Social Media for Bloggers

10 Ways to Get More REAL Twitter Followers

This post was originally published on the NMX blog. It is reposted here with permission.

When I first started using Twitter, I had no idea how to build my follower list. So, like many rookies, I made the mistake of following as many people as possible en masse. If someone was on Twitter, I followed them – and hoped that they’d follow me back.

While it is true that I built a follower list of several hundred people, they weren’t real followers. That’s not to say they were bots (though I’m sure some of them were), but they weren’t real followers in the sense that that didn’t really follow anything I said. Few of them clicked on my links, retweeted my tweets, or engaged in conversation. When I released a product, even fewer of them translated to sales. So, I did what any rational person would do.

I started over.

I purged my list, keeping only the followers I knew or actually wanted to follow. In unfollowing so many people, lots of people unfollowed me as well – but that was fine, because to those people, I was just a number. If you only follow me if I follow you back, that says to me that you don’t actually care what I have to say…so go ahead and unfollow!

Once I did that, I was left again with a fairly low follower number and no idea how to build it. So, I started doing some hard work, figuring out what works and what does not. I followed people I loved, but I didn’t use my own follows as a ploy to get people to follow me. Instead, here’s what I did to get real twitter followers:

  1. I added my Twitter ID to the bio at the end of my posts. Every day, I get about three to five new followers from that link. When I write an especially popular post, I get more.
  2. I started linking to my profile within posts when relevant. By directing people to follow me on Twitter, I could remind them that they should add me if they liked the post I wrote.
  3. When I made new business cards, I added my Twitter ID.
  4. Whenever I start following someone I truly like, I make sure to @reply – jump into a conversation, tell them why I’m following, retweet a link they’ve posted, etc. It gives that a little poke, showing them that I actually am interested, not just another number.
  5. I participate in Twitter chats. This is a big one. For example, every time I participate in #blogchat, I end up with 10 – 20 new followers – sometimes even more if I’m super active. If you host a chat or serve as a co-host, you’ll get even more followers.
  6. I started using hashtags. You don’t have participate in a full chat, but just using hashtags occasionally when you tweet, especially about a conference (like #BWENY) or specific topic related to your blog.
  7. I started participating in #FollowFriday. With #FF, I don’t link to a list of people – I recommend one person with a reason why to follow. And more than just posting a few #FF tweets, I also take my friends’ recommendations and follow people who I find interesting (and tweet at them, see point number four).
  8. I stopped thinking of Twitter as a marketing tool and started just talking to followers like friends. Without conversation, you probably won’t be very successful on Twitter (check out my experiment here). As people see you having conversations with people they know, they’ll jump in and likely follow you as well.
  9. I added my Twitter ID to my forum signatures and – this is important – started being active in the forums. This is somewhere where I’m still lacking because I don’t always have time to participate in forums, but whenever I can legitimately be active (i.e., not spamming the boards), I see an increase in followers.
  10. I’m not afraid to be funny. Funny tweets (or even retweets) get retweeted – a lot – and the more you get retweeted, the more followers you get.

Okay, those are my ten best Twitter tips. What are some of your best strategies (that don’t include “follow a bunch of people and hope they follow you back”)?

Image credit: “Twitter Bird Sketch” by shawncampbell, modified

Three Common Pinterest Mistakes Most Users Don’t Realize They Are Making

Pinterest is by far my favorite social site (so much so that I have an entire blog devoted to the recipes found on Pinterest), but I see a lot of bloggers and business owners making mistakes on this network. I’m starting to get a little twitchy about it.

Pinterest is not Twitter. It’s not Facebook. It’s not any of the other social or bookmarking sites you use. Pinterest is its own animal that you have to learn how to tame. If you don’t understand how to use Pinterest, it is, frankly, better to not have an account at all than to continue to muck things up over there.

Sadly, most users plow ahead, not even realizing the dreadful mistakes they’re making on Pinterest. Before you repin another image, check out the three most common mistakes I see on this network, and make sure you aren’t an offender:

1. Never Commenting

It’s called “social” media for a reason. We all seem to be quite content with the fact that Twitter and Facebook and LinkedIn and every other social network under the sun requires engagement in order to grow an audience and a create a community that will love you. But what about Pinterest? Most of us just do a daily drive-by-pinning and say “woo hoo, we’re using this cool new platform!”

If you actually want to use Pinterest in a way that matters, get out there and engage just like you would on other networks. Commenting is extremely under-utilized. Find out who is pinning your content and say thank you or open a dialogue. Comment on the pins of those you are following to add tips, answer questions, or just generally talk to people in your community.

2. Pinning Crap Images

You want more people to pin your blog posts? Create better images. I see a lot of bloggers – especially bloggers who don’t write in traditionally visual niches – complain that they don’t get much traffic from Pinterest. I think this is a really unfair assessment of the platform. You have an amazing opportunity to tap into this market. Someone on Pinterest who is pinning images of cakes and dresses is the same person on Twitter promoting your post about social media. They want your content.

But do you have a nice, pin-worthy image?

If you pin a stock photography image and put the title in the description, you’re not going to see much repin activity. Descriptions get deleted pretty easily. You need to create what I call a “title image.” You’ll notice that every single post on this blog includes a highly pin-able image, and none of them are of desserts or fashion. This is a great tutorial about creating title images and other great images for your blog, even if you blog in a niche that isn’t super visual.

3. Not Optimizing for Search

Pinterest’s search function is pretty heavily used, so if you aren’t pinning with this in mind, you’re blowing it. It’s really tempting to never change the description on a repin. I used to get sucked into this. But remember, unlike Twitters, which are pretty much gone within 24 hours of you posting them, pins have a much longer shelf life. When you optimize, you increase the change that someone will find your pin, which means they might follow you. So optimize every pin, even repins.

Optimization is pretty easy. Don’t write in the description “I love this blog post!” or “Great advice!” Write what the post is actually about and include some keywords.

You should also optimize your boards. Pinterest is constantly changing, but right now the title of the board is what is most important, so get your keyword in there. I also like to include my keywords in the board description. Right now, this doesn’t really matter when Pinterest ranks search results, but it could in the future, so you might as well get ’em in there.

If you’re still stumped when it comes to Pinterest, I would love to speak to you more about this platform and help you get started. Check out my hire me page to order the Pinterest Package or simply contact me for some one-on-one Pinterest training.