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Five ways to gain followers on Twitter

July 6, 2009 |  5:14 pm
Celebrity-following paparazzi at an L.A. courthouse in 2008. Credit: Robyn Beck / Getty Images.

I have exactly 103 followers on Twitter. In the world of social media, that's pathetic.

So I sought some professional help from Andrew Nystrom, the Times' social media doctor (he has a respectable 4,790 followers as of this posting). I told Andrew that I was adding about one follower a day. At this rate, I can become a factor in about, oh, three years. That's because nothing interesting happens until you have at least 1,000 followers.

Andrew gave me five quick tips for making me more popular on Twitter. If you want more pearls of social media wisdom, you should follow him @latimesnystrom. For now, here’s a CliffsNotes version:

1. Be social. When someone follows you, send them a message. It starts up a dialogue that can bear fruit in the long run when they re-Tweet your posts or when their followers start following you. 

2. Schedule your Tweets. One of our most successful Twitterers stays up until 3 a.m. to post Tweets and posts at 3 a.m. Pacific, early enough to catch the East Coast traffic as they wake up and start cruising the Web. He refreshes those Tweets and posts with updates at 8 a.m. for the West Coast crowd for double the pleasure! 

3. If you have a blog, provide links at the bottom of each post to encourage readers to follow you. If you have a Facebook or MySpace account, you can collect followers by posting your more interesting Tweets as updates, along with a link to your Twitter account. 

4. Use hash tags. Many power Twitterers still search for posts pet topics by using hash tags. Say you want to dive into conversations about Michael Jackson’s memorial service tomorrow. You should post Tweets about the event and end them with a #michaeljackson so that they would show up when other people are searching for information on him. 

5. Talk about other people’s Tweets as much as you talk about your own. It’s part of being a good Web citizen, but it also pays back dividends when people return the favor.

And because you read all the way to the end, here’s a Bonus Tip as a reward. If you Twitter about someone with a Twitter or Facebook account, send them the link. They’re likely to send it to their friends and so on, and so on.

Do you have Twitter Ninja moves you want to share? Write them below! Oh, and you can follow my technology and video game musings @AlexPham.

-- Alex Pham