Are you looking to build Twitter followers? Caution

Christopher Penn is once of my favorite people to follow in the blogsphere. I also follow him on Twitter. Tonight he posted a fabulous article about “How to build a Twitter audience in 8 steps” that I just had to share.

When you try out Step 4, to test your audience reach, you’ll be amazed. I have been tweeting for almost 3 years now, on 2 accounts, each of which have a relatively small number of followers, that is less than 1000. But my reach was 12,833 people via 30 tweets on one account and 18,081 people via 22 tweets on the other.

So, which is more important when talking to customers about a social media strategy… followers or reach? Both of course, but you just need to realize that while building your followers, you want quality over quantity. I’d rather have 1000 followers who will help me spread my message to 20,000 than 20,000 followers who aren’t paying attention.

Caution with following everyone who follows you

I’m not sure I agree with Step 6. Follow everyone who follows you. I suppose you could, but then you’ll eventually have a mess to clean up. Whenever I get a notification that someone is following me, I go take a look at their tweets and see if they provide value to me in return. I don’t want to clog up my stream and possibly miss something from one of my fav’s like Christopher.

Anyway, I’ll give you the highlights here, but PLEASE go read the original post and then proceed with some amount of caution.

Do you want to grow your audience on Twitter quickly and effectively? Do you want that audience to be people to whom you are perceived as influential? Here’s the recipe to find them.

1. Tweet stuff of value that’s worth sharing. All of this will be useless if you’re posting bullshit. Sorry, but true.

2. Build up your audience of people you know and who like you already. The easiest way to do this? Email your friends and colleagues letting them know about your Twitter account. Ask them to follow you. If you’re active on other networks like Facebook, let them know as well.

3. Keep proving value by doing step 1 over and over again. You cannot skip by these steps or the rest of this recipe will not work for you.

4. After about 30 days of seeding your audience and sharing good stuff, go to and type in your Twitter handle with the @ sign. Here’s an example. If you have access to other social CRM tools like Radian6, JitterJam, etc., feel free to use them for this step instead. Those paid tools will do this step much more effectively, but TweetReach will get you started for free.

5. Find the list of people who have retweeted you to their audiences. Remember, these are the people who think you are so much value that not only do they follow along, but they share with their audiences. There is some likelihood that the people who follow them will have some part of their worldview in common, which means they might have something in common with you as well.

6. Follow everyone who follows them. Ideally start with the people who retweet you the most, because their audiences will have heard about you the most. This is advertising 101: you’re directly contacting people who have been exposed to your brand. Instead of billboards advertising a soft drink, you’re reaching out with considerably greater accuracy to people who have heard about you from someone they follow.

7. Repeat step 1 daily.

8. After you get through the list from steps 5 and 6, wait a couple of weeks while repeating step 1. Once you’ve had a few weeks to get in front of the new friends you’ve probably picked up and proven your value to them, repeat this exercise to see who is new in your audience that’s retweeting you. Begin the exercise over again.