Friday, November 22, 2013

How I Got 10,000 Twitter Followers in Less than 10 Months



An aspiring author asked me recently how I had managed to build up such a large social media platform in such a short period of time. I had set up my Twitter account at the beginning of February and was nearing 10,000 followers when he asked. I was glad to share my experiences and offer some advice. But first, I told him, a more important question was asking why it was important to me to have such a large Twitter following.

I have always had problems connecting with Facebook's interface, and in fact, many of my 'friends' seem a lot less active these days. Either that or I just never see their posts because of Facebook's incomprehensible algorithms. I never set up a Facebook author page, deciding instead to use Twitter as my primary promotion platform, and as a way of connecting with other writers.

You have to relate to Twitter with an understanding of what you can get out of it. Most of my followers are fellow writers, so I never shout out "Buy my book" in my tweets. I have sold a few books directly thru Twitter, but I think I could count these sales on two hands. So, why is Twitter important to me?


More than anything else, Twitter has increased the readership of my blog. I write a lot - about Israel, Bulgaria, the craft of writing, book reviews, restaurant reviews, etc. I blog for The Times of Israel and Diplomacy Post. Because of my wonderful stay in Bulgaria, I have taken on a mission of promoting tourism to that country, so I blog about my travels there. By continuing to produce new, interesting content, and by linking to it in my tweets, I have increased the total readership of my blog from 50 page views a day to as high as 800 page views a day. Some of my blog posts have been read by thousands of readers.

So the question you're asking is how did I build up such a large following in such a short time? These are the main points of my Twitter campaign (not necessarily listed in any specific order):

1) Be proactive. Every day I follow new people and in most cases, they follow me back. I never go to extremes and in fact at one time my account was suspended for going too quickly. But I keep following more people, every single day.

2) Only follow people with shared interests. For me, if someone has "author" or "books" or "writing" or any connection to Israel or Bulgaria or travel in general listed in their profile, I will follow them.


3) Welcome each and every new follower with a personal greeting. In some cases I strike up a short chat with my new follower. This establishes a personal connection and frequently leads to re-tweets.

4) Thank every person who re-tweets. This requires a lot of work keeping track, but I think it's worth the effort.

5) Block anyone trying to sell you something and any profile that says "you can get thousands of followers." I could have reached 10,000 followers awhile ago, but I don't need these types to follow me.

6) Tweet a lot. My tweets are filled with links to good content. I have a lot of articles on my blog and I rotate them in my tweets. Usually I send out four types of tweets every day: One about Bulgaria / one about Israel / one about the craft of writing / and one related to my book. When I say "related" to my book, I may tweet about my book trailer and how easy it was to make it. (This helps sell my book indirectly).

7) Tweet repeatedly. I use HootSuite (free!) to schedule tweets, 2 an hour, every hour of the day. I believe that regular users of Twitter have a swarming stream of mostly meaningless tweets, with little chance of seeing something that appeared on their feed hours earlier. If you tweet only once a day, your followers will never see that tweet. But if you tweet the same tweet once every 2 hours, there is a better chance of its being seen.


8) Re-tweet and favorite. I do this whenever I discover interesting tweets posted by those I follow. Others appreciate this, so if you do it, they hopefully will reciprocate.

9) Communicate. I love to chat with people all over the world, encouraging them to visit Israel or Bulgaria, wishing them luck on finishing their novel, etc. The advantage of Twitter - you can respond whenever you want.

10) Un-follow aggressively. This is a give and take platform. If you follow someone and they don't follow you, just un-follow them. I use ManageFlitter (free!) and un-follow nearly 100 people every day. It takes just a few minutes. In Twitter you cannot let your numbers get out of balance, and this program helps keep things under control.

11) Don't follow people who will not follow back. Look at users' numbers. If someone has a disproportioned account, with a lot more followers than people followed, the likelihood that this person will follow you back is minimal.

The bottom line of building an author's platform with Twitter is: Don't expect miracles. This process takes time, patience and perseverance. I think there is a snowball effect involved. The more followers you have, and the more you tweet, the faster your following will grow. If you want increased exposure as a new author, using Twitter is an excellent way to achieve this goal.

