One of the things authors do is to blindly accept every Twitter follower that falls within their gravitational well. After all, it does look like you have a huge following when someone visits your Twitter profile.
Unfortunately, people can see what percentage of your followers and folks you follow are made up of bogus accounts. This is not an accurate count, since most of the services that dig through your lists count things like no profile picture as a fake account. I know several folks with active, lively Twitter accounts without a profile picture.
Most folks won’t care one way or the other, but when you find you’ve hit one of Twitter’s random count maximums, you have to figure out what to do. The first one most folks encounter is the 2,000 “following” cap. You have to have more followers than folks you are following to get that cap moved upwards. I personally try to keep around a thousand more folks following me than those that I follow, although I do eventually pick through the list of new followers and complete the connection.
Some folks go with buying thousands of Twitter followers through places like Fiverr.com or from fake accounts like the one in the above picture. 10,000 new followers for only $39 … sounds like a deal. The problem is those followers are fake accounts created by enterprising folks, in many cases from India, China, or Pakistan. Twitter self-polices these accounts regularly, and you are guaranteed to see your numbers shrink hourly.
Another method folks use is to find a service that auto-follows people back. The downside to doing this is when you have people like “Lori Hart” from the above image befriending and following your account. Note that the fake Twitter profile has a randomly assigned profile picture … I’ve even seen a Benedict Cumberbatch version. The other issue is when you get a slew of “cam-girls” and porn-based accounts popping in to say hello. If your significant other sees that you are following a bunch of sex industry professionals, they may not be happy. Your mileage and relationship reactions may vary, but it is something to consider.
If you plan on using Twitter as part of an author platform, you should treat it as part of your professional image. It sucks when you have to go back through thousands of followers and clear out the ones you don’t want to be associated with, at least with that profile.
The best way to get more Twitter followers is to generate interesting tweets and post regularly. I schedule things on an hourly basis, and I try to make sure I retweet interesting items and “like” cool posts. Being interactive and interesting will bring in more eyeballs.
Some additional tips:
- Link up your Twitter, Facebook, other social media accounts, and your blog. Posting in one should trigger posts in the rest. This will help you to have active content that keeps you “fresh”.
- Stop shoving your book in other people’s faces. If you constantly talk about your book, the only people you’ll attract are folks looking to boost their numbers. They won’t have any interest in your work, and you’ve already driven off your potential audience.
- Post about other things. Recipes you liked (I posted one about meatballs I threw together at the last minute), YouTube videos you’ve watched and enjoyed (I post lots of those relating to writing), and talking about other folks will make your posts more enjoyable to read. Yes, stick an ad for your book in the mix every so often if you’d like. I will sometimes do one or two for any 24-hour period, and sometimes I will post books or Kickstarters from other authors as a way of supporting them.
- People will remember which folks are nice, respectful, and especially helpful. When it’s time to post about some special or a book giveaway, ask some of those friends to retweet if they can. No pressure. Most will be glad to help spread the word, but don’t bug them to post about it ten times a day. It’s not good for either of you.
- Be a decent human being. Sometimes we forget that when we’re hidden behind a keyboard.
Twitter etiquette, social media etiquette in general, is becoming a “must know” for authors. I’m still the new guy on the block, but even I can see what works and what doesn’t. If I see an author with 20k followers, and they are likewise following 20k people, I usually don’t look any further. I never follow without taking a quick look at their feed. If the first twenty posts are nothing except self-promotion, retweets, or generic ‘inspiring’ quotes then they don’t get followed. Be interesting, be nice, or failing all that, at least post a couple cute pictures of animals or a couple writing memes.