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3 Secrets of a Twitter Madman

(Um, no. This is not Martin.)

As seen in Forbes.

443,978 groupies.  Oops, I mean followers.

Yep, my friend Martin Zwilling has 443,978 followers on Twitter.

So you must be thinking, wow, this guy Eric is friends with movie stars or something.  He must be chillin’ with celebrities like Kim Kardashian, Charlie Sheen and Martin Zwilling.

Wait a minute.  Hold the phone.  Have you ever heard of Martin Zwilling before?

Didn’t think so.

But that’s the cool thing:  Martin is an average, normal business guy just like you and I.

So if he can get over 400,000 followers on Twitter, why can’t we?

Well, that’s just what I wanted to find out from Martin.  So I hooked up with him, hoping he’d pull back the curtain to reveal some of his secrets… and he did…

So, without further delay, here’s my chat with the wild Twitter man; Martin…

1st Secret Revealed:  443,978 and Counting.  How?

So Martin, how in the world did you get so many followers on Twitter? What is your secret? What strategy did you use to build your following?

“First, I proactively follow as many new people as I can every day – anyone whose profile looks like my target customer, or who talks about targeted subjects in their tweets.  This can be done manually with Twitter, but I have also tested other tools, such as TweetAttacks.  There are hundreds of tools out there, but the point is to find what works for you and do it on a daily basis.”

Second, I provide something of “value” to my followers on a daily basis. I provide up to six tweets daily, with pointers to the “best of the best” articles for entrepreneurs, which are my target customers. The idea is my follower can read my tweet stream and link to a useful, pre-filtered channel of information every day.  If your channel is empty for even a few days, people stop following.

To help me do this, I use the service SocialOomph:  It automatically sends a welcome message to new followers, and it spreads the tweets out across the day — so they don’t all come in a big clump.”

2nd Secret Revealed:  Following 385,909.  How?

And wow, you follow a whole bunch of people yourself. What is your secret on managing so many followers?  How do you handle engagement on that level?

“The secret here is to extract from the stream only those messages addressed directly to me, or talking about me or my business: Startup Professionals.

I use TweetDeck to do this.  In fact, I only get a few business messages per day requiring a response, and of course, I respond to every one.  Overall, I’ve allotted no more than an hour a day for all Twitter and other social media activities, usually early morning or late evening.  Not a high price for the value and learning I get from it.”

3rd Secret Revealed:  Impact on Business.

So, how has having 443,978 followers impacted your business? In other words, what are the real world results you’ve seen?

“Twitter has clearly helped me build my brand.  It brings me real leads; both directly through Twitter and indirectly by Twitter users talking to their friends.  Because of the many followers; people give me great credibility, speaking invitations, and book sales.

For example, my large following entices great book authors to send me a review copy of their latest book, which I might mention to my followers.  In turn, these books keep me up to date and expand my expertise.  And that helps me close even more business as a consultant.”

Great stuff Martin.  Thanks so much for sharing.  And actually, you’re pretty smart.  Not a madman at all.  :-)

So there you go folks.  3 Secrets from a Twitter Sane-man who has over 400,000 followers.

Tell me, are you gonna be next to reach 400k and what are your secrets for getting there?  :-)

Oops, one more thing. Are you and I connected yet?

I’m Eric. Husband, father & entrepreneur… (oh, and a writer on Forbes too.)

If you’re an entrepreneur, let’s hook up.  Seriously.  Here’s a killer formula:

Your Wisdom + My Wisdom = More Success.

My email is: eric at mightywisemedia dot com.  Shoot me yours right here and let’s connect, okay?  Together we can really nail this thing.  :-)

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About the Author: Eric T. Wagner is a husband, father and life-long entrepreneur. After starting multiple businesses, Eric is now focused on helping other entrepreneurs find the path to success in business and life. You can also catch his gig on Forbes or connect with him on Google+.


  1. Eric,

    This a great post and there is no doubt about the power of Twitter in building a business or brand.

    Actually last month I did a post where I asked top social media guru’s including Chris Brogan, Jay Baer, Kristi Hines, Neil Patel and few others about their best social media traffic source and guess what Twitter was the winner there.

    You can check the responses here: http://www.ranashahbaz.com/social-media-marketing

    Another important point I would like add here as Martin mentioned above as well that engagement is the key when you are trying to build Twitter following.

    Most people use Twitter to broadcast yourself only, whereas Twitter is a conversation.

    • Eric T. Wagner says:

      Thanks Rana. Good info. on Twitter being the best traffic source from some top level gurus. Can’t wait to check your link out.

      And you’re spot on with Twitter being a “conversation”. Can’t believe how many people NEVER respond to me re-tweeting, or asking a question on their tweets. And we’re just talking about folks with a couple thousand followers. Why aren’t they communicating back?

