A consistent increase in the number of people who follow you is one of the biggest signs of a successful Twitter strategy. To help you get more Twitter followers, we created the following guide that covers the strategies and tactics we’ve used here at Hootsuite to increase our own Twitter following and those we’ve seen be effective for our customers and other brands.
But this guide isn’t just about gaining more followers. After all, a million followers on Twitter are pretty useless if only two of them are engaging with your Tweets on a regular basis. We want to focus on gaining the right followers; people who are actually relevant to your business, who can help increase the reach of your messages and turn into brand advocates—or better yet, customers.
Aside from the strategies for gaining new followers outlined below, our number one piece of advice is to be patient and stick with it. Gaining thousands of followers doesn’t happen overnight. Like any social media network, success on Twitter requires a commitment of time and energy, along with a willingness to take risks and adapt new ideas as you go.
Really keen on learning how to get more Twitter followers? Feel free to jump ahead. Just click the buttons below to head to the sections you want to focus on.
These strategies are designed for businesses looking to gain more followers, but many of them will work for individuals as well.
Bonus: Download the free strategy guide that reveals how Hootsuite grew our Twitter following to over 7 million users and learn how you can put the tactics to work for your business.
Get more Twitter followers by increasing the visibility of your Twitter profile
If you want to get more Twitter followers—especially if you’re just starting out on Twitter—one of the simplest solutions is to make it easier for people to find your Twitter profile.
Here are some suggestions for improving your Twitter profile and increasing its visibility.
Have a complete Twitter profile
When someone is deciding whether to follow you or not, there’s a good chance they’ll be checking out your full profile before making their decision. Your Twitter profile offers a number of ways to communicate who you are and what you do, in order to attract new followers. A complete profile includes:
- Name: If you weren’t able to get your ideal @username on Twitter, make sure your profile name reflects your brand the way you want it to, staying within the 15 character limit. The fewer characters the better.
- Bio: You have 160 characters to describe yourself. Make it count. For more on how a Twitter bio can help grow your following, check out our guide Twitter Bio Ideas to Increase Your Follower Count.
- Location: Let people know where they can find you.
- Website: Link to your website or blog.
- Profile picture: Your profile picture will be seen along with every Tweet you send. Make sure it’s sized properly so that both current and potential followers can clearly identify you—400×400 pixels is recommended.
- Header image: Your header image is the large picture at the top of your profile. Having a stretched-out or pixelated header image can make potential new followers see you as unprofessional or clueless about social media, so make sure it’s sized properly. Twitter recommends using an image that is 1500×500 pixels.
- Pinned Tweet. This is relatively new feature, and one that is often overlooked. You can pin any Tweet you’ve sent to the top of your profile, so that it’s the first Tweet people see when visiting your profile. Pin a Tweet about a current campaign or seasonal event, or one of your most popular Tweets that you think could help attract new followers.
Cross promote your profile on other digital assets
Embedding your Twitter feed on your website can make it easy for your audience to discover your account and follow you without even needing to leave the page. Likewise, embedding your Tweets in blog posts can also point potential new followers towards your account. Linking to your Twitter account in your email signature and e-newsletter footers is another way to increase your visibility and reach new followers.
Cross promote your Twitter account on your other social networks by occasionally posting about it. Don’t just post a link to your Twitter account and tell people to follow you—give them a reason to. For example, post an update on your Facebook page and let people know that new Twitter followers will receive a discount code via Direct Message.
Integrate Twitter into live events
When it comes to real-time coverage of events, Twitter reigns supreme. If you’re attending a conference or event, be sure to engage on Twitter using the event’s official hashtag. This will help you engage with people attending the event and increase visibility of your profile to a new audience. If your business is hosting an event, be sure to integrate Twitter into the overall experience.
For both instances, you can set up a stream in Hootsuite that tracks the hashtag and any other keywords about the live event to find new potential followers to interact with.
