My Twitter Strategy For Getting Traffic and Gaining Followers

Twitter StrategyAs Facebook starts to become more and more irritating and restrictive, I’ve begun to turn my attention back to Twitter.  Sure, a tweet won’t be seen by any more people than might see a Facebook post, but at least it’s because there’s too much conversation happening and not just because the company wants you to pay for people who already said they want to hear from you.  I’m about ready to put up a dartboard with Zuckerberg’s face on it.

Anyway, let’s get to some Twitter strategy.  I’ve been playing with it for about a month now and getting some decent results.

My main objective is to get people off of Twitter and onto my email list.  But in an age when even that is too much commitment for some people (and we wonder why the divorce rate is so high…), I’ll also pull them toward my freely available content to get a flavor for what I do before the romance begins.

Right now, I’m working this for my artist site.  Once I get the system really dialed in, I’ll start using it for my other sites too.

What You’ll Learn

  • How I pull Twitter traffic into my email list
  • Why auto direct messages are creepy and useless
  • How to talk to people about what they most want to talk about
  • How to find the right people to follow and engage with
  • Twitter tools I’m using
  • What to tweet and in what proportions
  • Tools to look for fake followers and bots

How I Pull Twitter Traffic To My Email List

Ok, so the basic model is follow for follow, just like any social media site that lets that happen.  Then, the advice I read was to auto direct message a link to my squeeze page.  And I tried it….

Now, if you’re like me, that last bit made you cringe a little.  Doesn’t it feel weird when you follow someone and you get a message two seconds later asking you to sign up or go to a page or whatever?  Yeah, me too.

But I tried it for the first maybe 400 follows I did.  I’ve been getting an 8-10% follow back rate.  Those people were getting a link to my squeeze page.  I didn’t have them set to auto, but just sent them myself.  I think I got maybe 1 person to bite.   So that doesn’t work so hot.  Time efficient?  Definitely.  Not but super effective.

So I tried switching it up.  What is it that people most like to talk about?  Themselves, of course. 🙂  Because at our core we’re all just a bunch of ego-maniacs with self-preservation at top of mind.

Instead of blasting them with a link, I instead send a DM (not auto) and comment on something in their feed or bio, and ask them about it.  If they’re on of the many that offers no real concrete information of any sort, I simply ask, “So what keeps you busy in life?”

That question sometimes generates answers about stuff they like (hobbies or work) or sometimes stuff they don’t (work and ex-spouses).  But they key is it gets them talking about themselves.  I ask for book references, what shows they’ve seen recently, who their favorite bloggers are, how many children they have, etc.

Now, when you’re talking to someone and keep asking questions about them, what do they eventually do?  Ask questions about you right back.  And when that happens, there’s my in to tell them a bit about what my art.  Even then, I don’t blast them a link right away.  Most people think being a comedian and musician is a pretty awesome gig (which it is) and will ask more about it.  Eventually I can send them to look at or download something.

It’s even better when I have some content that goes right along with stuff they’re into.  One guy I connected with was very into invitro-fertilization (no idea if that’s spelled right) because he and his wife are trying to have children.  So I sent him a link to a bit I do about male human babies having as much testosterone as a fully grown human male.  And he enjoyed it… because it’s funny. 🙂

Of course, this is much more time consuming.  But it’s getting better results.  Doing some quick number crunching in my head, I follow about 250 people a week, get about a 10% follow back rate.  So about 25 new followers per week (outside of the normal follows I get that I don’t initiate).  From that I get about 2-3 email ads per week. 10-12%.  Not bad, but could use some fine tuning to get it higher.

Just like when you finally get a joke to work, the exact wording can make a big difference when you’re pitching someone.  Once you find what works, you can stick with it for quite awhile.

As for time, I’m spending about 45 min to an hour a day on this.  That includes time for responding to people.

Improvements I can make: I may try to be a little more aggressive about swerving the conversation in the direction of things I do, ie. comedy and music.  Rather than talking about cars or Ren Faires or sports.  That may come off as too “me” instead of “them”. But something to try to accelerate the conversation.

Who I’m Looking For On Twitter

Following the right people makes a difference in your results.  There are two ways I’m looking at this.  I need new people in certain areas where I’ll be touring.  I also need people in general who are into the kind of art I make.  For the first I simply follow people in the towns I’m playing.  It’s a little more random because it’s not lifestyle targeted and doesn’t generate great results.  But I get a few.  And I try to do this 3-4 weeks ahead of the shows I’m playing in that town.

What has worked way better is following the followers of another artist who’s already playing to people who would like me.  In my case, the top of that heap is Stephen Lynch.  Especially while he’s touring.  He’s got over 33,000 followers with 20-40 new ones showing up each day.

I follow 50 people each day to stay well under Twitter’s radar since I don’t want my account cancelled.  But I need to find more concrete numbers.  I think it’s 100, but don’t quote me on that.

