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How To Get 53,000 Twitter Followers: My Story

The inspiration for this post came from two sources. Firstly from meeting two cool passionate guys from Blue Wire Media, Toby Jenkins and Adam Franklin and secondly a Tweet from Archna from Norway who wanted to know about how to get “more” Twitter followers.

I had written a post titled “How To Get targeted Twitter Followers” recently, which was not my personal story of how I built my Twitter following but more oriented towards the use of a tool called Tweepi which I  have found to be very useful.How To Get 46,000 Twitter Followers My Story

The Story

So here is my story of how I built a Twitter following of 53,000 in response to the “How to get more Twitter followers” question from my blog readers.

I started Tweeting on December 17, 2008 when I registered as a Twitter user for the first time and received my welcoming email from Biz Stone and The Twitter Team. Luckily for me I have a unique name so obtaining my @jeffbullas Twitter handle was easy (I would recommend you get your name in some form though this is getting harder with over 165 million users now on Twitter).

A Slow Start

At first I just followed friends who were on Twitter such as John Oxley and proceeded to just use it sporadically due to being a newbie , not wanting to say the wrong thing or just to avoid looking stupid.  At that time I didn’t have a blog so the link feature (that I would highly recommend you set up on your Twitter settings) was not used. For the first few months I only had 30 or so Twitter followers and used it to to tweet about my day to day activities in a very benign way. My take on Twitter at the time was very much like most people back then and also a lot today who don’t see the point about Twitter and see it as superficial and trivial.

Why Having Your Name As Your Twitter Name Is Important

In March 2009 I set up my blog and again luckily was able to secure my my domain name which was intentionally again with my own name. From a personal branding angle having a blog and a Twitter handle which is the same with a consistent personal brand is very important.

At this time Twitter became vital to me to help me grow my blog traffic and so I proceeded to follow people on Twitter with more enthusiasm, activity and focus. I followed people on lists such as Twitterholic and Twitter Grader, they have lists of some of the power users and the elite Twitterati who have large followings, so thinking that big was better I proceeded to follow the biggies. Eventually I understood the power of Twitter as a niche marketing tool on steroids and proceeded to follow people in the niche that I was blogging about which was social media, PR and marketing. The tool that I used at the time was Twellow.com which is a Twitter Yellow pages where you can search and easily follow people in different categories from within the application. Twellow does tend to be slow to load and seems to be a bit buggy but it worked for me at the time.

The Secret Twitter Etiquette Rule

One thing to keep in mind here that I had discovered by then that there is a certain etiquette on Twitter that still exists to some degree today and that is if you follow someone they will follow you back (this of course is dependent on your Twitter “Influence” which is something I have written about in the past What Makes A Brand Or Person Influential On Twitter)

During this period I became a Twitter maniac (yes I admit it, I was obsessed) and proceeded to follow anything that moved and spent a lot of time on Twitter, so much so that my partner said “remember Jenifer Aniston” (who by the way had terminated her relationship with John Maher due to “excessive tweeting” and inspired me to write one of my early posts titled “Twitter, Obsession and Jennifer Aniston“).

Breaking Twitter Rules Can Get You Banned

During the early phases I also discovered that Twitter has some rules and if you break them you will be sent to the “cooling off box”. So here are 2 rules that you need to keep in mind as you build your Twitter following.

Rule One:

You can follow up to 2,000 people on Twitter without any limitation but once you reach 2,000 certain limitations apply. Last year the Twitter rule at the time was that you could only follow 10% more than are following you once you reached the 2,000 following limit ( Twitter is now less revealing on the limitations rules see their latest official FAQ here).

Rule Two:

Don’t break the rules or you will be banned or suspended from Twitter until you promise to be a good boy or girl.

I experienced this once and I still remember the trauma that I felt from being suspended from my favourite social media channel and I proceeded to write an anguished post “My Story Of banishment To Social Media Purgatory: Temporary Suspension From Twitter“.

So How Do You Get Past The The 2,000 Follower Barrier?

So how did I get past the 2,000 barrier without breaking Twitter rules. At the time I used very rudimentary and unsophisticated tools that were available that enabled me to unfollow people who were not following me. I still do this today as my view on this is that if they don’t follow me back then they are not interested in my tweets then there is no point me following them. The current tool I am using to follow and unfollow is Tweepi.com which sticks by the Twitter rules and enables me to continue to follow people in my niche (read more about how I use this tool here).

