passed 20 million Twitter followers, breaking another Twitter record. On her current trajectory, Twitter Counter
projects that it'll take her just over a year (379 days to be exact) to double that amount.
Realize that the number of followers doesn't necessarily translate to influence on Twitter. In examining the Top 10 Twitter champions based on the number of followers, according to Twitaholic, five factors stand out.
- All are celebrities (or a U.S. president.) These 10 Twitter rock stars have strong followings outside of Twitter. As a result, a portion of their fans have followed them to Twitter and often other social media platforms.
- The focus is on a popular topic. As musicians and other pop culture icons, these individuals appeal to a broad audience. If your topic has a limited scope, it will set boundaries on the number of followers you can attract. If your topic is very broad, it may dilute your audience because there's so much competition that your message doesn't stand out.
- All have been on Twitter at least 2.5 years. Lady Gaga has been on Twitter for four years and President Obama has been on Twitter for more than five years. None of the top 10 is a newbie, meaning that they've been building their audience over time.
- They follow a small fraction of the number of people following them. These Twitter champions are influencers. They're the ones people seek out based on who they are.
- They tend to send a limited number of tweets per day. Justin Bieber is one of the more prolific tweeters with roughly 13 tweets per day on average, while Lady Gaga sends out about one communiqué per day. What's important is that their followers want to receive these messages.
Based on this data, you need to think outside of Twitter to build your following. (Understand that this alone doesn't make your tweets count!) Here are 10 tips to help you build your following beyond Twitter.
1. Put out the red carpet for your family, friends and colleagues. Ask those people you know to follow you on Twitter. Seek them out on Twitter and follow them to allow for direct messaging as another communications channel.
2. Make your mark on the world. Think beyond social media. What are you known for? Where are you a tastemaker in the real world? Include music, television, books and politics.
3. Become a media personality. Create content for other media platforms. Have a media presence offline including television, newspapers, magazines and movies to build a following. Then, take a cue from the news where they promote their Twitter handle to attract their audience. (For example, @SamChampion.)
4. Invite others to follow you on Twitter in every communication. Include your Twitter handle in your email signature and email newsletters. Where appropriate, add it to other online communications such as customer service.
5. Give a shout out to follow you on Twitter on your website. Create a Twitter button (and other relevant social media) on your website with a relevant call-to-action.
6. Get your Twitter handle in print. Hand out your Twitter handle on business cards, brochures, catalogs and other offline marketing collateral.
7. Talk about your Twitter handle and appropriate hashtag(s) in your presentations. Use the opportunity to get your Twitter name out in public. Include your Twitter handle on the slides. Also, create content that's Twitter bait for your followers. Give your presentations added life by posting them on slide sharing sites.
8. Place your Twitter handle on nametags at shows, events and conferences. The idea is to get people to associate your Twitter handle with your name. Where possible, get your Twitter handle included on your bio and/or attendee listings.
9. Wear your Twitter handle. Before you laugh, consider how you can incorporate your Twitter handle into wearable promotions. Think in terms of t-shirts, hats and computer bags. Also, consider stickers for your laptop or iPad.
10. Include your Twitter handle in your buzz. Add your Twitter handle to your PR efforts across platforms.
While most of us will never be rock stars, you can become the Lady Gaga of your niche on Twitter. To do so, you must use every communication both online and offline to support your efforts. What's important isn't the number of Twitter followers you have, but rather how many of them engage with you and share your content.
Heidi Cohen is president of Riverside Marketing Strategies. Follow her on Twitter @heidicohen.