We regularly host #HootUp events at our offices around the world, which include panel discussions about particular social media topics or trends and serve as networking opportunities for our community. Incorporating Twitter into every #HootUp helps us blend the online and offline experience for our audience, and generate buzz that attracts new followers.
The hashtag #HootUp (or a regional specific hashtag like #HootUpYVR) is used before, during, and after each event. We use it to promote the event in advance on Twitter and include the handles of the speakers who will be there.
— Hootsuite Community (@HootCommunity) September 29, 2016
We encourage everyone to live-Tweet along with us during each #HootUp by using the hashtag and posting photos, quotes, or their thoughts about the event while it’s happening. We then display these live Tweets as they come in on screens inside the venue using Hootsuite Campaigns.
Having people live-Tweet along with your event creates buzz on Twitter and can help position your company as a thought leader, which can help attract new followers. To further encourage live-Tweeting from your event, consider doing what we do at our #HootUp events: make a contest out of it. We offer a prize for the most thought-provoking question asked to the panel via Twitter, which incentivizes people to contribute.
To learn more about how to incorporate Twitter into your events, check out our blog post 5 Things You Need to Know to Successfully Live-Tweet an Event.
Use your product and offline assets
One of the tactics we’ve used to gain new followers for our @Hootsuite account is a call-to-action directly within our product that appears when users connect their Twitter profile to the dashboard.
Think about where you can place a prompt for new or existing customers to follow you on Twitter within your product or onboarding materials. Include your Twitter handle on any offline marketing collateral you think could reach potential new Twitter followers as well, for example: brochures, print ads, or event signage.
Post Tweets that get attention and increase engagement
Sounds simple, doesn’t it? The reality is that Twitter is a fast moving social network, where people are consuming content (or scrolling past it) quickly. This means your Tweets need to be frequent and attention-grabbing so that your followers will be inclined to share and engage with them, improving your chances of gaining new followers.
Here are some guidelines on how to write Tweets that can help you get more attention and gain more Twitter followers.
Define your content strategy
Put yourself in the shoes of a potential new follower, looking at your Twitter account for the first time. What type of content would inspire you to hit the “Follow” button? Probably not overly promotional Tweets that read like cold sales pitches. People go to Twitter to be educated, entertained, and to connect with like-minded people.
Take a moment every day to listen to what your audience is talking about, and join in if you have something valuable to add to the conversation. Create a Twitter content strategy that adds value—not more noise—to your audience’s Twitter experience.
Share content that is interesting and useful, but still relevant to your business or industry. How does your brand, product, or service affect or improve their life? Take that idea and use it to craft your Twitter content.
Here are two types of content that can add value for your current and new followers:
1. Aspirational content
Tweets that portray an aspirational lifestyle, and offer advice or instructions for achieving it can help make your content more shareable, increasing your chances of gaining new followers. Think nutrition tips and recipes, DIY instructions, and style advice.
How it works: British fashion retailer Topshop showcases their clothing alongside advice from stylists on their Twitter account. While promoting the products available, it also strengthens the brand by positioning Topshop as a source of accessible fashion expertise.
— Topshop (@Topshop) October 26, 2016
— Topshop (@Topshop) October 26, 2015
2. Thought leadership
For industries like financial services, real estate, or higher education, being viewed as credible and trustworthy is key to success. Learning how to get more Twitter followers in these industries will take time and effort in getting to know your audience. What we have learned is that Tweets that help improve people’s lives, challenge perceptions, and display expertise will help attract new followers who are looking for guidance on Twitter.
How it works: Wealthfront, one of the fastest-growing automated financial investment services, uses Twitter to provide information and insights that aim to improve the financial health of their followers. They released a 2016 Career-Launching Companies List, in an effort to help guide people in their 20s and 30s—their target audience—to success in their professional lives.
— Wealthfront (@Wealthfront) October 7, 2015
According to a study of Promoted Tweets from small or medium-size business (SMB) advertisers, Tweets with images generate 313 percent more engagement than those without. (That’s not a typo—three hundred and thirteen percent.) More engagement leads to more people finding your Tweets, which is a great opportunity for attracting new followers.
