How to get Twitter Followers:
My path to over 50,000!!!
This is a little different style of post, one that may be of most interest to other bloggers and social media types. As of publishing, #LifeofaMedStudent currently has 54,350 followers on Twitter. Reaching that amount is no accident, and certainly not without a lot of effort. I never “bought” any followers, and never subscribed to the “we follow/follow back” sites. A lot of the early success I made up as I went, but at this point, I consider myself a semi-expert at social media accounts and traffic. This post is thus my “how to” attempt at what tricks/tips/advice on how to get twitter followers!
Find your niche
When first starting an account, dedicate some time to considering who your audience will be. Particularly, I focused on an area that I felt was missing – a site for sharing the humor and lives of medical students and those in medical training. There were and still are very popular “anonymous” accounts by medical students, but there wasn’t much about the life of medical students in general and there wasn’t any single central site to unify those experiences. Likewise, I early on realized that by creating an account around a hashtag, my account would not only be extremely visible, but it would allow the account to quickly find and share tweets by medical students across the globe. It’s not random that the hashtag “#LifeofaMedStudent” is in my profile – I click on it multiple times a week to quickly find the latest medical student tweets to share. By finding a niche that was both specific (medical life) but still broad (there are hundreds of thousands of pre-meds, medical students, residents), and creating a hashtag and site to connect their experiences, I was able to instantly have a large audience and provide a medium for them to share across the globe.
Whatever your niche or your audience, first identify it. Then find a way to provide something new or different. This is the building stage. It’s not as easy as “if you build it, they will come” .. getting the audience to your site and to click that follow button is the harder part…. And that we’ll focus on next.
Time & consistency
The number one advantage I’ve had is #LifeofaMedStudent has been around since December 2011. The number one thing I’ve done in those 6 years is producing content consistently. When it was first started, there were several other twitter accounts out there for medical students with 10-20k followers at that time. Most all of them have died off and haven’t had any new tweets for years. While there were periods of time I can’t say I tweeted content every day, for the past 6 years there has been something from #LifeofaMedStudent MOST days. Producing tweets consistently helps people find your content. It keeps your old followers engaged and sharing – the key to spreading your brand. Now I have about 5 tweets each day (1 humor or medical tweet, 4 posts to the website) and will RT those or other #LifeofaMedStudent tweets later in the day or next day. I find it’s important to dedicate at least 1 tweet a day for “engagement” – meaning a tweet that’s funny, inspiring, or relatable and thus designed to get likes and retweets. This helps keep a steady stream of new and old followers interacting with the site.
Automation/Refreshing Old Content
It’s time-consuming to come up with new content to share and also plan when/what time to produce it. For this reason, for several years now I have been using CrowdFire’s app to plan my tweets out days, sometimes weeks in advance. I usually would find some downtime during the week, and load up at least one tweet a day to automatically be fired off. Doesn’t matter what is happening at work, what is happening at home, those tweets will go out and #LifeofaMedStudent followers will have new content to spread/share. Since consistency is so important in growing a following, automation is key to helping maintain that consistency in our otherwise busy lives. There are now various tweeting apps that can publish pre-written tweets at your specified time, but Crowdfire was the one I started with and continue to use. You have the ability to set the time of the tweets, the amount per day, or set it to a “best time” that publishes the tweet at a higher traffic time of the day.
With regards to the posts linking to the website, I use the plugin “Revive Old Post” which randomly selects and tweets links to posts on the website. While these can be set at any time interval you want, I use every 6 hours to get 4 posts per day to the website. With 100+ posts, this means on average a post is tweeted out only about once a month. I find this is not frequently enough to become annoying to followers.
With regards to the funny or relatable “engagement” tweets, as followers grow, you’ll want to find ways to get the best of your prior content seen by new followers. I use the app TimeHop to keep my content queue filled. TimeHop is a social media app that shows you what you posted on the current day in years past. Because #LifeofaMedStudent has been around 6 years, rarely does a day go by I haven’t posted something on a past day that is worth reposting today (or queue up CrowdFire’s app for a future day). Yet, because it’s only reposting old content once a year, old followers aren’t put off and new followers constantly get to see some of the best content #LifeofaMedStudent has ever posted over the last half-decade!
Get people’s attention – interact!
While your own tweets being shared can certainly help find new followers, another tactic is to consciously interact with people who are also in your target audience, especially if they don’t already follow you. Reply to tweets, whether you agree or disagree. I like to “quote” tweets (below) because the whole tweet/reply can then be easily retweeted. This benefits both parties, as the original account gets to send out their tweet again with a response, and the replying account is now seen by a whole different group of followers.
