So, you’re out to promote yourself, big time. You’ve signed up for every social network you can think of, you’ve downloaded all the apps imaginable, and you followed nearly everyone on Instagram. But, now, a bigger iceberg is looming before your Titanic – how do you grow your Twitter following if you’ve just made an account, and all you have is a tiny little egg avatar and three followers, including your mom? Here’s a helpful guide to what you can do to transform yourself into the equivalent of the Most Interesting Artist on Twitter. Some of it is common sense, some of it is backed up by scientific research… and some of it is advice based on REALLY BAD LIFE CHOICES.
First thing’s first: make sure you have your social buttons set up on your Redbubble profile. When you go to Edit Your Profile you will find a spot to Link to Other Sites. Then punch in your Twitter info, and you’ll have a nice little birdie icon so your fans can find and follow you. For more info, check out this post.
Set your display picture to something crisp, clear, and easy to understand. You have a very tiny little square to work with, so it’s best if that tiny little square contains something that represents you and your work very well. Also, the tiny egg thing? That looks sketchy as hell. Don’t be an egg. It’s not fetch.
Make your name something relevant to who you are and what you do. Don’t do what I did, and make your twitter something silly and unrelated (@VotesForCrowley tells you nothing about me, other than that I really love mediocre TV shows). Try, maybe, a variation of your name and what you do, so that people know it’s you tweeting the moment they see your username. It also helps to keep it short, and avoid using too many special characters, to make it easier to remember.
Tweet what you know and tweet what you love. Forbes advises businesses to tweet mostly about the things they care about or are knowledgeable about. As a creative business, you should follow this advice – if you just go around tweeting random, unrelated stuff or try to chase trends you probably won’t get very far.
Getting the first 400-600 followers is going to be an uphill drag. Starting from the beginning, with zero followers, is never fun. Get all your friends to follow you, and start making connections. Interact with people bigger than yourself in the hopes of them noticing you and responding. If you can build a good rapport with a few popular influencers in your chosen subject, you will probably gain twitter followers faster. Even so, expect the period between getting to 600 followers to be far longer and more tedious than getting to 1200 followers. Don’t give up! Keep going at it. If you stop tweeting, you DEFINITELY won’t gain more followers.
Try not to use more than two hashtags per tweet, and try to avoid those #reallylonghashtagswithnocapitalsthatyoumadeuptomakeyourselflookmoreclever. They don’t work very well, and amuse no one but yourself. Try to pick up one or two hashtags that most relate to the content of your tweet, and use those. Tweets that have a maximum of two hashtags are 21% more likely to be retweeted; using more than that actually drops the RT rate.
Don’t make your tweets too long. On average, tweets that contained 100 characters or less were 17% more likely to get retweeted, which is something you really, really want. This is partly because short tweets are easier to read, and partly because short tweets are easier to RT in the old-fashioned way of copying a tweet’s text and reposting it with an RT and username in front of it.
Most people are on between 7am and 5pm, so those are the best times to tweet out your missives.
Figure out who your most valuable followers are. Followers are a commodity on Twitter, and some are more valuable to you than others. The person with 10 times more followers than you who retweets your stuff and tweets to you occasionally? Very valuable. The person with like, ten followers who’s STILL trying to make “fetch” happen? Not as valuable. The Social Rank tool is quite useful at helping you to figure out who should be the top of the charts for you.
However, don’t be too elitist, always chasing after people bigger than you. Those loyal followers who come out, retweet your things, interact with you, and shower you with praise are also very valuable and very important. Those are your fans. Neil Gaiman interacts with his fans, even if they have, like, ten followers. You’re not Neil Gaiman… but you want to be as big as he is on Twitter, right? Thank the people who support you and reach out to you and think you’re awesome (yes, even if they are your mom).
Rules are meant to be broken. So it’s okay if your personal strategy doesn’t quite mesh with the rules outlined here. Once in a while, a really long, obnoxious hashtag is really funny. Once in a while, it’s okay to tweet something that’s over 100 characters long. It’s never okay to be an egg though. Never.
The most important thing to succeeding on Twitter is to get out there and tweet. You’re going to make some mistakes, and that’s okay, because we all made mistakes starting out. You’re going to find your own way to tweet, your own niche, and your own methods that work best. Experiment! Make new connections! Have fun!
[Header image: “the tweet hunter” by lunaticpark]