      Crazy if you ask me. Hey, if Martin can do it with over 400k followers, these people should be able to do it with 1k. Right? :-) Thanks Rana…

      • Eric, I have to jump in with you on the importance of replying to questions, comments and just saying Thanks! for a retweet. Twitter’s greatest strength is its ability to speed up the relationship-building process, and those tiny conversations are a crucial way to create solid relationships in no time at all.

        On another note, I can’s miss the opportunity to pipe up and say that I 100% loatheee the automatic DM after you follow someone. Sounds like Martin thinks his welcome message builds goodwill but of the dozens I’ve received, I wouldn’t say that about any of them. And I hear a lot of other voices on Twitter saying the same.

        It’s artificial and we know it. It’s an impersonal, default message plugged into a app somewhere. I’d be interested to hear a longer more detailed discussion of auto-DM’s because so far, I have only seen them widen the gap instead of creating the closeness Twitter is so useful for.

        • Eric T. Wagner says:

          Bingo Annika. Glad we’re on the same page with the “conversation” part of Twitter.

          And you’re dead on: In the end, it’s all about relationships. Period. Goodness, “people” are what matters most. Not the idea, not the business, not the business problem or solution. It’s people…

          On the auto-thank you response. What if you received a dm that said, “Hi. Thanks so much for following me. Really appreciate it… :-)”

          What would you think?

          I think the problem comes when someone is immediately trying to shove something down your throat. “Hey, check out my great stuff for sale here…”. Or even, “If you like me here, you’ll love me on Facebook too. So come like me and build up my likes even more over there. Cause man, I’m cool and you’ll like my stuff…” (Okay, more than 140 characters I know…)

          But, you get the point…

          Okay, enough of my two cents here… (or maybe it’s just a penny and a half… :-)

          Thanks Annika… Appreciate your feedback. :-)

  2. Eric…

    Great post and great topic. What I love about Martin’s answers is the simplicity of the whole thing… It takes work to get that many followers.

    I’m going to start putting this stuff into practice.


    Ryan H.

    • Eric T. Wagner says:

      You’re right Ryan. It is simple, but as with most things, it takes hard work, focus and dedication.

      Wonder when he’ll hit the one million follower mark? Thanks Ryan…

  3. I could swear I commented on this on the weekend… maybe I dreamed it :)

    Anyway, this is an awesome example of the power of Twitter, and it seems to me like if we wanted to fllow in Martin’s footsteps, Twitter would be close to a full-time job :)

    I usually suggest that people pick a primary communication channel, and stick with it, so that it becomes part of your reputation.

    Like “yeah, you can always find Jason on twitter or his blog.” or Adrienne’s usually hanging out on Facebook. Or Guy Kawasaki seems to be a G+ superstar. :)

    • Eric T. Wagner says:

      Hey Jason…

      Thanks for the input. And like your suggestion on picking a main channel. Will definitely keep people from spending all day, every day, morning, noon and night in just trying to keep up with all the social media channels.

      Thanks Jason… :-)

  4. I wonder if someone such as Martin takes use of hashtags and brands their tweets or products or services.

    I see so many people with large followers never using hashtags and I can’t understand why. Maybe it hasn’t proved to be useful? Maybe they just don’t know?

    I personally feel that anyone with a large twitter following can hashtag brand any service, product, or information and it can possibly reach a larger audience. Would love to see hashtag effectiveness — or ineffectiveness.

    • Eric T. Wagner says:

      Hi Paul…

      Good question on hashtags. You can probably reach out to Martin on his Twitter account and ask him. Just tell him you saw the article and get his feedback on hashtags. Love to hear it myself, as I am sure would everyone else… :-)

      Thanks Paul. Appreciate it..

  5. Eric,

    Very interesting!

    Just makes me wonder how much time on Twitter he uses on a daily basis? Anyway, having that amount of targeted followers is very admirable!

    I’m really looking forward to take better advantage of Twitter this year. Like year, the total of followers I had was approximately 700. This was all organic and no automation.

    Now that I opened a new account, I have only 37 but this is of course a starting phase :)

  6. I’m not very active on Twitter and don’t plan to be anytime soon. I don’t mind the small number of followers since I believe most are truly following me to hear what I have to say and not just to increase their follower count.

    Every day, I get these power twitter users following me and I just simply ignore them. Yes, having tens of thousands of people follow you may seem impressive. But I am much more impressed if I see a high FollowER count AND a low FollowING count. This tells me that a lot of people actually want to hear what you have to say, and not because YOU are following them and they just so happened to auto-follow back.

    For me, there’s just too much ‘noise’ on Twitter as opposed to ‘signal’.

    • Eric T. Wagner says:

      Hi Jeanne…

      Thanks for your feedback here. It’s funny, ’cause I kind of thought the same thing for a long time. Just way too much noise on Twitter.

