I’m going to contradict myself.

I told you that Twitter is not a numbers game; it’s about relationships and interaction.

I believe wholeheartedly that Twitter is about relationships and interaction. AND. In order to find and form meaningful relationships on Twitter, you have to make it a numbers game.

Mr. Becky and I have this unending conversation, it seems, about Twitter.

He says it’s circular.

You follow people so they’ll follow you, and they’re following you so that you will follow them.

They want to sell you their stuff and you want them to buy your stuff.

You want them to read your blog and they want you to read their blog.

When he describes it that way, it does seem circular. It makes me a little dizzy, in fact.

The only answer I have is the one I gave my friend Jesse Stoner.

Increasing your followers on Twitter is about finding and forming relationships. The more people you follow (and the more people who are following you), the greater the chance that you will find the “right” people.

The right people are the ones who want to interact, the ones who have something to give, the ones who will allow you to give to them.

The right people are the ones:

  • you want to pick up the phone to talk to
  • you’d want to have coffee with if you happened to be in the same place
  • you’d drive out of your way to meet
  • you’d rearrange your schedule to help
  • you can’t wait to meet in person, so you can hug them and thank them for the way their encouragement has influenced you

The right people are also the ones:

  • who are sharing information you’re interested in
  • who have something to sell that you want to buy
  • who are interested in the information you’re sharing
  • who want to buy whatever you’re selling

Twitter needs to be a numbers game because there is no way to predict who those right people are going to be. If there were, I could follow twenty or thirty people and be done.

Twitter is a numbers game to me because numbers represent possibility and the potential for rich, meaningful interaction.

Here are a few tips about growing your Twitter following:

  • Consider automation. There are a lot of great tools out there to help you increase your followers (my favorite: Tweetadder). I know a lot of people who shun these tools because they want to carefully consider each person they follow. I understand that AND it’s extremely time consuming. You’ll have more time to interact if you automate some of the process.
  • Be patient. I spent many many many months growing my first Twitter account, organically. When I started my new account, last November, it grew much more quickly, partly because I had invested so much time in building relationships already. Many people instantly followed my new account. If you are starting from nothing, growth will be slow, even with automation. But that’s okay, because it’s not really about the numbers, it’s about the interaction.
  • Be the right kind of person. In order to find the right people, you need to be the right kind of person. Be the one who is sharing, giving, and encouraging and you will find others who are doing the same.
  • Look for real connections. As  your numbers grow, spend time getting to know your followers. Reach out, initiate conversation. Each follower represents amazing potential.

Tell me something! Am I contradicting myself? How important are numbers to you on Twitter? What are your best tips for gaining followers? What do you think about automating processes on Twitter?