Build Your Twitter Following–Quickly!

Posted: October 10, 2011 in Writing
Tags: , , , ,

You’ve got an account, you’ve chosen a background, and you’re ready to start telling the world your DAMN thoughts!  Eh, the world looks like that egg in your profile picture, right?  Zero followers.  I remember when I started my account, I was like, what the hay, who am I tweeting to?  Even at about 25-50 followers, I still felt sheepish about it.  The following tips are designed to help you build your following.  Or, if you’ve already got a decent start, to help you augment the foundation you already have!


This has got to go first, because some people just dun get it.  Bullet point style, just in case you forget how to be a nice guy/gal in the future:

  1. Try to thank every person that retweets your tweets, or that mentions you in a positive way.  Seriously, people don’t have to click that retweet button for you.  And, when they do, they are amplifying the scope of your tweet by hundreds or thousands of people!  For free!  You can’t get exposure like that anywhere else, that I know of.   If I retweet for someone and they don’t take the time to say thanks, guess what?  No mas retweets. So, make sure you give a gra-cee-as to those people, and try to do it shortly after they retweet, because people forget what they’ve done.
  2. Be positive.  No one likes a downer.  Try to keep your conversations with people upbeat and try to engage in content that is helpful to others.  Now, I’m not suggesting that you become a lackey to happiness.  Sometimes this world can get a bit dark.  But, snap out of it and bring some exclamation points and smileys back to your tweets, aight?
  3. Do NOT DM (direct message) people with a link to your book, blog, website, personal bank account (I will accept the bank account info) right after you meet them.  I’ve never clicked on one of those links, find it highly annoying, and tend to put those people on quasi-ignore.
  4. Respond to your DMs in a timely fashion.  Again, people have taken the time to reach out to you, so take the time to engage in a little conversation with ’em!
  5. FOLLOW BACK.  This is probably the quickest way to get unfollowed.  You aren’t Alyssa Milano, you aren’t “Ocho Cinco,” you aren’t Ashton Kutcher.  Remember then, people are following you to hear your tweets, but they also expect to get some reciprocation.  I follow almost everyone back that follows me…common sense and a little humility.


On to the meat of building those followers!  I’ve gained about 500 new followers in the last two weeks simply by performing this daily task.  Where to find ’em, you ask.  Hashtag searches.  Assuming we’re all authors here, search things like #authors, #amwriting, #writing, #amreading, #thrillers (or your respective genre, or not), #books.  Then, you can search some of the more specific writing handles such as #IBCBookCollective or #IAN1.  Obviously, there are hundreds if not thousands of handles you can search, and I couldn’t possibly list them all.

Once you get into the search results for the respective hashtag, start clicking on people’s names to pull up their profiles.  If people have a lot of tweets but not many followers, may not want to follow them, as they are not taking the time to engage new people.  And, quite honestly, you want people with networks.  If people have the opposite, i.e. a lot of followers and not many tweets, again, that’s a reason not to follow them.  Finally, if the people have a lot of followers, but aren’t following as many people, then you may want to skip them.  There are some exceptions (i.e. high profile people in publishing, agents, etc.), but not too many.

Stick to this discipline as if you were training for a marathon, and I guarantee you’ll see results in times as short as 1-2 weeks.


Your book matters…to you.  Yeah, yeah, it will matter to some people, but NEVER as much as you.  So, if that’s all you tweet about, guess how much people are gonna care about your tweets?  Instead, take the time to read articles and post the helpful ones up.  Read blogs and direct your followers to them.  Start programs that help build other authors up.  For instance, I started the #AmazonLikes hashtag, where an author can tweet their book’s Amazon link and get free likes/tags on their Amazon page.  This has helped many authors build up their book’s stats, and has correspondingly helped me form many new relationships.

You can connect with someone like @RachelintheOC (an excellent author and very helpful one, at that) about your content to promotion ratio.  In a nutshell though, you want to be tweeting more about content than promo, because people get sick of nonstop promo.  More on @RachelintheOC below!


When I first started using Twitter, I would try to compare my “following” and “followers” lists, manually, to see who was not following me back.  Apparently, I like using the abacus for math as well.  There’s a simple service at which will analyze your account for you, and identify the people who have not followed you back.  Depends on your tolerance for jerks (kidding, kinda), but you may give people anywhere from 3-7 days to follow you back.  At that point, consider giving ’em the boot!


The most helpful class I’ve taken on this topic yet is one led by @RachelintheOC of the Indie Book Collective.  It’s called the “Social Media for Writers” workshop, it’s free, and Rachel is cool as all heck.  Here’s the direct link:  She will literally walk you through, step-by-step, how to set up your account, pick a background, optimize your profile, start working with hashtags, and start setting up lists (something I intentionally did not address in this blog post, because lists are their own demon and may be addressed separately in the future).  In short, take an hour and a half of your time, and avail yourself of this great workshop.

I’d love to hear your thoughts and/or successes on Twitter, so comment or contact me if you are so inclined 🙂

  1. Have you found that your Twitter activity has brought more views to your blog? I don’t have a Twitter account yet but am strongly considering it to expand my reach.