31 comments:

  1. Well done, Ellis! I always admire the proactive and insightful ways you address your audience. It fits perfectly with the high quality of your writing and is worthy of the things you have to say.

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  2. I wonder why you followed me back. I hardly ever write as it is. Perhaps it's because I read your blog? :) We're doing the same things mostly. I love conversations and what makes the other person tick; I take it as personal affront if my direct tweet at someone is not answered, no matter how long it takes to reply. I unfollow people who just blend in with the curtains and not saying anything; it makes me feel fidgety and suspicious. :)

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  3. Well done Ellis! Your following is now like a small newspaper. I believe you are creating a medium that is like a newspaper, with opinion and features and occasional ads, but stretched out in Tweets!

    I get sales almost daily from Twitter and I follow almost exactly what you do.

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  4. Great Article, I am going to take your advice. I am trying to get my followers and blog up and running! I write and blog on Life, Travels and Food we love in Europe! Really Great Ideas!! Thank you for Sharing! Stacey Veikalas basketslife.com

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  5. Hi my name is fouad and I am 22 years old. I just started writing a few month ago and recently published my first article. I have to say what a Great article! I will definitely start doing that. I created twitter just for the sake of having an account to add at my column, but then I realised it can be a great marketing tool. Anyway thank you for tweeting about my article, I really appreciate it and looking forward for reading more on your blog :-).

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  6. Great article Ellis. Nice and open about the twitter process. I'm relatively new to twitter and found it too be an excellent social media tool even though I don't tweet so often which is something I must look at.

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  7. Thanks for this post! I'm a bit disappointed in how my website readership stats are coming in this month, and I'm looking for new ways to bring readership and email subscribers. (I'm finding this is hard!) I'll definitely be looking for material like this. Thanks again!

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  8. You were among the first people I followed when I joined Twitter. I am not even sure how you wound up on my list of people followed, but I have learned so much about Twittiquette (I think I just made a new word) by following your lead. Thanks for sharing!

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  9. Elis, thank you a lot for the helpful hints you provide us with. I am grateful for your comments helped me around in the maze of twitter. Best regards
    Josef Stein

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  10. I also dislike those whose tweets are "follow me!" Or are all about "my book! My book" !
    I am a prayer warrior 1st, then artist,speaker, & writer. In that order. I'm having trouble balancing all this, esp when you throw in chronic illness/pain into the mix. I do what I can each day, & trust God to let the ears who need to hear, hear it.
    Thank you for these simple ( but not easy) steps for using Twitter.

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  11. Ellis awesome info thanks for sharing! MJ Greene.

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  12. Great advice, Ellis. I'm pretty new to Twitter and am grateful for your pointers.

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  13. Ellis, thanks so much for the twitter tips. I'm a fledgling author trying to figure out how to gain exposure in twitter, but not be a resounding gong with meaningless tweets. I enjoyed how when you followed me we engaged in a little chat, definitely not the norm on twitter so I will take that advice to heart :)

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    1. Agree with what you say here Daniel. Having Ellis actually take the time to say 'hello' when I followed him made such a difference. Immediately you feel there is a connection. It's so hard for us fledgling authors, but I too will be taking his excellent advice as I try to build my Twitter following.

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  14. I use similar strategies and have increased my followers from 220 to 3400 in 3 months. I favor Twitter because it's a better place to meet people than Facebook (in my opinion). I've found Twitter friendly, helpful, and laid back. I love it. I still remember meeting you and have you on my list of people I want to keep up with. Great post. :)

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  15. This article is as excellent as a college class. I learned a lot. Thanks.

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  16. Thanks Ellis for a great a post. And thanks for following me and your RTs!

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  17. Great Article Ellis. Best Vanessa de Largie, Australia.

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  18. What I have learned about writers (the hard way) is that they don't want to read, they want to be read. Most of your followers are writers. How on earth do you sell your book to writers? You don't shout 'buy my book', presumably because that wouldn't work. So, what exactly sells? The courtesy? Personal touch? Why writers? Why not target readers?

