Saturday, June 11

How I Got 170,000+ Twitter Followers In 1 Year

Image representing Twitter as depicted in Crun...Image via CrunchBaseHow I Got 170,000+ Twitter Followers In 1 Year
By Larry Wentz


One of the most common questions I get is “How did you get so many followers and how do I get them?” Well I’m going to show you exactly the methods I used to grow for what I believe to be the “fastest growing non-celebrity” account on Twitter for my 1st year. If one of your goals is to establish many new "relationships" on Twitter then please utilize the advice I give you here. I joined Twitter on Feb. 24th, 2009 & started to really implement my strategies the following month. Go ahead - peek at my current numbers & make sure you follow me on Twitter @LarryWentz .

If you don't really care about getting more followers then that is OK as well - please realize that everyone has different goals, reasons & techniques on using Twitter. I personally have found that with larger follower numbers - you will attract more quality Twitter users to you. I’ve met & done business with people I never would have got to know if it wasn’t for my large follower #s. I know all will find some of my information helpful. RT @LarryWentz Twitter Tip - "There is only one way to use Twitter... except for all the other ways". Some of my favorite Twitterers have different Twitter philosophies than I do.... and that is AOK! Respect everyone's point of view on how they choose to utilize Twitter. At the moment - I also am changing my methods on how I use & grow my Twitter account (primarily due to changes/experiences with Twitter). RT @LarryWentz How should you use Twitter? Use it how "YOU" want to - be yourself! Don't submit to peer pressure or so-claimed guru advice.


Learn How To Get More Twitter Followers By Using "Manual-Pilot"

"Cherry Pick" your way to massive amounts of "quality" followers to "build relationships". Learn the techniques to gain the most Twitter followers you can & always be "on the grow". I'm a total social networking newbie & have a lot to learn... but I must be doing some things right. Twitter is my first baby step. What set my growth apart from others is that I was consistent, I targeted, I experimented, I perfected & I was willing to spend the time. I truly am an average schmuck & not any Internet guru of any type. What I did…worked! RT @LarryWentz Twitter Tip - "The Best Tools To Get More Followers - Your Head & Fingers!"

When somebody is trying to sell you some type of "Get Followers" system - Please go to "both" Twittercounter.com & Twitaholic.com to get a fairly good approximation of exactly how many followers they really are getting over time. Their day by day stats are not accurate as these services do stats check-up at different time periods in the day or even skip days.


There are some things you should do before you start following new people on Twitter to help ensure that they follow you back as well as attract new followers to yourself.

- Add your picture to your Twitter profile & your real name - people want to see who you are and not just some fake account set up by a bot. I'm almost at the point of never following back people that haven't bothered to put a picture up in their profile - 90%+ aren't serious about Twitter (except maybe newbies.... PLEASE put up a photo ASAP). I personally like to see screen names being actual person's names but if it is a business Twitter account than using the business name or business niche category as part of the name is OK. I am pretty convinced that more people will follow you back if you use your real name. I also don't recommend using numbers in your screen name as often people associate those screen names to spam accounts. Change your screen name if you need to in your settings.

- Add a description in your profile talking about whom you are and/or what your business is about. For example - mine says "Owner of WeightlossProgram.com, Anti-Viruses.com, 100s of domains, Internet Marketing, Cat Lover, Lake Bum, Pool Player, Happily Un-Employed". Another good example would be "Stay at Home Mom with 2 Kids, 1 Hubby, 1 Dog - Looking to Learn, Connect and Have Fun". People are "many times" more likely to follow you if they can see a little more about you - "attract people to you by being a real person". Your description also will attract followers who search for keywords in profiles to find like-minded people. Add your location of where you live.

- Add your URL to your website or blog in your profile. Your profile is kind of like your business card on Twitter & is how many people decide to follow you or not though recent "backwards" changes at Twitter make it harder to see people's profiles in the following process. Now people see your latest tweet when searching for new people to follow when going through follower lists (I wish it was both profile & latest tweet).

- It's also a good idea to change your Twitter background away from the default one - "many resources" also can be found by just doing searches for "twitter backgrounds" out on the web.

