A drawing of a chart

Back in May, I was giving a presentation on using LinkedIn to help build your personal brand. Before I’d even gotten through my first slide, someone piped up from the audience, “How do I get more followers on Twitter?!”

I wasn’t surprised by the question. It happens pretty often, fielding questions about multiple social networks even though you were initially only going to focus on one.

I took a few minutes and talked about Twitter and some things people should consider doing when trying to grow their account. “How many followers do you have?” someone asked me.

“About 600 or so,” I answered. Most of the people in the room seemed to be impressed by that figure. Everyone except me, that is.

As it turns out, I had been giving a lot of thought to my Twitter account around that time. I was starting to feel like it was stagnating; I was hoping for more engagement and wasn’t getting it. My Twitter account was being used primarily to share articles that I found interesting. Occasionally, I’d share, comment or re-tweet someone else’s posts. It was a very broadcast-heavy account.

Telling people I only had 600 followers made me question my ability to provide advice on using the social network.That afternoon was the kick in the pants I needed to get serious about my Twitter presence.

Before I start, let’s look at what my account activity looked like in April:

April Engagement on Twitter

As you can see, my numbers weren’t that bad. Over the thirty day period (April 1 – April 30), my tweets earned over 26,100 impressions. That works out to 871 impressions per day. Not too shabby, right?

Here’s what my numbers looked like in August:

August Engagement on Twitter

From August 1 – August 31, my tweets earned over 116,600 impressions, which averages out to 3,800 impressions per day.

In September, I hit the 2,000 follower mark. From May to September, I grew my Twitter following by 233%. How did I do it?

Learn how to average 3,800 impressions per day on Twitter: Click To Tweet


 How I Grew My Twitter Account 233% in 4 Months

Before I go into the tactics I used, I want to go make it clear that my goals weren’t merely to gain new followers. When I started to really think about it, I set my goals to be:

  • Moving beyond the one-way broadcast method I’d been using
  • Finding like-minded individuals (those who work in digital marketing and social media)
  • Increasing my engagement – likes, retweets and mentions
  • Establishing myself as someone who is knowledgeable about marketing and social media

With the goals decided upon, I set about my tactics.


In the first half of the year, I didn’t spend much time on my lists. Sure, I used Tweetdeck but I only really used it to monitor my notifications and direct messages. I really wasn’t paying that much attention to who was following me or who I was following.

Once I began to give more serious thought to my account and trying to figure out how to stand out, I decided I would need a better system to stay on top of who to follow (or unfollow).

I signed up for Hootsuite since it allows for creating multiple tabs (with even more streams within those tabs).I set up Twitter lists made up of active users in the digital marketing, social, SEO and content fields. I also set up streams to monitor key terms and hashtags that I was interested in.

With Hootsuite, I could see things at a glance and could easily participate in a conversation. It was also super easy to find new people to follow by centering on the key terms I was interested in.

Twitter Chats

Without a doubt, Twitter Chats are a great way to help grow your account. More than that though, they are an opportunity to learn, to share your insights and help establish yourself as someone who is knowledgeable in their field.

I had heard of Twitter Chats before but never gave them much thought or attention. Then one Wednesday, I noticed that #bufferchat was trending and I decided to check it out. From there, I was hooked.

I began participating in the weekly Buffer Chat and immediately found myself immersed in conversation with other people who work in digital marketing, social media, online advertising, community management, or a variety of other areas.

For 60 minutes every Wednesday, I was able to talk to other people who understood the same issues I was running into. I was able to find out what tools and solutions were being used by my peers. Mostly though, I was a member of a community.

After discovering Buffer Chat, I did my research and found other marketing and social chats. I participated in a few and found several that have become my “regular” chats.

After a chat wraps up, my Notifications tab is pretty busy with updates on retweets, mentions and new followers. A few weeks ago, I participated in a chat and noticed the next morning that I had gained 36 new followers:

36 New Followers

Yes, that’s pretty typical after a chat.

Better Follower/Following Management

I didn’t want to just grow my following, I wanted quality followers, people who were sharing good content and who I could learn from. I was working towards a follower feed that was free of spam accounts or egg profile pictures.

My aim was to have my followers be a reflection of the kind of content I shared and was looking to engage with. I didn’t want someone to come to my profile and be discouraged by the number of spam accounts I had following me (or was following).

To help me manage who I was following/following me, I used a few tools. I’ve already mentioned Hootsuite and how that helped me find new people to follow.

I also signed up for a tool called CrowdFire to get a better sense of who was following me and unfollowing me. One of my biggest peeves on Twitter is when someone follows me, sends me a direct message asking me to check out their app or product and then they unfollow me.

With Crowdfire, I’m able to get a list of who has unfollowed me and I can easily unfollow them. I also have the option to see who my new followers are. This can be handy, especially when post-chat notifications are a bit hectic. With Crowdfire, I’ve spotted a few new followers I missed via my notifications.

I’ve also become more active in reporting spammers. Whenever I see I’ve been followed by someone with a bio that references buying more followers, I immediately report them for spam.

I’m also more selective about who I follow back. For example, if I’m followed by someone and they have thousands of followers but only a handful of tweets, that raises a red flag for me. How can they possibly have that many followers with less than 100 tweets? Here’s an example of what that looks like:

Red Flag Followers

In addition to avoiding accounts with strange numbers, I also avoid accounts where the bio speaks of strong political views or strong religious opinions. I’m perfectly happy to have a conversation on both of those topics, just not on Twitter.

Even after I hit the 2,000 follower mark in September, I knew that I still had areas to improve upon. Mostly around the use of automation. In the first half of the year, I relied heavily on tools like Sumall to express my thanks and interact with people who had retweeted me.

Tweets like this were common in my Timeline:

Signing up for these tools was easy and while I was technically interacting with people, it wasn’t authentic. I think that’s well reflected in the engagement that I received.

I came to understand that messages that came from me, the person, would be much better received. Instead of relying on tools, I put in the effort to say thanks and hello:

My account is now free of any automated “thank-you’s.” Even though it can be hard to stay on top of saying thanks for a new follow or interaction, genuine tweets tend to stand out.

Was all of the effort worth it? I’d say my goals were met:

  • Moving beyond the one-way broadcast method I’d been using (Check!)
  • Finding like-minded individuals (those who work in digital marketing and social media) (Check!)
  • Increasing my engagement – likes, retweets and mentions (Check!)
  • Establishing myself as someone who is knowledgeable about marketing and social media (Check!)

The numbers speak for themselves, I’ve definitely increased my engagement. I’ve also established myself as someone who knows a thing or two about working in the online space.

I’ve been asked for my opinion on topics in the news:

I’ve been invited to participate in chats:

I’ve even been invited to be a guest on a chat:

There you have it. Growing your Twitter account (and your presence) definitely doesn’t happen overnight. But if you’re willing to put in the time, set clear goals for yourself and be authentic, you’ll see results.

What do you think about the above? Let me know below or send me a note on Twitter.

Top image courtesy of Matt Cornock.