as to keep track better. I seem to get about 100 new followers every 3 days or so. Here’s hoping you get even more! Good luck!
Note: Although I said I’d been gaining 1,000-1,200 new followers per month, there’s been a period where I didn’t gain even 1,000 monthly but somehow I made up for the losses later on. The reason for the big dip in my performance is that early on this year I got hit badly with frozen shoulder and could barely lift my arm, let alone use the computer comfortably for a couple of months on most days. I mention this as to clarify things in case anyone is wondering why in 10 months I only got 10K followers and say, not 12K. Still, assuming you don’t face any problems of the sort, this method can yield even 1,200 in a single month – I know, ‘cos it happened to me on many occasions.
If you’re an author, make sure to check out these posts on my website, Effrosyni Writes.
Need help with promotion? Check out my FREE, cracking good tips and resources: http://effrosyniwrites.com/for-authors/