    • Derek Blass says:

      Mark, thanks for the question. In short, absolutely. I don’t see how you could maximize your exposure, and correspondingly your success, without tweeting your blog. Also, I just checked out your blog (looks cool, btw!) and you have a healthy archive of posts. You can schedule 1-2 tweets a day directing people to your content and essentially recycle your work. You did, after all, put a ton of time into all of it. And, if it’s still relevant, then it will help people to read it.

  2. Thanks for the visit and good points on use of Twitter. I often think a blog is only as good as its current post and that if I started using Twitter it would be to announce new posts. I find the option to schedule tweets for older posts quite appealing. I’ll have to look into that.

  3. Derek Blass says:

    No prob. Look into TweetDeck or HootSuite for scheduling tweets. I use TweetDeck, but I know plenty of people use HootSuite. Gnight.

  4. Great tips for Twitter.

    I like to send a quick ‘Thanks for the follow’ to any new followers I get. If they respond, I’ll follow back. I find those to be most fun to tweet with.

    BTW, Thanks for follow! 🙂

  5. I like that you mention giving people 3-7 days to follow you back. Some people have taken up to a week to follow me back, and if I only gave them 24-48 hours (which some people apparently do) to follow back, I would have missed out. Right now, Twitter is not playing nice with my computer and I can’t get on to follow people back. I would hope they are people who follow your time frame.
    And does *anybody* ever respond to those auto-DMs? Those things need to just auto-delete. (Someone should write a program for that.)
    Thanks for the great article!

  6. Awesome post! Happy Tweeting.


  7. roux1000 says:

    Good post, and very helpful. I’ll have to keep in mind about searching with the hashtags, I’ve never done it before. Thankfully I do the etiquette though *phew*

    It’s actually quite surprising how much I come across thanks to twitter, what with discovering all the authors/blogs on there.

  8. Norma Budden says:

    I really enjoyed your “up and at ’em” approach to using Twitter. You’ve brought up many valid points more people will, hopefully, pay attention to. I must admit that, when I read your quip on Twitter, I feared ending up at a link to buy 10,000 followers but this…this was far more preferrable and makes a whole lot more sense. 🙂

  9. Julie says:

    Great tips. Thank you.

  10. Marji Laine says:

    Wow – like a treasure chest of info. Thanks for sharing. I’ve always been really choosey who I follow, but I guess I need to be more liberal with my support like I am on blogs? I’m thinking that is where lists can come in and help me out?

    • Derek Blass says:

      Glad it was helpful. The only limit I would place is an attempt to interact with your followers and/or to deliver content to them that is relevant and useful 🙂

  11. Great post and right on the money. Nice to see someone that’s built a substantial following doing it the old fashioned way, one at a time. What’s your take on things like tweetadder?

    • Derek Blass says:

      My take is that Hootsuite, Tweetadder, etc. are all fine, if used prudently. Quite honestly, I support the use of supplemental resources to make sure that you have time to do what is most important–namely, writing! Promo and social media can suck all the extra time out of your day.

  12. kittycorgi says:

    HI, I use TweetDeck and my computer. I always say thank you I wish more would when I rt their things. I hope all read your blog. Cheers!

  13. Great info. Thanks so much for posting these helpful tips. I have some work to do 🙂

  14. Thanks for the helpful post. I don’t follow automatically, though. I look at the person’s posts. If they are stupid, self-grandizing, or crude, then I just thank them for the follow but don’t follow them. I want good followers, not just follower, as you pointed out in your post.

  15. […] Build Your Twitter Following–Quickly!. No this is not pay for your peeps kind of service…great advice by author Derek Blass…author of Enemy in Blue Share this:TwitterFacebookPinterestTumblrLike this:LikeBe the first to like this. Filed under my blogs and tagged Derek Blass, Enemy in Blue, followers, twitter, Twitter tips | Leave a comment […]

  16. twv2 says:

    Great information Derek. I can see I need to start working more often on my tweets and on my tweetiquette! I’ve learned a lot here – thanks. :-))

  17. Lilas says:

    I very much appreciated this info. New to twitter, first steps were intimidating. Now I know more, so I can do more. Thanks.

  18. Bart Stewart says:

    Very good, Derek, though I was disheartened to read that one shouldn’t DM people about a new book. How should I tell a Twitter follower about my novel? I am actively seeking reviews these days.

  19. Brenda says:

    How are we supposed to follow back when Twitter has these long periods of not allowing additional followers. I’ve not been allowed follow back in about 100 followers. Must I dump the interesting ones that helped make me interesting enough for my new followers?

  20. I just started Twitter (hope I’m not too late to the party…) and I appreciate the tips. Thanks, Derek.

  21. Hey there! I know this is kinda off topic but I’d figured I’d ask.

    Would you be interested in exchanging links or maybe guest authoring a blog post or vice-versa?

    My blog discusses a lot of the same topics as yours and I believe we could greatly benefit from each other.
    If you might be interested feel free to shoot me an email.
    I look forward to hearing from you! Fantastic blog by the way!

  22. I have found services like to be beneficial. They allow you to RT posts from selected groups of people that you make. If you identify people who are active and make a lot of interesting tweets, they are good candidates to select for a service like this.

  23. Is it better to thank a RT publicly, or in a DM?

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