New research reveals step-by-step guidelines to increase your Twitter following. The findings, in the study by university professors C.J. Hutto, Eric Gilbert, and Sarita Yardi, prove that you stand to increase your follower totals if you adhere to a few basic concepts:

1) Don’t be negative.

2) Don’t talk too much about yourself.

3) Tweet links.

The report actually goes on to list 14 specific tactics you can employ to increase your Twitter following. Because, you know, if you have a large following on Twitter – that means you’re important. And self-esteem is the driving factor in most of our social engagement, today. It’s human nature, right? To want to feel important? And by God if someone can give us step-by-step instructions on how to do that – we will.

What happened to Twitter? I’m not one to wax nostalgic, but there was a time when Twitter was a medium of discovery and engagement. And I’m not just talking about discovering the best links to RT. People used to talk on Twitter. Take chances. Jump into conversations. I said it a few years back – the best people to follow on Twitter have less than 1,000 followers. Why? They’re real. Accounts with massive followings almost always lack authenticity, don’t engage,  tweet mostly links (even scheduled ones), and never tell you how they’re feeling or what’s going on in their lives – unless, of course, it’s something that reinforces how important they think they are. Basically these kinds of accounts are just news feeds. Sure, there are a few exceptions, but for the most part I’m right. The best people to follow continue to be real people you meet though serendipitous engagement.

Look, I get it that people want to be Guy Kawasaki. He’s a handsome man with a million dollar smile who writes books and tweets great links. Oh, and he’s got a huge following. That’s awesome. But here’s the thing – you’re not Guy Kawasaki. Not even close. And you’ll never be him. You’re you. Be you. Fuck what other people think. The right people will follow you regardless. Twitter was no dummy when they named itself and used a bird as its logo. Birds of a feather flock together, after all. The people you’re supposed to know here will know you in time. Relax. It’s ok to follow people like Guy, as long as you realize you’re not them. You want interaction? Follow a housewife in Denver with 600 followers. You want links? Follow Guy. And guys like Guy. Just don’t aspire to be that guy. Aspire to be you.

As far as the part about not tweeting negative is concerned – last I checked, all human beings are subject to the ups and downs of life. As humans we have good days and bad days. It’s ok not to be perfectly happy all of the time. Even on Twitter. Jesus, one of the core purposes of human socialization is to develop support systems for when times aren’t perfect. It’s ok to be negative. Life is hard. People aren’t robots.

If you want to grow your followers – follow the instructions from the study. At the end of the day you might just grow your self esteem as well. Not everyone is comfortable in their own skin.

Twitter’s changed. And that’s cool. I’m all for change. But I don’t know if going from an engagement medium to a news medium is the best use of the technology for real human beings. Who would have guessed that in 2013 the best place to find real engagement about real life would be Facebook?


Jim Mitchem

My 2013 Oscar Predictions
Absolute Revulsion

Jim Mitchem

Writer. Father to daughters. Husband. Ad man. Raised by wolves. @jmitchem on twitter. First novel, Minor King, out now.