How to get more followers on Twitter

When I first joined Twitter I felt really lost. It looked like I’d been invited to a really great party, except that it was great for everyone else but me. Everyone looked cool, they were talking about the same things, laughing at the same jokes, and I was the new fat kid in the school that was chilling, no, not chilling, but nervously hugging the corner and sipping juice.

And so I decided to leave the party early and went back to what I was familiar with, Facebook. I often refer to Time magazine’s opening line in their cover story about Twitter: “The one thing you can say for certain about Twitter is that it makes a terrible first impression.”

The old truism that first impressions last didn’t last with me. I left Twitter only to return with greater determination to understand it. I only started tweeting seriously in April 2009, and since then, I have learned a thing or two about how one can get more followers.

1. Share.
As the ANC’s Freedom Charter once said: “The People Shall Share”. In this case, the people shall share the information of the world. The more interesting information you share with others the more retweets you’ll get. But then again, what is interesting to you may not be interesting to the next person. You might like tweeting about midgets doing unmentionable things. Not everyone’s cup of tea, but I’m sure you’d get a niche and loyal following.

2. Be famous.
If you’re famous it’s easy to get followers. When people first join Twitter, the first thing they do is to look for and follow celebrities. However, as soon as they become more familiar with Twitter they may unfollow you if you’re a boring famous person. On Twitter, people fall in love with your mind, not your fame.

3. Be retweetable.
If you are retweetable this means your followers will expose you to their followers, and who knows, their followers might find you interesting enough to follow. In all that though, be yourself.

4. 120 characters is the new 140.
If you only tweet 120 characters, chances of you being retweeted increase dramatically. If retweeted, at least people are engaging you in conversation – if that’s what you want.

5. Be inspiring.
People are not always up, so when you give them a boost with inspirational messages they might pass that on to their followers.

6. Be pretty.
If you’re good-looking and you don’t really say much of anything of substance, you’ll be followed. It works for a lot of people who don’t give any information, aren’t interesting, funny nor witty. I should know, I only rely on my looks on Twitter. Kidding. Smiley face. Laugh out loud.

7. Be controversial.
If you have nothing to say, you can be controversial for no reason. Some get a lot of followers by simply bad-mouthing other people on Twitter and picking fights. I don’t encourage this form of tweeting tough. It’s easy and is a no-brainer. Even then, your followers quickly get bored of this and decide that they want substance.

8. Be informative.
People like learning. They like being informed. But it’s not just about being informing, sometimes how you inform people is what counts. I’ll give an example. When Bafana Bafana fired their previous coach and replaced with him with their previous coach, the following tweet went up soon after, “BREAKING NEWS: South Africa fires coach, replaces him with predecessor. Mbeki set for return.”

9. Be funny.10. Don’t tweet just to be followed.
Be yourself. It should be because you really want to engage with people. The only people who don’t have to engage are celebrities because people will follow them anyway. However, when celebrities engage they get more respect and are followed more than they would. John Mayer has mastered this well. A fan wrote to him and asked: “Do you gotta be celebrity to get a reply from you?”. The response? “Yes. And now that I’ve replied, you have to become a celeb.” This made him even more charming and likeable.

11. Oh what the hell, here’s an eleventh point.
Advertise your Twitter address wherever you can: On blog posts, on your email signature, on your business card… wherever you can. So I’m following this principle: Follow me at @khayadlanga, but I won’t lead you anywhere.

Or you can just do whatever works for you. These are not the commandments. The only thing I’m an expert at, is not being an expert at anything.



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