How to increase your Twitter following (and attract the right kind of followers)

The problem with organically growing your Twitter following is it takes a long time.

Plenty of businesses use Twitter to market to and generally connect with their customers. Provided you tweet interesting and relevant content, your following will grow as more people discover your existence.

ben johnston how to increase your twitter following with followerwonkThe problem with this organic process is it takes a long time. And if no one is listening a business will have little reason to speak.

This was the situation I found myself in a month ago. I tweeted every week and had been for several months and had attracted a grand total of eight followers. My goal was to target two specific groups of people, the first being Wellington-based businesses (my target client base). As I also blog about the graphic design and printing industry I wanted to increase the readership of my blog at the same time.

Rather than targeting the readers themselves, I decided to piggyback on other bloggers that already have a following that cover the same sectors I cover – the idea being professional bloggers need to constantly publish and direct their followers to new content, and it might as well be my content.

If you want a specific user to follow you the easiest way is to follow them first. Not all will reciprocate, but provided the information in your Twitter bio is interesting to them, about 15 percent will immediately follow you back. So to rapidly increase your following, you need to follow a lot of people.

Using Followerwonk to increase your Twitter following

To find the right people to follow, head over to Followerwonk (seriously, that's what it's called) where you can search for Twitter users with specific keywords in their bios for free.

In order to target Wellington businesses, I searched for the keywords business, entrepreneur, founder, startup, company, owner, and director using Wellington as the location. Then to target bloggers who cover the printing industry, I searched for the keyword string: printing (blog|blogger|expert|specialist|author|writer|editor|contributor|columnist). Under the 'more options' menu I selected 'minimum followers 500', limiting the search results to only those who have a decent influence on Twitter (and a bio that includes the keyword 'printing' and any of the other keywords listed in brackets) and therefore are more likely need new content to tweet out.

how to use followerwonk to increase your twitter following

From there the real work began. For each of the results I skimmed their bio to confirm they were in my target group. Then I simply clicked on the username to be directed to their twitter profile, making sure this opened in a new browser window, clicked follow, closed the window and repeated many, many times. There is a paid option to add users in bulk but this requires a subscription to Followerwonk's parent company SEOmoz, which for me wasn't a good fit.

The results

In just over 90 minutes I added 900 users to my Twitter account and within 24 hours 100 users had reciprocated and followed me back. As I promote my new graphic design work and blog posts using Twitter, this larger following has increased the total traffic to my company website by 45 percent. In fact, now a third of my site's total traffic comes from Twitter and the great thing about this stream of traffic is, it's interested in what I do and it didn't cost me a cent.

Ben Johnston is an award-winning graphic designer with a specialist knowledge of pre-press and the printing industry. Before he founded London Studio in 2012 he worked in a senior role at New Zealand's most highly awarded pre-press company followed by a long stint freelancing for one of London's top five design agencies