Like tweets, and a lot of them! Retweet others! Each of these interactions shows up as a notification and potentially a way to get the attention of a new follower. Thousands of my followers have come directly after either RT’ing or Liking someone else’s tweets.
This is a big one and probably the highest yield point. Follow a lot of other people. Thousands. There is something about following someone, it almost seems impolite to not return the favor. And don’t just follow anyone, follow the people in your audience. How do you find thousands of other people to follow in your audience? Find a competitor’s account and follow everyone that follows them.
For #LifeofaMedStudent, I probably have followed every single person who followed StudentDoctorNetwork. I followed almost everyone who followed the popular account Medschooladvice. MCAT accounts, KevinMD, you name it! If you’re a finance blog, follow everyone that follows other major finance accounts. You get the idea.
Whatever the niche may be, pick a couple of the leaders in that group and follow away. Even with 50,000 followers and a pretty saturated grasp of my own niche, I could still see a 10-20% follow back rate. Early on this was even higher! Meaning if you go out and follow a targeted group of 2000 people, I would expect you to potentially have as many as 200-400 new followers within a few days.
There is a problem with this technique that can severely limit its utility…. once you follow more than about 1000 people, it almost becomes impossible to read your own Twitter timeline. With too many new tweets, it becomes overwhelming and difficult to follow along with conversations and the important stuff you really want to see. It also tends to make twitter simply less useful. Always be suspicious of an account that follows 100,000 people and has 125,000 followers – it’s probably not a very interactive or worthwhile account to follow.
However, again, CrowdFire has a great app feature to help with this problem – the “WhiteList.” This is a list of people you never want to unfollow and separates them. Thus, after you’ve followed a few thousand people, waited a week or so, you can unfollow all the new people quickly while preserving the list of people you actually want to follow longterm. Yes, a few people will notice this and may unfollow you back as well, but it’s usually just a handful out of your new couple hundred followers. The better your content, the less this will happen. The key is simply to get them to notice your account. Then wait a week, and repeat the whole process.
I’ve done this literally dozens of times and thus followed thousands and thousands and thousands of people over the years with great success. However, as I hit the 50k mark, I felt this was largely unnecessary and a bit more work than I needed at this level of followers. 400 new followers would be an increase of less than 1%, after all!! And already being a high-profile site, I tend to get a couple hundred new followers a month doing absolutely nothing. However, as an example just for this article, I’m going to show the process and success it still can bring.
Sunday night at 730pm. Current numbers.
I updated my WhiteList with accounts I don’t want to unfollow.
Within the next couple hours, I’ve followed 1000 people who followed “Competitor” accounts that likely have similar interest as mine.
Crowdfire lets you combine these accounts into one easily refreshable list to quickly follow. But because Twitter has “rate limits” you can only follow about 100 people very quickly before it briefly locks you out. It takes only a couple minutes to follow 100-200 people, so then just wait a bit and repeat the process. In a few hours, yet with just a dozen or so actual work minutes, you’ll be at 1000.
Less than 12 hours later, already up 100 followers. Notice most the accounts are already “followed” by me – meaning they saw me follow and have followed back because of this.
24 hours later.
1 week later, having followed a total of 2000 competitor accounts in that time.
And then I unfollow all, but my whitelist, bringing my numbers back to what they roughly were. The total increase in 1 week: 373 new followers while following roughly 2000 “Competitor” accounts.
In an average month, #LifeofaMedStudent gets about 2-300 new followers anyway, so we’ll round to 50 per week. So subtract out those 50, and you have 323 that can likely be attributed to following the 2000 people – a roughly 16% follow back rate. That’s in a niche that honestly, #LifeofaMedStudent has already saturated pretty heavily. Now imagine over the course of a few years, you did this a few dozen times…. and paired it with an account that was successful enough to KEEP people following. That’s how you can get to 50,000 – not overnight, but not unrealistic either.
And that’s it. Sure, it’s a bit of a “trick” I guess, but it’s really nothing more than a little self-promotion. Most of social media is just getting yourself seen or heard! And this post is a run-down of how using a couple of simple, but powerful techniques, #LifeofaMedStudent has become a 50,000+ follower account and a leader in social media for those in medical training!
Crowdfire, TimeHop, or Revive old Post haven’t paid for me to speak about their apps, and none know I exist. Timehop and Revive Old Post are free. Crowdfire has free and paid versions. I’ve used the paid version for several years now. However, if any of those apps stumble across this article and want to pay me to include links and spread the word, I won’t say no! 🙂 I truly have had great success with these apps!
Update (2/14/18): Crowdfire now does participate in affiliate links and if you use a paid version of their app through one of the links on this site, a small portion will go to keeping the lights on at #LifeofaMedstudent. Thanks, all!
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