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Just lately a few people have asked me how I managed to grow my Twitter followers from around the 2000 mark to 8000, over the last six months. I’m quite sure that others can do so much better, but I thought there might be some people interested to know what I do, so here goes.

Twitter, like any social media platform, requires input. I decided to start using Twitter earlier this year, I mean really use it. That means reading tweets, acknowledging retweets, thanking new followers for actually thinking you might be worth engaging with. Remember when you were a child, how you were taught ‘manners’? Well, it’s a lesson in manners. You need to be polite, say please and thank you and you’ll find it goes a long way all around the globe.

Now, I hear what you’re thinking – this takes up so much time. You’re right, it does, so you have to prioritise, and do whatever you can to manage it in the best way. When you’re starting out, you probably won’t have a large following so it won’t be as much work. However, now that I’ve reached 8000, I don’t mind sharing that I’m struggling. There are some management tools such as commun.it which are perfect for keeping track of new followers and formulating tweets for you to send out so you keep up with followers and retweets, but you have to pay, and that’s simply not an option for many people, including me.

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So, how do you grow? I can only speak for myself, and the key is to engage each day or most days. If you need a break, put a pinned tweet on your page letting everyone know you’ll be back and thank them for their support in the meantime. It’s not rocket science – it’s about thinking of how you relate & engage with people face to face and taking that over to Twitter.

Engagement also requires you sharing content. I share many tweets about writing, history and books for sale. I also share blog posts -mine and others – and anything I come across online such as news and history articles. Twitter is fast and furious and once you hit the send button, your tweet is swallowed up in the belly of the whale, but it’s not gone – it’s around and people are going to see it.And while most will ignore it, some will engage. Another good tip is to share yourself with your followers/friends. This means sending out a tweet about your day – how it’s going, what you’re doing, a picture of where you are, a sunrise, sunset, whatever you like. It allows people to see the real you and often that’s far more interesting.

A note on retweets. If someone retweets you, you have options – you can either retweet one of their posts – and a pinned tweet is better -that’s why we pin, to get retweets. Or, you can retweet them and say thanks. All good. Finally, you can say thanks, but I believe most would love you to reciprocate by retweeting them – especially if they have a business or a product to sell – it’s all word of mouth and marketing.

If you do have something to sell, then the general advice is to tweet perhaps 60-70% other content and the remainder your own, whether it’s a product or a service. People don’t want your products dominating the feed.

If you read a tweet that captures your interest, retweet it with a comment -for example, if it’s a beautiful picture, say so. Often I thank people for sharing links to books and articles – it’s a rich resource for all sorts, including history and music. What’s not to love?

Another nice acknowledgement is to do a weekly or twice-weekly round up of tweets to thank your followers for their support. Now here, what you’ll find is that you’ll establish a regular group of retweeters with a few fresh faces every day, so for me, I don’t have all 8000 followers retweeting me, but I have a small group of around 50-100 who retweet daily. This enables me to keep up and retweet them. In a single tweet, you can add five people usually with a message of thanks.

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A final word on reciprocation. If people retweet you, it’s great. But if you never retweet them, or rarely do so, they’ll lose interest. Similarly, if they retweet you but you only like their post, that’s barely meeting them half-way. Retweet for a retweet. A like is better than nothing, but it doesn’t have much influence.

Reciprocation is key, and I can’t stress enough how vital this is. You have to play the game and abide by the rules. If you do, you’ll go from strength to strength. I can’t keep up with 8000 followers. It’s just impossible, and I lose a steady stream daily, of between 20-50, but my new followers are greater in number daily so my following is still increasing. However, many people stick with me for which I’m so grateful because here and there we do engage.

One thing I will say about being a follower – I NEVER unfollow someone merely because they are termed inactive. If you use certain management tools such as Tweepi or Crowdfire, you can see who followed you, unfollowed you and who you’re not following back. That’s great, but they also suggest inactive followers who you can unfollow. I don’t bother. I’m happy to follow them even if they remain silent forever. What does it matter? Often it comes down to the fact that they are like me, struggling in a sea of followers, thrashing around in a desperate attempt to stay afloat, either that or they left the building.

I also keep lists for writing, authors, history, social media etc, which is great for filtering tweets from individuals and allows you to stay in touch, assisting you with engagement.

What I love about Twitter is that it is immediate – you don’t get that with Facebook so much and also Twitter enables you to connect and meet people far more fluidly and it’s exciting, especially when you connect with like-minded people.

As a writer, I love connecting with other writers and readers, which I do on a daily basis, but as a lover of history, I can reach out to others who are equally passionate about history. What else is there to say? I work Twitter because it’s in my interest to do so. Having just placed my novel on pre-order I have also secured some orders through Twitter in the last 2 weeks. For me, that’s fantastic. What I’ve explained here really covers the basics. You learn more as you go, such as the benefit of using hashtags to gain wider attention. I’m still learning myself.

And for those who feel it’s a waste of time, well, all I can say is that it’s like anything – you only get what you put in. Give, and you shall receive. And for me, even if it does nothing to help me sell books, I gain far more such as friendships, daily chats, new discoveries in history, aviation, events, music, writing, literature, editors, proofreaders and so much more. I have to tell you that for me, it’s my favourite platform and I can’t see that changing anytime soon.

I’ve probably left out many useful tips, but this is all I can think of for now. And remember:

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