How to grow your twitter following

How to grow your Twitter following legally

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Ever wondered how to grow your Twitter following without incurring the wrath of Twitter police?

I am an ex-convict, wait-wait, do not hide your handbags; I am a Twitter parolee, having been jailed by Jack for what was the most tortuous six months of separation from my account. The reason for my being placed in twitter jail is irrelevant to this discussion. What is relevant though is the experience I acquired during my Twitter prison term. I learnt many things, chief of which is how to grow your twitter following.

At the time of going into Twitter jail, I had 9,500 followers, a thousand of whom abandoned me the moment they saw that stigmatic label, “account suspended”. That’s human beings for you; no loyalty.

Having lost all hope of regaining my Twitter account, I opened a new one whose following I tried to grow through unorthodox means; follow trains. But five months into the life of my new Twitter account, I received the email that I had never in a thousand years expected:


“We have lifted your Twitter suspension!”


How to grow your twitter followers

Although I had amassed 2500 followers on the new account, I soon realized that these followers, acquired through gain trains, were as good as presenting a TedTalk to an audience of mannequin dolls. No matter how powerful your tweets, these gain train ghost followers will never engage with your content.  At the same time, looking at my old twitter account for the first time in six months, I was disheartened to see that I had lost 1000 followers – correction, a thousand traitors – in my time in Sun City. I was determined to regain those followers. Having just come out of Twitter jail, I did not want to risk my newly paroled account by engaging in any black hat operations.

Choose your specialty

Prior to my imprisonment, I tweeted about many things. Being a multifaceted Aries, I have views and interests in many topics; film, natural African hair, football, literature, writing and also God’s greatest creation; the curvaceous female form. Twitter jail, which I spent trying to grow the new account, taught me that you gain useful followers rapidly once you narrow your interests on Twitter and stick to the chosen area. If you tweet Kaizer Chiefs one minute, dieting tips the next minute and then shift to growing mangoes three minutes later, you not only confuse your audience but you may even lose some of them. Think of a night club whose music playlist hops from Kwaito, to Celine Dione, to amapiano and then Rhumba. It just won’t work.

So the first thing you need to do is narrow your topics of interest down to one, two at most.

Once you have chosen a specialty, you become the go-to person for your elected topic. For example, the entire South Africa knows that if they want entertainment news, Phil Mphela or Zalebs are the go-to people.

Follow wisely

My specialty on Twitter is Mzansi Magic television show commentary. This comes naturally to me. Because I have a genuine interest in shows like Date My Family, Our Perfect Wedding, Gomora, The Queen and Saturday night movies, my tweets get high engagement from likeminded tweeps. From the likes and retweets that I get, I choose my future followers. I am calculative when it comes to following new people. Once you receive a notification for a like or retweet, click on the account, scroll down the first 10-15 tweets and judge the content, take note of the most recent active date. If this account shows recent tweets, this means the tweep isn’t just going to be dead wood on your follower list. The fact that this account engaged with your tweet points towards a shared interest. So go ahead and hit the follow button. But not before you analyse the follower to following ratio. If the account has 1000 followers but only follows 10, do not follow; celebrity tendencies. The person behind the account is unlikely to follow you back.

If you are still unsure about the account, enter the handle in the Twitter search field together with key words which either interest or put you off. Sometimes I even search offensive words against a newly engaged twitter handle. The Twitter search field will help you pre-empt future online arguments with bigots and trolls. Use it.

Why are you on Twitter?

Do not make your audience guess your intentions on Twitter. The right Twitter bio will attract your chosen audience. Include your interests on your bio. If you are on Twitter to promoted your business, where you can specify your line of business or profession. This links your account to topics that are constantly entered in the Twitter search field.

Engage and follow

Once you spot a likeminded account, retweet and comment on a few tweets. But keep your comments authentic. Most people on Twitter are not idiots and can spot a fake comment. If someone has a small business, show support, show interest in what obviously means a lot to them. Once you get a few responses, it is safe to hit the follow button. Trust me, if you do this, it is more than likely that your follow will be reciprocated. Not only will you gain a new follower, but you will acquire an ally.

Hashtag hunting

Another useful tip on how to grow your Twitter following is hashtag hunting.

Just because you have chosen a specific stance on twitter does not mean you should not connect with people of different interests. You may be focusing on one of your interests but you can also delve into your other side interests. To find the right people to add to your contacts, go through old and new hashtags. If you are into makeup for example, search for key words like “lipstick” or “concealer”. The results could lead you to likeminded tweeps. Once you find them, engage and follow.


Trim your contacts

Most people “respect” Twitter accounts whose follower to following balance is symmetrical. If for example you reach 1,000 followers but you are following 2,000 people, go through the accounts you have followed and trim it. Target those who add zero value to your timeline and also those who have not reciprocated the follow back. You can even unfollow your favourite celebrities because keeping these accounts does nothing but reduce your rating in the eyes of those who observe the follower-following ratio. Do not worry about missing out on their tweets because, rather than following your favourite celebrity, you can create celeb lists. If you would like to know how to create twitter lists, follow this tutorial.


Hijack viral tweets

There is an old Afghan proverb that goes, “when the tiger kills, the jackal profits”.

To the uninitiated, a viral tweet is a Twitter post which has received a high number of retweets, like a virus, it has quite literally infected the Twittersphere. To find the most recent viral tweets, log into Twitter and then click on Explore your search field, scroll past Twitter’s suggested lists until you see “viral tweets”. Select a viral tweet whose subject matter is something you are familiar with. If you can come up with a fire comment, leave it under the comments section of the viral tweet. Your tweet will tap into the attention generated by the viral post.

When the lions kill a zebra, the smaller predators such as the jackals know it’s mealtime for them too. Even though the author of the viral tweet gets the lion’s share of retweets and likes, those who comment under the tweet will benefit too. Once people engage with your reply, you now have the opportunity to get new followers.

Join a retweet group

My final tip on how to grow your Twitter following…

A retweet group is a syndicate of tweeps who agree to retweet a given number of each other’s tweets in order to broaden one another’s audience. Twitter algorithms detect and punish users for “random retweets” – excessive retweeting/liking of content by twitter users with whom you have no connection. To circumvent the Twitter bots, members of retweet groups create a believable connection to one another.

The first rule of every retweet group is all members must follow each other. With membership averaging 50 people, once you have joined 10 such groups, you are guaranteed 500 new followers.

Apart from the follow back rule, the increased visibility and engagement on your tweets will ultimately grow your followers. To find a retweet group simply enter the words “retweet group” in the Twitter search field and an endless list will appear.

Using the tricks that I have shared above, in 12 months I have grown my Twitter following from 8,500 to 15,000 – an increase of 76%. If you found this tutorial useful, hit me up on Twitter


Connect with the author on Twitter @RewindMzansi 

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