So as my Twitter followers grew I continued to use it to promote my blog which helped me to gain credibility as a blogger. Today I use a tool called Socialoomph.com (Professional Edition) to automate sending out my blog posts on a schedule which saves me about 10 hours a week and also allows me to follow back automatically the additional 1,500 or so people a month who follow me which I physically would not have the time to manually follow back.(some people thing this is against the unwritten rules of rules of Twitter but I am sorry my thinking is along the lines of Guy Kawasaki that sees Twitter as one of the best tools on the Web to promote your blog and brand). Another platform that has been highly recommended is Marketmesuite.com which provides similar functionality to Social Oomph but allows you to brand your tweets and is worth checking out.

I have met some great people on Twitter which has enabled me to interview them (including CEO’s). I have also had the pleasure of meeting a lot of them in person.

For me Twitter and my Blog are a synergistic combination that has taught me the power and leverage of publishing original content  from my blog homebase and then promoting on Twitter and other social media channel outposts. This multichannel strategy has opened many doors for me and continues to surprise and I am looking forward to the rest of the journey.

Jeffbullas's Blog


  • Hey Jeff, great article.

    I have to say I enjoy your tweets because you share a lot of great things. I will also say that I don’t follow you on Twitter.

    So how do I see your tweets? Because I have you on a list.

    For me, I reserve my “follow” for close personal friends or contacts. Just because I don’t follow someone, it does not mean that I don’t like their tweets. In fact, the more people I follow, the more tweets I don’t see because my home feed just gets flooded with tweets.

    I use Hootsuite to manage the Tweeps I want to track. I create a different feed for each different list, which means each feed is focused on a specific topic (social media, sports, news, locals, etc.). It’s a more efficient way of trawling all of the information I get through Twitter.

    I guess my point is that by reserving my “follow”, it means more when I do use it, rather than following someone just because they follow me.

    Of course, this doesn’t mean I’m doing Twitter correctly, it just means that I’m doing it my way.

    Anyways, keep up the great work. I’m going to try and start another account using the methods you’ve described above, with one catch: I’m going to see how far I can take it without following too many people. We’ll see how it turns out.


  • Interesting post – here’s my two cents.

    I hate auto-followers, and I hate auto-tweets. I think they’re both highly impersonal. While they might be great time savers for people with large networks, I just don’t see how they can lead to meaningful relationships. I personally have found the automatic tweeting to be redundant. I’m a huge fan of your blog and your content, and I understand not everyone has read it for as long, but it’s annoying to have old posts retweeted over and over again. Instead, I’m looking for new, compelling content from the people I choose to follow.

    Anyway, it’s great if the strategy has worked for you and your personal branding. But would I recommend people follow suit? Not necessarily.

  • Jeff,
    I’ve just recently found you on Twitter and must say that you have a lot of great insights. Being new to Twitter, I especially enjoy your articles about it. You’ve got me as a loyal reader going forward.

  • I also agree and will not follow those who do not follow me. Social media is 2-way communication, hence the word ‘social.’

    On the other hand, I am not a fan of the auto-DM, def makes it impersonal.

    Great post though! Love love love Tweepi!


  • Interesting post Jeff. Be interested to know if you ever used TweetAdder and find out what you thought of the experience. Automated tools have a bad press for spamming but my experience is that they’re just a great productivity tool.


  • Hi Jeff,
    Twitter has just started to really feature in my life. It is a great place to get new subscribers sorry followers. Tweet your blog content, competitions etc. Also tweet other bloggers posts. (which I will be doing in a minute).
    I never really accepted twitter as a means of traffic, I have now, visitors to my blog, and also a seemingly endless supply of blogs for me to visit.

  • This is what I’ve been waiting to see. SOOOOO many people have been talking about this ‘up-and-coming’ social-based search for years. I have been interested, but in more of a “show me” mindset as I have need any hard data to suggest the major search engines have really shifted their algo’s. I know this stuff is all exciting and new, but the SE’s are accountable to their shareholders. They will not make a significant move unless is helps their quarterly earnings. I’m still not convinced that they’ve convinced themselves – but it’s good to read this post and see the possible changes in the algo’s discussed in more concrete terms… I agree with most: It’s coming. But that could take many many years to arrive.