Here are some tips for posting images on Twitter:
- Upload photos directly to Twitter (which can be done via pic.twitter from your Hootsuite dashboard) so that they will expand automatically in timelines. If you Tweet a link to an image on Instagram it will show up as a text-only link, which is not as engaging. Instead, use Hootsuite to schedule posts for Instagram and Twitter at the same time. One will be published to Twitter as an image that appears in timelines, and the other will be pushed through to Instagram. Learn more here.
- Tag other Twitter users in your images. Instead of including the @usernames of the people in the copy of your Tweet, which can take up far too many of your precious 140 characters, Twitter allows you to tag people in your images.
For example, this Tweet from the Canadian television channel Much has five other Twitter users tagged in it, which you can see under the Tweet copy. Tagging other Twitter users can increase the chance of them Retweeting your content, exposing your Tweets to a wider audience and helping you gain new followers.
- Post more than one image per Tweet. Did you know you can attach up to four images to a single Tweet? The images are displayed as a preview collage in your followers’ timelines. They can also click to view each photo individually. This offers a way for your Tweets to be more attention grabbing, increasing the chance that your followers will engage with them and share with their own followers.
"I hope you'll keep…building bonds of friendship that will enrich your lives & enrich our world" —FLOTUS in China, pic.twitter.com/fxmuQN9JL9
— The First Lady (@FLOTUS) March 28, 2014
This example from The First Lady, Michelle Obama, shows how a Tweet with four images appears in a timeline. It offers a way for you to tell a bigger story within a single Tweet.
- Think beyond static images. Twitter also supports polls, videos, GIFs, and Persicope live-streams—which can all add another layer of creativity to your Tweets.
- Use stickers. Just like Snapchat, Twitter allows you to add stickers to the images that you post. This feature is currently only available for the Twitter iOS and Android apps, however. Check out this post for details on how to add stickers to your Tweets (plus 21 other Twitter “hacks” you might not have known about).
Twitter pioneered the hashtag, which is used to mark keywords or phrases within a Tweet to categorize messages and make it easy for users to search for relevant conversations. Because of this improved searchability, hashtags can help you gain more Twitter followers by allowing more people to find your account through your Tweets.
This is why it’s important that you’re using the right hashtags, and using them well. Here are some DO’s and DON’Ts on how to use hashatags:
Use hashtags that are already popular. By occasionally using hashtags that many people are already using, your Tweets have a higher chance of being seen by more people and potential new followers.
Think of how to use the most popular hashtags on Twitter in ways that are still relevant to your business. For example, #ThrowbackThursday (or #TBT) is a great chance for you to show off your company’s history, such as an old advertisement or past versions of your product. The Demographics Pro for Twitter app in Hootsuite will show you the top hashtags your followers use, which can help you decide which ones to use in your future Tweets.
Be specific. Even though it can be helpful to use hashtags that are already popular, try and focus on ones that are specific to your target audience. For a financial advisor, using the hashtag #InvestmentTips will reach a more targeted audience and more potential new followers than simply using the hashtag #Money, for example.
Use your location. If your business is quite localized, then you want to aim for gaining new followers from relevant regions. Use your city, state, province, or country name as a hashtag. If you’re in Canada, a popular trend is to use your city’s airport code as hashtags in Tweets, since they only take up three characters. For example, Toronto would be #YYZ, Calgary would be #YYC, and so on.
Hashtag hijack. Avoid using hashtags without knowing exactly what they represent, and especially avoid using any that are focused on social causes or tragedies—unless you actually have something relevant and valuable to add to the conversation. Otherwise, your biggest problem may be losing followers instead of gaining new ones.
Use too many hashtags. No one wants to follow a Twitter account if #it #tweets #like #this.
