i am a good idea.

How to get thousands of followers on Twitter

I saw a post that David Meerman Scott wrote Monday and I felt compelled to share my answer to the same question – “How did you get so many followers on Twitter?!”

I get asked this question at least twice a week. Either people expect me to say “I sprinkled my patented Good Idea Fairy Dust (patent pending) and BAM,” or they don’t get how social media works. Here’s to hoping that writing this will result in no one ever asking me this again, because there’s obviously no quick solution – it takes a LOT of work (no, you’re not as funny as @ShitMyDadSays) – and you need to know why you even CARE how many people follow you. Ya dig?


I mean, I could get 50,000 followers by Friday if I wanted to– there are plenty of services out there that help you game the system by following a bunch of robots and other people trying to game the system. If that number means that much to you, go for it. I don’t care if you have more followers than me. At all. I promise. And your feed is going to be riddled with crap, and no one is going to be paying attention to a damn thing you say, but you’ll look REALLY COOL to other idiots. But I don’t like crap, and I like when people listen to me. So fuck that.

So how did I get close to 7,000 followers?

  • I became active on Twitter in early 2008. No, I wasn’t the first person in Columbus to join Twitter, but I was a part of what I like to think of as the not-quite-as-early adopters.
  • I’ve posted more than 32,000 messages to Twitter since then.
  • I’ve posted a lot of INTERESTING messages to Twitter. Resourceful links. Funny shit. Relevant news. I subscribe to over 100 sources of quality content, and I curate the best on Twitter. (I’ve posted a lot of garbage, too. And a few mental breakdowns.)
  • I’ve posted a lot more @replies to people. I have Twitter up at my office, my home, when I’m waiting for people at the bar, when I’m stopped at a red light (and then, of course, I immediately drop it when the light turns green – uh-huh), and I engage with people all day e’ryday.
  • I’ve written almost 200 blog posts on, and several dozen on and
  • I’ve been extremely active on OTHER social networking sites, like Facebook, LinkedIn and Yelp.
  • I’ve volunteered hundreds of hours of my time to companies, conferences and contacts
  • I’ve been interviewed in more than a dozen traditional media outlets and on several dozen blogs and podcasts
  • I’ve spoken at around 20 conferences and professional groups
  • I’ve traveled to social media conferences in Boston, Detroit, Toledo, Las Vegas and Atlanta
  • I’ve attended at least one local networking event a week for over two years. Some weeks, more than 10.
  • I’ve taken time to individually meet folks from Twitter via #FastFriends and on an on-going basis
  • I’ve manually found and followed interesting people, either through searches for topics and hashtags that interest me, or by seeing who my peers are talking to and following, or by using tools like Twellow.

This isn’t a “look how fucking awesome I am” post.

This is a “this is what you have to do to get yourself a bunch of followers” post.

So go do some stuff.

19 Responses to “How to get thousands of followers on Twitter”

  1. Amazing. I’d even give this an “Amen.” It’s work to get the kind of quality followers you want. Nicely done.

  2. Jason says:

    I noticed you have a pretty balanced following to follower ration – almost 1:1. Which means you generally follow back real people who are interesting. That’s great! I practice the same philosophy. But I have a questions:

    How do you deal with people who don’t follow you back?

    I’m guessing that behavior decreases as your exposure increases. But, think back to the early days (or even now), reach deep – How do you deal with not being followed back? Give it to me ProTip style!

  3. Great post.

    It’s so frustrating trying to explain this to people. They’re like, how did you get X followers? I say, I use Twitter a lot in a way that makes sense for me. They’re unimpressed & I shrug my shoulders and go on with life.

    Haters gonna hate.

  4. Cheryl says:

    Adam – Prize for best conclusion to a comment.

  5. Cheryl says:

    Sarah – Thank you, lady :)

  6. Cheryl says:

    Jason – Thanks fo0r the comment. Yes, I sort through my new followers a few times a week and try to follow back the cool kids. As for your question – personally, I’ve never been that phased by people who don’t follow me back, because my end goal was never “x number of followers in x time frame,” so if I’m following more people than follow me… oh well. I have in the past used a tool like friendorfollow to see who doesn’t follow me back, but if the person is someone I want to follow, I continue to follow them regardless of mutual follow status. This isn’t really “advice,” it’s just what I do. :)

  7. Ben Anderson says:

    I started my Twitter account in 2007 and left it dormant for several years. I was otherwise busy trying to care for my family. I started using Twitter again as a New Years resolution this year. I started with the 20-30 people that I followed in one of my college classes and today just a couple months later I’ve got over 350 followers and I’ve tried to manage my follows to people that I either care about or who have occasionally said something interesting. I also have tried to find people that influence others. You might call it an intelligent gaming of the system. In the end I have gained more Twitter followers because I am my own person and not because I’m looking for people to follow. Interesting people now follow me and I follow interesting people right back. There’s no magic bean just being human and following other humans. That’s the trick to being successful on Twitter. Auto posts of quotes and other lame stuff may get you followers but in the end they aren’t interesting. Be cool. Be Human.

  8. Great advice, Cheryl!

  9. Matt says:

    Good stuff. That pink font though screwed with my eyes.

  10. sarah says:

    I love the drawing too.

  11. Jacob Stoops says:

    When do you find time to sleep? I don’t know if I could keep up with all that activity without throwing myself into a tizzy. Is it weird that I used that word, tizzy? Hope not.

  12. Cheryl says:

    Jake – I take 140 character naps.

  13. Sara B says:

    I hate people like him! Who gives a crap if he has 50,000 follower?. Does he have any kind of conversion? Probably not, but he’s been followed by 50K half-wits like himself, so he must be cool, right??? :) I’m curious to see what he puts out in his tweet stream.

  14. Phill says:

    Great post Cheryl. I feel reassured that I can continue to post the odd bit of “shite” on Twitter :)

  15. Lizard McGee says:

    But wait…I’m confused. Are you and Brandy still friends? Are you still a Lesbian?

  16. Cheryl says:

    Lizard – you can’t make these stories flow together, lol. a) No and b) maybe

  17. Lizard McGee says:

    Yes, you are correct. This is the result of my search for a “dual comment” relating to both great posts! Nice work. I’ll be back.

  18. A_G_Storm says:

    At last, a refreshing post straight up with no BS, and a sprinkle of honesty for good measure. Good job on this, I enjoyed reading it.

  19. ATLady1984 says:

    I’m glad I read your post. I was seriously contemplating the Twiend path. Now, I realize I must stay the course, get my ass in gear, and get to posting more. Thanks!

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