How to Increase Your Followers on Twitter–and Why Writers Should!

Robert Pershing Waldow statue in Alton, Illinois.
This summer’s holiday! Linda Aksomitis with the Robert Pershing Waldow statue in Alton, Illinois. Learn more about the tallest man at:

Summer is over–well, the relaxed version of summer holidays anyway! That’s not to say a return to the world of schedules is a bad thing.

I like to have my time structured because it helps me stay organized and achieve my goals as a writer, travel blogger, and online instructor. In the end, getting things done is usually the result of having deliberately analyzed the result I want, identified all of the steps needed to get to that end, and made a plan to carry out those steps.

This past week I’ve talked to a lot of writers about how important Twitter is to name recognition (and every writer would like to have her name or blog site name remembered!) and establishing your brand. The majority said they wished Twitter would just go away.

That surprised me, because I love Twitter, and even though I’m still figuring “it” all out, I do feel like the little bird whose peeps are being heard from my forest nest.

It was years ago, though, that I signed up for my Twitter account – @aksomitis. That part was easy. I even managed a few tweets here and there, gathering a dozen or so followers. To be honest it didn’t seem all that exciting–my little tweet voice kind of faded into the giant caw and hoot of other birds in cyberspace.

Successful Tweeters, I’ve discovered, have to develop a melody and rhythm to their tweets just like songbirds. And that’s where having structured time comes in.

In the beginning I didn’t know what to tweet. Instead, I was one of those Tweeters that just retweeted whatever cute sayings and quotes were posted by the 100 or so other “birds” I’d followed, so I wasn’t really gaining any popularity.

My first bio read like something on the back of one of my novels…has written so many books…teaches in so many places…at least as much of this stuff as I could fit into the limited number of characters.

In other words I sounded pretty full of me–there was no smile or hint of “I’d like to be friends” in anything. Once I was friend hunting, I figured out pretty quick that the profiles that screamed me-me-me-my-books didn’t interest me much.

Which brings me around to that age-old Twitter question:

How do you get followers on Twitter?

You could wait until 5,000 fans–my immediate goal–all discover your blogs and websites and books, or you could go scouting, since that might take a decade or two unless you suddenly get famous.

There’s no getting away from the fact that cyberspace is often pretty much like real space and the best way to find friends is to hang out with the popular people who do what you enjoy, then follow them and their followers.

It’s easy too–kind of like sending out party invites. Head over to some popular dude’s Twitter page (just search the Twitterverse for somebody you know), click on their list of followers, read through their short and sweet bios and follow the ones that sound interesting.

For example, I regularly stop by Mark Coker’s (founder of Smashwords, the biggest distributor of independently published e-books) twitter page and follow his followers. Since I teach people how to publish and sell e-books, I figure I’ll have lots in common with Mark’s followers.

Which brings me back to that darn profile thing. It didn’t take me long to figure out what Mark’s followers said in their bios that made me want to follow them–and edit my profile accordingly. However, I still wanted my profile to be a branding tool so it needed to include pertinent info about me in the mix.

If I really want to ensure there’s a good fit with the people that sound “maybe” on a list I’m exploring, I also click on their names and read through their tweets first.

Set Goals to Increase Your Twitter Followers

By now you’re likely wondering how all this ties to where we started, which was schedules and achieving goals. Well, I set aside 10 minutes during each work day for a mental “break” from writing, teaching, and correcting, to hunt through the Twitterverse and find friends I think I have something in common with: Writers, travel bloggers, librarians, and e-teachers (you’ve guessed it–that common thing is books and content).

Of course, not all of my extended how-do-you-do handshakes end up in a follow back, so every few weeks I use a tool called ManageFlitter that shows me who didn’t find me interesting and unfollow them. Why? Well, because Twitter has a popularity rule and you can only hang out so many places where people are ignoring you. So, you have to dump these folks and move on to friendlier ones.

I also have to remember to check my own growing list of followers daily to make sure I’m following back the people who find me, so I’m not the one getting dumped!

While this may seem complicated, after a few days I found it was a lot of fun to go hunting for Twitterers who seemed interesting.

As you might expect, though, there’s a lot more to using Twitter successfully to accomplish your writing goals out here in cyberspace. I’ll share more of my experience in coming posts under the tag, Twitter.

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