Note:I am no longer following this strategy, but feel free to report how it works for you
Back in March of 2011 I first started to try and actively get more Twitter followers. My original plan failed because I wasn't able to maintain that "Follower Momentum."
The new plan was to follow possible fans and then hope that they follow me back. It seems obvious then: the more work you do in selecting who you follow, the more success you will have in connecting with true fans. In this article I'm going to explain the prescreening process I went through. Eventually I'll post my long term results in another update.
Earlier this year I took my Twitter follow count from a meagre 100 or so up to about 360 followers in 24 hours but I spent a lot of time and the quality of my followers was garbage. How did I achieve this and why did I ultimately fail?
I got all these people following me by finding someone on Twitter with 7000 or more followers and a balanced follower to following count. Then I started ruthlessly following everybody who followed them.
Here is a Twitter user with a fairly balanced following to followers ratio:
This resulted in my follower count going higher and higher over the next few hours and days thanks to the huge number of Twitter folks who use services that "auto-follow new followers."
I didn't consider that a REAL achievement since most of the followers spew nothing but spam and will never read my posts. All I was doing here was singling out users who auto-follow and following them. This was not at all the type of progress I was looking for.
What follows is one musicians methodology for getting more relevant Twitter followers
Keep editing your profile: They give you 160 characters and you should work at filling it up appropriately, which means you can really get your inner word-press working to eventually evolve the perfect profile blurb. Anybody who is about to follow you is looking at this text to make their decision. Some important points to include would be a link to your band's landing page (more on that next), a description of your sound or genres covered, along with a few similar sounding acts. I describe my group as an "electronic vocal house duo for people who love vocals à la Uffie and minimal techno like deadmau5."
Link to Fly Paper: I always love hearing the term Fly Paper for an idea because its so evocative. You want something that traps people, but in a good way!
The page that you link to from Twitter gets a surprising amount of click-through traffic, especially when you start following many people and they're trying to figure out who you are. Make sure it's something that sticks! Or rather, make sure its something that draws people in and doesn't make them want to leave.
Examples of elements that would make me leave are: loud automatic music, flash animation introductions, or complicated layouts, and an ugly or cluttered design. Try to keep it simple, and maybe even test out a few optimized "landing pages" that summarize all the vital information and links that a fan would need to know. This could be in the form of a Wordpress blog post that summarizes recent news and links to the band's Soundcloud page, YouTube account, etc.
Find related bands and find their followers: The idea is to find fans that might like your sound, so find a bunch of bands, especially the ones you mention in your profile and start following their fans. I'm hopeful that they will be a bit curious, read my profile and ideally give my music a listen.
Prescreening Criteria: It's important to not just follow everybody that's following your target related bands. Many of the followers might not be potential fans, so here's a short list of criteria to judge your new potential fans before following (isn't the internet wonderful?)
1) Over 20 Under 200: No not ages, I mean followers. If they follow less than 20 people they probably don't use Twitter with anybody other than friends. If they follow over 200 they're starting to hit the limit of what I call "The limit of Twitter following." Basically beyond this point Twitter starts to become a torrent of tweets, especially if these 200 people all actively use the service. I want to stand out so I have a chance to connect.
2) No Businesses: With the social media buzz being what it is it seems every local convenience store is getting on Twitter. One thing is the same with all businesses, they are on Twitter to get their name out. You're looking for real people to become fans of your music.
3) No private accounts: The logic here is that if somebody wants to keep their tweets private its because they don't want to be solicited by bands and stuff. Don't' worry, there's plenty of fish in the Twitter ocean, keep sailing . . .
4) No inactive users: There's no point in following somebody if they never plan on signing into Twitter again, save yourself the trouble by only following people who have tweeted within the last 10 days or so, and actively do so. Watch out for accounts with very sparse history (e.g. Last tweets: 3 days ago, 2 months ago, last year)
5) No Eggs: This is another way to make sure the person is invested in Twitter. Besides, who keeps the egg, seriously.
6) English users only: They might speak English and tweet in a foreign language, but if you can't even read what they tweet, why bother following them. This entire strategy depends on being able to assess the quality of those who follow you so its vitally important that you're able to read what they Tweet.
7) Avoid Auto-followers: Don't follow people that automagically follow back, they are the ones with almost perfectly balanced follow , follower counts. This is especially easy to spot on the really high ones (e.g. 51,605 followers and 51,680 following). No need to artificially pump up your ego, what difference does the follower make if they don't listen to your music? None.
That isn't to say you shouldn't follow somebody interesting if they don't meet some of these criteria, but it's a good basic list to keep me weeding out followers who probably will never become fans of my music. While it might be hard for some to believe its sound advice that keeps my promotion efforts focused.
There is no sense in forgetting about your 200 person fan base on Facebook while trying to wrap your head around Twitter, so keep your efforts focused. Even better link the two together!
Follow about 50 people a week using this criteria and after a couple days un-follow everybody who isn't following you back. I use a simple service called Your Tweeter Karma. Twitter actually limits you, they won't let you follow 50,000 people if only 5 people follow you and besides, that would just look bad. Who wants to be that 6th person, right?
Thanks for reading, hope this helps your efforts, I'm back to the studio.
Written by Alex Massaad of Massaad + Garland
You can follow him on Twitter @atamproductions