A colleague just asked that question on LinkedIn, and had me realizing, one, that it’s easy to follow people on Twitter but it takes time to find people in your niche, and that two, there are some things you can do that are easy to get started. So, you just signed up or just want to grow your base of followers (following others is a good strategy to build your own following) here are some quick and easy things to do:
Search your industry terms using #hashtags.
I would recommend using a hashtag (putting the # sign in front of the word) and searching terms for your industry or area of interest, from #cooking to #Theater, #comedy, #ElectricalEngineering, #Retail etc. and see who comes up in those categories. You can also use this same strategy just to find out more about hobbies (#knitting, #crosscultural, #NationalCookieDay) and current events (What’s going on in #SanBernardino, etc.). Follow the people who are tweeting about these subjects of interest to you.
See who people you like and respect are following.
Once you find people you follow or industry leaders you respect, see who they are following–that’s a great way to find a lot of related people to follow at one time. So if you read someone’s timeline, and you like what they are saying, you like their tone and perspective–see who they are following. If they are someone who is a specialist in indie movies, for example, they may already have found others who would be of interest to you. On their home page, you can click the link “following” link to see who they are following.
Follow People You Know in Real Time (aka Real Life).
Also, from now on when you are on websites you like or use, look for the twitter icon and follow people with whom you are connected in real life. One other strategy is to google “Top 10 twitter accounts for (subject) and see what comes up. I just did that for my friend who was interested in theater, and came up with not 10, but 100 to follow!)
Don’t be afraid
Do not be intimidated by people with 10K or more than 100K followers, who joined last month and have already tweeted 30K times. This is automated….for most it’s definitely a question of quality over quantity. Twitter is a way to connect to others in your industry, others who are doing comparable work. It’s a way to show your own expertise and experience in a particular field. So it’s not just about the number of followers, but connecting with people who are your target or people with whom you might like to network.
Final tips–beware of someone whose Twitter User Name doesn’t match their profile name (e.g. their profile name is Suzie Morton, but their Twitter user name is @cutexgea. There are twitter spammers–you can always look at their account to see what they tweet about. And, not sure how this works as a spam, but if their tweets are all about wooden cutting boards (I’ve seen enough for it to be “a thing,” don’t follow (and if you end up with inappropriate tweets in your timeline, you can just unfollow someone–no hard feelings.
Some fun results.
I’ve gotten book reviews for a client who is an expert on Grandpareting; I’ve been invited to speak at a conference in Puerto Rico on multicultural marketing; My son had a Skype interview with the Park Ranger based on Antartica, all through connections only on Twitter.
Start by just building a following and keep in mind your “real life” strategy and objectives. And have fun (and if you need help, there are professionals…aka me…who can help, by setting you up, providing training, helping you build your strategy or more. Just give me a shout.