Building a large following on Twitter can be akin to acting as a club promoter trying get as many people to the party as possible. You have to build up your street cred, know the right people (or at least seem like you do), and make people feel cool just being in your presence. You also want other people to want to get to know you because they feel it will increase his/her social or professional value.
There are many ways to get followers on Twitter and several psychological nuances at work, but today I have reigned in these tactics that fall within the realm of the of social proof. This was a law popularized in recent culture through Dr. Robert Cialdini's book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion (Collins Business Essentials)
What is Social Proof?
According to Cialdini, Social Proof is:
"The means we use to determine what is correct is to find out what other people think is correct...We view a behavior as more correct in a given situation to the degree that we see others performing it" (page 116).
Of course, activities such as being interactive with followers, tweeting consistently and constantly, hashtags, and creating value all earns you followers as well. If you are serious about building your follower base, use these little tweaks that play on human psychology to increase your visitor count. Combined these tactics can substantially up your follower base and the amount of influence you have on the Twittersphere.
- Reply using @ sign to KNOWN and HIGH PROFILE people in your industry. It doesn't matter if they don't answer back. The fact that you are talking to them makes you look popular and connected.
- Have way more followers than you are following (I don't recommend this as a long term strategy, but it does fall under the realm of this person is "highly popular and sought after").
- Give yourself a personally branded name or tag line, sounding as though you are known as this person on other networks Examples: @Barefoot_Exec, @CouchDebbie .
- Create a design background for your Twitter page with your other social profiles and website also displaying testimonials from other clients, or even friends, saying how awesome you are as a twitter friend.
- List your twitter grader score and local position, if it's good.
- Write an expert guest post on a popular blog about twitter and promote it on twitter.
- Get retweeted by major players (ask them by Direct Message, after you have developed a relationship and value).
- Get interviewed by others about Twitter, your website, and tweet the podcast.
- Give yourself a generational identity: 20-something, Brazen Careerist, Gen Y, Baby Boomer not just a job function. which is more compelling and relational on a larger scale than a job title -- it makes it seem like you are a mouthpiece for the generation.
- Write a book about Twitter and give it away. It doesn't even have to be good at this point.
- Get highly connected Tweeters to mention you on his/her #followfriday, #ff, tweet.