But how do you go about growing your follower count and what sort of content is going to have best chance of appealing to others?
Researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology and the University of Michigan have just completed a 15 month study of over 507 Twitter users and half a million of their tweets, the results are published in their paper ‘A Longitudinal Study of Follow Predictors on Twitter’.
From their findings here are 10 ways to increase your follower count on Twitter
- Be Positive – Twitter is made up of what are known as ‘weak social ties’, most potential followers don’t know you that well, so any negative comments are likely to make people uncomfortable or put them off. Twitter users who share positive content tend to get more re-tweets and attract higher numbers of followers.
- Be Interesting – Tweets containing information others find interesting tend to attract 30 times more followers than tweets just about yourself (too much ‘meformer’ content actually puts people off).
- Be Eloquent – With just 140 characters to go on, Twitter users rely on cues like spelling and vocabulary to help judge the value of other users’ content. When deciding whether or not to follow someone, well-crafted tweets win out over those that are poorly written, so make sure your tweets are grammatically correct, and spell-checked for errors.
- Be Helpful (re-tweet) – Twitter is based around sharing information. Re-tweeting helps fellow users find interesting material, supports the collaborative values of the Twitter community and by promoting other people’s content you’re encouraging them to engage with you and re-tweet your content back.
- Be Relevant (pick a topic) – With so much material out there, users are always looking for good sources of reliable content. People who regularly tweet about a specific topic are more likely to establish a credible reputation and attract like-minded followers with shared interests.
- Be Spontaneous (‘burstiness’ is good) – whilst too many tweets over a prolonged period is likely to put people off, occasional intense bursts of activity can help build follower count. Getting involved in spontaneous conversations around events or activities can often lead to more long-lasting connections.
- Be Open (complete your user profile) – According to the researchers, signalling theory suggests that taking the time and making the effort to properly complete your user profile helps persuade other users that you’re authentic and trustworthy, making them more likely to follow you.
- Be Personal (don’t just broadcast) –Twitter is really about conversations. Sending directed, targeted tweets that others find interesting and useful will make you more attractive to potential followers than simply broadcasting in the hope that someone is listening.
- Be Popular – perhaps not surprisingly having followers is likely to get you more followers. The researchers found that people who followed users who followed them back, and used @mentions and @replies to connect with others tended to have more followers. However they also found that users with a high follower-to-following ratio (you follow 150 people, and 3000 people follow you) attracted more users, possibly due to the effect of social proof (everyone else follows this user, so I’ll follow them too).
- Beware Hashtags – When it comes to hashtags, use them sparingly. Over-use (Hashtag abuse) tends to put people off. Keep them relevant, use them when you want to contribute to an existing conversation and think twice before creating your own, you might just end up confusing everyone!
And to help you understand your potential audience a bit more, this infographic looks at mobile Twitter users in the UK.