How to get 150,000 Twitter followers

From one who knows

Despite sharing every banal aspect of my life in mind-numbing detail, I remain some way short of 150,000 Twitter followers. Even the mighty PC Advisor's informative feed remains a little shy. But UK design magazine Creative Review's Twitter feed has hit the magic number, off the back of a print circulation of 20,000 and a website that delivers around 250,000 page impressions a month (compare that with PC Advisor's 4 million or so views, and you'll see just how impressive a stat that is).

In the best traditions of social media, we asked Neil Ayres, Creative Review's own Twitter expert, to share how they did it, and he obliged.

Some of Neil's tips are more suited to publications than individual Tweeters, some are more simple than others, but they all represent best practice. And if you want to know more, read '5 ways to get more relevant Twitter followers'.

Know your audience, give them what they like

According to Neil, it's important to know who your audience is and what they expect from you. Although you can be more relaxed about what you post on Twitter than you would be within the pages of your own print or online publication, people followed you because of what your brand represents or something you previously posted. So give them more.

Most of Creative Review's online page views come from a blog whose principle aim is to link out to interesting creative work by third parties throughout the web. The Twitter feed is an extension of this. The editors at Creative Review Tweet roughly 50 percent links to their own site, and 50 percent links out to interesting third-party content. The percentages change on a daily basis, depending on what they find interesting that day.

Third-party content may not always be immediately relevant to Creative Review, but it will be of casual interest to most, if not all of its readers.

Be personable, don't be a bot

The Tweets are 'personable', and aim to engage the audience. The editors post lots of questions, all replies to which are answered. None of the Tweets are automated: Twitter is a personal medium, and automated Tweets are more likely to attract spam than they are to elicit a response from your followers.

Editors at Creative Review Tweet 'a lot', according to Neil. This usually equates to once every half hour or so throughout the day. Whether you consider this 'a lot' or not is an interesting point. Users who follow only a few people will likely find this frequency irritating as you fill up their home page, but I can think of plenty of good Twitter feeds that post even more frequently at times. If you have good content, Tweet.

Be all that you can be, and offer something extra

Creative Review also makes no distinction between customer service, marketing and editorial in its Twitter persona. This makes it more interactive, but even more important that every contact is answered. It also makes perfect sense. You know that the marketing department handle subscription enquiries, but your customer doesn't. Twitter is an excellent first port of call.

The Tweeters at Creative Review also try to offer something that its readers cannot find elsewhere. Examples of successful Twitter content includes a website treasure hunt where, for a small prize, followers were given a series of clues of things to find on the CR website. They also publish unique offers and competitions, promote upcoming issues, and present unique editorial content which isn't linked to from elsewhere.

Don't follow me, follow...

The editors at Creative Review follow back anyone even vaguely interesting who follows them, or even contacts them.

According to Neil, the most successful project Creative Review has done to attract followers is create a series of lists of people in the creative industry, then ask their followers what list(s) they want to be on, and to recommend other people they think are worthy of listing. Examples of lists include 'Publications', 'Photography', 'Designers'. This is something they do regularly as it always increases follower numbers.

Be lucky

All of the ideas above are good practice, and if you implement some or all of them it should increase your follower numbers. But there's no guarantee you'll end up with 150,000. According to Neil, Creative Review's success on Twitter is down to doing lots of things well, as well as the strength of the brand, and the fact that its target audience is made up people likely to be found on social networks.

See also: Students waste whole day on Facebook, Twitter

See also: Twitter and Facebook hit by 'free iPad' spam

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Matt Egan

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