If you’ve been on the internet for any amount of time, chances are you know it is a little bit competitive. There are all sorts of different people trying to get their brand out there all the time. It takes a whole lot of effort and an extremely unique brand to really rise above the noise and get yourself noticed. Of course, there are platforms that tend to attract people that want to be noticed, of which Twitter is the quintessential example. Aside from perhaps Instagram, nowhere on the internet draws in such a concentration of individuals wanting to form and build up their own brand quite like Twitter.

If you happen to be one of these individuals, chances are you feel a little bit hopeless about your chances of succeeding. After all, with the thousands and thousands of ‘influencers’ that pop up every day or all the consultants and ‘experts’ proffering their services, how could you ever raise your star to where you know it belongs?

Thankfully, there are a whole lot of simple little tips and tactics you can use to make sure that your profile is optimized and gets noticed. We are going to focus on actionable advice–things you can start doing right this very second–to grow your Twitter following. What’s more, all of the advice we plan on providing is totally white hat, meaning you will not be coming into conflict with Twitter’s Terms of Service. After all, what’s the point in working so hard to grow your brand for it to all fall apart one day when the intern at Twitter notices what you’ve been up to?

Lookin’ good

First of all, you need to make sure that your profile is nice to look at. No, this doesn’t mean you need to go get a haircut before your professional head shots, but it does mean you need to have every piece of information on your profile filled in. A good rule of thumb to use is this: If you would want to know this piece of information about someone you cared enough to follow, then you should be generous enough to share it with your followers. This includes but is not limited to your cover photo, biography, location and profile picture.

Of course, what you do with each of these doesn’t have to be totally vanilla. In fact, some of the best profiles on Twitter are those that make creative use of the resources the platform gives them. To see this in action, look no further than HubSpot’s list of the 31 most creative Twitter bios. We are particularly fond of Uber Facts’, “the most unimportant things you’ll never need to know”. Twitter bios can be a comedy gold mine, just make sure that whatever you’re saying fits well with your brand. If you’re a corporate accountant trying to find clients, you’ll probably want to stick with something more conservative than if you’re a graphic designer doing artwork for technology companies.

Branch out online

The internet is becoming more and more like the real world every day. Perhaps the distinction is no longer a good one to make. As we move more and more towards video conferencing and more advanced online interactions, internet decorum comes to resemble what is expected of us in real life. Of course, this is in fact good news for those trying to grow a Twitter brand. Another good rule to keep in mind while you’re starting out is to treat your Twitter handle like you would your own brand name.

And just like you would in the office, you want to be an active participant of everything that is going on. If you hang out in your cubicle all day, people aren’t going to find you. In the same way, if you never Retweet or Tweet at others, you’re going to struggle more to grow your following than you need to. Bringing in outside content is good for your own timeline as well. If you’ve billed yourself as an expert or a thought leader, your followers are coming to you as someone that can help them follow and make sense of the goings on in whatever space you occupy. Interacting with the news and with the discussions surrounding things in this way is a great method for doing just that and showing your followers just how much value you can provide.

If you write an article or leave a comment somewhere, make sure you include your Twitter handle so those that find it meaningful can track your online presence down and continue to benefit from your magnificent wit and insights. Pretty much any time you are interacting with someone online, your Twitter handle should be accessible for them. This also includes your emails you send out and even your website. In fact, you can link up your Twitter account to your website, integrating the two together and providing the sort of experience that a personal brand needs to thrive. Just remember to keep your personal commentary separate from your business commentary if you do that. That is, unless the two are one in the same. To go back to our corporate accountant, those visiting his website probably don’t want to hear his point by point commentary on the political issues of the day. However, if you’re a comedian or some other kind of creative, this might be just what the doctor ordered, so to speak.

Don’t forget about reality

Just because you’re trying to grow yourself on Twitter doesn’t mean the real world can’t come into play. There are all sorts of in person opportunities that can benefit your online persona. As stated above, you want to make sure that your handle is on everything. This includes your business card and any relevant marketing and branding materials that you pass out. Whatever the case may be, if someone is interested, you want to give them a chance to follow.

Believe it or not, you also have friends in real life. These are the people closest to you that (theoretically) will be interested in whatever it is you have to say to them. Even if they are not exactly your prime demographic, these can be some of the easiest followers for you to pick up. All you have to do is ask.

But it doesn’t have to stop there. You can also hold in person events that, while not explicitly about growing your following on Twitter, contribute to it. Just think of all the talks and informational meeting you’ve gone to where the speaker or presenter has had a slide at the end offering up their contact information and Twitter handle. It is a common tactic because it works. Remember, you’re trying to find those that are genuinely interested in what you have to say, so what better place to find them than among the people that were just willing to sit through an hour of you lecturing them. If they can make it through that they can survive 280 characters of whatever you have to say.

Polls and other engaging events on Twitter are great and give your followers a real way to add what they have to say to your timeline, but they’re even better when combined with events from real life. For instance consider our corporate accountant. Not a very exciting topic, sure, but if he gives a presentation on something controversial in the field, he can open with a Twitter poll. This of course has the advantage of immediately bringing his audience onto his Twitter timeline and interacting with it. If the group is large enough, he could even start a hashtag for his speech and get people’s initial thoughts shared out there to Twitter. As he speaks, he could encourage them to question and comment on what he is saying, even get a side discussion going. This works especially well for events with a digital audience. He will pick up some followers from this and it has the potential to be retweeted and thus gain him exponentially more followers.

It should be clear by now that there are quite a few different things you can do to grow your Twitter following today. You need not spend lots of money on it or invest a ridiculous amount of time trying to scam your way to the top of the feed, only for Twitter to ban you a few weeks later. If you play your cards right, chances are you will be able to build a respectable following in a number of months for yourself. All that’s left then is to monetize that following!

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