When You're Not The Cinderella of Twitter

I love hearing stories about social media accounts that have become famous overnight or "gone viral." It's like the Cinderella story of the modern world: Person posts cool content, a few awesome people and one particular opinion leader see her at the Internet ball, and poof! instant internet fame with thousands upon thousands of followers, leading to happily ever after.

not cinderella twitter social media gain followers

I can't tell you how many times I've tried to think of what I could do to have my Twitter or Instagram account go viral. What hashtag will get X famous person to read my post and suddenly I have tens of thousands of followers? Admittedly, I haven't quite given up this dream yet (maybe this will be the post that goes viral!), but I've also started thinking up more practical, sustainable ways to grow my following.

So far my plan has been working pretty well. I'd been hovering between 110-120 followers since October, but at the end of January, I started making tactical and thought-out decisions to increase my follow rate. I'm happy to say that in the past 2-2.5 weeks I've increased by followers by 100 with minimal effort.

@Sarah_M_Walsh Twitter Analytics gain followers

As you can see from the chart I pulled from Twitter analytics, my following has skyrocketed. Since I'm having a good run at this, I thought I'd share my tips that have worked for me so far.

  1. Post at least 5x a day: For my internship, I was asked to come up with a social media guide for our alumni volunteers in order for them to learn how to be most effective in getting event attendance. I knew from my experience what works best for my sites and accounts, but I was curious to find out what actual studies had to say about the frequency of social media usage. I found this cool tip sheet that recommends posting to Twitter at least five times a day. At first I didn't think I would have enough to say, but between retweets and engaging in conversations with people I admire online, five posts a day is nothing.
  2. Find your niche: When I first started tweeting and developing my online presence, I was really hesitant about limiting myself to a specific type of tweeting. I wanted to be able to talk about everything, but I think this initial fear was based on the fact I was afraid that I wouldn't be able to share my random musings that are quintessentially me. A week or so ago, I was able to let go of this fear after listening to Amy Porterfield's podcast on Instagram usage. She mentioned how she often had more interaction with her personal posts on her various platforms, and this sort of reassured me that if I post good, meaningful content regularly, my followers are still going to be interested in the "life behind the business," so to speak. Basically, I think if you tweet about your passions and throw in quick sound bites of your life, you'll find a lot of success online. 
  3. Start a conversation: This piece of advice may have had the most profound impact on me and am so thankful that my new mentor decided to share this tip. He explained that in order to get noticed on Twitter by various accounts you follow, it's imperative that you start a conversation with them. At first this sounds like a no-brainer, but I've always felt awkward about the appropriateness of jumping in on a conversation that's not specifically directed at me. However, my mentor told me that whenever someone posts a link, they're generally asking you to join in on the conversation. Now whenever I see that someone I admire on Twitter posts a cool link, I'll tweet back and add my two cents, hopefully opening a dialogue (and a lot of the time getting a follow back!)

Photo Credit: Andy Sabis "Cinderella and Charming"

Sarah Walsh