Twitter is a great way to gain a large audience, but it's a very misunderstood medium. If you're not doing it right, you won't see any returns from it, and it can get very frustrating. So I'm compiling a list of ways to use twitter to get more followers, and to turn those followers into part of your tribe.
1. Find someone similar to you, and follow all of their followers.
It may seem disingenuous, but it's really not. Let's say that I'm a rapper in a certain city, and I know that another rapper in the same city has a lot of twitter followers. If my style is similar to the other rapper, there's a chance that the followers of the other rapper might like what I have to bring to the table.
By following all of their followers, you're standing up and saying "Hi, I'm here" in a non-invasive way. Most of them will not respond, but some of them will follow you back (on average i've experienced a 20% followback rate using this tactic)! SCORE, you've just increased your twitter followers by approximately 20%!
Be careful how quickly you do this, as twitter can shut down your account if you do it too quickly. Don't do it right after opening a brand new twitter account, as twitter will be watching your account to ensure that you're not using a bot to spam people. I tried this tactic for a friend's brand new twitter account, and followed 900 people in 3 hours. The friends account was suspended for 48 hours, and multiple emails had to be sent to twitter to get it re-activated!
2. Following Back…
The point behind using social media to increase your fan base lies in the ability to turn your followers into part of your tribe! This means that you must let them feel that they are a part of something, and even though you may be what it is centered around, they are the important factor in the movement. The easiest way to start that is by following back everyone who follows you.
There are smartphone apps that make following back your followers as easy as pushing a button and letting the app do the work (Followorks OneTouch for iPhone is my personal favorite). These apps also make unfollowing those who didn't follow you back just as easy.
A hashtag, for those who may not know, is a way of marking a word in twitter to make it searchable. Let's say for example that you were to include a hashtag for iTunes (it would look like this… #iTunes ) in your tweet. This would allow anyone who is searching on twitter for the word iTunes to see all the tweets that include that hashtag! So if you are including hashtags for relevant topics in your tweets, the likelihood of them being seen by a much larger audience increases!
Case in point…When Tupac was "brought back to life" at Coachella, I was in the middle of searching on twitter for "#biggie". There were a ton of tweets that just kept coming from people who were saying things like "I can't wait till they bring back #biggie!". So if you find a topic that relates to what you're doing, and that topic happens to be trending on twitter, include that topic as a #hashtag in your tweet, and it'll be likely to be seen by a lot of people!
4. Post often, but make it relevant.
If I'm following a musician on twitter, part of me wants to know about what's going on in their lives. I don't care about the spat they had with their baby mama, but I do care about the fight they got in with the other musician at the local bar. I don't care about their junkman or what's in their fridge, but I do care about how rehearsal went or who their next shows are going to be with. Keep it personal, be yourself, but keep it relevant too. If I have 10,000 people I'm following, and I see your tweet about how bad your eggs tasted, that may be the only tweet I see from you before you disappear into the twittersphere again for god knows how long. If my only chance to be reminded that you're an artist failed because you were too busy talking about something unrelated, you've lost the chance to peak my interest.
5. Tweet your songs…but don't spam.
Your fans will want to hear your music, and if they are following you on twitter they can re-tweet your music to their followers with a push of a button. This is the perfect opportunity for your fans to help you go viral. But you want to be careful not to overtweet your music. If my feed is full of nothing but you, and I'm not an extreme fan, I'm likely to unfollow you.
I'd like to add another point, about what NOT to do.
There are those who want instant gratification with social media, and refuse to recognize that this is a major time commitment. These people will try social media for a week, or a month, then get bored and move on. Or, they will try to buy followers so they look much bigger than they are.
You should always stick with this, because if you stop you lose steam. You will have to start at ground zero yet again with your social media efforts, and you will lose ground very quickly. You should also avoid the trap of buying likes, views, twitter followers, ect… There are many musicians who I've seen that have bought several thousand twitter followers, but their plays on reverberation are still minimal and their Facebook interactions are miniscule. It's not hard to spot these people, and it seems very unlikely to me that if you have 50,000 twitter followers, that none of them are playing your music online. These artists are ignoring the fact that these bought likes and followers are just a waste of money, as they aren't going to actually increase their fan base in any way. In the end, if it's not increasing your fan base, why would you do it?
Just remember that it will gain traction, but it will be slow at first. Keep at it, and good luck.