Expand Your Twitter Base

If you use the popular microsharing site Twitter, you’re probably familiar with the idea that people are communicating in different ways than ever before. Twitter is purposely not well-defined, but it can be viewed as a massively multichannel instant messenger, a text talk radio channel, and a modern mobile CB radio.

Have you assessed your last 40 tweets lately? There’s no right nor wrong way to use Twitter per se, but many people would like more followers. However, if you use Twitter primarily as a broadcast IM tool that no one else is listening to, you may as well just use Yahoo Messenger, or text messaging, or talk on the phone. You’re not doing it ‘wrong’ but you’re also not maximizing the power of the microsharing platform – and to some extent you’re also wasting your effort.

Why pretend to broadcast when you’re really narrowcasting?

If you want to expand your base, provide value to people you’re not personally familiar with. This might mean linking to interesting material, using hashtags to create metadata within your tweets, or simply being funny or interesting enough for people to re-tweet you. Provide useful material that can be discovered by strangers.

Gaming the Twitter system to accumulate new followers is generally just a short-term strategy. What you really want to do is be true to yourself, and execute against your core set of beliefs, values, and interests. Then, you’ll be happy about what you’re writing about, and attract a group of followers in microniches of interest to you over the longer term.

You might be happy to use Twitter to chat with your friends, and that’s fine. But if you hope to expand your base for personal or professional reasons, and your last 40 tweets are 80% or more personal chatter, no one else is listening to you. So why would they ever be tempted to follow?

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This post was written by:

Mark Drapeau - who has written 225 posts on Dr. Mark D. Drapeau.

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5 Comments For This Post

  1. Emma Dozier Says:

    Interestingly enough, I wasn’t convinced to read this article when you tweeted it, Mark, but was when @MeghanKathleen did. So there is definitely power in impacting a someone enough that they will end up impacting others. That influence and viral spread is so quickly seen via Twitter.

    But! In the recent wave of new users to Twitter, I have become exhausted by trying to figure out who is following me, what they want, and how I can be a useful, articulate and slightly different voice in the growing Gov2.0 nerd crowd. So I definitely have noticed by Twitter stream become more and more personal drivel. But you know what? I have gotten more feedback (via @-replies) that way (admittedly mostly from personal drivel-ly [real life] friends).

    I’m just gonna keep tweaking my strategy as I go I suppose. And be a little bit selfish when I can ;)

  2. Bob King Says:

    Great points Mark. I imagine most people do this also, that assessment of the last page of Tweets is something I do when deciding whether or not to follow someone.

    When someone new follows me, I’m always curious as to what motivated them to do so. Sometimes it’s obvious, like after I’ve just followed them. Other times it’s hard to determine.

    I think it would interesting if Twitter added a field under the Follow/Unfollow button. In this optional field you could write the reason for the action.

    So you’d get updates like:

    [JohnSmith] is now following your updates on Twitter because “[reason specified]”


    [JohnSmith] is no longer following your updates on Twitter because “[reason specified]”

    That would provide feedback on what worked (and didn’t work) so people could adjust accordingly.

  3. Ari Herzog Says:

    Interesting, Bob. You want Twitter to resemble Facebook and Linkedin (both of which require mutuality) to provide an optional personal message to the other side.

    I’m sure it can be easily implemented, with the message in the form of a tweet, but I can see that being abused, whereby a DM would be preferred but how to send a DM without that person following you?

  4. Bob King Says:

    Ari – Oh, perhaps my intent was not clear. I did not desire any required mutuality.

    We already receive notifications when someone follows us. The optional field would allow someone to specify, at the time they click “FOLLOW” why they did it.

    My entering assumption – most people (or organizations) are curious or have a vested interest into WHY someone follows them. It allows them to assess what works.

    If I’m correct, then I’d also assume those same people would take the time to provide a reason when following someone else. Some already do that, either a public “@subbob I’m following you because” or a “D subbob: Hey, I see we have the same interests.”

    But that requires two-steps – the follow action and the initiative to send a separate message. I don’t know the science behind it, but each time you put an additional obstacle in the path, it will eliminate a certain percentage of people, even if they intended to follow through.

    On the other end, when someone stops following you, currently no message is sent.

    “Twitter does not notify you when someone has stopped following you.”
    REF: http://help.twitter.com/forums/10711/entries/14019

    In my suggested implementation, that remains the same UNLESS the person specifies a reason why. That allows people a method to provide constructive feedback (if appropriate) or perhaps to give another reason.


    @Subbob is no longer following you because “your feed consists of 100% self-promotion, recommend rethinking how you interact.”


    @Subbob is no longer following you because “I completed my project. Thanks for the assistance.”

    At the risk of being long-winded (if not too late) – pseudo-code for implementation:

    Just like Twitter asks “What are you doing?”, the option box would ask “Why are you following” & “Why are you stopping?”, encouraging the person to answer the question.


    if [$Reason ""] then
    send “$User is now following your updates on Twitter because ” + $Reason;
    send “$User is now following your updates on Twitter.”;

    Stop Following

    if [$Reason ""]
    send “$User stopped following your updates on Twitter because ” + $Reason;
    end {implied “else do nothing” as it is now}

  5. DrAkil Says:

    (First time visitor so you may have covered this already.)

    Unless I am a off-line friend of the ‘Twitterer’ I would like to follow, it isn’t necessary to tell me the mundane bits of their life. If the bio states they are a sports fanatic or a charity events coordinator that is what I want to read about. If something fantastic happens outside of the box I wouldn’t mind hearing about it. At the same time, If the Twitterer can somehow tie it to the main subject they cover, even better.

    On another note, I am weary of receiving notification of why someone left, even if the answer is productive. I believe Qwitter useqwitter.com has caused an uproar among some because it causes “drama.” If I understand it correctly, Qwitter doesn’t tell you why someone left, just identifies the last post you made before they decided to bolt.

1 Trackbacks For This Post

  1. Do You Take Twitter Personally? | Cheeky Fresh Says:

    [...] You can’t possibly keep track of what everyone on Twitter is doing! So don’t try. Focus on yourself and what you want to get out of it. Spending too much time thinking about whay someone unfollowed you distracts from what should be much more important – saying interesting things. [...]

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