If you love Twitter but don’t generate as much buzz as you want, you may be wondering how you can increase your following. You’ll find a wealth of advice online about the best ways to attract and keep followers.
In fact, there’s so much material out there that you may be confused about where to start, or how to decide which tips will give you the most success.
There is some trial and error involved — however, one of the best ways to gain followers is to apply principles of psychology to your Twitter strategy.
Social psychology largely explains why Twitter has become so popular, as well as how it’s possible for certain users to have millions of followers. Numerous studies have found people are likely to do something simply because other people are doing it.
In the 1960s, for example, two social psychologists conducted an experiment in New York City in which one man stood on the sidewalk and looked at an arbitrary spot in the sky. Later, five more men joined him to look at the same spot. While only 4 percent of passers-by stopped to look at the sky when one person was, 18 percent stopped and looked when the larger group did.
While social psychology can be deadly when used by dictators and sadists, it is a powerful tool with which to influence others.
In relation to Twitter, this means if you’re able to gain a number of followers in a short period of time, others will see it as an endorsement and will be more likely to follow you in the future. Here are some long-lasting tips to get the ball rolling.
1. Go on Tweeting Sprees
This probably isn’t a surprise to most of us, but those who tweet more often typically have more followers. In a recent University of Michigan study, researchers found that users with the highest rate of tweets per hour usually had the most followers. This can be explained by very basic psychology — the more often something occurs, the more likely we’ll be to notice it.
However, this doesn’t necessarily mean you should post constantly and clog up your followers’ feeds. Rather, think of your Twitter like your metabolism. If you eat the same foods every day your metabolism will slow down, but if you vary your caloric intake you’ll keep it active.
For example, if you’re a comic book fanatic and Comic Con is coming to town, tweeting more often during the event will help you build your following.
2. Stay Positive
Nobody likes to hear bad news — that’s why the University of Michigan study also found Twitter users were much more likely to share and re-tweet positive rather than negative content.
While it’s true that we don’t all live in a world of sunshine and butterflies, giving most of your tweets a positive spin will likely pay off. One of my favorite people to follow on Twitter is @AnnTran_ because all of her tweets are positive in some form of inspiration or recognition.
Using social media is a choice, and most people log on to Twitter for their own personal amusement. Unless you’re a glutton for punishment, you probably don’t like to be sad or angry during your down time.
3. Interact with the Community
Twitter isn’t just about sharing information — it’s also about interacting with others. If you want to attract followers, it’s important for you to engage in a dialogue while you’re using the platform.
Those who frequently re-tweet others’ tweets, tweet at other users and give their opinions are more likely to have a high number of followers.
Also, I wrote an article a few months ago where I mentioned one of Ann Tran’s quotes and sent her a direct message through Twitter to let her know about it. She responded quickly and was thrilled about the mention! As a bonus, she’s tweeted about the article at least 4-5 times by now and each tweet received around 20-30 re-tweets and favorites.
Keep in mind that people don’t just use Twitter to get straight facts — they also want to know people’s opinions about events and news. We are social creatures and like to communicate with others — that’s why social media was created in the first place. Give your own take on what’s happening and people will be more likely to read your tweets.
4. Focus Your Tweets
Whether you tweet about a hobby, your job industry or local news, you’re more likely to gain followers if you tweet about a specific topic.
If you tweet about everything under the sun or tend to give too much information in a single tweet, your following probably won’t extend beyond your family and friends.
However, if you commit to tweeting about specific subjects, you’ll attract followers interested in those topics. In terms of psychology, choosing a topic to tweet about makes sense because we all like to know that others share the same interests. Following a user who likes the same thing as you allows you to bond over that shared interest.
In the same vein, create a themed Twitter List for your followers and others to subscribe to, based on the primary interests of your following.
When you tweet, be sure to use related hash tags to indicate you’re entering the conversion — otherwise, it will be difficult for followers to find you. Just be careful not to use too many hash tags as this can actually be detrimental. You only get 140 characters, so how much of an opinion are you actually giving if you use 5 hash tags?
5. Tweet Professionally and Casually
We’re not all grammar sticklers, but posting tweets with frequent typos or awkward language won’t help you attract followers.
While it is important to tweet frequently, quality over quantity wins every time. Posting well-written, engaging tweets will give you the credibility needed to attract your first followers, and as mentioned earlier the more followers you have, the more you’ll gain in the future.
Proofreading your tweets before your post them and making a point to use eloquent language will also help you keep followers over time. Chances are there are lots of people tweeting about the same things you are, so you need to give users a reason to follow you over them.
Professional tweets do not mean automated tweets. More than ½ the time someone un-follows a Twitter user, it’s because they tweet too much and seam automated.
You don’t have to sound like a suit all the time either. According to the previous Psychology Today study, tweets and messages written in a casual tone are easier to read and digest, and have a higher “reply” rate, which can be seen as more valuable than “favorite” counts.