Gaining followers on Twitter has become a national obsession.
Plug [how to get Twitter followers] into Google, and 529,000,000 listings surface. For context, a similar exercise with [how to lose weight] doesn’t even hit half that number.
Now, there’s a Huffington Post headline in the making: “More people care about increasing their Twitter followers than losing weight.”
Flawed dot-connecting aside, the same way a publication strives to increase readership, people on Twitter are on a quest to expand their Twittership.
But there are no short cuts to increasing your following unless people know you by a single word, “Conan,” “Tiger,” “Moses,” etc.
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It takes work to dig out fresh content that hasn’t already been trampled by the masses like the stories from Mashable that always trigger a zillion social shares (990 tweets as of today)
On the other hand, when others perceive you as delivering content that is useful, funny, educational or just damn interesting, which they otherwise may not have encountered, that’s how you grow a following.
These 7 tips offer a good foundation for mining fresh content for Twitter:
1) Journalists Based Overseas: I’m not talking about journalists in Asia and Europe who write for U.S. titles. Instead, consider the road less traveled – at least from a U.S. perspective – in publications like The Independent (London), The Business Times (Singapore) or South China Morning Post (Hong Kong). In fact, I just started following Bien Perez who’s been writing about technology from a Greater China perspective for more than 10 years.
2) Corporate Web Sites : Even though the masses rake these sites, there’s compelling content to be had. For example, after reading the Journal story, “Sears Would Really Like to Sell You a Rolex,” about Sears building a second ecommerce platform called marketplace, I checked out the actual Sears site and found they’re selling Rolexes as well, fodder for a counter-intuitive tweet/link. Or West Hollywood’s “little” problem with helicopter noise which I just stumbled upon.
3) Non-story Content in Media Properties: As with corporate websites, you can find some nuggets that haven’t seen the light of day. I just came across a section on the niche publication, Store Front Back Talk, called, “How To Pitch a Story to Us.” It’s excellent and one could argue relevant to all media.
4) Publications Off the Beaten Path: They can be popular, just not with your particular tribe. For example, The Smithsonian Magazine has a cool blog called Surprising Science with fresh takes that appeal to a non-science crowd. I tweeted out the link to “Why Do Mosquitos Bite Some People More Than Others?” with the words, “Just a single 12-ounce bottle of beer can make you more attractive to the insects.”
5) Visuals from Mainstream Publications: With 40M unique visitors, the Huffington Post isn’t exactly undiscovered. Still, you can snag and tweet visuals from these mainstream books, which gives the content a unique spin (of course with proper attribution). Here’s one of my favorites from HuffPo, the infamous noodle guard:
6) Journalists’ Personal Blogs: Their passion lies in writing, so it stands to reason that many write for “fun” during off hours. It’s another venue to share back stories that haven’t been tweeted to death. For example, Reuters journalist Jeremy Wagstaff pens a personal blog called “Loose Wire.”
7) Risen and Repeat: Even when you tweet gold, the reality is that a tiny fraction of your followers and those tracking the hashtags notice. As long as the content isn’t time-sensitive, you can organize it for future tweets.
If there’s one underlying theme to this curation process, it’s curiosity.
When it comes to Twitter content, you don’t need to know where you’re going to get there.
That’s how you find the good stuff.