- Post a few tweets - maybe a brief introduction to yourself or mentioning you are on Twitter to learn, connect & have fun, maybe you just got back from dinner with friends at a new restaurant (not "having soup", "taking nap" or similar two word phrases), mention some recent business activities you were involved in or about to be involved in, etc...  . Engage conversations with fellow tweeple either by responding to comments or questions that interest you or maybe asking sensible & sincere questions that people will respond back to you. Remember to use the reply "curly" arrow that appears to the right of someone's tweet (when your mouse arrow is there) - I often see newbies replying to a comment by just posting an tweet and people don't have a clue to who they are responding to. Retweet (RT) info that you enjoy or have found useful that others have tweeted. Post tweets on a regular basis & don't skip many days at a time. I highly recommend you don't constantly spam your business links as you will likely get people un-following you (nothin' wrong with an occasional one IMO if done properly). Many people post links to their latest blog posts or utilize Twitpic.com to post "interesting" pictures which often will help you engage in conversations with others responding to the pic. You are able to delete your tweets if you posted something that you wished you hadn't. I also feel it is critical that you are posting tweets and communicating with others when you are actively growing large #s of followers because "I think" that Twitter may have an algorithm that "red flags" accounts & you may risk suspension - ********Click Here for "The Twitter Rules" ********. Note - some Twitter accounts are specifically set up to only promote their business offers & generally are up front about it so remember that when you follow them.

- Don't be a fake & always be yourself! Be helpful to others - be personal (not bot-like) - post "mostly" useful information and above all ......HAVE FUN & BUILD RELATIONSHIPS!


Now you are almost ready to start following people but first consider using the next few tools.

- If you end up following many people & don't want to miss the tweets of some of your favorite people then I recommend you use a tool like Tweetdeck to organize people into groups... it also has many other benefits & is extremely popular.

Seesmic Desktop is another app that is very popular & also has the ability to organize people into groups as well as many other features.

- WooHoo! Twitter came out with "lists" to help organize your tweeps. Share in public or keep your lists private. I LOVE IT! Use Twitter lists you create (public & private) to clear out a lot of the clutter in your Twitter stream while still being social & following people back who follow you.

- I also recommend SocialOomph (formerly TweetLater) which has many features including auto-direct messaging (I don't use that & you shouldn't either), auto-posting, auto-follow (I like to manually follow people but when on vacation I auto-follow… ok now I have it set permanently to save time). I generally follow back "almost" everyone within 48 hours... trying to do it within 24 hours or less so I don't lose followers (now use auto-follow). SocialOomph's auto-follow does not work if you have reached daily Twitter follow limits and those new followers are ignored. My favorite feature “was” their "auto-un-follow". If someone followed you and later un-followed you... you then could automatically un-follow them as well. There are some extremely annoying people who play the un-follow game after you follow them back. I thought Twitter was suspending these accounts whom make it a practice of the un-follow game but have seen it happen frequently to me lately. Unfortunately – SocialOomph and other companies that had un-follow services were forced to remove them by Twitter. Twitter often doesn’t understand Twitter itself & makes it difficult for users to efficiently handle their accounts (#TwitterFail). SocialOomph also have now added a new grouping feature in their professional version which looks like a very good idea. SocialOomph's direct message optout service became a necessity for me to use as it blocked a giant chunk of automated DMs so now I actually can more rapidly go thru & reply to my DMs (still a pain in the a**). Their professional version has "many" benefits & features compared to the free version.

SocialToo is another popular tool for Auto Follow, Auto Un-follow (no longer available), Blocking Automatic DMs, Social Surveys & More. Note - I am aware of glitches that have occurred with SocialToo un-following people in accounts that were improperly classified as auto-DMers. Example - I was having a regular DM conversation (I don't auto-DM) with a friend who was using SocialToo.... all of a sudden I was un-followed... 2 nights in a row. He has since stop using the un-follow auto-DMers feature as it wasn't accurate & a number of his friends were un-followed in addition to me. Very likely these were just some early glitches with the new un-follow/filter auto-DMers service from SocialToo. I also should point out that many Twitterers use "irresponsible" Twitter applications that DM or post tweets without their knowledge... they don't even realize they have been sending auto-DMs. I personally recommend to just delete the auto-DMs & not use the unfollow auto-DMers feature. I did now end up trying their auto-DM block service based by keyword. SocialToo is used by many people and is highly respected. (I wish Twitter had a DM filter!)

- I also highly recommend you visit your "notices" tab in your Twitter account settings at http://twitter.com/account/notifications and turn off auto-emails for when you get new followers/direct messages so your inbox doesn't get flooded with notification emails.


Here is a golden rule for you to realize - People are more likely to follow you if they have "recently" been following new people.

