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Get More (High Quality) Twitter Followers by Stalking Influencers

Here’s a simple tactic to explode your Twitter following, with HIGH-quality followers, all without resorting to nasty follow-back or auto-favoriting…

1) Identify Influencers Within Your Niche

You may already be well acquainted with the big-shots in your industry. If you are, jot down their Twitter usernames somewhere.

If you don’t already know your industry, you can do some research and find relevant influencers with a tool like BuzzSumo.

Head over to BuzzSumo’s Influencer Search and type in a keyword pertinent to your niche.

buzzsumo influencer search example

In most cases, you want to exclude companies, so uncheck that filter. We want to deal with real people here (sorry brands).

Jot down the Twitter usernames of 5-10 influencers to start.

Follow these influencers, maybe add them to a private Twitter list, and try and interact with them occasionally. I wouldn’t get over-zealous about it though. You don’t want to scare them away.

2) Get on the Radar of Those Twitter Influencers by Going after Their Friends

This is the real key to this tactic.

It’s not always easy to get noticed by influencers.

They are constantly bombarded with people constantly fighting for their attention, so they tend to ignore most people, really only interacting with people in their existing social circle, their “friends”.

These are the people we want to get followed by first.

It’s easier to capture their attention, and when your target influencer sees you being followed by and interacting with his friends, he’s much more likely to follow you.

He’ll notice you in his feed, appearing in more one of his social spaces. You’ll grow in familiarity to the influencer. Top it off with some light interaction with him, and you’re in a good place.

The goal of this step is to have people inside the “mutual friends” section of what I call the “FrienDiagram”.

the social media FrienDiagram venn diagram

I want to take a step back for a moment and explain why we’re targeting influencers and how it can help build your Twitter following…

  1. Influencers tend to have a lot of followers.
  2. People listen to what they say.

When people see an influencer interacting with you, people end up following you as well, just because you have improved your visibility on Twitter.

Furthermore, what ends up happening is your accrue influencers as followers, and other influencers (some of which had the original influencers as friends) and they follow you. It’s all very cyclical.

If you dump it into a node-graph, it might look something like this:

The above image was generated with Gephi, which is a highly recommended program if you’re working with Graph Theory at all. Those dense, interconnected areas equal gold.

There’s a bit of serendipity at play, but it works.

I’ve built up my own personal Twitter account this way, as well as a myriad of client accounts.

Note: Under no circumstances, should you put all your eggs into this one basket. You need to combine this with other tactics and have an actual strategy. For example, you best be Tweeting quality content that your audience and these influencers actually care about!

Now back to the how-to portion…

Now that we have a list influencers we are targeting, we need to find their friend.

Go to twtrland, and input the name of the influencer you’re targeting.

Note: You can also use twtrland to find influencers.

input your influencer's name into twtrland

Then click on the “Network” tab.

navigate to network on twtrland

Then click on “Conversations”.

twtrland conversations tab

You can also just drop the influencer’s Twitter username into the URL structure:

This will give you a list of people your influencer has interacted with the most. These are his friends.

friends of twitter influencers - targets

Again, you’ll want to write down the names of 5-10 of these “friends-of-influencers” for each influencer you are targeting.

Take all your influencers, and their friends, and add them to a private Twiter list.

You can use Electoral to make this a bit easier.

All you need to do is compile the usernames into a list, one name per line.

So, sign-up for Electoral and choose “Build List” on the upper right side of the page.

build twitter list navigation in elector

Create a new list.

new electoral list

You can name the list whatever you want. Just make sure you set it as private.

set your list as private in electoral

Choose “Add Users in Bulk”.

add users in bulk option

Input the usernames of your influencer targets and friends of the influencers, one per line, without the @ symbol.

automaticaly create a twitter list from usernames

Click continue and you will have created your list.

To access your list on, click your avatar on the top right corner and select “lists”.
(on the official mobile app, go to the “Me” tab and click on the little cog icon near the avatar and select “lists”)

where to view twitter lists on the website

Now log into Twitter on a daily basis and engage a little bit with the people on the list. You’ll start amassing Twitter followers.

If you want to take it a step further, choose one of the influencers as your main target and head over to Followerwonk.

Go to the Analyze tab, type in the username of that influencer, select “analyze users they follow” and hit “do it”.

Scroll down a bit to “Most active hours for users influencer_name follows”.

You can know sync this schedule to Buffer.

sync buffer with followerwonk

Make sure you’re scheduling tweets frequently and you’ll have better visibility among the influencer’s friend.

You’re on your way to picking up some very high quality, influential Twitter followers.

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  1. You could also do what I and many of my collaborators do. When I come across a writer for a major site (Forbes, Entrepreneur, etc.) whose content is exceptional I add it to my Twitterfeed. (Free solution – there is a How to Use Twitterfeed post on my site with step-by-step instructions.) We also feed each other’s blogs. Just be sure the person never publishes anything objectional first!

  2. Awesome article as always Paul. You don’t write very often but when you do it is always very useful and I something I’ve never seen. I didn’t know about Electoral and wow, it is an awesome way to build my Twitter lists super fast. Gonna have some fun with this one. Keep up the great work.

  3. Paul, as always just an amazing post. You really go into things deeply and that’s the way I like it! I’ve been looking for a tool to help create and manage Twitter lists. There used to be Formulists which was an amazing tool, but unfortunately it closed down some years back. Although Electoral doesn’t seem to offer synching of lists, it looks really useful and my brain has started thinking about all the possibilities.
    I like the way you’ve looked at using FollowerWonk to get the best times to post to reach a specific person. I was wondering if there was a way to find the best times to post for a group of people- specifically all the people in a Twitter list. I think SocialBro might offer that but I’m not sure. The problem with these “best time to post” tools is that they don’t take into account the tool that is being used to post to Twitter. It would be good to exclude all scheduling tools and find out actually when the people in a list are on Twitter. Any thoughts on this?
    Thanks again!

    • Thanks Ian!

      I specifically went with Free tools here, but I’m sure there are some paid ones which might help as well.

      If you wanted to get more accurate with the Tweet times, I’d probably query the Twitter Search API and run a search for each influencer I’m targeting with a query that filters out all automated/scheduled tweets. Perhaps something along the lines of this: “from:fighto -source:buffer”. I might go as far to filter out links with “-filter:links”. Then I’d mix the data all together and find the times with the highest usage frequencies and target those times.

  4. Truly helpful, well guided and above all this is actionable. I did not know about Electoral but now, I can’t wait to explore it. Thanks for sharing the post and the resources.

    • You definitely don’t need so many tools. You can get pretty much with Google Keyword Planner alone, but if you want to be more thorough these other tools help…A LOT.

  5. Before Twitter “banned” auto following a lot more people were auto-following friends of friends and then ditching them if they didn’t follow back– 100 a day. Today that’s a little tougher…I dont’ know I don’t do it.

    I’ve definately noticed more of the “inspirational speaker” types who I pretty much dislike as a group constantly doing this, and with me, to get the silly 90K follow:90K Following

  6. These tactics are practical. I have used BuzzSumo and I find it to be the most effective tool in searching for influencers to follow.

    Thanks for sharing this I have learnt a lot from you especially on how to create a list.