Tips for Building a Quality Twitter Following

I breached the 10,000-follower mark on Twitter yesterday. I marked this milestone quietly because I’m not big on numbers games and have been outspoken against counting success solely in terms of fans and followers.

Nevertheless, I have to admit to taking some pride in this number because of the way I reached it. I have never played games to run up my follower count and I only tweet about stuff that interests me. The people who follow me have no incentive to do so other than to discover and learn from information I share. When I post a question to my followers, I nearly always get five to 10 quality responses. When I publish something, others help me promote it. That’s the reward of a quality following.

The Road to 10K

Read more about how to build a quality Twitter following in 10 Tips to Enhance a Twitter Business Brand on The CMO Site.

My philosophy of building a Twitter following has always been to provide interesting content about the Internet, digital media and publishing, with occasional excursions into my beloved Red Sox and New England Patriots. My goal is to find people who share my interests, not to run up my numbers.

I only follow people who interest me or who have reached out to me via a personal tweet. I spend about 10 minutes a day checking my Twitter stream for spammers, product pitchers and others who don’t interest me, and unfollow them. I attempt to respond to every tweet directed at me personally. When several people reference something I’ve said or retweet me, I try to acknowledge them through a #FollowFriday tweet. I’m not always successful, but I try.

I never tweet about politics and rarely about personal minutiae like what I had for lunch. I am almost always positive. When I visit a new city, I try to tweet something nice about it. The only exception to the courtesy rule is when I’ve been treated poorly by a business or institution. I never criticize individuals by name, and when I disagree with someone, it is always in a respectful manner. I never forget that everything one says on Twitter is public.

I make it easy to post tweets to interesting information I find. I use Dlvr.it to automatically post links to new entries on my blogs. My favorite bookmarking service is Diigo, and I have Dlvr.it set up to monitor my Diigo stream and automatically tweet anything tagged “share.” I use a simple bit.ly link in my browser bar to quickly tweet stuff that I don’t necessarily want to keep for posterity.

Space permitting, I try to add a comment to any headline I tweet on the theory that my own perspective should add some value. I occasionally go to my Twitter stream and retweet messages from people I respect, just to show them that I’m paying attention.
When I retweet, I try to insert a personal comment or thank-you, space permitting.

That’s about it. The secret to Twitter is to be a good citizen, show respect, and share what interests you. It’s worked for me so far.

7 thoughts on “Tips for Building a Quality Twitter Following

  1. Out of interest, Paul, how long did it take you to get to 10K and was there a “take-off” or “flash-over” point in the growth curve, or has it literally grown Y-to-Y or Q-to-Q at the same rate?

  2. Almost five years, and growth has been steady, typically 20 to 80 new followers per week. The largest growth usually follows a webcast or speaking appearance. I believe Twitter users subscribe to people, not posts. You want to make yourself look interesting enough to follow.

  3. Paul – thank you for such a sincere, helpful and beautiful post. It’s nice to see someone with clout (with a c!) not participate in A-lister shenanigans like unfollowing everyone because it is the new thing to do. (However – I do wonder how much having the cutest twin girls in the world has helped you to grow your following. 🙂 Here’s to the next 10,000 (even though I know it’s not a goal!!) Annie

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  5. Hey Paul, Thanks for the primer on Tweeting. I am still trying to figure it all out. The ethical/moral side is important, but I imagine that may not have occurred
    to me for another 5 years!!

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