Which do you want? Twitter Followers? Or Twitter Influence?

Note, if you are looking for ways to get more Twitter followers fast, read this.

There are many ways to use Twitter well. But only a few ways to use it badly. Here are two common strategies:

  1. Try to get tons of followers so your account looks “important” or “respectable.”
  2. Try to get lots of important people to help you and respond to you. (This means many fewer followers at first, since you’ll follow only a select few people.)

Which one is going to make you the happiest, smartest, richest, most influential? Strategy #2. This is sometimes called the PLN (for “Personal Learning Network”) approach. (And it’s best if you start by helping and being a resource for other—building a positive reputation—before asking for help yourself.)

If strategy #2 is how you’re already using Twitter, congratulations! However, it’s ridiculously hard to talk people out of strategy #1. You hear things like “everyone is doing it, and I’ll look silly having so few followers compared to others.”

Consider starting another Twitter account

With that in mind, why not try a combined approach? Have two accounts. The one that gets a lot of followers is for your brand, business or persona. The other one is the real you, where you network and add value to whoever is the most important in your niche. Lots of folks already use Twitter this way, and it works well for them. Some popular people even split off additional accounts for specific purposes, such as one for engaging in #hashtag chats, one just for sharing their links, another for an alternate “persona,” etc. I’m not suggesting or recommending this, just pointing out that it’s common and works well for some people. Always remember Twitter Rule #1! Do it your way.

What I’ve learned from years of helping people on Twitter is that most folks try a number of bad approaches and then figure out the better ways to use Twitter over time, but they’re often stuck with some old, bad habits. For the ones that overdid the “follow everyone hoping for more followers approach,” a second account where they can apply the better Twitter habits they’ve picked up over time might be worth considering.

The key to strategy #2 is to find and create great relationships, and this means the more you give the more you get. Start by being a resource, mentor or inspiration for people that can benefit from your help, and only then make connections with influencers who can help you.

How we use Twitter

You can read some of the details here, but first let me say my wife Sarah (@SarahJL) and I (@Oppora) engage differently. She’s mostly active on Facebook, since she’s extremely social and has a number of large and ever-growing, real-world networks in dance and voiceover. I’m primarily active on Twitter as @TweetSmarter, since it’s a full-time job that doesn’t leave much time for anything else! In our shared relentless search for great content to share with Twitter users, we come across other great stuff as well, which we post on some other Twitter accounts such as @LaughItUp, @WritersGroup and @CreativityBoost. To keep it simple for folks, we also engage from those accounts as “real” people, but let anyone know who chats with us a lot about @TweetSmarter and our personal accounts.

Of course, as always, use what advice makes sense to you and discard the rest!

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