7 Brutal Truths About Why You Don’t Get More Twitter Followers

We all want to get more Twitter followers. And it isn’t just about brand growth and marketing.

It’s also about vanity. Everybody wants to be popular and a high follower count is a badge of social media popularity.

When it comes to Twitter, you only have a couple of seconds to catch someone’s attention. It’s like warp-speed-dating. There are millions of options so you have to look your best and be super-charming… fast!

There are plenty of articles about how to get more Twitter followers. But in this blog post I am going to focus on the mistakes you are currently making.

Because if you want to get more Twitter followers in the future (and keep the ones you already have), you need to correct these problems ASAP!

Twitter Mistake #1:  You Look Like An Alien

This screen shot shows Twitter's default profile image (a dark gray vector image designed to look like a shadow outline of a headshot) on the left. On the right, you see a close up of a twitter profile, open on an iPhone, with the default background and image.

If you want to get more Twitter followers, the first thing you need to do is prove you are a real person! That means replacing the alien-like default profile image with something REAL.

I never follow an account that uses the default photo. And I am only marginally more interested in following accounts that use logos.

If your Twitter account represents a gazillion dollar brand that everyone knows immediately – just by seeing the logo – then go for it! But if you aren’t Apple, McDonald’s, Nike, et al, the brutal truth is that your logo is largely meaningless.

It may look great on your website but it probably looks terrible when you shrink it down to the size of your pinkie fingernail!

In the digital age, people are super-sensitive to authenticity. We want to interact with real people. So if you want to get more Twitter followers, you need to show them who you are.

Showing your face creates a more immediate personal connection. And when you only have a few seconds to capture someone’s attention, putting your face forward inspires trust.

Tips to help you get a decent Twitter photo:

Use a headshot.  As mentioned, your profile photo is a very small piece of social media real estate. When you shrink down a half-body or full-body image, your face becomes too tiny to clearly see.

Make it professional looking. I recommend using a photographer (or at least a gifted friend). DO NOT use a bad selfie, wedding photo, vacation photo, or group photo with the other people cropped out.

Look directly at the camera.  Making eye contact is essential. So no sunglasses or hats.

No face filters. Personally, I love a good filter.  But for your headshot, it is important to make sure your actual features are clear and recognizable.

Smile.  This isn’t a passport photo or a mug shot.  You want to look approachable. So smile – and show your teeth.

And while we are on the subject of being approachable…

Twitter Mistake #2: Your Twitter Bio Is A Turn-Off

Truthfully, I don’t think I have ever followed someone because they had a great Twitter bio.  But I have definitely chosen not follow someone because their bio turned me off.

To get more Twitter followers, make sure you are not guilty of any of these sins:

No write up at all. Not having anything is like screaming, “I’m a bot!”… Or maybe just a weirdo with shady reasons for setting up a Twitter account. Words are what separate you from the undesirables.

Over-using hashtags. Firstly, you need to realize that hashtags are designed for searching tweets, not Twitter bios, so you are not attracting potential followers with that mass of hashtags. Secondly, if someone was actually attracted to a hashtag in your bio, and they clicked it, they would move AWAY from your account. So skip the “#” and just tell me about yourself.

Sending out a “spammy” vibe. Asking me to Like, share, listen, subscribe and/or buy before I’ve even hit the Follow button makes me very afraid of how hard your sales pitch will be if I actually follow you.

Calling yourself a guru. Or an influencer. Or a disruptor. If you are a best-selling author or you’ve done a TedTalk, feel free to say so. Those are real accomplishments! In fact, I’m impressed by most publishing and speaking credits. But tooting your own horn with a bunch of jargon is obnoxious.

And since we are talking about your Twitter personality…

Twitter Mistake #3: You Are Whiny And Opinionated

There is seldom a day when I am not tempted to post something about politics. Or a quick rant about something that annoys me. I have strong feelings about a lot of different issues. And I’m not ashamed to admit that my personality tips towards sarcastic.

As a digital marketer, I appreciate the value of authenticity, but I also recognize there is a fine line between being “real” and “over-sharing”.

If you are on Twitter purely to voice your personal opinions, power to you! Best of luck and I hope you find your tribe.

But this article is not for you. It’s for professionals and business owners who are trying to get more Twitter followers.

Frequent posts about politics, religion, sex, etc. can have a negative impact on your brand. This doesn’t mean you can’t have opinions. Or share them.

It DOES mean that you should be selective and thoughtful about what you share. And protect your professional reputation by making sure the majority of your posts are rant-free and whine-free.

Being positive may not get more Twitter followers, but people will definitely unfollow you for being negative. Here’s a simple truth that applies to social media, networking, and life in general:

Twitter Mistake #4:  You Never Shut Up About Yourself

Truth bomb: If all you do is post ads and promotions, I am NOT going to follow you. To get more Twitter followers you must stop treating Twitter like a 24/7 promotional feed.

  • Question: How many people like to watch commercials?
  • Answer: Zero! Everybody skips the commercials.

A little self-promotion is fine but when people look at your timeline, it shouldn’t be an endless stream of promotional content. You need to follow the rules of social media etiquette.

Good manners dictate that you should adhere to the 80/20 rule. Make at least 80% of your posts helpful, engaging content. Limit sales pitches and self-promotion to no more than 20%.

Speaking of sales and marketing…

Mistake #5:  You’re Preaching To The Wrong Choir

To get more Twitter followers you need to connect with your ideal audience. Those are the folks who are most likely to buy what you are selling, share information about your brand, and become the wind beneath your marketing wings!

Take time to figure out exactly who your ideal audience is and what they find interesting. Then focus on making sure every tweet is going to delight them!

