Why Do 1,700 People Follow Me on Twitter?

21 Mar

On Monday, I gained my 1,700th Twitter follower. Congratulations and thank you to @guycitarella!

That’s right: 1,700 people follow me on Twitter.

That many people (mostly people, anyway) care what I have to say.

I know. I’m just as surprised as you are.

It’s an amazing thing when you stop to think about it. Sure, it took me two and a half years to get that many, and yes, I know lots of people have many more followers than that … but the average Twitter user doesn’t have as many, so I think it’s pretty cool.

Of course, the big question I have — and maybe you do too — is why?

What is it about what I’m tweeting that all these people have decided to follow me?

I know lots of people struggle to get followers, so in an effort to answer the question for me, and for you, I took a look at what I’ve been tweeting and created this word cloud using Wordle.net:

What can we learn from that? Here are 7 things:

1. I’m focused.

While I do tweet about a variety of topics, the biggest words in the cloud, and thus the ones I use most often (thanks largely to where I work) are email, marketing, social, media, Facebook, and Twitter. People know that if they follow me, they’ll get great info about those things.

2. I keep a positive attitude.

Words like great, good, awesome, happy, and nice are also notable. I’m not being critical as much as I’m putting the spotlight on content I like, or complimenting other people. And there’s actually data that shows the more positive your attitude on Twitter, the more followers you’ll get.

3. I share other people’s stuff.

That big rt means I retweet a lot of other people’s content. I read a lot, and I tweet a lot, but I’m happy to pass along to my followers — or respond to — the great stuff the people I follow are tweeting.

4. I have fun.

Not surprisingly (to me, anyway), one of the most common words I use is ha, which shows that I don’t take Twitter soooo seriously, and that I like to have a good time. It also demonstrates that I’m connected with some very funny people who make me laugh. A lot.

5. I’m appreciative.

The fact that thanks is a big word shows that I appreciate when people retweet me or share my content, or that I like to thank other people for their great content. Either way, the positive reinforcement helps people to feel a connection with me and that encourages them to engage with me more.

6. I live-tweet at events.

Some of the biggest words are hashtags. Specifically, #mpeis, #mpsmis, and #ims10. Live-tweeting at events — essentially, taking notes in a public way — allows me to have more of a presence when I’m at conferences and seminars, and to meet people more easily. And some of those people then follow me because they want to stay in touch.

7. I’m all about people.

It’s not just that people is a big word. Whether it’s citing who wrote something, replying to someone, retweeting someone, or giving a shout-out, I mention a lot of people on Twitter. I’ve built some great relationships with the help of Twitter, and we have a lot of (public) conversations. That gets me exposed to those people’s followings. But more importantly, it shows that I’m not just on Twitter to be a self-promoter. I actually want to engage and be social.

And that’s the whole point of social media, isn’t it?

It’s not what as much as how

I don’t consider myself a social media expert. Just someone who uses it a lot, for personal (and by extension, professional) purposes, rather than exclusively for business reasons.

So those things are working for me.

But here’s the most important thing: It’s not so much what I’m tweeting as much as it is how I’m using Twitter. I’m not trying to get more followers. I’m just tweeting and being me. I’m sharing the things I find interesting in a way that I enjoy sharing them. And I’m responding to and engaging with people I find interesting.

It comes down to authenticity.

I like to think my Twitter followers get a sense of who I am based on what and how I’m tweeting. That’s because I’m a real, authentic tweeter. And I think the people (and the brands) that have a problem with Twitter and getting more followers are the ones that aren’t real, or have a hard time being authentic.

You can’t have someone tweet for you. You can’t just share content and treat Twitter like a one-way communication (or marketing) channel. You have to engage. You have to share content in a way that shows who you are, and respond when people respond to you. You have to be more focused on building relationships than you are on being heard.

Again, it’s called social media for a reason.

When you’re authentic, then people will be authentic with you. And that will bring you more followers.

It won’t happen overnight, but that shouldn’t be your expectation anyway. You just have to use Twitter, and use it well, and the followers will come to you over time.

That’s what’s worked for me most of all.

(If you’re interested, Scott Stratten, author of the great book UnMarketingsaid a similar thing in this short video.)

I’m curious if you’re on Twitter. If so, please follow me. I’m @martinlieberman.

Then please tell me: How do you attract more followers? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

8 Responses to “Why Do 1,700 People Follow Me on Twitter?”

  1. Jim Ducharme March 21, 2012 at 9:26 am #


    Shortest coment I’ve ever posted.


  2. Bonnie Jeffers (@bonniejeffers) March 21, 2012 at 12:31 pm #

    Hi Martin, I’m happy to just have broken the 100 mark with Twitter followers. So I don’t really have much to add on how to attract more followers. I really enjoyed this post, though. As I’m traversing the social media landscape, authenticity seems to be the most important element. Thanks for writing. I enjoy your posts!

    • Martin Lieberman March 21, 2012 at 12:58 pm #

      Thanks, Bonnie! I’m glad you liked it.
      Hope you’ll keep reading.

  3. Steve March 21, 2012 at 1:22 pm #

    I find it interesting that the word TWIT can be found in Twitter. 🙂

    • Martin Lieberman March 21, 2012 at 1:24 pm #

      Of course you do. 😉
      Regardless … thanks for the comment!


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