TL; DR: you can increase twitter followers by programming your tweets to go out once an hour with the paid versions of Hootsuite or similar, and using a 3/2/1 or 10/4/1 (3rd party/own/landing page) and a follow-for-follow formula.
Having done so, I’ve increased my Twitter following 1511% in a year (from 167 to 2691) i.e. around 160 a month.
This has been mostly in the form of a simple link firing and has included very little user interaction.
The figure most likely would be much higher if I deployed more social listening and user engagement.
The method that I use to increase Twitter followers
- I go to Hootsuite every other week and
- program 350 tweets to go out every hour of every day with the Hootsuite Bulk Composer. It is available in the Pro plan, which costs me 199 EUR a year.
- The formula I follow with the tweet content division is roughly 70% 3rd party content, 20% own content and 10% own landing page URLs.
- I also recycle the tweets so that the most popular are retweeted up to ten times while the least popular are deleted after a couple of rounds. I check the popularity with Twitter Analytics.
- I open Twitter on my mobile every morning
- And check the past 24 hour activity of people in my Inbound Marketing list.
- I like and retweet those tweets that meet my quality criteria (new original research included AND is actionable for SEO OR inbound marketing OR growth hacking purposes)
- If the follower is of a special interest, I add him/her to one of my lists (Business, Tech, Marketing, Artificial Intelligence, Remote work, Leads, Inbound) and also subscribe to his blog with Feedly.
- I follow almost everyone that follows me. The ones that I do not follow are mostly spam accounts.
- Every day I skim around 50-100 headlines of blog posts in Feedly and save the most interesting for later reading. If an article meets my quality criteria, I send it to Buffer to be tweeted through my Twitter account.
- Every two weeks, when the time comes to reprogram another set of 350 tweets, I include twenty the most popular tweets indicated by Buffer Analytics, and delete a similar amount of least popular. This completes the cycle.
Have I gained new business with the above? No.
More traffic to my website? Some new sessions per month, yes.
But: the experiment is still running.
And, according to the below graphs by The Economist, if I don’t ramp up my game, it needs to run several more years before I start seeing real action.
So the conclusion is that I need to increase Twitter followers by taking my Twitter game to the next level (by interacting with people more in Twitter) or by switching to YouTube, where more business can be done with the same follower amount.
But, as as this is still an experiment, I let it run until it stops producing the same amount of new followers and then change the tactics.
How you can increase Twitter followers in YOUR account?
Here’s a breakdown of my method with links to the most actionable articles out there, which you may want to test yourself.
Get Feedly (it’s free) and subscribe to people and blogs you want to follow.
Don’t know yet who to follow? Start following me in Twitter, check out the 3rd party content and subscribe to what you find interesting.
Before Feedly I used Pocket, which was similar, but the problem was that it started eating a lot of space. When it hit 1Gb and thus prevented other app updates, I went to Feedly. No similar problems since.
Get Hootsuite Pro (maybe not right away, but at least when you have a couple of hundred tweets to publish) and connect your Twitter account with it.
Always set a publishing schedule in both Hootsuite and Buffer. Why? Because you can later run A/B tests to identify the exact times that your followers are more prone to engage with your content. If you begin to see, for example that early weekday mornings get the best engagement and weekend afternoons not, you may want to increase the publishing density on weekdays and make it more loose on the weekends. But don’t take my word for this and test it yourself. Each audience is unique.
Why two tools? Because with Buffer I keep track of what content was recently published as "fresh". Also, I use the Buffer Analytics as "a second opinion" to compare the tweet performance with those found in Twitter Analytics.
You also need a spreadsheet application for manipulating the 350 tweets. I use Google Sheets in my Google Drive.
Skim all new articles in Feedly and mark the most interesting with the “Read later” label.
Open Twitter and like & retweet content that meets your quality criteria.
Follow interesting people, add the best in relevant Twitter lists and check out their website. Add their blog to your Feedly to see if he publishes quality content. Delete the feed later, if not.
Reply to direct messages and tweets, where you have been mentioned.
Block time in your calendar to read the saved articles in Feedly.
Send to Buffer the ones that meet your quality criteria.
Every two weeks
Create / update the Hootsuite Bulk Composer spreadsheet. Instructions are here.
When you create the sheet the first time, you need to do a lot of copy-pasting unless you want to write each tweet by hand.
You can copy tweets from your Twitter account, OR you can create an IFTTT rule that saves all your tweets in Google Drive, from where the copying is easier.
The formula that I follow with the tweet content division is roughly 70% 3rd party content, 20% own content and 10% own landing page URLs.
Now, the good thing about Twitter is that you really do not need to shy away from tweeting the same tweet multiple times. I’ve tweeted some third party content every now and then for a year now and they still gain likes and retweets.
The thing with Hootsuite Bulk Composer, on the other hand, is that you need to make a difference of at least one character in the individual tweets. You can do it in the spreasheet (preferred). But if you don’t (or forget or accidentally paste the same tweet twice), Hootsuite will prompt you to correct either one of the tweets before final scheduling.
I usually make one or more of the words a hashtag. Like this:
First tweet: “How To Build A Facebook Chatbot That Generates Leads On Autopilot – The Complete Guide”
Second tweet: “How To Build A #Facebook #Chatbot That Generates #Leads On Autopilot – The Complete #Guide”
The reason I turn selected words into hashtags is that I also use my Twitter account as a knowledge base.
Whenever a customer of mine wants more information about a specific tool, method or topic, I just use the Twitter Advanced Search to look for tweets that are sent from my account and include a related hashtag.
That’s how I created this blog post, too. I waited for a time when I had tweeted enough about Twitter best practices so that I could include enough external links. And those links I found with the above advanced Twitter search.
Here’s how my Bulk Composer sheet looks like. The columns are
A: The day and time the tweet will be published
B: The tweet text
C: Link to the article
D: A Google Sheet “=LEN(B2)” formula that shows how many characters the tweet in the B column includes. I aim for around 100 characters so that there is space left in case someone wants to retweet the tweet and add his/her text to it.
E: Rounds. This is a figure by which I keep track of how many rounds the tweet has made in circulation.
F: Order. This is a Google Sheet “=rand()” formula with which I randomize the order of the tweets before I add the day and time in column A.
Get Twitter followers for free with these best practice articles
Here are ten of the best articles I’ve found from the past 12 months to increase Twitter followers.
Have an article that you think should be included? Let me know!
8 tactics for increasing your Twitter reach, by Social Media Today.
10 Twitter tactics to crush your competition, by SocialQuant.
How to increase your website traffic with Twitter, by MOZ.
How to use hashtags, by SocialQuant.
How to use behavioral science to grow the number of followers, by HubSpot.
11 ways to grow Twitter followers, by Moss Clement.
How to build personal brand with Twitter, by HubSpot.
How to use Twitter to reach a huge audience, by SocialQuant.
How Contentools increased their Twitter traffic by 165%.
12 tweet templates by HubSpot to get started.
How to get followers on Twitter for free (almost)
So there you go. This is my method to increase Twitter followers by which my Twitter following is still increasing about 160 a month.
If I was more active on the platform, I’m sure I could gain a lot more followers. But this is the method with which I can stay in the game without having to reduce the time from important customer projects.
Any questions? Let me know in the comments below!