Buying Twitter followers may sound like a reasonable idea. But the truth is followers you can “buy” are rarely members of your target audience and may even be fake accounts. There are other (smarter) ways to boost your Twitter following with real, engaged users who are likely to have an interest in your products or services.
Placing Twitter follow buttons on your website, for instance, is one way to earn some followers who have already shown interest in your content. Likewise, strategically placed social media share buttons make it easy for those same readers to share your content with their own Twitter followers. Of course, having a great Twitter header and sharing engaging content, such as Twitter GIFs, doesn’t hurt either.
To learn more about the most effective tactics today’s Twitter experts use to grow their following (without buying Twitter followers), we reached out to a panel of social media pros and Twitter influencers and asked them to answer this question:
“What are effective alternatives to ‘buying’ Twitter followers: what are some smart ways to spend to grow your following?”
Meet Our Panel of Social Media Pros and Twitter Influencers:
Evan Roberts is the owner of Dependable Homebuyers in Baltimore, Maryland.
“Buying twitter followers often results in a low-quality audience that looks spammy and doesn’t yield interactions with your posts. We found that our money is better spent on high-quality infographics that have been tailored for our ideal audience. We found that these eye-catching infographics receive 20x the interactions and impressions than our normal tweets, resulting in more followers that are not only real but also are primed to be interested in our content.”
Mark Aselstine owns the Uncorked Ventures Wine Club, a subscription based business in the San Francisco Bay Area. You’ll often find him on Twitter, talking about things that all too often, aren’t wine.
“So there are some tried and true ways to gain followers. Usually people end up following a bunch of people and then unfollowing the ones that don’t follow back. I’ve seen that work to build follower counts much larger than my own.
“That being said, people should absolutely apply for a verified account. It’s easy, painless, and outside of what is an ego-boost for many, pretty easy to quality for if you work in any space that is consumer- or public-facing. There’s no down side either; it isn’t like you couldn’t try again later. I’ve seen my follower count increase since I got verified, but more importantly, it’s led to better and more frequent interaction on the platform.”
Maree Jones is passionate about everything she does, and it shows. As a seasoned content, social media and PR strategist, Maree oversees channel development strategies, influencer outreach and public relations for major US brands and startups in CPG, travel and tourism, pharma, real estate and professional services, respectively. A trend forecaster and social media proponent for both individuals and organizations, Maree speaks all over the US on how to achieve a best-in-class digital footprint and online reputation.
“The great thing about Twitter is that you can find followers via subject matter or niche or by location through Twitter ads. Twitter’s advertising tools allow companies or even individuals to target and promote tweets to select individuals for a small price tag. This allows Twitter users to opt-in to following an account and is much more effective than buying Twitter followers. The quality of followers is much higher, as well. Alternatively, participating in weekly chats around a certain industry topic can be a great way to increase your follower count organically. Twitter is an excellent place to hold conversations with other users, so brands who approach Twitter marketing in this manner can attract many followers.”
Jill Caponera is a New York native who has called Los Angeles home for the past 5 years. She holds a BS in Public Relations and Organizational Communication from SUNY Plattsburgh in Plattsburgh, NY. Jill is a Consumer Savings Expert at Promocodes.com and enjoys spending her free time browsing flea markets, crafting, camping, and hiking. She loves finding a good deal and is passionate about saving money for her future!
“An effective alternative to buying Twitter followers that has worked for Promocodes.com is running contests and giveaways in order to gain exposure for your brand and increase your social media presence. Within the giveaway, ask participants to follow your page, tag several friends in the comments, and/or to repost the giveaway image and mention a dedicated contest hashtag in order to get maximum exposure. Running contests and giveaways on a regular basis could bring in hundreds of authentic new followers each week and is typically an inexpensive route to gain new followers, as you are only paying for the giveaway item itself. Additionally, you could try cross-promoting content or giveaways with another like-minded brand or blogger in order to tap into their followers, who ultimately could become your followers.”
Tracy Julien is the VP of Marketing of GuidedChoice.
“One alternative to purchasing your Twitter followers, and followers on other platforms for that matter, that has been catching steam lately is the use of online raffles/giveaways. These giveaways typically offer consumers multiple options for earning a raffle entry, one of which being that they follow your Twitter account. This has been a particularly effective way of increasing your social media following, without directly paying for individual followers. Simply provide your audience with an enticing raffle prize/offer, and watch the followers flood in.”
Joe Goldstein is the director of SEO & operations for Contractor Calls, an online marketing, web design, and SEO agency that helps contractors and home service businesses thrive online.
