How to Build an Awesome and Relevant Twitter Following in 6 Minutes a Day

by Joel Friedlander on November 4, 2013 · 32 comments

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If you’re like lots of other authors, you might feel a bit conflicted about Twitter. On one hand, you know that Twitter has become something more than just another social media network. It has started to function as the information network of choice for millions of people around the world.

These days, you even see Twitter feeds on television, and journalists, politicians, and celebrities make use of Twitter’s ability to communicate quite a lot in just 140 characters.

You know it’s a great place to interact with readers and colleagues. And with more and more people joining Twitter every day, you also know it’s a great place to promote your book, your blog and your other activities.

Right now, as Twitter gets ready to “go public” we know that they report over 218 million active monthly users, and that Twitter grew almost 48% in the year between March 2012 and March 2013. This trend shows no signs of slowing down.

On the other hand, Twitter can seem both cryptic and confusing when you first get started.

For one thing, there are lots of people just like you who already seem to have hundreds, thousands or tens of thousands of followers. How will you ever catch up?

The Party’s Just Getting Started

Don’t worry about being late to the Twitter party; this service will be growing for years to come. And if you’ve been holding back from getting into Twitter because you think it will suck up too much of your time, relax.

To make it easier to grow your own community, I’ve got a simple, effective method you can use to build an engaged following of Twitter fans in just a few minutes a day.

Of course, you can “buy” Twitter followers if all you want is a big number after your name, but what’s the point of that? What you want is people who are likely to be interested in what you have to say.

This method is built around knowing both your own readers and the people who have already become successful in your niche, and who are also active on Twitter.

Let’s look at how to get ready to use this method, so we know we’re starting off on the right foot. Before getting started, you should:

  1. Know something about your readers. For this method, you may only need to know what kind of books they like to read, but in general, you can never know too much about the people who make up the market for your books.
  2. Know some writers who represent where you’d like to be when you become successful writing the kind of books you want to write.
  3. Find some of those writers who are active on Twitter. Some of these people will have blogs, some will have e-mail lists, and all of these things may become important to you further down the road.

That’s all the prep you’ll need. Next, let’s see how these elements come together into a simple strategy to explode your own Twitter following in just a few minutes a day.

Following the Leaders, Following the Followers

Okay, here’s the plan. It’s simple, and I’ve broken it down into steps for you.

  1. Search on Twitter for the writers you’ve identified, or find them through a “follow me” link on their site.
  2. Go to their Twitter profile page and click on the “Followers” link.
  3. Set a timer for 6 minutes.
  4. Scroll through the follower list looking for “reader-type” people who are following this specific writer. Ignore:
    • business accounts of any kind
    • accounts with the words “social media” anywhere in the person’s bio
    • accounts with no photo of a person’s face
  5. Click the “follow” button on the other, regular people.
  6. When the timer goes off, quit for the day.

This is what’s going to happen: you’ll find that you can do this quite quickly, and in 6 minutes you’ll be able to follow at least 30 people, and probably more.

Over the next few days, you’ll find that 15 to 20 of the 30 people you followed will follow you back. All of a sudden, every day you’ll notice you have a nice group of new followers.

My clients often build a follower list of 1,500 people within 6 to 8 weeks of starting this practice.

Keep in mind that although we use our follower number to see how this strategy is working, in the end it really isn’t about numbers. What we’re doing is trying to find the people most likely to be interested in our books, regardless of the subject.

Then, we let the human tendency to reciprocate when someone “compliments” us in some way—like following us on Twitter—come into play. It’s just natural to do it, especially if you seem to be part of the same community.

Knowing this, you’ll want to make sure your own Twitter profile is what it should be, considering you now understand what role it plays.

Your profile, including your photo, should clearly indicate the value you contribute, and who is most likely to benefit from it. This allows people to qualify themselves into your community of followers. And that’s why this list will be engaged when you carry through on the promise made by your profile.