      But then, a funny thing happened: I started having short conversations with people. Yes, people I didn’t even know, but people I could engage with and learn from. Suddenly, it was like in the movies. You know, where all the crowd on the sidewalk in New York is madly rushing by in speed-up mode, but there in front of you is one single person you are engaged with.

      Crazy thing is? Some of those short “intro” conversations with people are turning into very fruitful relationships in the back channels (i.e. email & phone).

      Anyway, just an example of how Twitter is working for me…. Thanks Jeanne… :-)

  7. Eric, some solid tips for sure, especially if getting as many followers as possible is what you are looking for from Twitter.

    Like Jeanne’s recent post on website traffic http://www.appsblogger.com/get-highly-targeted-traffic/ , I think the same method can be used on Twitter, which will create higher engagement from your audience.

    Scott Stratten wrote a post about this way back in 2010 and I think this still holds true today http://www.unmarketing.com/2010/06/07/50000-tweets-and-all-i-got-was-everything/

    “Social media doesn’t change the fact that building relationships take time. You truly do get out of it what you put in.”

    However, as mentioned above, if getting followers is what you want and think you need, these are awesome tips.

    All depends on where your focus is, like everything else in life. We are all different. :-)

    • Eric T. Wagner says:

      Good points Chris. And great link to Scott’s article. Well said indeed.

      But you’re right, at the end of the day, each person/business has their own needs. Not every strategy is the same and there is really not a single “right way” to do it. And that, my friend, is what makes it so fun… :-)

      Thanks Chris….

      • That’s a good point, Chris. It’s like Dan Kennedy always says – it’s not the type of media you use that gets you the results – it’s the way you use the media.
        And Eric – I was the same way with Twitter. I think lots of people would find it more useful if they tried it consistently for a couple weeks. After I did that and found myself creating relationships and having conversations with people I would *never* have a chance to meet/talk to otherwise, I decided to stay and drink the Twitter kool-aid. ;)

        • Eric T. Wagner says:

          Thanks Stacy. Good stuff here. You’re right, once you take the time to figure it out, Twitter can be a pretty powerful connection tool. Thanks for sharing… :-)

  8. Interesting point there,
    Not all these followers would be targeted though? I mean if you are following so many people then it must be extremely difficult to maintain contact with everyone (Especially with a twitter stream that probably shows another 50 new tweets every second!)

    I think to be really specific, I would say it’s probably better to build up close relationships with a small group of people that you can also say you’ve got an interest in over so that you simply don’t end up with a twitter stream that is overloaded with un-interesting tweets; unless you maintain seperate one’s for personal and business.

    • Eric T. Wagner says:

      Thanks Peter. Yes, there is probably always a mix of targeted and non-targeted in any Twitter account. And you’re right about tweets flying by faster than the speed of sound. I guess that’s why you must pay attention to anything directed at you only?

      However, in using the web version of Twitter, it doesn’t automatically update, so you can actually slow things down a little and pick some tweets to RT once in a while. Of course, only if it is of interest to your “targeted followers”…

      Of course, what do I know? I’ve only a measly 2,000 or so of both which is nothing compared to Martin’s 400k+ account… :-)

      Thanks Peter. Appreciate the input… :-)

  9. Wow. This thing’s gone viral! Glad to see all your hard work paying off Eric.

    What do you think about installing a “subscribe to comments” plugin so people can stay in the discussion loop?

  10. Martin may be an expert marketer and this may be working for him, but have you ever heard of the Million Follower Fallacy?


    Martin (@StartupPro) has a Klout score of 53. I (@makingfithappen) have fewer than 200 followers, and my Klout score is 44 (not to say that Klout is the be-all end-all, but it’s semi-useful to illustrate a point). Anyway, I’d think that difference would be FAR greater if number of followers indicated actual influence.

    Research aside, when I see somebody following 300,000 people, it tells me they’re not actually interested in a two-way conversation. They just want to broadcast, not engage.

    It’s great that he responds when somebody sends him a direct message… it’s the equivalent of a lecturer answering an audience member’s question. He’s engaging on a very very small level, compared to the number of people he’s talking AT.

    Like most Twitter users, I don’t want followers who follow me just to get followed back so they can market to me.

    Twitter is acceptable as a marketing tool. But as a Twitter user, I’d see Martin’s follower/following ratio and categorize him as as a tool using Twitter for marketing.

    • Eric T. Wagner says:

      Hi Jay. Thanks for your input here. Had not heard of the Million Follower Fallacy, but will check out your link.

      I agree with you on the importance of engagement and conversation. Hugely important.

      And most people out there do not get this part of social media. Just blasting away messages as if it were their own little TV channel.

      (See comments Guy Kawasaki recently made: http://read.bi/wSB9OB )

      As for Martin and his strategy… well, you’ll have to reach out to him on that one.

      Good stuff here Jay. Thanks again for sharing… :-)

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