“One of the most effective ways to quickly grow a Twitter following is to create and schedule a content series is to first develop a list of 50-150 tips, facts, quotes, or insights that will interest your target followers. For example, a food blogger could put together a list of quick cooking tips, while a tourism agency could write a list of fun facts about or travel destinations in their city.
“Next, you should consider turning them into visual cards. While this will require some time and energy, or a graphic designer on Upwork, it will also give your tweets significantly better engagement. You can also add branding to your cards so that they’ll always point back to you, even if someone else decides to borrow your content.
“Next, use a tool like Recurpost, Hootsuite, or Buffer to schedule your content series to tweet daily. If you decided to create visual assets, be sure to still include the full text of each tip/fact in the tweet itself. It’s also good to add a unique hashtag for people who want to browse the entire series.
Jonathan Alonso is a Digital Marketing Blogger & Speaker.
“There are three main methods to grow your Twitter following without buying followers. First is consistency, second is promoted tweets, and third is the use of hashtags and mentions. Instead of buying tweets, cater your tweets to align with your audience and brand. Don’t product push, but rather teach and inspire your audience. This allows a personality for your account that can help you create a sense of emphathy with your audience. You will want to promote the most effective tweets, which will gain you followers that will last. Lastly, use tags and mentions. If you’re using a product or service that is part of a picture, video, or part of your message, mention that brand. This will help build your network. And don’t forget about those relevant hashtags. They will help in creating a lot more opportunity for your profile to be discovered. Don’t buy tweets. Followers as a KPI does not do much for your bottom line. Focus on connecting with your audience and past customers, and within some time it will build up.”
Laura Egocheaga is a serial entrepreneur and the Founder & CEO of Divbe Tech, a Growth Hacking digital agency servicing eCommerce & Brick and Mortar clients across the United States. After making her first $20k as a junior in high school in 2011 she realized there was more to this thing called the internet. Now she is the owner & operator of a digital marketing agency that provides their clients with customers on demand system. Laura is also one of the most sought after Facebook Ads Experts alive today.
“First off, I have to say the days of buying FAKE followers are completely OVER WITH.Let me explain why. Thanks to such AMAZING marketing platforms like Facebook Ads, Twitter Ads, Snapchat Ads & others, you can literally pay the hottest social media platforms to put you in front of a HIGHLY TARGETED AUDIENCE!
“I hope everyone reading this realizes that in 2018, it’s not about the amount of followers you have that get you the brand deals as an influencer. It’s all about the ENGAGEMENT that drives RESULTS!
“As a Growth Hacking Digital Agency Owner, I handle budgets for Influencer Marketing & Micro Influencer Marketing. Let me tell you from personal experience that I would rather pay a 15k follower account with 13%+ engagement than a 357k follower account with 2% engagement.
Steve Pritchard is the Digital Marketing Consultant for The London School of Make-Up.
“Running a competition is the main alternative to buying followers on Twitter. Think of the sort of prize your target audience would like, and then put your budget into running a competition for this prize which requires users to retweet your tweet and follow your account in order to enter. This builds up relevant followers that will actually be interested in your brand, and will want to engage and interact with you. The retweets will increase your brand awareness and expose your brand to new people in a natural way. Depending on the prize you are offering, this will likely cost slightly more than buying followers, but it is worth the extra cost to get genuine followers.”
Since graduating from Boston University, Lauren Maiman has worked for the past decade in assorted communications fields—from print journalism and event fundraising to public relations and digital media—before founding the midnight oil group in 2012. She is exceedingly passionate about social media and the vast influence it can have on a company and its audience.
“Twitter is one of the only social platforms that makes it extremely easy to find customers and start a conversation with them. Unlike Instagram or Facebook, Twitter was created for dialogue, which makes it easier to grow your organic following than on other networks. Rather than spending dollars on Twitter advertising, brands (companies or personalities) would benefit from putting resources into a social media manager who is spending ample time on Twitter. It’s imperative that this person be well-spoken in whatever message your company is conveying, as an inauthentic voice is easy to spot on Twitter and can easily be mistaken for a bot (never a good thing). Last critical point to make: yes, consistence and volume is important on Twitter, but quality conversation is integral to succeeding. Do not put out mass-reproduced replies or empty emoji tweets if you actually want to gain followers.”
Ben Taylor has been a serial solopreneur since 2004 and founder of www.homeworkingclub.com, an advice portal for aspring freelancers.
