How I got 10,000 followers on Twitter

First of all you’ve got to fill in the photo fields and create a short biography of yourself.

Seth J. Frantzman's Twitter page.  (photo credit: TWITTER)
Seth J. Frantzman's Twitter page.
(photo credit: TWITTER)
For years I didn’t understand Twitter. How and why would you ever want to waste time trying to communicate in 140 characters or less? What would you post about? “Today I ate pizza, it was amaaaazing!” Here’s a photo of a tree. “Oh my, I just saw someone slip and fall, check out the video.”
But for a journalist, Twitter is one of the most effective ways today to convey information to a broad audience. First of all that is because it is in real time. During the Arab Spring and other major events, Twitter has served as a source of information. It has also become a way for politicians to communicate, including infamously the US president. Twitter spats between famous people are relatively common. In a recent dispute between Israel and Turkey, insults were exchanged between governments. So Twitter is far more than just photos of cats and pizza. It’s the way to communicate today, whether it’s the Kardashians, Trump or whoever.
But how do you get followers on Twitter, and how can you effectively use it? When I first started I had just a dozen followers, having opened an account and never used it. I wanted to share my journalism work and tweet breaking news that people could use. I felt it would both bring attention to my work and make a mark on others who are interested in things I am, such as the Middle East. I’ve covered war zones in the region, but a tweet sitting with Kurdish fighters a hundred meters from ISIS doesn’t bring more followers than a pithy reply to some infamous person. So what’s the secret?
First of all you’ve got to fill in the photo fields and create a short biography of yourself. Some people just put a quote, others make a bio that looks more like a Jdate profile: “Playful, fun, into surfing.” For media professionals, people usually put publications they have published in, or even an email to contact them, or links to other social media.
Using social media these days to build a brand or followers, even if the brand is primarily yourself, is all about synergy between platforms. You might have a blog, a professional Facebook “fan” page, an Instagram account and Twitter. All of these should work in unison. If you have a great new photo on Instagram, share it on Twitter and Facebook. Sometimes these platforms let you choose to have all your Tweets posted to Facebook. Don’t do that. Each platform really works best on its own merit. Your 140-character tweet isn’t appropriate for Facebook all the time, nor for Instagram. Just take the time to make each statement interesting.
Twitter has changed its rules so that links and photos don’t count as characters the way they used to; that encourages you to use both. So you should often use photos, because it makes tweets stand out. Video is also great. Links or tags of other people will bring interest as well. However, what I’ve found is that sometimes the tweets that get the most shares are not an interesting photo, but just a pithy reply to something or a funny observation. There is a whole cult of people who have built massive followings just being the first people to reply to Trump’s tweets, so that everyone else viewing those tweets sees their replies. There are algorithims involved as well, such that just being the first to reply may not mean your tweet is first in line. Creating a “reply” thread or a long argument with someone else can keep your tweet at the top. Also I’ve read somewhere that having too many tags in your Tweet makes it less relevant. Whether or not that is true is not clear, but you should attempt to tag tweets on trending topics or related to the topic you are tweeting about. Do some research to see which tag is more popular. If you’re doing something related to food, is it #food or #foodies or #foodporn that people are into? Which will get you more followers?
If you are building a brand, even if that brand is you, it’s important to follow all the people in your field and interact with them. You can see if people reply to tweets often by going through their tweets and replies on their profile. For instance, just randomly I checked, @DaveRamsey who is an author and has 800,000 followers, recently replied to someone that tweeted him. “Team will be in touch,” he wrote back on July 27.
The key to getting followers is first of all to follow people, to tweet at them and engage the community. Get in arguments but also give praise. Arguments will bring you followers because people who agree with you will follow you, especially if you have pithy one-liners that you use to show up an opponent. There is nothing to be lost by following large numbers of people, but don’t waste time just following people who have a million followers.
You need to follow people like yourself. So if you have 100 followers, follow other people like that. When you have 1,000, then go for the fish in that category. Once you have a stable of followers, you should find that they will re-tweet and “like” your statuses. However “likes” really don’t matter, what you need is re-tweets, and you need re-tweets from people with large followings so that their audience is exposed to you.
I approached getting Twitter followers like one approaches learning a new sport. I set goals, getting 100, getting 1,000, getting 10,000, and waged a campaign every day to get to those goals. One has to strike a balance between tweeting too much and too little. Just tweeting all the time is a waste. You have to make tweets effective, and combine replies to others with tweets about yourself. You should also stagger tweets so you hit different audiences. The kind of people on Twitter at 9 a.m. are different than 5 p.m., and the world has time zones. So you can tweet your same blog post four times a day and don’t feel you’re “overselling.”
There are plenty of people on Twitter with thousands of followers whose only bio is “loving father and baseball fan.” Anyone can be successful, but it’s about getting up every day and devoting time to it, getting a bit addicted, but also being effective. If you find you’ve done 1,000 tweets, got no re-tweets, and no followers and no replies, you’re doing something wrong. On the other hand, if you have a tweet that goes viral with 10,000 re-tweets you’ll also find it doesn’t bring that many followers. There’s a happy medium. And in that medium, among the people with 1,000 to 5,000 followers is where you should aim to interact with and reel them in to whatever you are doing.