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How I Grew My Twitter Following By 1500% in 7 Months

John Doherty —  July 30, 2011
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If you buy that Google is using social signals such as Twitter to calculate rankings (I do, and I wrote about it here on SEOmoz), then you probably also believe that Google takes the relevancy and activity of your followers into account when deciding if you are a reputable source of information for the content that you are tweeting and that your followers are retweeting.

I’ve become active on Twitter in the last 6 months, and doing so has led to me landing a dream job with Distilled in New York City (not directly, of course. Remember the whole correlation/causation thing). I think almost anyone can do it, so here are my tips for building a strong, targeted, engaged following on Twitter.

My Follower Growth Over Time

I was curious about my Twitter follower growth over time, so I found a tool called Twitter Grader by the folks at Hubspot that did just that. Here’s how I have grown my follower count from 48 on December 22 to 759 on July 28th. Check it out:

And now apparently Klout considers me a Pundit. Besides making me laugh, I find it CRAZY that Klout (which I don’t put any stock in, but it’s still interesting) puts me beside Avinash, who is WAY smarter than I am:

How I Grew This Following

Here’s a little secret: there is no way to effectively game Twitter and grow your follower count so that you are influential. Growing a follower count takes hard work and a lot of time and engagement.

Here are the things that I have done in order to grow my follower base:

1) Find interesting content online and share it. Become a curator. Be sure to mention who wrote it and then engage with them when and if they respond. If you retweet someone, then they are much more likely to retweet you.

2) Find influential people that you enjoy as a person and talk with them! I hate it when I hear people thinking “Oh, well so-and-so is influential, so I’m going to engage with them so that I can get known.” That’s ridiculous. If you think someone is sharing cool and interesting stuff, engage with them. People get popular because they are interesting. Be a real and interesting person, not creepy, and you can easily make friends with influential people.

3) Go to conferences. Look at the above graph! Every time I go to a conference and live-tweet from it, I get a ton of targeted and engaged followers. That’s by no means why I do it (I love it and I love people), but by spinning the above chart today, I realize just how effective this is. Become known for doing something and you will receive followers in return.

 

A disclaimer: let me clarify what I am really saying. I think to be a good SEO, and a good person, you should not care about popularity. Fortunately, I think often people the people who do not want to become popular are the ones who ultimately win in the long run. I did not set out to grow my follower base. I started tweeting because I wanted to share cool things I saw and I wanted to make friends. Never ever ever set out to use people to grow yourself. That is a bad way to be. I know a lot of influential people in SEO, and I never set out to do that. I am lucky to consider Rand, Tom Critchlow, Will Critchlow, Justin Briggs, Wil Reynolds, Dr Pete, and many others friends, and I would never use them to bring myself up in the industry. Be a real and cool person, and you’ll go much further. I promise.

 

John Doherty

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I'm the new (as of October 2013) Online Marketing Manager of Hotpads.com, soon to be based in San Francisco. Previous to Hotpads I worked at Distilled for 2 years as an online marketing consultant. In my spare time I shoot lifestyle photography, explore new and interesting food in New York, ski, rock climb, and update my Twitter and Google+ accounts.

5 responses to How I Grew My Twitter Following By 1500% in 7 Months

  1. Hey John, that’s a great little article. I actually followed most of your tweets during mozcon, I can’t tell you how grateful I was that you did that!

    Your graph is so true. I’ve only stuck my head out into the world of SEO for a few months (been doing it as a side gig much longer) and every time I’m a little down about having virtually no real followers, it’s like, DUH! I haven’t been to a single conference yet, or even met any other SEOs (that’s going to change very soon – maybe distilled NY this fall…?) Not to mention, none of my real-life friends care much about twitter like us tech nerds :-)

    Anyhow, thank for the reminder, it does take time, and I think number of followers online, really must be a representation of your networking offline, for sure.

    • Hey Dan –
      Thanks for the comment! You know, I never set out to have a bunch of Twitter followers. It’s weird to me that it has grown so fast. I think my graph just shows the power of offline networking, like you said. Be a real person, a real nice person, and engage with others. Provide value.

      I hope to see you at the conference in October in New York!

  2. Loving the genuine approach to all of these social media tools. Great blog John!

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