In last month’s issue of Barefoot Writer, I showed you how to get a running start on Twitter. It starts with putting together a magnetic profile for your target audience, connecting with authorities in your industry, and engaging them personally. 

Now it’s time to start building your loyal following. By taking small, measured actions each and every day, you’ll end up with big results. 

Here are three simple strategies to start you down that path. 

Be Thankful

Often, when I follow others, I receive impersonal, automated “thank you’s.” They immediately ask me to read their blog, download their “free report,” and do whatever else without getting to know me at all. They hardly even use my name! 

Don’t get me wrong — you do need to ask your audience to take certain actions, like reading your website. That’s the only way to convert them from Twitter followers into potential clients. 

However, just like with any marketing, you need to get them to know, like, and trust you first. And a surefire way to do that is to treat them like a real person.

Here’s my simple strategy for doing just that:

  1. Set aside 10 minutes or so each day to personally thank each and every person who has followed you.
  2. Check out their profile and read 10 or 15 recent tweets. See if you can find a fun fact or piece of information about them to comment on. Most users will love the attention!

As an example, I connected with a professional actress who I knew would be a great contact (my other career is acting). So, I wanted to make it count. 

I looked through her profile and found out that she’s a “dark chocolate nibbler.” So, I went to her page, clicked “Tweet to,” and wrote, “Thank you for following me! I’m honored — you’ve got such an impressive resume. Tell me, how do you JUST nibble dark chocolate?”

She immediately “favorited” my tweet, and replied happily to it. Then, she quoted it to her entire audience, commenting on how much she liked my personalized response. 

As you can imagine, that netted me even more followers. Progress! 

Of course, when you’ve reached the upper echelon of Twitter leaders and have 10,000, 100,000, or even 1,000,000 followers, you will probably need a more automated approach. Until then, take the time to get to know your audience. It will help you in the long-run. 

Give Them What They Want 

You’re probably thinking, “Sure, I’ll get a few followers doing that. But how do I get to those big numbers? It’ll take forever!” 

The simple answer is: You must tweet useful, actionable information your audience can get behind. Getting people to favorite and retweet what you share helps you build a following. 

Your target audience has hopes and dreams, as well as fears and frustrations. So, put on your researcher’s cap, find out what they are, and speak to them! 

Like I mentioned earlier, I’m both a writer and an actor. So, a lot of what I share revolves around entrepreneurship, marketing yourself (the service I’m selling as a writer), and motivation/inspiration. And, holy moly, do those tweets get results. 

And guess what? You don’t have to create everything from scratch. While it’s highly valuable to share your own work, especially if it’s useful to your market, you’d have to write quite a bit each day to keep up with the flow. 

Instead, you can go to top websites like HuffPost, Forbes, Entrepreneur, or whatever is popular in your target industry, and share their content. I recently shared a motivational piece on productivity from Entrepreneur.com and got a huge response. It took only a minute! 

There’s another advantage to putting out useful tweets like that. Because beyond building a huge following, you prime your audience to pay attention to your tweets. 

That means when you eventually share a promotion for your services, an article you wrote, or that project you’d like people to check out, you can be sure your audience will actually see it. They already know, like, and trust you from the value you provide, so they’ll want to help you out. 

You can take this momentum to the next level by getting industry leaders to share your useful tweets. If you get in front of their massive audience, you’ll boost your following exponentially. 

Get to Know the “Big Dogs” 

Speaking of industry leaders … Connecting with big leaders on Twitter might seem intimidating. But it’s much simpler than you may think. 

All you have to do is find out what they like and most commonly share, and put that in front of them. This actually helps them by giving them targeted content to share with their audience, boosting their image, as well as yours.   

As an example, a friend of mine who is a well-loved coach is a big proponent of social media, networking, and tough love. He frequently shares articles, infographics, and quotes along those lines. 

I had stumbled across an Entrepreneur.com article titled, “Top 10 Secrets From a Master Networker.” It was actionable, useful, and promoted his particular approach to business. I tweeted the link “@” him, and he immediately retweeted it with a thanks. 

At that time, I had 50 followers. That one tweet got 7 favorites, 5 retweets, and many new followers. 

So, how can you find out what the leaders in your industry like? Easy! By making a list of who has clout in your field and following them. 

Check up on them once a day. Ask yourself these questions: What are they sharing? What is getting the most favorites? What has the most retweets? 

Eventually, you’ll have a solid idea of what appeals to them and their audience. So, the next time you’re catching up on the news, reading a book, or browsing the Web, your eye will be trained to spot those pieces. Share them “@” that leader’s handle and see what happens! 

There’s always a strong chance they’ll retweet you. And once they start doing that, you’ll be in a good position to build a relationship with them and a bigger following for your business. 

This can even lead to paid writing jobs. What if you got on the radar of Brian Clark of Copyblogger, or the folks at AWAI, or even the Barefoot Writer and one of them needed a guest writer? You’d be a prime candidate! 

Build Your Business with Ease 

If you follow these steps, you’ll start to see big results on Twitter. Not only will you build a following that could eventually become paying clients, you’ll feel empowered. 

You’ll also have great leverage for promoting yourself to clients. When they see how popular you are, they’ll think, “Wow, this writer must really know his stuff!” In turn, this makes it easier for you to boost your fees, no questions asked. 

So, pay attention to Twitter. A few minutes a day could change your freelance career for the better.