If someone hasn't logged on to Twitter in a month nor has followed anybody in a month - what chance do you think they will follow you back if you follow them? With that said - you need to be following people who are actively following people themselves. Where do you find these people? You find them on the "followers" list of Twitter users. That is where your main efforts should be in gathering new followers yourself. I now only follow people on the first few pages of the latest followers on people's lists. Some people add several hundred new followers a day. If they added 300 new followers in a day .... that means that the first 15 pages of their followers list (20 people per page) were the last 300 people they added  - search that list for new people to follow (Use sites like WeFollow.com, Twittercounter.com & Twitaholic.com to get "semi-accurate" account growth numbers because they don't update exactly every 24 hours). Often I will have literally 20-30 window tabs open with Twitter users I have "cherry-picked" for whom I want to tap into their followers list. Sometimes I will just do the first page or two to follow new people and I will "cherry pick" people to follow. Often those people are still online with Twitter & follow me back within a few minutes because they are twittering at the moment. What do I mean by "cherry picking"? I specifically follow people who are entrepreneurial-minded, motivational-minded, businesses, animal/cat lovers, those with similar interests & people that I feel generally are good "real" people. Stay at home moms, students with good attitudes, musicians/artists, fun-lovin average joes/marys  (you get the point) - I luv em' all because they are real! It's harder to identify these people as we no longer can instantly see their profiles without opening up their Twitter page & you have to judge by their latest tweets/avatar. When I am in a hurry, I often won't do quite as good of job doing my cherry picking. Hey... how about following people who follow @MrMilestone or similar "follower counter" services... they tend to follow you back if you view their following/follower ratio and are generally pretty good quality tweeps. Over time you will learn to smell out the bots and people who set up multiple accounts promoting the same thing - I generally don't bother trying to follow them back but "sometimes" will follow them (I do often go thru their followers list & ironically find some good people who also are fairly likely to follow me back). The "adult-oriented" Twitter accounts I stay away from following for obvious reasons. That is one major disadvantage of using automated following systems - you end up following people you probably wouldn't follow if you did it manually.

OK - I prefer going thru followers lists to do my "cherry picking" but I need to mention a site I recently came about that does profile searching to target your market by utilizing searches of people's bios - Tweepsearch.  Results can be provided according to their last recent update time (not completely accurate but accurate enough so at least you know the people are actively using Twitter), friends count, followers count or alphabetically. Tweepsearch also allows an authentication process so you can follow people directly via their interface.

There is a major time benefit for using automation and there is a "very very very slight" chance I may eventually use systems like Hummingbird Twitter Software or TweetAdder (most popular & the best choice for software IMO) for days I don't feel like manually following people... though I have major concerns because I have seen account suspensions occur with automated tools which is why I choose not to use them for following people. With that said - it appears the majority of users don't have a problem at all using this automation. I have seen these systems in action and "many" of the top Twitter users with massive numbers use the tools every day... they do a fairly good job at targeting using follower lists and search terms from http://search.twitter.com/. Twitter search is another great way to find targeted people to follow who may be discussing things that you are interested in personal-wise or business-wise ....... it is also now available on our home pages finally (except for advanced search). #FollowFriday referrals also are a great place to find new Tweeple to follow - they also tend to converse with people much more often.


Before you start following people - let's talk more about the "un-follow process" & Twitter limits.

Twitter will limit you to following 2000 people until your "followers" list starts coming in more balance with your "following" amount (you will likely need to un-follow non-followers to break past that 2000 mark.... read on). Once that starts happening - you can start following more people up to 10% more than your amount of followers. For example if you have 2500 people following you - you then can follow 2750 people (2500 + 250). Twitter also limits you to following 1000 people a day which really comes into play when you have thousands of followers like I have. This often slows down people following you back & often it will take me up to 72 hours to follow-back my new followers though I generally do it every 24 hours (especially now that I just have auto-follow set). I feel this is true with many others so it is probably a good idea to allow a minimum of 72 hours (maybe more) before you un-follow someone because they haven't followed you back. Twitter also seems to be clamping down on people who un-follow people too quickly after following them. For me, because of the large number of followers, it is often weeks before I do any un-follow process.