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  19. Definitely helpful. Thanks again.

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  20. Ellis, thank you for this post. I have to admit I haven't done all these things. I've gotten a little side-tracked with Linked-in in the past month where I've made lots of new friends, but I'm taking note.

    Remember that post you did about goodreads? I was thinking about it. The difference between Goodreads give-aways and KDP seems to be urgency. There's a limited time for people to receive a book under KDP, but with goodreads people will wait and hope to win one. Not that it's a bad thing and there are other good things about goodreads, but it won't mean as many sales in the short term. That thought came to me out of the blue this morning. Sorry if it took a little while to respond. I do enjoy twitter, but I have shamefully neglected my tweeps and should do better. *shakes head* ( :

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  21. #11 is hard when you really really admire people who never check twitter and you think they just might one day. I know it throws off my numbers. I tried unfollow (which one author suggested) till the day it tweeted pretending to be me and told all my tweeps they were in danger of being unfollowed. So I unfollowed unfollow.

    Okay I'll do it. I will dump the Dali Lama and ditch who? Do I put Steven Colbert on the chopping bock? I don't think I can bring myself to do it. ( :

    I wonder if there will come a day when my twitter feed is full of deceased writers I admire and won't unfollow out of sheer respect. I'm sorry if that's a morbid thought.

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  22. Great advice I'm gonna take advantage of them. I hate Fecebook too or at least I dislike it.
    On twitter I immediately noticed you had a large and active following, then I clicked on your link to your Amazon page with your beautiful story about Bulgaria. Great tips about scheduling tweets through hotsuite as I use this feature but never retweeted the same tweets. Saying hi to new followers also makes sense.
    By the way you made me proud being Bulgarian with the above tweets about Bulgaria.

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  23. I also have found Twitter a lot more easy to connect on than Facebook. I still use Facebook to keep in touch with family and school friends, but I do almost all of my platform building on Twitter (I have over 3K Twitter followers in 4.5 months, and less than 200 Facebook fans in 4 years). I use some of the same tips you mentioned, but you gave me some good new ones here.

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  24. Thanks for this post, Ellis. Your feelings about Facebook mirror mine exactly. I prefer Twitter because I discover friends rather than try to rope in ones I already have. And many of your suggestions I've been doing and it does work! People appreciate authentic, personal contact that's not about selling stuff. Last year I found the book Crush It to be a great resource in all of this. Cheers!

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  25. Great post, Ellis! I love ManageFlitter. I would warn people against the fine line between tweeting regularly and taking over people's streams. You have to remember that if someone is only following, say, 500 people, then someone who tweets twice an hour every hour of the day will be popping up in his/her feed more than anyone else. Something to consider . . .

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  26. Very informative post! It contains a lot of great advice. As with a lot of good advice it contains a lot of common sense. I am just starting out and really appreciate your blogging this. It is very helpful. Thank you!!

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  27. Great tips. Very informative. This Twitter stuff is pretty new to me and believe it or not I've been on Twitter since 2008 lol. I never really thought about expanding my twitter to be honest, but from what I've been reading recently it does wonders for peoples businesses. I got a message today from this company called wizeo or something offering to sell me Twitter followers. I have never even looked into it or knew nothing about it, but wow the prices seem cheap. Does this seem worth the while? or is it even a "real" thing that can be done? **********here is the link***** I am thinking I may just take your approach though as you mentioned above though... Regardless this is definitely fascinating to people like myself who knew nothing about it. Thanks for sharing!

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  28. Thank you Ellis - I have only been tweeting about four times a weekbecause I was afraid I would look 'spammy' if I did it more often. Thanks to you I will now work out a schedule and tweet via Hootsuite and also check out ManageFlitter. I will also tweet different posts - I've been concentrating only on the new weekly one.
    I am pretty careful with home I follow and would never buy Twitter followers. As a matter of fact, I've been approached by people who will sell me 5000 followers or so and ironically, they have less than 100 themselves. Smells fishy?
    Thanks for sharing this. I've printed it off to use as reference.

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