“Buying Twitter followers has never been a particularly great idea. Beyond boosting numbers, purchased followers don’t tend to interact or engage, so they’re pretty pointless. Spending a social media budget on decent Twitter tools and using them mindfully has always worked way better for me. It makes sense to have good ways for readers to share content, and methods that help you identify people to follow who have shared interests and may follow you back and engage with you. I use Crowdfire for this. Tools that allow you to schedule posts are invaluable, too.”
Harrison Doan is the Director of Analytics at Loom & Leaf.
“If you really want to grow your Twitter following, you need to invest in a high-quality social media content producer. The only qualifications should be knowledge of Twitter culture and proven ability to write successful tweets. Anyone can learn social media strategies for business, but it’s a lot harder to “learn” how to be funny, interesting, or creative. Hiring for social media positions should be a lot like hiring an artist; if they know how to succeed on Twitter, they’ve done it, and their feed is their ‘portfolio.’ Making this investment will boost your social media presence far more than any promoted tweet would.”
Neil Mclaren is the Owner/Founder of Vaping.com.
“We target influencers in our industry who have a large following. Investing in the right followers through association with influencers, as opposed to buying followers, creates the interactive community that we are striving for within our social channels.”
Adam Heath is the Operations Manager for Meridian Speciality Packaging Ltd.
“Our Social Media channels are used to engage with our customers. We prefer to have fewer followers, but with increased relevancy to our business and what we do. Running targeted advertising campaigns to reach potential customers is a tactic we implement on Twitter.
“Most of our business is B2B with some B2C, which does make Twitter advertising a little more difficult for us. So we focus on promoting quality and informative content within targeted campaigns to win quality and relevant customers as followers. It’s a tactic that’s worked and one we’ll continue to run in the future.”
Mike Kawula is an Entrepreneur, Podcaster, Author, Father of 3 Amazing Kids and Co-Founder of Dinner Table MBA.
“Buying followers on any platform never is wise. Bought followers usually will dwindle when the platform realizes these are spam accounts. And really, it’s only a useless vanity metric.
“Twitter is a very easy platform to build relevant followers fast and really doesn’t require a budget at all.
“Here’s what you first need to do. Identify 10-20 popular accounts that are mentioned frequently on Twitter and have a similar audience you’d like to follow you.
“You want to think of influencers, authors, podcasts, bloggers, media publications, and possibly competitors.
“Next thing to do, and this is important, optimize your Twitter profile. That means have a good Twitter cover, profile picture, bio, and a good pinned tweet that talks to the benefits you provide for your potential prospects. I recommend making it a free gift like a guide or free checklist.
“Next, go to Twitter Advanced Search and search for live conversations of people mentioning those popular accounts you identified.
“Look for the live mentions, not older tweets (Twitter allows you to sort by most recent).
“Now follow 50-100 of those people a day.
“Since you’re following relevant accounts who have similar interests to what you do, 10-20% will follow you back.
“For example, if I follow someone mentioning an influencer who talks about weight loss and they see I followed them in their Twitter notifications, they’ll come to look at my profile. If you optimized it and have a pinned tweet that says, for example, ‘How to lose 20 pounds in 40 days,’ psychology says they’ll probably follow you because they were just tweeting an influencer on this topic.
Aaron Norris is the Vice President of The Norris Group.
“I’m in the real estate industry, and the demographics skew older. My core audience is not active on Twitter. So I stopped trying to force the issue and gave Twitter a job. Besides, Twitter already knows all those followers you paid for are fake, so you’re likely to get dinged by algorithms. Once you make the mistake, it’s painful to unwind. You know the saying: it’s like trying to take pee out of swimming pool.
“It’s not just a real estate problem. Companies don’t give social media sites a job. Instead of trying to buy or even get followers, more companies need to focus on how they want to use it. Customer service, relationship building, SEO? If you ask, most don’t know. They are just pushing out content.
“Example: I use Twitter to source stories for our blog and weekly video blog, which we’ve been doing for almost a decade. We retweet great real estate stories and build relationships with folks to come on our radio show and podcast, as well as build relationships with journalists in the space. We’re using it for a very specific purpose instead of trying to be somewhere that my audience does not want to be.”
Todd Burkhalter is a Consultant and the CEO of Drive Planning.
“While buying Twitter followers feels good for a minute and may even be a stroke of your ego, it really does nothing of value. The alternative, unfortunately, is really simple yet difficult: you must create great content. Even with great content you ideally must get that content in front of a niche group that can directly apply your solutions or value to their business/problem.
