You clicked, didn’t you? Because you want followers. And you’re looking at every other Twitter account and… they know a secret. You’re sure of it.

Well, here it is in 10 easy, sleazy steps to gaining millions of followers on Twitter- the secrets they don’t want you to know.

How to Gain Twitter Followers

Step #1: Don’t Chase Followers.

The number of followers you have has almost no influence on who will read your next tweet. Engage with people, build a network, strive for genuine interaction. Using the other rules, you can create a “pull” rather than following random accounts hoping they will follow you back. That’s a sure way to get your account suspended.

Don’t buy followers either. They’re selling fake accounts. And having random followers means Twitter “thinks” your account has random interests and suggests your account as similar to others with random interests, getting you more random followers. The snowball can only get so big.

Step #2: Don’t Chase Clicks.

Some accounts focus on clicks at the expense of everything else. They end up tweeting automated bullshit every hour. That’s just spammy. Do they think they have 10,000 fans reading every piece of garbage they put out there? Take a look at how many people engage with each tweet and you’ll have an answer.

If you want people to click for the right reasons, remember that people think in story, not separate, unrelated ideas. Sparking curiosities, eliciting emotions based on desires/anxieties and building anticipation for how you can help them will create a natural organic, targeted reach.

Step #3: Empathize First.

See the real people behind the accounts. What do they need? What are they really trying to do? And make the dots connect. Give them what they really want. That’s Apple’s philosophy. Well, was Apple’s philosophy when Steve Jobs was there. Here’s how I use that philosophy:
Twitter is busy at some times, dead at others, based mostly on daily and weekly routines.

Here’s what works best for me for scheduled tweets:

  • Mornings: People want to wake their brains up. They click on exciting and unexpected things. Their time is limited because they have to get to work, but they will read short articles or save them for later.
  • Afternoons: People are trying to escape the cubicle. They like happy and funny stuff that reminds them that all this hard work is worth it.
  • Evenings: People want to talk. They want to have real conversations. They’ve been typing TPS reports all day with their office door shut. Questions, debates, requests for advice.

It really simplifies things, doesn’t it?

Step #4: Make Them Care.

Ask yourself, “Why should people follow me?” If you don’t know what they’re following, they probably don’t know either.

I’m on a journey. You should be too. Put yourself on the table. Be unapologetically… you. Have a purpose. People follow journeys. Because they want to care. Because they want to help. Because they want to learn through your mistakes. Because it is comforting to escape their routine and see a different perspective.
People are starving for stories. Real, honest, stories. From a real live human being. That’s what they’re not getting on TV or those news sites buried under a mountain of popups.

Step #5: Dress the Window.

Would you follow you? People have a split second to make that decision. Imagine yourself in a bookstore and you pick up a magazine and step through your buying decision.

  • Is the interest area clear and is it focused or all over the board?
  • Do the photos tell the story in an exciting way or are they mostly cat pictures?
  • Do the headlines pull you in and make you want to know more?
  • Will this benefit you to buy it? Will it complement your life or be a distraction?

Now, imagine your Twitter profile is a magazine. Would you buy it? Would you want to read your tweets?

Step #6: Ignore the Competition.

Twitter has over 300 million active accounts (so they tell their shareholders). That gives you, ohh…. About a 0.00001% of a slice of the pie. Why are you trying to take someone else’s 0.00002% slice? Spend your time and effort on the whole pie! Focus on what you do, not everyone else. Imaginary competition is the biggest waste of human energy in the world. I’m sure of it.

The fact is, Twitter is not a competition, it is an ecosystem. The media hype around “followers” and “influence” is really just meant to keep your attention focused on them, thinking they know secrets, and if you keep watching long enough you will know the secrets as well. It doesn’t work that way in real life. And no matter how many Kobe Bryant shoes you buy, they won’t make you a professional basketball player.

Sorry to burst your bubble.

Step #7: Focus on your Audience.

“Make eye contact.” Did your mom tell you that too? It’s to remind you that the most important person is right in front of you. Not everyone else. Focus on your audience and not everyone else who’s not. The genuine conversations you create will pull others in.