Recently, I went to the Twitter account of a guy who described himself as a “content marketer” and “SEO expert”.  So imagine my surprise to find nothing but endless tweets about European soccer, Irish landscape photos, and news about Brexit.  Seriously!?!

Full disclosure… his bio had mentioned that he lived in Ireland. And his panoramic shots of the rocky coastline were spectacular. But he only made a couple of random tweets about content marketing or SEO, so I left. I didn’t follow him.

“Preaching to the wrong choir” is one of the most dangerous Twitter mistakes because you can begin to feel successful when in truth, you are failing. Using my Irish content marketer as a cautionary tale…

Let’s say he actually starts to get more Twitter followers. More than likely, these will be people who enjoy European soccer, the view in Ireland, and debating Brexit.  But I’m pretty sure his purpose was to build his brand as a content marketer and SEO expert, not as a soccer/Ireland/Brexit expert.

See the problem?  Succeeding at social media is not just about follower count.  It’s about connecting with your ideal audience and building an engaged following.

Think about who you want to have as followers. Now look at your bio. And look at your tweets. Make sure everything is aligned.

Once you know your niche, it’s time to work on becoming interesting…

Mistake #6:  You Are Boring

I apologize if this sounds harsh.  I am sure that in real life, you are charming, popular, and loved.  But all that charisma may not be shining through on Twitter.

If you want to get more Twitter followers, you need to do more than set up a posting schedule and release a topic-appropriate tweet every hour or so. You have to consistently post interesting, high-quality content, and insert some variety and personality into your tweets.

Here are a couple of things I do to shake things up:

Add visuals. There is NOTHING duller than a twitter feed filled with nothing but blog titles, each followed by a link and 2-3 hashtags. Yawn!!!

Tweets with images are 34% more likely to get retweeted that tweets with no images.  So add photos. And GIFs. And videos.

Get creative with text only designs. Visuals don’t have to be all about pictures! Think outside the box. My friend Anita Kirkbride has a cool collection of creative, text-only tweets. I would be careful not to over-use this kind of thing. A little goes a long way. But it is cool. And definitely not boring.

It’s worth remembering that Twitter gives you lots of leeway when it comes to vertical space. The word count may be limited, but you can still claim a big chunk of visual landscape.

For instance, I like making list-style posts, like this one. They get great engagement rates and lots of shares. (And they have definitely helped me get more Twitter followers).

This screenshot shows a Twitter post by Kim Scaravelli. Her Twitter profile photo is a headshot of her. She is a white, middle-ages woman with brown hair, smiling into the camera. The post reads: 3 questions to answer before crafting content: Who is the reader? What do they want to know? What do I want them to do next? The questions are each on their own line within the tweet, with red question marks to their left. The final line of the tweet has two hashtags: #marketing #contentmarketing

Sometimes, I also use lists with curated content. And the engagement rates are equally impressive.

This screenshot shows a tweet by Kim Scaravelli, featuring her headshot as the profile image. She is a smiling, caucasian female, mid 40s, with shoulder length brown hair. The tweet reads: To be seen as an expert you need: Credibility, Knowledgeability, Visibility. Each item is on its own line in the tweet, with black checkmarks to the left. And there is a link to a blog post, as well as an image showing a happy, diverse group of workers in a meeting.

And Personalize Your Tweets!

Don’t just use titles and links. Say something about the content you are sharing. For example, Anita’s post is actually called “Ways to Be Creative With Text-Only Tweets”. It’s a perfectly good title.

But just using a title can fall flat. It’s more interesting to tell people why you liked Anita’s post.  In this case, I would go with something like:

  • “Looking for a cool collection of creative, text-only tweets?” or
  • “I just found this great collection of supercool, text-only tweets!”

It’s called SOCIAL media for a reason. To get more Twitter followers you need to be vibrant, authentic, and socially active.

Which brings me to the most deadly mistake you may be making with Twitter …

Mistake #7: You Aren’t Truly Socializing

If you want to get more Twitter followers you need to socialize. In the Twitter universe, socializing involves things like:

  • Following back when people follow you
  • Tweeting back to followers who mention you
  • Liking, commenting and retweeting (And don’t forget to mention someone when you share their article or post. It’s friendly and respectful!)
  • Taking part in Twitter conversations

Obviously, you can’ t let Twitter take over your whole day. But you should try to do some socializing every day.  The least you can do is thank people for retweets and positive mentions. And you should be quick to address any negative feedback.

I am not against automating a few things. For instance, I use Buffer to help me schedule posts and Commun.It to help me interact with followers easier and faster.

But I keep it to a minimum because over-automating can make you seem robotic and boring. And if you can’t be bothered to socialize, what’s the point of being on social media anyway?


Twitter is an established social media platform that can play a powerful role in building your professional brand and growing your business. Whatever your goals, mastering Twitter can help you achieve them.

To get the best results, you have to take the time to do things right. So if you want to get more Twitter followers:

  • Set up an appealing Twitter profile (preferably with your smiling face as the profile image)
  • Figure out who your ideal audience is (and aim your content towards them)
  • Be positive and respectful of others at all times
  • Remember the 80/20 rule (don’t just post ads and promotions)
  • Post high quality, interesting content in a variety of formats

Most importantly, SOCIALIZE with other people because if you don’t, you will not get more twitter followers. That’s the brutal truth!

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3 thoughts on “7 Brutal Truths About Why You Don’t Get More Twitter Followers”

  1. Hi Kim,

    Your reasons are great and the tips your provided are profound. However, there is one tip that most Twitter users overlook in terms of growing your followers. Follow other user in your niche. It is a simple logic. Don’t wait for people to follow you. Instead, take the initiative and follow them, a good number of them will follow you back. And as you follow, engage with them as well.


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