So I simply go to Lynch’s list of followers and grab 50 every day.  I start with the newest ones.  Why?  Because they’re easily accessible at the top of the list for one.  But also because they tend to be new to Twitter.  Sure, a lot of those people will drop out in the first 6 months, but if I’m one of the first people they talk to on there, that leaves a memory.  And if I’m nice and conversational, that also gives them a better feeling about the site (that spammers will destroy later on…).  One guy, a cartoonist, was so happy that I was his first follower that he drew a really cool cartoon of me, which I posted to my Facebook and Twitter to get him some further traction.

Once I run out of newbies, I’ll go farther down Lynch’s list and grab some old timers.  This is kind of a pain since you have to load each little segment of list.  This takes longer every day as I get further down the thing.  I may end up investing in something like Tweet Adder just for the function of being able to secure a whole list of potential people and follow them a little at a time.

What I would love love love is to be able to go through that artist-centric list and geo-target just the people in towns I’m playing in.  Not sure if Tweet Adder does that or not.  Speaking of which…

Improvements I can make: User/geo-targeting cross referenced searches.  Also approaching the followers of venues I’m playing.  Not sure why I hadn’t thought of that before. (See tagline in my header)

Twitter Tools I’m Using

I’m doing artist-centric adds and messaging straight through the Twitter website.  Besides that I use two tools: SocialBro and BufferApp.

SocialBro (I use the free version) is a community manager for Twitter.  You can see who follows who, who’s active, who’s influential, and more.  You can also find and follow new people using their search functions. But most of that is part of the paid version now.

I start my Twitter day by updating SocialBro and unfollowing anyone that unfollowed me.  Because they are ungrateful bastards. 😉   There aren’t many.  Then I unfollow anyone who hasn’t posted a tweet in the last 4-6 months.  Then I unfollow anyone that I followed a week or more prior who hasn’t followed me back yet.  Same thing here on the numbers, no more than 50-60 a day right now.

Why unfollow?  There’s two reasons.  Twitter actually puts a limit on how many people you can follow if you’re under 2000 followers (I think…) So if your following to follower ratio gets to high, you won’t be able to follow more people.  For Pete’s sake… I don’t think I’ve ever used the word “follow” as much in my whole life as in writing this article.

The other reason is that there’s a psychological impact when someone sees your profile and you’re following way fewer people than follow you.  You know who does that? Celebrities.  People that other people give a crap about.  You want to be that person.

Side Note: You should also go through and follow the people your target market artist follows too.  Chances are they are people you should know too.  You may get fewer follow backs, but there are worthy connections in there.

Again, I think there are ways to possibly automate some of the follow/unfollow business with something like Tweet Adder.  (Update: I am in fact using Tweet Adder.  Click here to see what’s up with it.)

The other tool, BufferApp is a posting queue.  With their free version, you can load up to 10 tweets that will go out at specified times of the day.  You can create those times yourself or, if you link it up with SocialBro, find out when your top 100 people are on Twitter and use those times to hit your maximum audience.

Which leads to the next point….

What I’m posting on Twitter

If you haven’t read my case study of Rob Delaney’s Twitter feed yet, check it out.  He’s a comedian that really broke open a new level of his career through Twitter, so I wanted to see what he was doing.  It’s not entirely scientifically sound, but gives a good overview.

What I discovered is that he provides a lot of entertainment, a little bit of promotion, and a healthy dose of conversation.  I also discovered that he still gets less than 1% engagement on any given tweet.  So don’t expect to see any real action until you’re in the 5000-10,000 follower range.  Patience, Padawan…

Every couple of days I go load up Buffer with tweets.  About 2/3 jokes. Current event stuff works well, though it’s not my forte.  Then I’ll throw in one or two links to entertaining content off Twitter that I’ve written.  Audio, video, blog posts, etc here.  Those put them in front of my opt in forms in a more passive way.  Then, two or three times a week, I’ll post a link straight to my opt in page.  I try to make it sound enticing, as in “Need a fun soundtrack for your Saturday night?  Download this album…”

Outside of my buffered tweets, I’ll engage in conversation when I have time.  I tend to tweet while I’m waiting to go onstage before the show.  Or while my girlfriend is in the dressing room.  You know, times when I don’t have much else to do.

The key is keep it entertaining and converse with people.  Then drop a few plugs in there and try to not make them look like plugs.

Improvements I can make: More responding to names bigger than I (to make that psychological link with other people), possibly more retweets, better jokes (some days you’re just not feelin’ it, know what I mean?)

What’s Next In The Twitter Game?

I definitely want to see if I can automate some of the follow/unfollow stuff and simply concentrate on the conversations more.  I also have a free $50 credit Twitter sent me to tried out their new promoted tweets system.  I’ll be trying that soon and reporting back.

Larger number beget larger numbers.  So it’s a slog at first, but will hit a tipping point somewhere along the line.  More updates to come soon.


Two things have popped up.Over the last two weeks 74% of my tweets have been engaged with in some way at least once.  So I like those numbers.

