Even if you’ve been following social media marketing for even a short period of time I’m sure you’ve stumbled upon relatively new Twitter accounts with little content (not many Tweets) and thousands of followers: some in the tens of thousands.
It’s clear their followers are not following due to the amazing Tweets and user interaction, how do they generate this level of Twitter follower growth?
How do New Twitter Accounts Gain so Many New Followers so Quickly?
There’s multiple ways to achieve fast Twitter follower growth including buying Twitter followers, but almost all of the REALLY fast follower growth techniques run the risk of Twitter account suspension/ban!
Assuming you don’t have a Twitter account with viral growth (you aren’t a celebrity, no one cares who you are or what your business is doing) there’s two basic approaches to building Twitter followers for free quickly.
1. Follow a decent number of accounts daily including ones which follow your account first, unfollow accounts which don’t followback after X days: this is low risk if done well.
2. Follow lots of accounts daily, unfollow ALL accounts after X days: this is aggressive Twitter churn and is VERY, VERY high risk.
Aggressive Twitter Follow Churn
Twitters definition of What is aggressive follow churn?
If you decide to follow someone and then change your mind later, you can just visit the person’s profile page and unfollow them. Aggressive follow churn is when an account repeatedly follows and then unfollows a large number of accounts. This may be done to get lots of people to notice them, to circumvent a Twitter limit, or to change their follower-to-following ratio. These behaviors negatively impact the Twitter experience for other people, are common spam tactics, and may lead to account suspension.
I’ve not tested aggressive Twitter follow churn techniques (I hate to waste my time), but have seen many examples of Twitter accounts using highly aggressive Twitter follower churn techniques and long-term they tend to get suspended/banned.
With even basic research it’s very easy to find those who manage dozens of Twitter accounts complaining about accounts being suspended/banned for aggressive follower growth techniques: they expect a % of their accounts to be banned!
I was tracking a large set of Twitter accounts (dozens of accounts) obviously owned by one person or one group: all linked to the same domain and all used the same aggressive Twitter follower churn growth technique.
Some of the accounts were in the tens of thousands of followers range while they only followed around 2,000 accounts. The accounts were growing faster than my Twitter accounts and it was obvious they were using aggressive follow churn. They have ALL being banned by Twitter and load the Twitter account suspended notification!
This account has been suspended. Learn more about why Twitter suspends accounts, or return to your timeline.
It looked like all the banned Twitter accounts were automatically following a large number of new followers every day (i’d guess well over 500 a day) and automatically unfollowing them all a day or two later while keeping the number of accounts they followed to ~2,000.
This is the definition of aggressive Twitter follow churn and Twitter banned them all: all that work down the drain!
That’s acceptable for people with dozens/hundreds of Twitter accounts with automated Tweet, follow/unfollow systems who expect a % of bans, but a serious business can not take risks with their main Twitter account!
If you care about your Twitter account do NOT use aggressive follow techniques, you might get away with it for months, but the risks are too high and there’s no value in a suspended Twitter account with tens of thousands of followers!
Basically the really fast growth is due to taking big risks, if you want super fast Twitter growth, but don’t have an account that’s likely to go viral it means big risks. Don’t do it.
Low Risk Twitter Follower Growth Techniques
I use a derivative of technique 1 above: “Follow a decent number of accounts daily including ones which follow your account first, unfollow accounts which don’t followback after X days: this is low risk if done well.”
I try to login to each Twitter account everyday: yes it’s very time consuming to manage multiple accounts and regularly fail to check them all.
If anyone tells you success is easy, they are probably lying to sell you something to make THEM successful! Of course there’s an element of luck, but true success is almost always built on hard work.
I make a note of the date, the time and how many Twitter users I’m currently following: this is important to stop accidentally following too many accounts over a 24hr period (it’s VERY easy to lose track).
- I follow MOST Twitter users who follow an account back.
- I avoid following users without a profile image or biography.
- I avoid following adult/porn accounts.
- I avoid following accounts in languages I don’t understand.
- I avoid following accounts which SPAM.
Including following back I follow in total around 200 Twitter accounts over a 24hr period: I used to follow around 300, but Twitter have ‘tightened’ it’s algorithms in 2019 resulting in more frequent account locks. If it’s a new account I start slowly following under 50 accounts on day one and slowly work up to 200: Twitter follower growth is a marathon not a sprint.
Why Limit Twitter Following to 200 Accounts a Day?