Over the last year - I actually have had to do total rewrites of how I recommend doing the un-follow process because of Twitter's constant changes. They eliminated page #s in the following/followers lists so I could no longer go to a certain page & unfollow a set amount of people as I used to do. I used to only have to un-follow 100-300 people a day due to my large account numbers & high amount of new daily followers. This is no longer possible so I am forced to use an un-follow service.
I want to give as many people as long as possible to follow me back before I remove them from my following list. So I choose not to un-follow anyone until I start bouncing up next to the "10% level" as already mentioned. I was going to mention Twitter Karma, Huitter as unfollow services but Twitter’s changes killed these businesses. FriendOrFollow.com is a site that shows you who you are following that isn't following you back but it isn't an automated service & you need to manually click to un-follow people. Buzzom.com also has an un-follow service which does now 20 un-follows only at a time because of Twitter rule changes. With my numbers, this is "very time consuming" but Buzzom is the current service I use for unfollowing people. I also like to wait 24 hours or more before I start following people again after I've done an unfollow process. Twitter had required them and others to shut down the mass unfollow services by the end on Jan. 2010.... sigh. Did I mention how Twitter sucks in failing to realize the importance that many people view social networking as a 2-way street and choose to not follow non-followers?

Some of the automated softwares have an un-follow process which finds the oldest user it auto-followed who has not following you back. Again - I choose not to use them but that is your decision.


Ok - let's get to following new people who likely will follow you back.

RT @LarryWentz Twitter Tip - "If you want more followers... reach out & shake their hand by following them first."

RT @LarryWentz Twitter is like a high school dance. Are you going to ask someone to dance by following them or sit in the bleachers?

I’ve put a couple lists of people together for your use at http://twitter.com/LarryWentz/topfollowings & http://twitter.com/LarryWentz/top-followings of the top “Follow Friendly” twitter users with large follower counts (generally 40,000+ followers with similar following count – follow history shows they generally follow back). Start following them & you will likely see them rapidly pop up as one of your new followers usually within 24-48 hours. In fact… you will notice that you may actually be getting many more followers than the # of people you followed because people go through these top user’s followers lists to follow new people. It’s interesting to see someone brand new follow me & then I watch “their” new followers list pop up familiar faces as I know people go through my follower list to follow people. That’s right… you can follow certain people & rapidly get 10+ new followers from that single following (even more over time). In addition to these people on those lists I created - consider going through their recent "followers" list as those people likely are looking for new followers & also will likely follow you back (get the point?). Yep… even go through their followers list & so on. "Cherry pick" the people you want to follow as best as you can. Yes - some days you may not be as picky to save time.
Depending on what you do yourself & what type of new followers you are looking for - bookmark those Twitterers (or group them in your Tweetdeck, Seismic or SocialOomph account) that match your target market, that are actively growing their follower counts and that have good quality followers that you would like to continuously tap on a regular basis (your regular "fishing holes"). I think you will find that many of the fast growing Twitter accounts are entrepreneur-oriented and that the majority of their followers also are as well. If that's your target market... then target it - "cherry pick"! I am using the term "target market" but in reality it is "target relationships"... sure potentially I may conduct business of some type with people I follow (which I have) but quite frankly I just enjoy hangin' around a bunch of good people to learn & have fun. Everyone has a different motivation and sometimes that motivation for using Twitter will change in people's minds over time... it has in mine. We all may have different reasons for wanting more followers... or not to have more followers. We often hear people say I prefer "quality over quantity". I prefer "quality & quantity"... I know for a fact that by having quantity that you will attract even more quality users that likely never would have followed you otherwise.

Get yourself listed at the Twitter directories like WeFollow.com, www.Twellow.com , www.Twitr.org  & www.JustTweetIt.com  - also use these to find people to follow. I personalize use WeFollow.com the most often as I like to see which people are actively growing their followers list though the daily growth numbers are not completely accurate. I then go through their list of followers to find new people to follow..... & so on. www.Twibes.com is a fast growing community type directory where you connect with others that have similar interests as yourself - check it out! "Twitter Lists" also will help you pinpoint your target market & find interesting tweeps to follow as well go through their follower lists.

Do you need to find Twitterers by location? Twitter's Advanced Search allows you to find people tweeting near cities based on info their Twitter profile info. Nearbytweets automatically determines where you are when you visit their site & gives you similar results.   Twellow.com's "Twellowhood" will help you locate tweeps that are listed in their directory which is really a large & growing amount (Currently just for US & Canada). You could also use http://www.twellow.com/search and enter a city or country to search profiles of those in their directory. For example for the term "Australia" currently has over 133,000 matches - http://www.twellow.com/search?q=Australia&search_cat  . Twellow is great because you can actually follow people directly from their site if you log in. You really can't determine if the users have a "follow-back" friendly attitude unless you look at their numbers and following/followers ratio is similar. If you go to http://twittercounter.com/pages/friends & enter your time zone area - for example ... http://twittercounter.com/pages/friends&time_zone=Sydney  you are able to see at least the top 100 people's friends/follower count ratio. Twitaholic.com seems to be a better place to see "follow-back" friendly tweeps by location  - http://twitaholic.com/top100/friends/bylocation/Australia/ . Tweepsearch.com seems to a pretty good job when I entered locations and popped up results based on results from bio / location. Following people via location is obviously a much more time consuming matter compared to going thru someone's follower list & clicking follow.

