Twitter really does make a bad first impression. It can be daunting at first.  What’s the point? Where do I start? Who cares about what I have to say?

That said, there seems to be a universal interest in how to build your Twitter following as quickly as possible. Firstly I’d like to say that I don’t like the idea of any sort of “product” that “gets” you thousands of Twitter followers.   If you stick to the basics you’ll be fine. You’ll get followers, enjoy Tweeting, and immediately find value: guaranteed.  Firstly start with these three basic tenants: Engage, Tell Stories, and be Transparent.  This goes for any business of any size.

A few months ago I heard a podcast of a lecture given by Robert Cialdini at Stamford University. I was enthralled by what he had to say regarding social influence.  After revising his lecture this past weekend it dawned on me that his 6 Universal Principles of Social Influence readily help to assist with building a fertile Twitter community quite nicely:

1. Reciprocation – People, in general feel obligated to return favors.  If you leverage Search for Twitter to find like minded people, or businesses that are either competitors of tertiary to your industry, I recommend you follow them. ALL of them. They  will more times than not follow back. Now you have an instant community of Twitter followers that are interested in the same things that you are (magic!)

2. Authority – We naturally look to people of authority to learn about what to do, when to do it, and how often we should be doing it. Establish yourself and your business as an authority. Blog, post comments on blogs, offer insights, re-tweet and generally engage with the community.  Over time you’ll be regarded as an authority (as long as you truly know what your talking about).

3. Commitment/consistency – We want to act consistently with our commitments and values, therefore we like to “play nice in the sand-box”. Twitter is not the place to rant and rave.  Post a negative comment about your competition, and you can guarantee that it will come back to haunt you at some point. Just don’t do it.  Follow the old adage “do unto others as you would have done to you”

4. Scarcity – Less available the resource the more we want it – Translation: pace yourself. Nobody wants to read 500 Tweets a day from you.  The only Twitters I see getting away with pure volume tweets are news outlets. Even then there is some tempo to the Tweets they send.  Let your followers look forward to high quality Tweets.

5. Liking – The more we like people the more we want to say yes, and the more we’re going to add you to our #followfriday list, re-tweet, or generally pay attention to what you’re doing.  Friends recommend friends, and over time friendships grow.

6. Social Proof – We look to what others do to guide our behavior. Don’t be afraid of publicity that will establish your brand as an authority, and don’t shy away from praise. If your community loves you; new members of that community will follow suite.

Happy Tweeting!