Using hashtags is key to finding potential new followers on Twitter, but so is monitoring them. By setting up search streams in Hootsuite, you can track the conversations happening within the hashtags that matter to your business and find new people to follow and engage with.
When people want to unfollow Twitter accounts they no longer find valuable, the inactive ones are always the first to go. If you’ve decided having a Twitter account is the right move for your business, then commit to it and post on a regular basis. Using Hootsuite to schedule Tweets in advance can help you plan ahead and stay consistent.
Although Twitter is one of the fastest moving social networks, it’s still possible to post too often and annoy your followers. Since everyone follows a different number of people on Twitter, their home feeds move at a different pace. This means they may have a different tolerance for seeing multiple Tweets from you, which is why there’s no magic number for how many times a day you should be posting—but we suggest posting once a day at the very least.
Experiment with posting more than that, and then pay attention to how your followers react to find the frequency that works best for you.
Improve your Twitter engagement
Regularly engaging with people—whether they follow you or not—will help you build an active Twitter community. Here are three ways of improving your engagement on Twitter.
1. Follow people back
Ask a handful of social media managers about this topic and you’re bound to hear conflicting opinions. When people follow you on Twitter, should you follow them back no matter what? We’re leaving this one up to you. But here are some pros and cons from both sides:
PRO: An equal “following-to-follower” ratio may entice new people to follow you, because they’ll assume you will follow back.
CON: There’s a good chance these people only followed you to gain a follower themselves, and they don’t actually care about what you have to say.
PRO: Following back those who follow you is a nice gesture, and can help your Twitter account come across as friendly and accessible to a large audience.
CON: Following too many people can make your home feed noisy and overwhelming. Even though Hootsuite streams can help ensure you don’t miss anything, you may still want to be a bit selective about who you follow back.
Our recommendation: If you want more Twitter followers, find people you think would be interested in your business and follow them first. Many people will return the favor, especially if your profile clearly communicates what you’re all about. This way, you’ll be attracting new followers that will actually engage with you, share your content, and potentially become customers or advocates down the road.
Use Hootsuite to set up Twitter search streams based on keywords or a specific location to find the most relevant potential new followers.
Learn how to get even more out of Hootsuite with free social media training from Hootsuite Academy.
2. Reply to people who mention you
Ensuring that no mention of your Twitter handle goes ignored will show that your account is active and engaging with people, which may entice new people to follow you.
Many people might be mentioning you on Twitter without using your Twitter handle. To capture those mentions as well, set up a Hootsuite keyword search stream for different variants of your company name that people may be using in their Tweets. You can track up to three within one stream. For example, here at Hootsuite, we would set up a search stream for “hootsuite,” “hoot suite,” and “hoot-suite” to capture as many mentions of our brand as possible.
3. Participate in Twitter chats
Because Twitter is a real-time platform, it offers engagement opportunities that other social networks don’t. For example, participating in (or hosting) a live Twitter chat with a large audience.
Twitter chats can generate a lot of conversation and visibility for your Twitter account, which can help attract new followers. Using a shared hashtag, users meet at a predetermined time to talk about an issue, industry, or trend. These chats can also help generate valuable feedback for your business and build stronger connections with your followers.
For example, Hootsuite’s weekly Twitter chat takes place every Thursday at 12:00 p.m. PST under the hashtag #HootChat. The chat revolves around a particular social media topic or strategy every week, and often includes a guest participant—either an internal expert from here at Hootsuite or an influencer form our Twitter community.
— Hootsuite (@hootsuite) October 13, 2016
— Karen Freberg, Ph.D. (@kfreberg) October 13, 2016
#HootChat began under our @HootCommunity handle, where it more than doubled our average weekly follower growth rate. We’ve since moved it over to our main Twitter account, @hootsuite, to further broaden our reach and find new followers.
If you think that holding a Twitter chat might be right for your brand, check out our step-by-step guide to hosting Twitter chats.
Expand your Twitter reach
Reaching more people with your content will help raise awareness about your Twitter presence and expose your profile to more potential new followers. Here are five tactics to help expand your Twitter reach.