I also started targeting followers of the venues I’m playing at.  I discovered this takes a little bit longer as at least half of their followers are performers.  So I have to sort through a little bit to find the regular people.

Not that other performers aren’t important too.  They tend to be active retweeters, plus the networking is important.  But at the moment I’m looking for fans to add to my email list.  Other performers are much less likely to be those people.

More updates to come…

Update …

It’s been a little bit since I’ve update this, but not because I’ve been slacking off.  I’ve still been averaging 10 new followers per day with a couple new mailing list people per week.  I’m a bit over 1900 followers at the moment.

However, I’m also starting to see more interest being generated for my tour dates.  And I’ve run across a few others in creative professions that I may be collaborating with.  I’m also finding that tweeted links to my content (music, blog posts, etc) are getting more action than before.

I’ve been following and unfollowing 50 people per day.  Recently I was reading up on Twitter’s daily limits and it appears to be 1000 on either end, though split across the day bi-hourly.  In other words, if you try to follow a thousand people in the same hour, they’ll ding you.  But if it’s spread out over the day, you’re cool.  Most people seemed to be hovering around 700 to stay safe.  I’m obviously well inside those numbers.

But I did up my numbers to 100-150 per day.  It’s good because it’s bringing more people in, but I’m also spending a lot more time in “get to know you” conversations.  So I definitely can’t handle 700 per day the way I’m doing it.  I have to concentrate on quality over quantity to do this right.

Here are the parts I’d like to automate:
– Following and unfollowing on a timed schedule
– Possibly the first direct message

The problem with that second one is two-fold. First, I try to use the person’s real name in that first message to signal to them that I’m a real person.  I also ask them different things depending on whether they’re a artist/musician/comedian/performer or a civilian.  I don’t believe there’s any way to automate those two things.  So it will take some testing to see how the conversions change.  It may be I’m able to get bigger numbers of conversions with sheer bulk even if the percentage is lower.

The magic is still in the conversations.  So that part has to stay.  The people I direct message with are way more likely to interact with my tweets and come further into my funnel.

I’ve also found the quality of my tweets makes a big difference.  Not that I was ever posting junk, but there was a week or two where I was super busy and the jokes weren’t quite as good.  When I concentrated on getting the level of the material back up, the interaction came back.

So the end goal is to automate everything but writing the tweets and having the conversations.  Then building from there.


I’m using Tweet Adder now and while it’s not automated (because Twitter doesn’t allow much of that anymore), it does make things go a lot faster.  The daily unfollowing takes about 30 seconds and I can follow 100 new people in about 2 minutes.  And that’s only because I pick and choose instead of just banging the follow button.

I’m still hovering around a 15-20% follow back rate and all the rest of the numbers are staying in line with what they’ve been.  Just building building building now.

Update 12/20/13:

Just this morning, Social Bro, in their quest for profitability, has limited the free accounts to communities of less than 5000.  So I’m aced out on that one and won’t be using it anymore. Twitter certainly isn’t generating enough revenue for me to warrant spending money on that particular tool.  I was pretty much using it to catch any new followers I didn’t notice and do some quick unfollowing of people.  Tweet Adder can do similar things, even though the interface for those functions isn’t as nice.

I’m also giving TweetDeck another shot.  The constant streaming gave me a headache last time I tried it.  But it will be useful for tracking multiple Twitter accounts, which I’ll soon have.  You can follow @BigWhizBang here.  Though I haven’t really done a lot with it yet.

Update 3/5/14:

Eliminate The Bots!

I’m just north of 3500 followers at the moment. I figured it was time to go through and find out how many of my followers are useless bots.

Ideally I was looking for a tool that would tell me if I’m following any bots. Haven’t found anything for that yet.  But I did find a couple good tools that sift out any bots that are following me.  I can then unfollow those if need be.

Fake Follower Check

These two tools are free and easy to use and flushed a couple bots out.  Miraculously (or because I pick well) only 2% of my followers are bots.  And I wasn’t following any of them back.  So my account is really clean.

I am not generally following anyone I don’t know unless they’re following me back. Not for more than a week anyway.  So filtering this way should keep things pretty clean on both ends.

I’ll be running these tools every couple of months to keep it that way.

More updates to come.

Like this post?  Tweet it, mofo!  Click any of those buttons under the “Share” thing at the left and share this info with your friends and enemies.

And, oh duh… Wanna follow me?  My artist account is @roadsidephil  And I’ve just put together an account for @BigWhizBang .  There’s not a ton of stuff on it yet, but more coming soon.


My Twitter Strategy For Getting Traffic and Gaining Followers — 2 Comments

  1. I use Tweepi to do all my following and unfollowing. It could probably help you too. You can follow up to 1,000 in a given day. I go in about once a week to flush all the unfollowers, then follow someone’s followers until Tweepi cuts me off. I haven’t gotten in any trouble with Twitter so far, and I’ve been doing it since last August.

    • Good deal… I’ve used Tweepi in the past too. I don’t follow that many in a day though since the follow up engagement would be too much to deal with.

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