Of course, if you keep doing this 6 minutes a day, a year from now you could be one of those people who, today, have so many followers they seem way out of reach. Wouldn’t that be something?

Originally written for and published by CreateSpace as Get More Twitter Followers in 6 Minutes a Day. Photo: bigstockphoto.com

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    { 28 comments }

    Jason Matthews November 4, 2013 at 6:35 am

    Good suggestions, Joel. A lot of people think they need a huge number of followers for some kind of social media respectability or status, but building “relevant” circles of people interested in what you’re about, even if it’s a much smaller number, is a better approach in my opinion.

    Rossandra White November 4, 2013 at 7:43 am

    Thanks for this. What about being active on Twitter, that still eludes me. A writer friend put it this way, “Pretend you are sending newspaper clippings to your friends. Remember, like your father used to do?” And then what, sit and wait for someone to pick up on it?

    S.K. Falls November 4, 2013 at 8:11 am

    Rossandra, I’ve found it’s best if you look at your Twitter stream, pick a comment someone’s made that appeals to you, and then reply back to them. That way you can talk to people without having to actually come up with something new for yourself, which will ease you into Twitter. Then, as you spend more time there, you’ll have a sense of what to write. But first, just concentrate on talking to other people.

    Joel Friedlander November 4, 2013 at 2:19 pm

    That’s a great suggestion for people new to Twitter, S.K., thanks.

    Rossandra White November 4, 2013 at 3:30 pm

    Thanks S.K. Falls! Of course! So simple. I appreciate it.

    Joel Friedlander November 4, 2013 at 2:27 pm

    Rossandra, you might start by turning off the “I just posted a new photo to Facebook” feature. Then find some friends on Twitter and follow S.K. Falls’ suggestion.

    You can also find interesting articles, blog posts, photos, and stories that deal with the kind of books you write and post them to Twitter as a headline with a link.

    Rossandra White November 4, 2013 at 3:52 pm

    Thanks for that, too Joel. Who knew?? Will try to do so.

    S.K. Falls November 4, 2013 at 8:12 am

    Great suggestions. I love Twitter myself. I talk to other writers, book bloggers, readers, and–sometimes–literary agents on there. It’s a fabulous way to connect with others and keep a finger on the pulse of your community.

    Joel Friedlander November 4, 2013 at 2:19 pm

    Me too, S.K. I’ve often joked that I’ve been able to connect and start relationships with people on Twitter who would never take my phone call!

    JP McLean November 4, 2013 at 9:28 am

    I’m in the market for Twitter tips; easy to implement tips are even better. Thanks.

    Joel Friedlander November 4, 2013 at 2:21 pm

    JP, after 4+ years on Twitter, this article is far and away the best tip I have. The other one is to find people who post great content, and who you trust. Put all these people on a Twitter list (so you can see just them) and re-tweet their posts, about 3 or 4 for every post you do about your own work. This will also grow your follower count and enhance your authority and usefulness to others.

    Tracy R. Atkins November 4, 2013 at 10:29 am

    I think a lot of people use Twitter for the broadcast potential, but miss out on the social side of the site to their detriment.

    For getting personal with people, Twitter is often best used like an old-school chat room, like in the early days of the internet. You can get in there and everyone is throwing one-liners out there, trying to get attention. Instead of re-tweeting, once you find a topic you want to talk about, start replying back publicly. If the person sending the original tweet it is online, they will often converse with you, and then others will join in as you go back and forth.

    That is a major way to be “social” on Twitter, as a social media platform. That beats the typical “fire and forget” approach that leave people wondering what Twitter is all about. It isn’t just a one-way conversation, but can be really fun when people start talking. Adding in hashtags is another way to expand the conversation to like-minded people who are actively looking for the topic.

    Joel Friedlander November 4, 2013 at 2:22 pm

    Great suggestion, Tracy. Twitter is uniquely suited to being used in a wide variety of ways, and your strategy can use several of them.

    Having real-time conversations is about the most fun I have with Twitter, and a great way to establish relationships, too.

    wittsendpress November 4, 2013 at 1:50 pm

    Thanks for the tips, Joel!

