How to build a successful Twitter following?

Digital

So Bill Gates joined the Twitterati this week, and within hours, hundreds of thousands of users of the increasingly popular micro-blogging service were following the Microsoft co-founder. Whilst he's still learning the 'Twitter ropes' and has tweeted very little since joining, Bill was able to bring Twitter to a halt on Wednesday, after thousands of follow requests were actioned. Many users found that they were unable to log into the service, and this appears to be as a result of Bill's introduction. All of this may be interesting to some readers, but following this news, we thought we'd write a blog about choosing people to follow! At the time of writing, Bill Gates has a total of 185,814 followers (moving from 182, 980 in a matter of a few minutes) and is following only 40 people/organisations - which, incidentally, makes for a nice ratio (something which will surely help him rank well in the search engines)! He still has some catching up to do on the likes of Barack Obama and Ashton Kutcher, but I've no doubt that he'll soon get there. Getting back to the point, those looking to venture out into the Twittersphere for the first time, can learn quite a lot from Bill Gates. We've listed a few points below which we feel are essential to the process of creating a strong Twitter presence. Please feel free to post your thoughts below, and let us know if you think we've missed anything!

1) Decide upon a target audience

If you're operating on a corporate level, it would, in most cases, be inappropriate to follow the likes of Ashton Kutcher. The relevance of his Tweets to your organisation is likely to be minimal. When potential clients or associates visit your Twitter page, they may well be put off by the fact that you appear unable to separate business from 'pleasure'. With this said, it is essential that those whom you choose to follow are relevant to your industry.

2) Tone of voice

Further, if your Tweets are full of bad language, innuendo and/or inappropriate jokes, your business will most certainly suffer as a result, with your overall brand (both on and offline) being damaged by a few choice comments. Of course, there are exceptions to the rule. You might, for example, expect to find such material on the pages of a comedian…but just because @RickyGervais may have said something funny, it doesn't mean you should retweet it!

3) Interact with your followers

It's really easy to post information about new articles you've added to your site on Twitter, but in many cases, based on the speed at which Twitter is moving, your tweets go unnoticed by those followers which are most important to you. With this said, it's far better to direct your posts at a particular follower, sparking a conversation which others may choose to engage in, should they have something to offer. Using this technique, you're more likely to get a response.

4) Regularly purge your account

Building a good following often takes time (unless you're a celebrity). You may use Twitter as a means of interacting with experts operating within your industry or potentially large clients - and you'll most certainly want to appear on their radar. If you've been following them for sometime however, and you've made use of the previous points listed above, you may wish to move on and focus your efforts elsewhere, or at least, make use of a different medium. Depending on the number of times you've been through this process, and also the type of people/organisations you have been looking to attract the attention of, you may be following a reasonable number of people whom you are no longer interested in. Rather than leave them in your account, why not remove them, consolidating your list to a more manageable size and a more rigid, and clear theme? Research suggests that search engines consider the ratio between 'following' and 'followers' during the process of indexing/ranking, so why not show your true potential and increase that ratio by purging your lists now? Jot down your thoughts and let us know your techniques through the commenting system below!

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