Add your Twitter link everywhere you can. Add it to your signature in forums, emails, ezine articles, blog posts, etc.... And of course - add your Twitter links to your own websites & blogs. Add links to your business cards, offline ads ... maybe even a car decal? A tattoo? (Hmmm.... maybe too extreme)

Besides Hummingbird...  there is TweetAdder (most popular?) and many more automated follow systems out there. You will not get as good of quality targeted people (nor quantity) with automated systems as compared to when you "cherry pick" people to follow but there is time advantages to using them. I truly prefer the "manual-pilot" following method. When I see people using/promoting these automated systems - I admit I will often go thru their latest follower’s lists to follow people as I know they are fairly likely to follow me back. I have had good results doing this and I often "cherry-pick" from these lists. I also don't think Twitter is overly fond of automated systems so personally I choose not to use them. I also may try some other services that aid in the effort of getting more followers or are Twitter related products but I just can't nor want to do everything as I know my methods work pretty dang good. I also choose to use Twitter differently than some products recommend.

RT @LarryWentz Twitter Tip - "If you want more followers... make sure you don't treat people like numbers."

RT @LarryWentz 2 ways to lose followers - 1. Don't say anything 2. Say something (same strategy works to gain followers)

I recommend only following 300-400 people a day if you are just getting started so you don't set off any "red flags' with Twitter due to severe out-of-balance following/followers ratio. It shouldn't be any problem to follow more people if you already have several hundred followers…. make sure you have a good followback ratio though.


The Twitter Suspension… Oh No!!! What am I doing now?

In early 2010, I started to notice “many” large accounts get suspended (a few permanently). Were they using automated software? Did they get suspended for aggressive following because they followed/unfollowed people to quickly? Was it because they had low followback ratios & it sent up a red flag? Only Twitter really knows why (or do they?). I find it rather funny/unusual that Twitter has daily follow limits but will actually suspend people because they want to grow a larger Twitter following & consistently follow people within the limits. That’s right – Twitter follow limits actually aren’t the follow limits… at least if you don’t get a high followback ratio IMO. I base that on personal experience.

You see - I consistently used to get 500-600 new followers a day (one day 800+). I decided to do some experimenting on my follow process & chose to follow a targeted group of SEO specialists/super affiliates by using people’s Twitter lists they created. I had changed my pattern. For a 2-3 day period I was only getting about 200-300 new followers (half of usual amount). I also was able to much more rapidly do my following process because the list of people I was following was not already following me. It’s slower if a page has the majority of people already following me… it takes long because you have to visit more pages. Anyhow - literally on the date of my 1 year anniversary… I got suspended for a week. IMO it was either the rapid follow process, the low followback ratio I had for a 2-3 day period (more than likely that) or even possibly Twitter sent me a special 1 year anniversary gift – a suspension.

So what am I doing now? Well I admit I am totally gun-shy in following the maximum Twitters daily limit. In fact, at the moment (July 2010), I currently am just auto-following people back & growing my account that way (been that way for a few months). I am in the slow process of unfollowing non-followers (including new ones playing the unfollow game) by using Buzzom. Eventually my Following/Follower #s will be in balance. I will likely start doing my following processes again but on a more limited basis. I am also exploring additional methods of growing my follower count. Don’t let my suspension scare you from using my “manual” methods of growing your account… they work. It was when I changed my pattern that something stood out.


Remember - It may feel good to have a lot of followers but there is little point to it if you don't start making connections & building relationships.

Check out Grader.com's Top Users & learn how some of Twitter's best tweeple communicate, offer value, help others & build relationships. It isn't a perfect grading system IMO but pretty gosh darn good. Also learn from other’s advice you get on the blogs we have listed at Followers.biz.

Well there you are – these are the major details on how exactly I have grown such a large following… manually and not automated. Twitter will constantly be evolving & methods you use on Twitter will need to evolve as well. I hope my experiences/advice will aid you now & in the future. Tweet On Everyone!!!
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