    Isabel Burt November 4, 2013 at 3:17 pm

    That is the simplest, most effective advice I have yet read, on harnessing Twitter for an author. And I have read many! Thank you, Mr JF.

    Amanda November 4, 2013 at 5:43 pm

    No Twitter contact, Joel?

    Joel Friedlander November 5, 2013 at 10:58 am

    Hi Amanda, it’s at the top left sidebar under “Subscribe & Connect” and a Twitter counter widget in the right sidebar, but here’s a link just for you: @JFBookman

    Carol Fragale Brill November 5, 2013 at 3:20 am

    Joel, another simple to follow post.
    Hum, how do you always know exactly the topic I need today ? :)

    Joel Friedlander November 5, 2013 at 10:59 am

    I like to think it’s from spending so much time understanding the needs of my readers, but it could just be luck. Glad to help.

    Kit Daven November 5, 2013 at 10:06 am

    Excellent tips. Thank you. I’ve just begun marketing my debut novel, and your tips on Twitter will help me break out beyond the friends and family circle. You always have great articles and this advice in particular came at the perfect time.

    Kit

    Joel Friedlander November 5, 2013 at 10:59 am

    Kit, good luck with your book!

    Carol Fragale Brill November 6, 2013 at 5:31 am

    Hi again Joel, I finally had time today to try your formula. Can you clarify:
    “4.Scroll through the follower list looking for “reader-type” people who are following this specific writer.”

    I know you list what to ignore, so basically are you saying just look for people who only have their name listed? Are they the “regular people?”

    Joel Friedlander November 6, 2013 at 10:26 am

    Carol, check out this screenshot from a “followers” list.

    The first one is obviously a business account, the second is an actual real live person. That’s what I had in mind. Hope that helps.

    Carol Fragale Brill November 6, 2013 at 12:22 pm

    Very helpful, thanks carol

    Marla Bradeen November 6, 2013 at 11:24 am

    I’m curious whether anyone else has experienced issues when implementing the steps above. I had a couple hours free yesterday, so I identified interesting individuals already following successful authors with styles similar to my own and followed them. I ended up following about 300 people.

    Later that day, Twitter suspended my account. As best I can tell from the reason explained is a large enough number of users identified me as a spammer, although there was also a term listed that users can be banned for “aggressive following,” which I obviously could also be considered guilty of. I was able to get my account reinstated once I agreed to curtail my behavior, but now I’m hesitant to follow anyone new unless the request is solicited.

    There are a couple things I think I could have done differently. Perhaps I was a bit overzealous in my attempt to build my Twitter network and the key is to ONLY spend six minutes per day on this activity. The second thing I’m reconsidering is maybe I should have immediately retracted my request to follow people who prefer to approve all new follow requests rather than automatically allowing anyone to follow them. I’m assuming these individuals were the ones most likely to be perturbed by an unsolicited follow and therefore the most likely to flag such requests as spam.

    As someone relatively new to Twitter (and social networking in general), I haven’t yet determined what is and isn’t appreciated by users. Hopefully I can figure out what’s appropriate before I’m permanently banned!

    Marialena November 8, 2013 at 12:29 am

    As a twitter newbie, this article was very interesting. The comments also had a wealth of great suggestions. Thanks to Joel and all the commenters!

    I love how twitter opens the door to all sorts of articles and links, and I enjoy sharing links of things I find interesting. I also get a kick out of the wit and interestingness of so many of the people I follow. Being rather shy, my main stumbling block is engaging directly with those I don’t know. Guess I have to just dive in…

    Neva November 8, 2013 at 12:16 pm

    Thanks so much for the well-organized tips. I’ll setup a twitter account soon and your blog gave me some valued ideas.

    Kristen Pham November 11, 2013 at 10:51 am

    Great post! As a twitter newbie I’ve been struggling with this. I’m going to give your tactic a try and see how it goes.

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