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“Whoever dies with the most toys wins.”

Let me preface this blog post by referencing this cliche, and proposing my theory that it’s not about how many followers you have on Twitter. It’s about relevant followers, and ultimately clicks that can turn into leads! Try thinking of Twitter, or any social network, as a trade show. People can wander around all day, but what the merchants are really hoping for is a sale. If the vendors’ products are eye catching, those products are more likely to stop someone in their tracks. If they meet the person’s needs, they’re more likely to make a sale.

So, you just signed up for a Twitter account. What’s next? You could probably start following as many people as you can, but there’s a better way to acquire followers. The first thing you should do is get your profile page set up and ready for that first follower. Your profile picture should be a square version of your company logo, or even a professional headshot. Your bio needs to be a maximum of 160 characters (like your tweets), but should contain some keywords and a clear call to action. This is important from a search engine optimization standpoint, as Google will index this information.

Bob Gummel

After optimizing your profile, take a minute to do a quick search (http://search.twitter.com) based on the keywords you’re targeting. In this case, Big Bob decides to search for terms like “Akron”, “realty”, “realtor”, “Ohio”, and others related to his industry and location. Profiles for local media, including news sites for local television and radio, are great ways to participate in discussions. Follow these accounts, and start re-tweeting some of the posts that you deem relevant to your business. Browse websites and forums that are related to your industry, and share some of the articles or posts that you find useful. Rewrite the titles to these articles in your own words, and be sure to give credit to the site you snagged the article or post from. For an almost-guaranteed follow, cite the original site or author’s Twitter handle. Google Alerts is also a great way to keep tabs on what is happening online as it relates to your keywords.

Twitter Search

How To Turn Heads, Get Responses and Increase Your Twitter Followers

Conversation is loosely defined as an informal exchange of information or thoughts. Twitterers (or is it “tweeters”?) will usually respond to direct questions or responses. In Big Bob’s case, if he notices that Billy Breakingnews, a newspaper reporter, just tweeted his story on the rise of social media as a tool for home sellers, Big Bob should respond to him using the @reply method. Using keywords in the tweet is also a good idea- but don’t overdo it. Too many keywords will quickly label you as a spammer. Any reputable Internet marketing firm will advise you to keep your campaign, including your social media accounts, on the up-and-up.

Twitter Message

Hashtags, or words with the # symbol in front, are used to highlight topics or keywords within a tweet. Twitter doesn’t officially endorse the use of hashtags, but they mention that it’s a way for users to categorize messages. When you incorporate a hashtag within a tweet, other Twitter users who perform a search of that hashtag may find your tweet and possibly follow you. Within your Twitter profile is an area that shows what’s trending within a particular geographical area, and this is always a great way to find out what people are talking about. You can also find social chats taking place on Twitter, where users will discuss various topics and incorporate those hashtags. Participating in a chat will undoubtedly help you gain exposure and add more followers.

In the long run, having more Twitter followers than your competition is less important than having relevant ones. Participating in relevant conversations will help you gain those followers you desire, and hopefully with a little time invested in Twitter, you’ll see a return on that investment. What do you think? Do you use any trusted methods to gain Twitter followers?