I do this stuff for a living

If increasing your twitter followers matters, this is a proven strategy

For some of us, the number of Twitter followers we collect doesn’t contribute to the health of our financial bottom line. But if you have a business or something to promote, and you want to use Twitter to assist you, then reaching as many genuine followers matters a great deal. After all, each genuine member of the Twittersphere maybe a potential customer you aren’t currently reaching.

It seems that everyone is an expert when it comes to how best to gain a social media following these days. Methods range from the makes-me-queasy type strategies such as ‘I’ll buy them from e-bay’ to more sophisticated suggestions such as the ones by respected blogger Ken Rose.

Crime thriller author Claude Bouchard’s (@Ceebee308) has his own strategy. When I ran across it, I found it interesting and I wanted to know if it worked.

At the time of writing, Claude had exactly 301,000 Twitter followers. In order to verify the integrity of his strategy, I took a random sample of 100,000 followers and performed analysis to determine the percentage of genuine accounts vs non-genuine or inactive accounts. With more time, I could have done a more detailed analysis, however this is enough to get the point across.  The analysis showed that:

  • 1.4% are fake
  • 3.6% are inactive
  • 95.0% are genuine.

For such a huge following, the results speak for themselves.

Claude has been generous enough to allow me to share his strategy on here. The strategy is bit of a brute-force approach, takes a proactive touch and as you will see, Claude’s undertakes a daily effort to maintain it. But for those of of you who plan to touch as many genuine people via Twitter as possible in order to promote your wares, then you will do yourselves a favour if you closely consider Claude’s strategy.

Did I mention he also provides for some damn good reads?  I personally recommend ‘Discrete Activities’ which earned a place in my top 50 list on my poor bloated Kindle.

Visit Claude’s website

Claude’s author page on Amazon

Claude Bouchard

Claude Bouchard

I wasn’t planning on writing this post. It more came to be as a matter of chance. It all started a few days ago when author, editor and blogger, C.S. Lakin (@cslakin and @livewritethrive on Twitter), contacted me via my website to ask, “How did you get so many followers?” As I’d done in the past with a few others who asked, I emailed C.S. and explained my process. She replied back, suggesting this should be a blog post and even offered to put my email into blog format, leaving me with only whatever fine tuning I desired. I said, “Cool,” she said, “Here you go,” and voilà, here it is, I’m laying out how I really got a quarter million followers on Twitter.

When I joined Twitter in August 2009, I went with the simple logic that the more followers I had, the more people would learn about the thrillers I wrote. With that in mind, I got busy with an easy process requiring little account management time which I’ll now share with you. The basic plan was to follow people, some of whom would follow back. Those who didn’t, I would unfollow. All I did was repeat this process over and over again. It obviously works because I now have almost 250,000 followers.

So What?

Why would anyone want so many unknown followers? Does it make a difference? I’ve found that it does. Sure, I don’t know most of them, and they don’t know me. But many of them are readers, and with having that many followers, odds are some of them like to read thrillers. Numbers play a big part in exposure on Twitter. If 1% of my followers actually read thrillers and like to hear about new books in that genre, I then have a potential 2,500 new fans that I wouldn’t have reached had they not been following me.

Getting Past the Twitter Barricade

If you’re like many, you’re currently stuck at that pesky 2,001 spot. Twitter lets a tweeter follow up to 2,001 accounts without any problems. Past that, the 10% rule applies, which means the number of accounts you follow can’t exceed your follower total by more than 10%. This leaves you faced with two choices—wait until enough people follow you (don’t hold your breath unless you suddenly become a superstar) or unfollow those who weren’t smart enough to follow back, thus making room to follow others who might.

The easiest way to do this is with http://www.justunfollow.com and I suggest you splurge the $4.99/year (price may have changed) for the premium service. This site will find all tweeters you follow who aren’t following you back and will list them with the oldest non-follower first.

