The first time that I used Twitter was back in 2015 when I was forced to create an account for a digital newspaper course at my university. Not only did I hate using Twitter, but I ultimately abandoned the platform for nearly a year until I began my public relations coursework. Since then I’ve learned the importance of social media as both a professional and as my own personal brand. I now have 500 Twitter followers and 1,700 tweets, which is a feat that I would have balked at in 2015. Based on everything that I’ve learned during my coursework and time using the platform, here are my biggest takeaways on how to effectively use Twitter to gain followers for your business or brand.

Targeting the right audience

The first step to gaining more than 500 Twitter followers is to figure out what kind of audience you want to interact with. When I first created my Twitter account I was pursuing a career in the journalism field, so I shared news articles and tweeted about topics that were trending in the news. My audience included my peers at my university and professionals in the industry, so the content that I tweeted about involved university news and articles that I had written during my time as the news editor for the Eastern Echo.

My career path slowly transitioned into the field of public relations and digital marketing. I’ve graduated from college and while I still attempt to target industry professionals, I’m employed full-time and the purpose of my content has shifted. Instead of marketing myself for job prospects, I aim to engage with peers and individuals who are actively involved in digital marketing, but may not be seasoned veterans. It’s important to not only target the right audience, but provide them with engaging and relevant content specific to them.

Multimedia content

It’s necessary that your tweets include photos if your plan is to increase engagement. In a study by the marketing platform SHIFT, users engaged at a rate of five times higher when a photo was included with a tweet. SHIFT also found that users were two times more likely to reply and retweet when photos were included. Based on Twitter’s delivery system for content, it’s easy for text-only tweets to get lost in a newsfeed, making it important to use photos and video to stand out.


Organic reach is perhaps the greatest drawing point for businesses looking to expand their potential audience. There are certain rules for different social media platforms in regards to drawing in the greatest number of viewers, but hashtags are the greatest way along with multimedia content to drive more engagement for tweets. According to Buffer,

  • Tweets with hashtags receive double the engagement compared to tweets without hashtags
  • Tweets with three or more hashtags have 17 percent lower engagement than tweets with only one or two hashtags

While hashtags should be used for organic reach efforts, more hashtags don’t equal a positive correlation in engagement compared to other platforms such as Instagram. You need to make them count and use hashtags strategically in your tweets when considering your target audience.

Twitter Chats

One of the greatest ways to quickly gain followers is to host or participate in Twitter Chats. Many businesses and professionals host Twitter Chats, allowing them to ask questions to participants and take part in those conversations. Participants will tweet at them using a specific hashtag, which allows them to track new questions that are posted and new replies from other users. Twitter Chats are a great way of interacting with dozens of professionals in your industry and following one another for relevant content.


In the world of social media many businesses will sporadically post new content for a month or two, only to abandon their platforms for a myriad of reasons. It’s necessary to uphold a consistent posting schedule for your audience so they know when to expect new content. Even if you only tweet once or twice a day, you’ll slowly gain followers if there is a consistent posting schedule in place.

Most businesses and professionals will passionately and excitedly post every day for a month, only to lack consistency and become discouraged when they aren’t receiving the engagement they were expecting.

A good rule of thumb is to consistently engage on a new social media platform for 3-6 months; if you aren’t receiving the engagement that you were expecting by the end of that trial period, you can then abandon the platform.

Community Engagement

The biggest purpose of social media is to engage in an interactive, online community. To drive engagement and gain more than 500 Twitter followers it’s important to post relevant content and interact with other users by replying to their comments, liking and sharing their tweets and following the 80/20 rule for posting. Despite social media being used for organic growth, digital marketers need to understand that only promoting their business and not engaging with their audience is a sure-fire way to stifle growth. People use social media to share content and have genuine conversations with their peers and professionals in the industry, not to be bombarded by posts hardly disguised as advertisements or business promotions.


Automation To Maximize Post Exposure

While I’m typically against using automation apps to gain followers, using apps like If This Then That (IFTTT) is a great way to save time and cross post onto social media platforms. With Twitter having such a short shelf life for tweets spreading out content throughout the day, having new posts from Facebook or Instagram automatically publish onto your Twitter account can be used to give more coverage for content you’re sharing without spending hours scheduling dozens of tweets throughout the week.


Wrap Up

Effectively utilizing social media is a necessity for business professionals or individuals looking to expand their brand presence. Gaining your first 500 Twitter followers won’t happen overnight; it takes dedication, consistency and constantly tweaking your content to properly engage your viewers. Social media I in its teenage years with common practices constantly changing overnight. Users need to be innovative, passionate and active in their online community if they want to promote themselves or their businesses online and gain 500 Twitter followers in a reasonable time frame.