Joe Sinkwitz is the CEO if Intellifluence, a leading influencer marketing network with a reach of over 2 Billion.
“I’m always of the mind that it pays to have real followers rather than more followers. If you simply want more followers, mention #growthhacking #crypto and other bot driven hashtags and watch the numbers grow. Instead, we can discuss a few quick and dirty techniques:
“1. Promote your best retweets – You know that post of yours that managed to get retweeted by one of your heroes whose audience perfectly aligns with what you aspire to be? Use Twitter ads and get more mileage from the post by promoting it back to your hero’s audience and its lookalikes. Her retweet of your original post is now serving multiple purposes, both by helping you to build up a direct audience and an indirect authority building. The next time you see a NFL video on Twitter, look to see who sponsored it, and then watch the ad before the video to see why.
“2. Engage on your community’s top players – Engagement is often sometime most specialists will suggest, with regards to one’s own posts and audience, but sometimes the best way to grow your audience is to share your wit on the biggest players’ posts and engage with their audience in a positive manner. Say something intelligent more than once in more than one post per industry leader and your follower count will thank you.
“3. Leverage an audience you might have elsewhere – Did you ever wonder why the top Vine producers have such a big audience on the other channels they migrated to? As Vine went from nothing, to gigantic, to nothing again, top producers would simply ask and inform their audience with regards to the other channels they were hosting variations of their content. This simple strategy meant that by being a top player in a small network, they grew with a rising tide strategy, and then were able to leverage and migrate that increase over to the more sustainable networks (including Twitter).
“4. I wouldn’t be a good CEO if I didn’t say you can also run a simple influencer campaign to share some of your best material out via relevant influencers and then pay for those top shares to be retweeted similar to my earlier suggestion, leaching off of the combined share and retweeted audiences to build your own.”
Jason Myers is the senior account executive for The Content Factory, a digital PR firm that’s managed Twitter accounts ranging from major brands like Astroglide to global nonprofits like Fairtrade America.
“We determined years ago that purchasing followers is a suckers game. It’s too expensive to do it white hat (through Twitter ads) and completely ineffective to do it black hat through shady follow farms. Instead, we’ve focused on the slow and steady approach of implementing a sound tweeting strategy averaging 7-10 tweets a day that offer value, entertainment, and information to the followers. We manage Twitter chats for our larger clients that offer interesting, expert-led topical discussions and incentivize participation with relevant giveaways. We still believe in the value of a smart contest to attract new followers, so long as the prize and barrier to entry are on-target with followers that will provide lasting benefit to the client’s marketing objectives. We don’t aggressively follow/unfollow but we do use tools like Crowdfire to clear out the dead weight of inactive followers to keep our ration healthy.
“We also use Twitter lists daily to better target the types of followers that we want to engage with, and we’re adamant about tagging journalists and influencers who we tweet about so that they’re more likely to RT and send their followers our way.
“What are some smart ways to spend Twitter budget to grow your following?
“Honestly, we’ve experienced such unfavorable CPC from most Twitter campaigns that, at this stage, we’d suggest putting ad budget toward a brand ambassador or micro-influencer campaign. The growth from well sponsored tweets will be quicker and more impactful than most traditional ads, and if the influencer is transparent yet influential enough, a well-placed plug could easily spike both traffic, engagement, and sales.”
Nate Masterson is the Marketing Manager for Maple Holistics.
“It’s all about recycling. Identify what has worked for you, what’s working for your competitors and ride off of that. Engage your current followers, retweet, market yourself to guest authors – anything to get your hashtags trending anew. This doesn’t mean producing the same content; it means building on what worked. This way you are not investing in new marketing; you’re reaping the benefits of old campaigns and opening up to a new world of followers. Make yourself easily identifiable visually and stylistically. Get the community working for you.”
As the founder of IrreverentGent.com and the author of the Amazon #1 best-selling book, Ready to Roar: How Shy, Quiet, Self-Doubting Guys Become Strong, Charming, Self-Confident Men, Dave Bowden helps guys become men of strength, style, character and confidence.
“The smartest way to spend your Twitter budget and grow your following is by investing in a tool that allows you to easily follow qualified leads – and, crucially, unfollow people who don’t follow you back.
“Here’s how to do it:
“First you identify the followers of your biggest competitors (or other accounts in a similar niche). Since these people have already expressed an interest in similar content, they’re likely to be interested in what you share as well.