  • Great blog Jeff. I have a list of Twitter tools which I use to either clean up followers and also follow quality people on twitter (for me and my clients). It’s a time commitment which I do on a weekly basis.
    I also follow lists then follow people from those lists (people I like reading their tweets and hope to connect)
    Tweepi is my favorite tool to flush out followers (who are non active)
    My other lists include:
    Twellow, Twellowhood (to target local followers)
    Friendorfollow (per @LissaDuty)
    and more…

  • Hi Jeff. Solid insight. What’s valuable to note here is that it will not happen overnight. We see these accounts where someone (or something) has been online for only a few days and already has 10,000 followers. It may make us wonder what we’re doing wrong, but I have yet to see a number of people stop following me for any reason – the followers I’m building is slow and steady, and will stay with me for a long time.

  • ae_tae3

    follow me @ae_tae3 i follow back

  • Dianaflier

    Hi Jeff,

    I’ve only been actively using Twitter for the last month and have learned so much from your articles. Have also just used Tweepi. Great tool – thanks.

  • Dianaflier

    Hi Jeff,

    I’ve only been actively using Twitter for the last month and have learned so much from your articles. Have also just used Tweepi. Great tool – thanks.

  • Great article.  I would like more followers.  Mainly to get my messages out.

  • Thanks so much for the brilliant tips. Have just over 200 followers at the moment, hopefully more in the near future with your tips! Blogging isn’t an easy journey I’m finding; however much rewarding and it really helps to find someone like you to guide me through!

  • Anonymous

    Great advice, Jeff! This is one of the main reasons why I enjoy reading your posts via Twitter. Awesome food for thought! Blessings…

  • That was a good read. 
    I haven’t used a service to maintain a twitter following, but we are just building it up now as we go.
    Thanks for the post!

  • Great read!  I started my Twitter account a few days ago, already have 25 followers!

  • Kat

    Great tips and insights, thanks Jeff! I’ll be sure to check out some of those handy tools.

  • You have written an awesome headline consumed 1000 of words but said only one thing “Do Follow a lot of people with the expectation of following back” that’s it. Everyone here I am announcing , follow me, i’ll follow you back. @davysstweetbox

  • Thanks Jeff! Very useful and you answered my question that I DM’d you about on Twitter.

  • Dan Galante

    Great article!

  • FayeHyslop

    Great article!

  • Good tips, but my only issue is the genuineness of the followers you have on twitter. What good are they if they are just seeking followers and not seeking to engage in conversation? Thanks for the tips though. I will consider them

  • sambredl

    I agree! It’s so important to have your real name as your twitter name and on all the other social media plattforms.

    I recently had to find that out the hard way when I tried to change my Youtube Channel Name that I set up back in 2007. Back then the name was cool and funny. As I wanted to change my url now, I had to delete my account and set up a new one. This was not so much fun since I had to save all my videos and playlists first.

    So the best thing is to use your real name for your social media profiles from the start 😉

  • It’s pretty easy to have thousands of followers when you follow thousands of people, it’s just the way it works. Just follow who you are interested in, don’t concentrate on numbers. Having thousands of followers wont get you anywhere if most people are autofollow or bots. Following people just because they have a certain keyword in their profile, doesn’t mean they are an interesting person to follow either. Plus it is pretty obvious how most people with insane amounts of followers got them when you look at how many people they are following.

  • @recruitbuddyuk

    Great article, very informative and great tips to gain a bigger audience for your twitter page!

  • I am not auto-following anyone. This is not the point of twitter and you may have a lot of followers, but how many actually give a crap what you say, and how many are just auto-following you because you followed them? Quantity means jack without quality.

  • irkitated

    I have around 5000 followers on Twitter and have now started blogging at http://www.irkitated.blogspot.com.au with the hope of using my personal Twitter to boost my new blog Twitter account @irkitated. Turns out i had forgotten how hard it is to get started on Twitter and its tough to get the initial boost but hopefully ill get there soon!!

  • Joseph Della Mora

    Interesting article. I am just shy of the 2000 mark on my personal account @jdellamora. I try to distinguish a difference between gaining quantity vs quality. I target people who are interested in #entrepreneur #motivation #socialmedia who are also near me geographically. That way, I have a higher follow-back ratio and the followers are relevant to my topics.

  • Shane Lewis

    Nice and clear article! Thanks for the tips. Social media has big roles to the society especially in business areas ,its a big help for the promotion of the business. And, it helped me a lot in marketing. how to buy Twitter followers