When you're first building up your Twitter account everything might seem quite easy. You follow people; some of them follow you back. It doesn't really matter much who follows you and who doesn't. However, it's important to know about - and to plan for - the 5,000 follower limit.
Technically this isn't really a 5,000 follower limit. It's clearly not that no account can have more than 5,000 followers. Rather, what happens is that Twitter wants to prevent spammers from just following every person in sight to start harassing them with messages. So Twitter creates a cap which is meant to stymie spammers. Once an account has followed 5,000 people, it cannot follow any more until it has gained back about 4,600 followers. That follower gain would at least reasonably show that the account was a valid one. The actual algolrithm is a secret, but it is somewhere in the vicinity of being able to follow a maximum of 10% more than your current follower level.
Here is an example to help make this clearer.
Let's say I have an account PermaFreeBooks and I am following 5,000 people. I only have 4,000 followers. I cannot follow ANYONE ELSE - even new people who follow me - until I get about 600 more followers. So I'm in a trap at that point. I have to keep building up followers through engaging posts and judicious use of hashtags until I get to the 4,600 or so follower point. Only then can I start following people back or following new accounts.
Now let's say I am following 5,519 people. I have 5,290 followers. That's just about a perfect balance. Now if someone follows me I can follow them back. That's what you want to aim for. You always want to be able to follow people back - and you want to be following as many people as you can (in your industry) to maximize your reach and ability to retweet useful information.
Handling the 5,000 Limit
Step one is NOT to follow all the way up to 5,000 people before your followers have caught up! Let's say you blast through Twitter and follow every author in sight. Sure, that's an admirable aim, but now you have 5,000 people you're following and only a handful of followers because not every account logs on every day to follow back. Now let's say you make a few posts and you get some new followers who are great authors. You'd like to follow them back. But you can't. You have reached your following limit. So now those authors might get discouraged that you didn't follow them back and unfollow you - never to be heard from again. You don't want that to happen.
So what you want to do is follow about 4,000 people - building up to that point with a few hundred a day. When you follow, check that the people you follow are both in your genre and tend to follow people back. If you see someone who has 3,000 following and 3,000 followers that's good. They are someone who will follow back. If you look at a publishing house and they have 90,000 followers and they're only following 200 people, avoid them for now. They might be good to put on a "list" to know what they're saying, but don't "waste" a precious follower space on them for now if they aren't going to follow you back. You can connect with them later on once you're through that 5,000 follower hurdle and the volume metrics are working in your favor.
Once you reach 1,000 people, you might have say 500 accounts following you back. Again, the response time from accounts can be fairly slow. People go on vacation. People don't check twitter daily. From this point, add a few a day that seem really important but mostly focus on your marketing. Make multiple posts a day with great hashtags. Retweet posts that seem fun or timely. All of this activity will bring in followers for you - and you want to be able to follow them back. That ability to follow them back is key. Keep an eye on your ratio. By doing this you will breeze through that 5,000 point and keep rising. It gets easier and easier after that. The more followers, the more they retweet, the faster your audience builds.
So here are a few posts that have created engagement and a draw in of new followers. One is an "ad" and the other is a fun quote. Both are "shareable" types of things - and you can see that people did share them. That's what you need. You need your posts to be shared so new people learn about you and follow you. You can then follow them back. Because of the 10% rule, the more people you get following you, you can not only follow them back but also follow additional people, too.
Make sure you know how to use https://analytics.twitter.com to monitor your account. It will let you see what works best with your audience. You want to make sure the people you are following and who follow you are a good match for your message. For PermaFreeBooks, most accounts are book or author related, which is perfect.
The analytics area will show you what tweets resonate with that audience. It will show you who is helping you out the most, so you can thank them publicly.
So the key is to tweet daily, use well-matched hashtags for your content, tweet things that people will want to share, and follow back the genre-appropriate people who follow you (i.e. no need to follow the marketers pushing you to buy porn). As your followers grow, your ability to follow others becomes easier and easier. The key is surmounting that 5,000 follower hurdle when you reach it.
Building Traffic for your Twitter Account
Followers and Twitter's Value
What is a Twitter Hashtag?
Maintaining Multiple Twitter Accounts
Choosing a Twitter Icon
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What is a Twitter Hashtag?
Twitter for Authors
Twitter Promotion Tips
Twitter Next Step
Twitter 2000 Follower Limit
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