Getting Twitter followers – 5 tips

12 Nov

On a previous post, Colin from the University of Cumbria, asked how to promote their new Twitter account to students, well here are some suggestions:

1. Put a Twitter badge on your careers service homepage

It is really easy to find free badges and widgets to add to your website. The main choice you have to make is between ‘live’ widgets that update constantly to display your latest tweets and static image badges. The live badges have the benefit of drawing people in, they look attractive and make your webpage look dynamic, however they do take up more space, they use Flash and/or javascript which might not work on some sites/CMS editors, and they can make your page slower to load.

Twitter "Follow me" badge

I do like this design from LimeShot - comes in a range of colours

These are just some suggestions, you can easily find more by Googling ‘free Twitter widget’ or ‘Twitter badge’.

2. Put the URL in your email signatures

You could try putting it at the bottom of general careers service emails, or perhaps even the personal signature you use when emailing students.

3. Leaflets, posters, business cards, presentation slides…

Yes the old-fashioned approach – include it on all careers service materials just as you would your website address and contact details.

4. Follow your students

This one is further down the list because it is a bit more risky and I am not entirely certain on it myself. You could use Twitter search to find likely students (guessing likely words e.g. ‘uni’ ‘lecture’, location mentions), follow them and see if they choose to follow back. Sounds laborious and stalker-ish? Yes it is. There is another way…

Go to the Find People section of your Twitter account, and you will find an option to Invite by email. You can submit email addresses in bulk. The students receive an email inviting them to sign up to Twitter, and if they do use that email address and follow you, you will automatically follow them. We trialled this approach for one of our services, pulling out a list of comma-separated email addresses from the event database. It seems to have been successful – we gained a few hundred followers, all interested students, and no one complained. I think this is less intrusive than searching people out one by one, but it still results in us following students which isn’t really necessary and some may understandably dislike it.

5. Use Twitter actively and interactively

For more organic growth, there is a simple way – tweet regularly (but not too much), tweet consistently useful and/or entertaining content, and interact with others using lots of @ replies. Post pictures and personal touches to build a relationship. By being a good Twitterer people will find you. Using @ replies will help others spot you when their friends interact with you.You might even try prompting people to RT (re-tweet) particularly useful posts you make.

So hope that is useful! I would be interested to hear of any other approaches people have tried.


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