Getting Twitter followers is a bit like a game of Pokemon: gotta catch ' em all.
And as the 1 percent argument goes, the more you have, the more you're going to get, said Amanda MacArthur, director of content and marketing at BuzzFarmers, a company that manages social media profiles for clients.
A few months ago, MacArthur experimented with a Twitter account with zero followers. She had some auto-tweets, attended one tweet chat and included a couple random tweets per week, she said. After two weeks, she had ten new followers.
“Then I used Fiverr.com to buy 2,500 followers and did the same exact thing for a month,' she said. “In 30 days I had 500 new, real followers. The 2,500 fake ones got deleted by Twitter soon after, but I still had the 500 that decided, based on the content and by the perceived influence, that the account was worth following.'
So the number of followers a person has is valuable because many people think it is an “indicator of influence,' MacArthur said.
And influence or followers is Twitter's “most basic currency,' said Eric Gilbert, assistant professor in Georgia Tech's School of Interactive Computing.
His study on how to get more followers, which was presented in Paris in May, looked at about a half-million tweets from more than 500 users. After more than 15 months, Gilbert came up with some tips on how to increase one's Twitter presence:
-- Don't talk about yourself because “informers' get Twitter followers 30 times faster than “meformers.'
-- Stay away from negative posts — death, unemployment and poor health. Twitter is based on weak social ties where most followers have never met each other.
-- Use hashtags sparingly because users with a high “hashtag ratio' pick up fewer new followers.
Beyond numbers, content is also important, especially for job seekers, MacArthur said.
“The way you tweet has a greater bearing over what an employer thinks of you than your follower count -- that is unless you're trying to get hired for a social media job,' she said.
However, if a person's career industry requires a legion of followers, MacArthur has some tips. BuzzFarmers has been able to get a client about 23,100 followers, so she knows what she's talking about.
-- Start talking to people. “(Twitter is) not this place where you get to just show up; you really have to work at it and build friendships,' MacArthur said. So use “@' to talk or respond to people.
-- Attend in-person events (Tweetups) and tweet chats to get to know people.
-- Find people who watch the same TV shows or have the same hobbies through hashtags. Then interact with them.
Content in social media accounts is king, said Nance Rosen, a UCLA instructor who teaches career development and personal brand building.
“Social media is the first place that recruiters look when they're seeking people to fill specific job functions,' said Rosen, who works with headhunters and business owners all over the world through ShoutBrand. “You can't help but reveal how you think and the nature of your personality, and that translates quite easily for recruiters into what kind of person you are and whether that kind of person seems like a good fit with both the job and the culture that they're representing.'
Twitter reveals how clued in someone is when it comes to breaking news, opinion makers, key influencers and other important folks in a variety of interest areas, Rosen said. It also shows how effectively a person could express herself concisely, she added.
Rosen, like Gilbert, said people should not obsess over telling people about their own lives.
“Most people get on social media as if they have just heard Frank Sinatra singing ' I've Gotta Be Me,'' Rosen said. Twitter isn't about getting to be you. Twitter is about serving your audience and making sure that the words you're using — that the topics you're on — serves the people that are consuming your thoughts.'
Yet Jihad Jackson, a student at Pasadena City College, said he mainly tweets about himself, his ideas and some motivational reflections. What he is doing will eventually aid him in his job search, he said.
Employers “would like to see how my personal life is and if I'm all right and not a psychopath,' he said. “A person's voice is good. A person's voice should never be silent.'