Twitter 101 Series: 10 Basic Steps to Increasing Your Twitter Following

Brands on Twitter have one thing in common (besides their love of microblogging): they want to increase their following! The bigger your Twitter following, the more your voice is heard. And the more your voice is heard, the stronger your brand becomes. Twitter is a integral part of social media marketing.

Graphic of Twitter birds on branches; the bird at the top asks the birds "Want to follow me?"
What’s the single best thing you can do to increase your Twitter following? Offer unique, engaging Tweets that people will be excited to read!

This series is geared towards those businesses just getting in the Twitter game. We know you want to see your number of followers climb, and we want to help you! So much, in fact, that I’m willing to do it with you. I deleted my old Twitter account and “started fresh.” My new Twitter account, @KristiKellogg, is just nine days old. Over the course of this series, I’ll share tips to increasing your followers and best Twitter practices, and I, right along with you, will implement these strategies:

1. Have a clear profile picture, bold header, eye-catching background and interesting bio. These are the first things a potential follower will see when they open a Twitter account and decide whether or not to follow you. This is your big chance to engage them! The “Me” page should make it clear who you are. If you’re an individual, your profile picture should provide a picture of you, ideally a well-lit, welcoming head shot. If you are a business, brand, or organization, your company logo is a perfect choice for your profile pic.

The header is that image that is behind your profile picture. Choose something that complements your profile picture and doesn’t make the text in your bio unreadable. I chose to use a solid color as my header so the bio text appears crisp and clean.

You can also customize the background. Within Twitter>Settings>Design, you can select a pre-made theme or upload a photo that changes the background of your Twitter profile; here, you can also modify link color and overlays. Visit ColourLovers Themeleon to choose from 3,966 customizable backgrounds. The possibilities are endless!

Now for your bio. Use those 160 characters to explain why this Twitter account exists. The bio is an opportunity to alert potential followers to what you do, why you do it and the types of conversations you’ll be engaging in. Include important keywords in your bio. This will give your Twitter account ranking potential and keyword relevance.

Use your bio to make a unique value proposition, a promise that you will deliver, a reason for users to follow you.

There are so many different ways to promote your brand or business on Twitter!

2. Have unique, engaging content. Speak to your targeted audience. If you own a cupcake shop, your targeted audience is probably those who are hungry for dessert. You can tweet about daily specials, new additions to the menu or suggestions of the ideal cupcakes  to serve at a party. You can incorporate media: sprinkle your Twitter with pictures of happy customers eating delicious cupcakes or a video of the chef icing cupcakes. You can use Twitter to offer special discounts, i.e. “ReTweet for 50 percent off your next cupcake!”

My targeted audience is the SEO and SMM communities. What do I tweet about? I post links to Bruce Clay blog posts, alert followers to Bruce Clay newsletter articles and tweet industry-related news.

In the case of both the cupcake shop owner and the SEO writer, it is important to also  have some content that is simply fun. Tweeting a silly video or thought-provoking quote shows the personality behind the Twitter account. Anything you tweet that can make someone smile is always advisable.

3. Retweet. Retweeting can be another source of engaging content. Great content is great content, be it a funny video, controversial news article or breathtaking photo. You don’t always have to be the originator; retweeting content that is relevant, useful and interesting to your followers and potential followers is always a good idea! Have friends who want to increase their followings? Why not retweet this helpful article? ;)

4. We just established that unique, engaging content can spread like wildfire—but Twitter users want to easily find the content they’re after. Twitter is, by its nature, a public platform. Assuming you are using your Twitter to promote your business, organization or brand, it is in your best interest to set your tweets to be available publicly (just don’t check  “protect my tweets.” Also, make sure to check  “let others find me by my email address.” That way, your Twitter account is easily found in user searches.

It’s also a good idea to link to your Twitter account — everywhere you can. Include a “follow me on Twitter!” reference in your email signature. Place a “follow me” button prominently and proudly on the homepage of your website. Cross promote your Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn accounts. You can also enable your Twitter settings to allow your Twitter stream to populate on your Facebook feed, allowing your content to reach more people and signal them to follow you if they are not already doing so.

Add your Twitter handle to your business card and display it on your storefront. Paste it on flyers, newsletters, brochures or anything else your company might hand out. Get creative! Anything that leads to a follower is great, and each follower marks another another potential client!

5. Post relevant content throughout the day. Tweeting at intervals is better than a Twitter blast. You want to make sure you reach everyone. It’s great to make a practice of tweeting first thing in the morning, but if that’s the only time you tweet, you’re going miss out on Twittizens who are sleeping in. The best practice is to tweet throughout the day, because let’s face it, different people are on Twitter at different times. You can even schedule the time a tweet goes live with TweetDeck.