Once you’ve cleaned out non-followers, you’ll have room to follow other prospects, which you can do from the same site with the “Copy Followers” function. There, you enter the Twitter name (without the @) of an account you’d like to follow off of and, bingo, the system generates a list of that account’s more active followers.

Who to Choose?

I follow off of a variety of active accounts, some writing related, others not, just to get a mix of followers. Not everyone writes but many do read and my goal is to reach them. Whether you are a writer, artist, dancer, etc, a lot people out there are going to be interested in what you tweet about. You probably know some more active accounts already, but if you want to find more such accounts, go to http://tweet.grader.com ; and check out “Twitter Elite—Top Users,” which will give you the current top accounts on Twitter.

A Simple Ten-Minute-a-Day Plan

To illustrate, this is what I do:

Daily, I follow 500 accounts from various other accounts. Twitter allows 1,000 follows a day (though their counters are not always accurate), so I leave room to follow back people who follow me first.
Once that’s done, I check my non-followers and unfollow enough to bring my total non-followers down to around 1,000 (i.e. the 500 I just followed plus the 500 I followed the previous day).
I repeat this process every day, which takes me roughly 10-15 minutes, max.

I’ve never fully trusted auto-tweeter apps and would hate to have one go nuts on me, suddenly sending out hundreds of tweets and turn me into a suspended account spammer, so I don’t use them. However, I do use the free version of Social-Oomph, strictly for welcome DMs to new followers (which generally works fine) and to auto-follow those who follow me (which seems to work sporadically). Note added April 17, 2012: It has been brought to my attention that the Social-Ooomph functions previously mentioned are no longer free for new subscribers. I also have all seven of my novels up on Freado, which sends one auto-scheduled BookBuzzr tweet per book daily.

Daily Dealings on Twitter

Over time, many have commented in wonder about my ability to keep up with a following of such a size. With this many followers, I rarely, if ever, look at the general timeline. My Twitter home is my Mentions page, so anything with @ceebee308 in it, I generally see (though even just my Mentions page CAN get busy at times).

One thing I’ve given up on is looking at received DMs because of the volume of hacker-spawned crap which fills the page. Anyone who wishes to contact me via DM about something important had best send me a timely tweet to let me know about it. Otherwise, rest assured that I’ll never see it.

Does This Really Help?

Has all this helped? I’d say yes, as Twitter is definitely my main promotion platform. Through Twitter, I’ve sold books, but more importantly, I’ve developed relationships with others, which has resulted in various cross-promo activities. But here’s the big one—with over 245,000 followers, my reach is nothing to sneer at, and when I did my recent Vigilante giveaway promotion, it allowed me to give out 25,623 copies. As a result, Vigilante spent most of the three days on the Top 20 Free Kindle page, reaching a high of #9 in the U.S. and #11 in the U.K. Post promotion, Vigilante is ranking in the 200s (U.S.) and 100s, (U.K.) on the Amazon paid Kindle sales at the time of posting this. I’ll be writing about my KDP promotion results in the next day or two.

A Final Word of Advice

One last point I can make about Twitter is the importance of not just promoting your books, music, website, blog or whatever you’re trying to pimp but also promoting others AND actually chatting with people. Many are amazed when they send me a tweet and I reply but why shouldn’t I? I like it when folks respond to my tweets and my followers deserve nothing less. Chatting with people, making jokes, helping others is all part of Twitter success and I can confirm it’s a definite rep-builder.

Remember, it’s not just about numbers and lots of them. This is a social media tool, and if you are an artist striving to build true fans, you want to be present and interact with them. Show them the appreciation they deserve for retweeting your posts or sending you a message. You’ll find a universe of new fans and friends out there if you do.

You can learn more about C.S. Lakin, the catalyst to this blog post, by visiting her website and her blog. I also invite you to follow her Twitter accounts, @cslakin and @livewritethrive as something tells me she’ll figure out a way to follow you back.

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