1. Run a Twitter contest
Running a “follow and Retweet to win” contest can help you gain new followers and extend the reach of your Twitter messaging.
— Toblerone (@Toblerone) November 17, 2015
Above is an example of a “follow and Retweet to win” contest, run by the Swiss chocolate company Toblerone. Notice that they also included an image with their branded hashtag, which would show up in the feeds of potential new followers any time the Tweet was Retweeted.
You could also integrate Twitter into a broader marketing contest and have a Tweet from your followers count as an extra entry, which incentivizes people to follow and interact with your Twitter account.
Use Hootsuite Campaigns to run a Twitter contest and you’ll be able to:
- Require a hashtag and/or mention in order to enter
- Monitor and moderate the contest in real-time to showcase the best of your fans
- Enable voting, encouraging users to to share and support the best Tweets
2. Tap into the power of your employees
People trust other people, which is why word-of-mouth messages from friends and colleagues are seen as more relevant and trustworthy than social media posts from corporate accounts. According to the 2014 Edelman Trust Barometer, content shared by employees gets eight times more engagement than content shared by brand channels. And in a study done by Altimeter Group, 21 percent of consumers said they “liked” employee posts about companies, which represents an engagement rate that “easily bests most social advertising campaigns at a much lesser cost.”
When your employees share messages, you can expand your social media reach and gain new followers. Here are some guidelines and best practices for turning your staff into a social media army.
One of the keys to successful employee advocacy on Twitter is to make it simple and easy to share content from your organization. Hootsuite Amplify, our employee advocacy solution, can help. It’s a mobile app that can help employees share content and stay on top of the stories and news resonating across your organization.
Learn how to get even more out of Hootsuite with free social media training from Hootsuite Academy.
3. Consider using Twitter Ads
Twitter offers a number of options for ads, including Promoted Tweets, Promoted Trends, and Promoted Accounts. If you want to see a more immediate increase in Twitter followers, and are willing to pay for it, then running a Promoted Account campaign is your best bet.
After you set targeting parameters, your account will be suggested to people who don’t currently follow you in multiple locations across Twitter, including search results.
Rock/Creek, an independent retailer of outdoor equipment and apparel, wanted to increase followers in anticipation of a holiday promotion. Using a Promoted Account campaign, Rock/Creek targeted people interested in camping, kayaking, and rock climbing. Since the promotion was focused on Patagonia gear, people with similar interests to those who already followed Patagonia’s account were also targeted. The result was a 172 percent increase in followers over the prior month.
Thinking of advertising on Twitter? Learn how to launch your first Twitter Ads campaign.
4. Guest blog
Having people within your organization write guest posts for relevant blogs and publications can help position them as thought leaders in your industry, and can also help your company get more followers on Twitter. Have the post link back to your Twitter profile, and ensure your Twitter handle is included in the pre-populated message when readers share it directly from the blog.
— Fast Company (@FastCompany) November 6, 2015
Find out what’s working through analytics
All of the strategies that we’ve outlined so far are just that—strategies—not guarantees. The most important part of putting these ideas into action is testing and measuring them, so you can identify which ones work for your business and know where to focus your efforts.
The seven specific Twitter metrics we suggest you measure in order to create better Tweets and gain new followers are:
- Impressions over time
- Engagement rate
- Audience interests
- Audience country and region
- Comparison audience
For more information about how to measure these analytics, check out our post about Twitter analytics.
Although it’s hard to attribute new Twitter followers to one strategy or tactic in particular (without directly asking new followers what motivated them to follow you), identifying any spikes in new followers and analyzing what new strategy you put in place during that timeframe can offer you some useful insight about what you should keep doing.
To learn more about how to figure out what’s working, check out our 12 Things You Should be Testing on Twitter post.
Save time managing your Twitter presence by using Hootsuite to schedule posts, share video, engage with followers, and monitor your efforts. Try it free today.