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How Did You Get So Many Followers on Twitter?

By Warren Whitlock
Co-author of Twitter Revolution: How Social Media and Mobile Marketing is Changing the Way We Do Business and Market Online

I get asked every day how to reach more people on Twitter. So what's the secret to getting a lot of followers? My response is another question: "Do you want to show a big number on the screen or create profitable relationships?"

A high follower count doesn't do much for click-through results. More connections do give you more opportunities to listen and love, and more conversations result in real people, real relationships, and real business. However, when I post a link with tracking data, the results are about the same as when I had 1/10 the followers. Twitter is not a broadcast medium.

But if you're looking for a way to find more people who are anxious to have what it is you offer and never waste time selling to people who don't want what you have, then you're ready for what we call "profitable social media."

First, you need to learn the secret of marketing on Twitter. That secret is to listen and love:

  • Listen: Read others' tweets. Learn what your market wants, and get it for them.
  • Love: Respond to questions, and refer people to resources—especially to those people who have little or no chance of buying through your existing sales process. Do this as often possible and say thank you whenever you can.

Have fun helping people, and you'll be attractive (or "follow worthy" as we talk about in Twitter Revolution). It turns out that people want to do business with those they know, like, and trust.

You may be getting advice that some system will get you more followers and automate marketing on Twitter. Many of them don't work, and even the ones that do will make you look like a 20th century marketer and could get you labeled as a spammer. Don't be "that guy" in your social media party. People just don't want to buy from him.

The "followers" number posted on a Twitter profile isn't the best indicator of whether someone is helping others. It's just one indicator of activity. Better indicators would be:

  • The number of conversations you have
  • How often you recommended a good link that doesn't point to a self-serving sales page
  • The tweets you get from someone that say "thanks for the help"
  • The number of times you use retweet (RT) functions to share others' tweets

A few "famous off Twitter" people can build up a following regardless of whether they engage with the public or not. But most of us "regular" folks won't see any value from Twitter until we engage in listening and love (caring). Stephen Covey probably said it best: "People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care."

So do listening and loving on Twitter actually translate into sales? It's possible to sell things on Twitter, but if that's what you aim for, you may be seen as the pushy salesman and lose out on the majority of profitable prospects there. There are many success stories about generating revnue through Twitter, though. For example, Dell attributes $6.5 million to posting deals on Twitter. Dell can do that—they are a multi-billion-dollar company. Zappos.com is a better example of a company that gets "listen and love." The CEO tweets at @Zappos, and most of the office staff is active on Twitter, too. You may see a special offer, but mostly they are listening to their customers talk about shoes and joining conversations to add value, help, and spread love and good energy.

The revolution in sales and marketing is just starting. With the technology we have now, there is no reason to ever try to pitch someone that is not anxious to hear from you. Rather, we teach our clients to monitor their tweet streams for conversations and questions from those who are looking for a solution (listen), and then where appropriate, join in the conversation to answer a question or give advice without any expectation of making a sales pitch (love).

You can focus on helping people in your target market—or just help in general. People will be attracted to you when you give—it's the "law of reciprocity" (you can get anything you want if you help enough others get what they want). We want to do business with givers—people we know, like, and trust. Asking for a sale too soon kills that process.

Fortunately, the technology today allows us to meet and network, get to know people, and build a trust relationship fast. A good salesman knows that marketing is a process and hones his skills. Today, the skill we all need to learn is "listen and love." It's a lot more fun than cold calling, much more productive, and will transform us all into better people.

Why waste time selling to someone who doesn't want to buy? There are millions looking for whatever you have—just help them get what they want!

Listen and love! it's as simple as that!

Warren Whitlock

Warren Whitlock is the "marketing results coach." Warren is a #1 bestselling author, and his mission is to help authors and businesses improve the results of their marketing programs. He also publishes a blog focused on book marketing. In addition, Warren is an entrepreneur in the computer and imaging industries, with several offline businesses and Internet properties. He started his career in broadcast advertising. Over the past decade, Warren has taught thousands of small businesses, authors, and individuals how to use proven direct marketing principles to promote products and services, started a trade association for manufacturers in the imaging products industry, and served on several executive boards.