How to get 47,000 Twitter followers… with @JeffBullas
It sometimes surprises me how approachable people are online & Aussie blogger Jeff Bullas was no exception!
It was one of Jeff’s posts about 37 Signals monetising their blog that caught my attention, so I dug around to find out a bit more about him. I discovered that Jeff writes fascinating blog posts every day, is an AdAge Power 150 blogger (that’s a big deal) AND has over 47,000 twitter followers. I was intrigued (and yes, impressed).
I wanted to find out how…
So I tweeted Jeff (and mentioned a mutual friend). Within 12 hours Jeff had tweeted me back via a DM (direct message). Yes, social media is effective for meeting aspirational contacts!
So how does he do it?
Here is Jeff’s story of getting 47,000 followers.
1. Originally started on Twitter in 2008, but didn’t use it much.
2. Then he started to blog.
3. He followed people in his niche (which is ‘blogging & digital marketing’) and especially followed thought leaders like Chris Brogan, Brian Clark & David Meerman Scott.
5. By tweeting his own blog posts, Jeff had something valuable to contribute & he attracted his own following.
6. As his number of followers increased, it increased his ‘online credibility’ & led to more followers.
7. Although some would argue the opposite, Jeff says that Twitter etiquette is to follow people who follow you.
In summary: Produce great content, followers leaders in your industry & automate follow-backs.
How does Jeff keep in touch with everyone?
OK, you can’t realistically follow 40,000+ people’s live twitter streams, so how does Jeff keep in touch with people he’s particularly interested in?
How To Get 46,000 Twitter Followers: My Story — is Jeff Bullas’ post after our interview.
Can you tell us how you got to 47,000 Twitter followers?
Good question, I’ll try to keep that brief. I started in December 2008 and I didn’t use it very much. I sent tweets to couple of friends. I think I had 15 or 20 people on for about three to four months. Then I started to blog and that’s when I really started getting interested in Twitter. From that, I then started to follow people in the niche that I wanted to follow. That’s what’s very good about Twitter. It’s very good that you can follow people in your niche by doing a search. Or you can actually follow people who are big in your niche, so with social media it might be Chris Brogan, Brian Solis, David Meerman Scott or it might be Brian Clark of Copy Blogger.
What I found was, when I started to blog and produce good content, that started to drive interest on Twitter as well. If you’ve got some content worth publishing, then you’ve got something worth tweeting about. But not only that, actually tweet other people’s content that you found valuable to your audience. I actually regularly follow people in my niche. One of the major Twitter etiquettes is if you follow someone on Twitter, they’ll follow you back. I do that regularly, I still do. If you want to accelerate your Twitter followers, you will follow people in your niche. That’s very powerful because you’re actually in touch and communicating with people that are interested in what you’re talking about on your blog. I found that I did that fairly aggressively early on, but today if I don’t actually follow anyone, I’ll get about 1500 people a month that will follow me because of the content. Also, I think as you build up numbers you get what I call Online Credibility. They will follow you because of that as well as your blog. This is when multi-channel social media starts to get really powerful. On social media there is a thing called Tension Quantification. It’s how many Twitter followers you have, how many Facebook friends you have and how many people subscribed your blog. You have this Tension Quantification which actually gives you what I call online credibility. Real or imagined, it works. If you really want to build your Twitter following I would:
Publish great content in your blog
Follow people in your niche or in your industry who are leaders.
Twitter etiquette is actually to follow back. Continue to do that and it does take a bit of time.
I also automate some things like following people back. Some people some time say is not proper Twitter etiquette but I cannot literally follow 1500 people manually back every month.
When following so many people, how do you keep track of those that you are particularly interested in?
I usually use a tool call Tweet Deck. I’ve just changed over to HootSuite. What I do is I create a list of people who constantly tweet what I do and who I have conversations with. I can actually monitor them in streams. They could be what you call fans, people that love your work or people who are closer friends who you keep in touch with. You actually split them up into a different list. HootSuite is a free tool or you can get a paid version of it with more features and functions. It allows you to actually control and monitor your Twitter stream, because the Twitter stream can be quite overwhelming if its just one big stream. I do use the Direct Message (DM) channel a lot, which is what you call private back-channel. You actually can have one-on-one conversation without anyone else seeing it. If I want to talk about something offline, I’ll use the direct message channel on Twitter.
How would you explain Twitter to newbies or dismissive senior management?
It’s a very good promotional tool, a guy called Kawasaki uses that to promote his blog and his website. It’s also very good for actually finding out trends that are happening in your niche or industry. You can put in a search function and just see what’s happening. I found out about Kevin Rudd being dumped as Prime Minister though one of my friends’ Twitter feeds. It’s very good for monitoring noise about your brand in real time. That’s another thing, if you’ve got a real time tool that actually measures noise about your brand, whether it’s a personal brand or a brand of your company. I don’t know if you’ve noticed recently but Google’s added updates that’s just changed to real time and actually shows Twitter feed in Google. If you put that up to a CEO or a newbie and show them what’s happening in real time about a well known brand, they can actually see people commenting and tweeting about that brand. It’s great for having conversations. It’s great for monitoring. It’s great for doing real time search about what’s happening in real time. It’s fantastic as a tool for companies to find out about what people are saying about their brand. Don’t dismiss it. It can appear to be quite trivial, but don’t be fooled by 140 characters. There’s a lot of depth and breadth.
What would you recommend organisations do to get started on Twitter?
The first thing I’d do is set up and optimise your Twitter account. There’s a couple of really important things on that:
I would set up your background so that it actually has your brand name. I’d also upload and make sure that in your Twitter account you set up a link to your blog or your website and also upload an image or logo of your company – Consistent Branding. That’s how I’d start, make sure you’ve got it well set up for people to click through and link to your website or blog and with proper branding.
Once you’ve done that, I would then start following people in your industry – thought-leaders. See from the sidelines what they’re saying and see what they’re tweeting about.
Once you start feeling comfortable about that, see how Twitter works. Some people are worried that they’re going to say the wrong thing on Twitter because it’s new and frightening.
Then just start to use it and maybe leap into some of the conversations, make comments or post a link up that you find interesting. Maybe post up one of your blog posts that is relevant to your industry and do that regularly. What happens as you grow is you can then actually drive traffic through your tweets and drive the traffic through to your blog or your website.
That’s the basics of what I do and if you want to keep growing your Twitter followers, just continue to follow people. Everyone’s not going to follow you back, so don’t feel upset if you follow 100 people, 120 follow you back. but as you grow your credibility and as you post great content, you find that people will start to follow you.
But have fun with it. I’ve created great relationships online and met with people face-to-face because of it, just like today. I never ceased to be amazed with the power of it.