How we got 1000 Twitter followers

TwitterBirdy.jpgBy Alexander Hay

Anxiously we have waited, fingers crossed as the total finally reaches the magic mark… nails chewed, coffee drunk – all the while, waiting. And then, the moment of final apotheosis, the ascension we have waited so long for…

Yes, dear friends, we now have 1000 Twitter followers.

As regular readers will know, we’ve already looked at why you shouldn’t be sceptical about Twitter, how to get followers, and the joy of hashtags. Yet as we hit the magic 1k, a big question remains unanswered: how did we do it?

1. Post regularly and be interesting

As our followers will know, the Institute updates its site blog and content several times a week. This means more tweets and so more reasons to come to the site. People are more likely to follow you and click on the links in your tweets if you keep giving them something to read in the first place. One sure way to lose followers is to have a dead Twitter feed.

We don't just post about our content, we also link to interesting content from around the world, ask questions of our users and hold conversations about topical subjects. 

2. Knowing what we wanted to do

Since its inception, the Institute’s Twitter feed has had two clear goals – bringing more users to our site (and so helping to get our message out to the research community) and making as many contacts as possible. This has let us focus on what and how we tweet and who we follow for best effect. Once you know your aim, your target audience will become immediately clear.

3. We started following and kept following

Once you know who you are aiming at, start finding them. This is described in our top tips on how to find followers. Put simply, find people who will be interested in following you, sign them up and then pour through their ‘Follower’ and ‘Following’ lists to find other people who are share your interests. And repeat.

Not all the people you follow will follow back, for one reason or another. Meanwhile, there are plenty of people you could follow instead who might be more forthcoming. At first, your Twitter account is limited to 2001 followers, so what do you do if you’ve maxed out? You go on a purge.

Go through your following list. I suggest doing this manually, because it lets you spot things you might have missed. It also means that you will start to view your followers as people - rather than just a list - and then reflect their interests in your own tweeting behaviour. It will also reveal a great deal about who is most likely to pay attention to your work (and end up following you).

The sure-fire way of detecting people who aren’t following you is to scroll down your Following list and click on the interact button which will bring up a drop-down menu of options. If you can Send a Direct Message, you know they’re following you. If not, it's time ask to yourself whether you should stop following them so that you can follow someone else.

If they are following you, it will look like this:

twittery.jpg

However, if they’re not following you, it will look like this:

twittery2.jpg

One caveat, however. If you sign up to follow large numbers of people at once, you may have to wait a while before removing them. Twitter users are often very busy and may take their time to get around to following you. On the other hand, if you’ve waited three months or so and they haven’t returned the favour, it’s time to get purging. 

4. We’re going to keep at it

Now the Institute has 1000 followers, the next step will be to get more. The next goal is 1819 followers, at which point Twitter will let us follow more than 2001 people. (To be precise, it will let us follow our number of followers plus an extra 10%.) More followers mean even more page impressions for our site, and more people finding out about our work and the importance of software sustainability. So how are we going to do that? Stay tuned for our next Twitter article to find out.

Posted by a.hay on 10 April 2013 - 5:33pm