As of March 2019: “Every Twitter account is able to follow up to 400 accounts per day. Verified Twitter accounts are able to follow up to 1,000 accounts per day.”
So technically Twitter accounts can follow between 400 and 1,000 accounts over a 24hr period, all because you CAN follow 400 to 1,000 everyday does not mean you SHOULD follow anywhere near 1,000 a day: long-term the account will be banned.
I limit following to around 200 users a day because when I’ve followed 300 or more accounts in a day an account is far more likely to be temporarily locked requiring the password resetting or phone verification to regain access to the account.
Having an account locked isn’t the end of the world, I’ve had a politics account locked because I was arguing with people over Twitter and it got heated. When an account needs phone verification there’s a notice on the accounts home page warning other users there’s a possible problem AND there’s the risk the account will be ghost banned for 24hrs from AFTER the account is unlocked: a ghost banned account will appear NOT to be following any accounts while ghost banned and this tends to result in a peak in unfollowing.
When ghost banned the account tends to lose rather than gain followers, so having an account temporarily locked should be avoided! Most of my Twitter accounts (some as old as 2010) have never been locked and I’ve never had an account suspended/banned, following 200 users a day in my experience works well (very low risk).
Should I Automate Twitter Following/Unfollowing?
There’s plenty of Twitter tools to automate tasks like following/unfollowing/Tweeting, some free, many paid, but be aware of the Twitter account limitations and terms of service.
Be VERY careful.
Twitter TOS Says No Following/Unfollowing Automation
First limitation is you aren’t supposed to use automated tools to follow/unfollow, so using them in the first place means your Twitter account could be suspended/banned (it’s a small risk). That being said if you are very, very careful and use the tools in a conservative manner that mimics manual Twitter account management, you should be fine.
If using a Twitter management tool avoid doing anything which doesn’t look ‘normal’.
Lets take an extreme example that’s not ‘normal’: to manually follow 1,000 (technically you can follow 1,000 Twitter accounts a day) and unfollow 500 accounts (there’s no daily limits on unfollowing) everyday requires clicking the follow buttons 1,000 times and the unfollow button 500 times! Since the 2019 Twitter design update it takes 2 clicks to unfollow, so it’s now 1,000 clicks to unfollow 500 accounts!
If a person can click a Twitter follow button every second, to click 1,500 times will take just 25 minutes. Not many people are going to spend 25 minutes everyday manually clicking the follow/unfollow buttons!
Automated Twitter tools can achieve 1,500 clicks anywhere from seconds to hours (depends on the tool/options set), use the automated tool without taking into account normal human behaviour and it’s obvious to the Twitter automated tracking system you are using an automated Twitter tool and if you keep hitting their built in limits (like the following 1,000 accounts a day) your account will be suspended/banned.
Second limitation is Twitter has limits. See Twitter Following rules and best practices.
Few select quotes from the Twitter Following rules and best practices article:
We don’t limit the number of followers you can have. However, we do monitor how aggressively accounts follow other accounts. We try to make sure that none of our limits restrain reasonable usage, and will not affect most people on Twitter.
We don’t know for sure what Twitter considers reasonable usage, since they limit each account to following 400 (for unverified) and 1,000 (for verified) accounts a day we know for sure it’s below 400/1,000 new follows a day, but how close to 400/1,000 each day can you go?
In my experience a new account can run into problems (locked out requiring phone verification) in the early days even from following a couple of hundred accounts a day! Older unverified accounts with 5,000+ followers seem to be safe at following 200 accounts a day, going above 300 appears to be where the risks increase significantly.
I look at it this way, social media management is part of a long-term business strategy, NOT a quick set it up once and forget about it (managing Twitter takes time). If an account can gain just 50 new followers everyday (without fail), that’s over 18,000 new followers a year. If you are willing to put the time/effort into account management breaking above 50 new followers every day is not a difficult task: for example I put more time into Twitter management and my personal account increased from ~7,000 followers to over 22,000 followers in under 2 months with no problems at all (no lockouts).
Please note that Twitter does not permit any automated or bulk following or unfollowing behavior. Please review our Automation rules and best practices for more information on automating your account.
Are there additional limits if you are following 5000+ accounts?
The rules about aggressive following and follow churn still apply. In addition, every user can follow 5000 people total. Once you’ve followed 5000 users, there are limits to the number of additional users you can follow: this limit is different for every user and is based on your ratio of followers to following.