4,000 Tweets: Looking back at my first year on Twitter

So a friend recently asked me for some advice about getting more followers on Twitter. I'm a bit of a Twitter fiend: I've been on since January and have tweeted almost 4,000 times. My 1000 followers has grown organically in that time, but with some help. Let's be clear, with 1000+ followers I certainly don't consider myself any sort of "Twitter expert". But I have made some mistakes and learned a few things, so I thought I would share my view of Twitter, one year later.

[Aside: By NOT proclaiming to be a Twitter "expert" I might already be ahead of the game vs. all those other people out there who open Twitter accounts and suddenly brand themselves as "social media gurus". So first  tip to any Twitter newbies is to unfollow anyone whose profile contains the phrase "social media guru"]

What Twitter's done for me:
I love Twitter. On Twitter, I've managed to do a bunch of things I would normally never have:

  • won beautiful art, a Frommer's travel guide and yummy red pepper jelly :)
  • had my son's hallowe'en costume seen by over 11,000 people
  • chatted with people all over the world about a bunch of different topics
  • found a blogger to design a colleague's community association site
  • helped an out-of-town developer look for a job in Ottawa
  • stayed in touch with a former co-worker based across Canada
  • stayed up to date on breaking news
  • found great deals and freebies
  • found remote support for running & cycling
  • increased the readership on my blog
  • and tons more...

Slow start
I've intentionally tried some stuff out to grow my readership, but I think that my attitude towards my subscribers is a little different. I consider my followers to be readers, not merely auto-follows who artificially increase my numbers.

When I first got on Twitter back in January, I started following like-minded people and people from Ottawa.

Then I tweeted. A lot. My tweets might seem pretty random, but they are generally along a few themes: geeky stuff (web, tech, science and space), parenting, design, green/charity and my blog.

In early days, here are some things I did to make myself interesting: When I was a newbie, I would get on around 8 am and check news related to my fave topics, and then tweet headlines. I found that people who want the latest info will read and RT these types of posts, which helps to more followers. At lunch hours, sometimes I would check BusinessWire for stories related to my topics of interest and then tweet or blog about them.


  • I drive traffic to my blog by having my new posts syndicated to Twitter and Facebook via FriendFeed and the selective Twitter status app on Facebook.
  • I drive traffic to Twitter by having a widget on my blog that shows my posts.
  • Follow people who say things that you find interesting and there is a good chance they might follow you back
  • Follow people who you'd like to have follow you
  • RT and get Rt'ed. Get RT'ed by people who have lots of followers: e.g. Jason_Pollock was offering RT's for followers at one point, so I tweeted back and got retweeted to his 50K+ followers. I've also been RT'ed by Adam Savage of Mythbusters (he has 100K followers).
  • I tweet and follow a bunch of hashtags related to sports (running, cycling), Gov (goc, w2p, gcpedia, gov20), ottawa, etc.
  • The Ottawa community is pretty strong online, so chatting with local folks and getting on local lists can get you more followers.
  • I've also used my Twitter ID on conference badges and Tweeted during conferences, etc.
  • The other thing I've done is gone to Tweet-ups. Tweeps tend to be really great people who are interested in networking for all sorts of reasons. Meeting in person cements connections; tweeps who meet tend to stay connected virtually.

Getting listed
Here's a bunch of lists I like: [Most you can just register and then they will start monitoring and grading you]

I didn't realise I'd done so much deliberately until I started typing. Guess my follower growth hasn't been so organic after all.

What have you done to increase your readership? Do you auto-follow? What has been your Twitter experience overall? Please leave a comment...

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