“Then you follow those accounts, and Twitter sends them a notification informing them that you have followed them. This puts you on their radar, and about 10% of the accounts you follow will follow you back.
“While you could do this part manually, you can’t do it very much without getting penalized. Twitter tightly monitors how aggressively you follow other accounts. (More on their policy here.)
“That’s where the benefit of tools such as ManageFlitter and Crowdfire comes in. Both tools allow you to see which of the people you’re following follow you back, and which don’t.
“By unfollowing accounts that haven’t followed you back, you essentially free up more space for you to start following more people, and start the process over again.
“I used ManageFlitter to follow about 100 new people, two to three times a week. Once a week, I would go in and unfollow 100 to 200 people who didn’t follow me back within 5 days of my following them.
Stacy Caprio is the Founder of Accelerated Growth Marketing.
“Instead of using your Twitter budget to buy followers, consider using it to purchase a tweet directly from an influencer in your niche to give you a shoutout. This can be more effective in that you’ll likely gain more engaged followers who are in your niche, and you get a reputation bump from being mentioned by an influencer.”
Swadhin Agrawal is a freelance writer turned online entrepreneur who helps small businesses and website owners get more traffic and sales using SEO & social media marketing. You can find his writings at www.DigitalGYD.com.
“Buying Twitter followers is something I’ve done in the past (of course I was ignorant then) and have learned a good social media lesson, the hard way. Often followers that are bought aren’t real but scammy accounts that are not active. If you’re lucky to get real ones, they’ll soon unfollow because they can’t relate to what you say.
“Having said that, here are some of the best alternatives to buying Twitter followers:
“1) Grow slow but steady: The key to getting original followers on Twitter (who will relate to your brand and listen to what you say) is to be genuine and add value to the community. You have to start with creating a strong brand on Twitter (no matter you’re using a personal or professional handle) so that people take you seriously. On Twitter, talk about your industry, share witty updates and often retweet influencer tweets to come into their radar.
“2) Use gratitude to grow a loyal community: Like any other social platform, you should thank users who like or retweet your tweets. Monitor your brand on Twitter using various brand monitoring tools and thank users who mention you. You might as well find opportunities where people aren’t satisfied with what you say or offer (if you’re a product/service provider). Take this as a chance to understand them, serve them them further, and convert them into your loyal fans and followers.
“3) Leverage infuencers & competitors: One of the key strategies I used to grow my blog’s Twitter following is to leverage my competitors to grow my Twitter following. Every time I login to my Twitter account, I used to go into two of my competitors’ accounts and follow 10 followers from each’s account. By the end of the day or two, you’ll find at least 6-7 accounts following back.
“It has a strong advantage over buying followers, which is: you get access to followers that are highly targeted, understand your niche, and have a great chance to stay connected.
“You can do the same with influencers in your niche. But another strategy that works for leveraging influencers to grow your Twitter followers is interacting with their tweets. Retweet them and comment on their tweets to get onto their radar. Once you’re on their radar, most influencers value their ardent followers and might feature you in one of their tweets.
“For example, Mari Smith, the Facebook marketing expert, shared two of my articles about Facebook (at two different times) and each gave me a splash of blog traffic and about 30-40 followers of hers who followed me back after reading my article.
Dave Hermansen is a 14+ year ecommerce veteran and currently the CEO of Store Coach. He’s been featured in national media several times as an e-commerce expert. He and his brothers along with their office staff currently operate more than 30 eCommerce websites, in addition to running their eCommerce training course and have owned more than 100 web stores over the past decade.
“Frankly, I have never understood why anyone would buy a bunch of fake Twitter followers. Nothing about Twitter helps your website rank any better, and looking like you have a ton of followers who never engage with you might be worse than having significantly fewer followers who DO actually engage with your Twitter posts.
“The key to success with Twitter is connecting with the true Twitter leaders in your niche and posting stellar content. Start off by following anyone in your niche who looks like they post a lot and that has good engagement with their followers. A certain percentage of those people will automatically follow you back. Then, be sure to engage with their tweets from time to time. This gives you an inside track with both them and their followers.
“The next step is always having great things to share. Set up Google Alerts for things that pertain to your niche and also get a feed reader and subscribe to the feeds of every blog that you can find that regularly posts things that your niche audience would find interesting. DO NOT make the mistake of only posting about your company; post the things that your audience will like that you find through those Google Alerts and blog article feeds. Pretty soon, more and more people will follow you because you share the most interesting stuff. It becomes a snowball effect where you get followers of followers of followers.”