Step #8: Connect with Exciting People.

Reply to interesting tweets. Follow people who are interesting- that can contribute to your journey. You’re not Kim Kardashian, so people aren’t going to follow you for your stupidity. Quit looking at your follower ratio. If you’re more impressed by your follower ratio than your engagement, good luck to you. It’s going to be a lonely journey.

Step #9: Ignore Anyone Touting a List of How to Gain Followers.

Yeah, I went there.

Seriously, you’re likely going to see one of two things when you click…

  1. A study of 82 bazillion tweets that shows average tweet time, average tweet length, average number of hashtags… Doesn’t that really just illuminate average? How does that help you again? Feeling even more confused after reading the study… Don’t worry, they are selling an expensive analytics service.
  2. A webpage on the Google search for “How to Gain Followers,” written by a website nerd, who gets followers through that page who want to be #FollowedBack, and pretty soon we’re all riding the #FollowMeBackTrain, yayyy! Yeah, f*** that shit!

Step #10: Don’t Listen to Me

I’m just on a journey trying to figure this out for myself. I can’t help you. Go connect with exciting people- real people who share your passions. Figure out what what a good tweet is. Figure out what you like, what inspires you, ask yourself, “why does that excite me?” Then go out and create that feeling for others. It is addictive.

WTH, Brad?

You are reading this, thinking a number of things right now…

How does this help me get more #Followers?

Go back and read Step #1.

This is great, but it doesn’t add up. What do I do next?

Of course it doesn’t add up. I’ve left the most important rule out. Intentionally. The rule that explains everything. But telling you that rule won’t help you. You have to figure it out on your own- through interaction and refining your style and interests and your personal brand. Life doesn’t come with an instruction manual.

Will this approach work for me?

It can. Personally, I choose the organic approach because it naturally creates a genuine audience with mutual interests that is genuinely aligned to who I am and what I’m trying to do, and maybe we can all help each other. I’ve seen a few other approaches that seem to work for some people.

  • The “Look at me” Strategy: Everyone wants to be just like you. Because everyone else likes you. And they must know something you don’t. And it just makes sense, right? Well, if that makes sense to you, tweet every day about how cool you are, beating your chest and reminding everyone incessantly of their inferiority in your presence. (you don’t want people to forget, do you?)
  • The Spam Engine: Everyone should want what you’re selling. If they don’t, they just haven’t heard about you yet. You shouldn’t care about their problems and tweet as much as possible, using as many combinations of keywords and hashtags as possible. Who cares if they like your message, the more you put your product in people’s face, the more people will buy, maybe you can tweet every hour? Every 15 minutes? And that’s good for the metrics. if that makes sense to you, you should buy the most expensive analytics service possible that can “optimize” your tweets so you don’t have to deal with the pain of relating to real people. Everyone else is stupid anyway.
  • The Follow Everyone Strategy: Follow people and some follow you back? Funny how that works. You don’t care about them, they don’t care about you, hey, that’s a match made in heaven! This is fun, isn’t it? What now?
  • The Retweet Everything Strategy: You’ve found that when you retweet someone, sometimes they follow you, or even retweet you back. Those idiots think you’re genuinely interested in them. Now they owe you! Now everyone owes you! Suspicion confirmed. You are just as cool as you always thought.

Hey, wait, you don’t have a million followers and you’re not following all of your rules.

Obviously my cynicism was lost on you. These are general principles I try to follow, and my goal is simply to get you to ask the right questions and look at things from another perspective.  Please go back and read Rule #10.

On second thought, just go bother someone else.

*** expletive removed for my catholic readers.

Disclaimer: This is one of many strategies that can work on Twitter. Although people are attracted by the “personalities” of business brands, selling products, corporate bureaucracy and the general mentality of competing for profit necessitate a slightly different approach.


About the author: Brad Bernard


Brad Bernard has traveled through 92 countries to find off-the-map experiences and authentic adventure travel. He pushes his own personal boundaries by travelling experimentally. Brad’s personal quest to find the most extreme and unique in travel has bred misadventures and moments of enlightenment alike. You can read his craziest stories on his adventure travel blog