6. Exercise good Twittiquette by always replying to questions or comments people leave. Also, if someone retweets you, the polite thing to do is thank them! To make sure you don’t miss a retweet or comment, use TweetDeck to monitor Twitter activity as it relates to your account.

7. Use hashtags! Hashtags call attention to what your tweets relate to; hashtags are the method by which Twitter parses conversation topics. Back to the cupcakes: if the shop owner tweets “Hey guys, from 2-4 p.m. today, chocolate cupcakes are buy one, get one half off! #yummy #cupcakes”; now, anyone searching for #yummy or #cupcakes will see your tweet. Adding a photo of the chocolate treat to the tweet would be like a cherry on top .

matt cutts
What works for Matt Cutts’ Twitter audience doesn’t necessarily work for someone else’s. Tweak your tweets to see what works for you.

8. Experiment. Each person’s audience is different. The cupcake shop owner’s following will be markedly different than Matt Cutts. And Matt Cutts’ audience will not be the same as Rafa Nadal’s. And Rafa Nadal’s audience will be far removed from, say, your cousin’s. So while Matt can post ad infinitum about Google, that’s not going to fit Nadal’s audience, who are more interested in tennis news. As you tweet, be extremely cognizant of what attracted more followers and what tweets produced no effect. Be your own analyst.

9. Read and learn from others. Did you know Bruce spends 2-3 hours a day reading in an effort to keep up with industry news? SEO and SMM strategies are constantly evolving and it’s a best practice to stay ahead of the curve. Read what’s relevant to your individual industry, always. If you own that cupcakery we’ve been using as an example, it would behoove you to watch what other bakeries are doing on Twitter; take cues from your peers as to what works and what doesn’t, tweaking your tweets as you go.

10. Subscribe to the monthly Bruce Clay newsletter and check out the Bruce Clay blog. We work hard to keep our followers in-the-know. The value of education is immeasurable and we have many blog posts devoted solely to Twitter and social media marketing strategies. Follow @BruceClayInc, @KristiKellogg and @VirginiaNussey. We always have the 411 on all things involving SEO and SMM!

The post you’re reading right now is part one of a Twitter 101 series and you won’t want to miss out on our next post. Next week, we’ll delve deeper into how to increase followers on Twitter, with more tips and strategies. After that, we’ll take a look at all the Twitter applications out there and how you can best utilize them to grow your Twitter following. And I’ll be tweeting one-off tips between blog posts, as well.

Have a tip for how to increase followers on Twitter? We want to hear it! Share it in the comments.


Kristi Kellogg is a journalist, news hound, professional copywriter, and social (media) butterfly. Currently, she is a senior SEO content writer for Conde Nast. Her articles appear in newspapers, magazines, across the Internet and in books such as "Content Marketing Strategies for Professionals" and "The Media Relations Guidebook." Formerly, she was the social media editor at Bruce Clay Inc.

See Kristi's author page for links to connect on social media.

Comments (6)
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6 Replies to “Twitter 101 Series: 10 Basic Steps to Increasing Your Twitter Following”

Great article, thanks.

As mentioned, I find re-tweeting other people’s interesting tweets is a great way to add new followers. That and some humour, everyone appreciates humour. I’ve found by injecting a little humour and not taking myself too seriously at times, people re-tweet me and this often gets picked up by their followers.

Just like Sandra I too don’t find much benefits off Twitter – for me Facebook works great. But then, its up to every individual business.

As a primary tip for getting Twitter followers, I second having a profile picture. I wonder how so many bloggers can complain about having a poor following when they don’t even care to have a profile picture!

I can’t honestly say that I am totally convinced about the benefits of Twitter.

You say this Kristi:

“The bigger your following, the more your voice is heard. And the more your voice is heard, the stronger your brand becomes.”


This strikes me a bit like saying:

“The more you talk in a pub to a random group of strangers, the more you will change the world”.

Who knows, you might.

But then again Twitter seems to mostly be used as a vehicle to convict sports stars for saying dumb stuff after a game.

Useful for titillation. But much else?

Brand building… Not convinced.

Using hash tags can help contextualize tweets, as well as make them more visible to Twitter users. Retweeting others can give them the incentive to share your tweets as well.

It is the point of Twitter to get as many followers as possible? I honestly don’t know, I’m new to it. I thought I’d be using it to stay up to date on authors I enjoy and news and all that jazz.

Hi Splashsys,

Twitter is a great resource for staying up-to-date with people, brands and organizations you’re interested in, absolutely.

Twitter can also serve as a powerful tool to create brand awareness. Increasing your followers naturally increases the amount of Twitter users who will hear your unique voice. It’s not a race to see who can get the most followers, but a natural consequence of high-quality Tweets will be an increase in followers. A steady increase in followers is a sign of a healthy Twitter account.



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