Building a List of People to Follow on Twitter
Our first step is going to be building a very targeted list to follow on Twitter. The “targeted” part is very important. You can convert a targeted list, but if you’re just following anyone, it will be difficult if not impossible to return any kind of profit. Some topics might work for general followers, going the Uber Facts route, or celebrity gossip. You would have to go for volume, and the opportunities to convert and monetize that crowd would be fewer. For the most part, I predict you’ll have better success if you build a targeted following.
First, we need a list of the top tweeters in your niche. Go to Followerwonk and then click on the “Search bios” tab. Lets assume for a moment that your niche forex. Forex makes a great niche, because for adsense we have Keyword Planner saying that forex trading software is worth over $16 a click, forex trading news is over $15, forex broker is over $14. While getting that kind of traffic from Google would be really hard, getting that kind of targeted traffic from Twitter will be much easier! Also consider the fact that there is no shortage of clickbank products to market to the Forex crowd.
So now we have gone to Followerwonk, clicked on the “search bios” tab, and searched for “forex”. The top listing, Stefan Stredak, and at the time of this writing has 479,389 followers. The page lists 50 popular Twitter accounts, with the lowest at 45,021 followers. Let’s count them up! At this time, that list of the top 50 accounts for 4.35 million followers. That’ll work! Hmm, I may just start a 2nd batch of Twitter accounts to focus on Forex. Now is the time to ask yourself whether your own niche can produce similar results of targeted followers that you can chase after. It is extremely important that you have this sorted out before you start building everything, otherwise you’re wasting lots of time and effort.
I’m aware of tools out there that can scrape all these names, but I’m not going to bother listing them. There simply is no good solution for building a targeted list of names to follow, except a programming solution, involving the Twitter API. You want to develop a clean list of all these 4.35 million (or whichever your niche yields), and to do so — you need to scrape the names, remove the overlapping followers, run statistics on the followers to determine which followers are likely to follow you back, and then take the list and feed it to your dozens of twitter accounts — so they can share the task of following them all. Then on top of all this, you need to keep the list current, where if tomorrow it’s 4.36 million instead of 4.35 million — you want that additional 10k followers without having to manually scrape all the names over again.
No other software does that, period. I’m aware of people who use software to scrape the names, and then they feed it to Followliker. Here are the problems with Followliker.
- After you scrape your list, you have to break them down into lists of 190,000 for each account.Followliker crashes if the list you give it is over 200k.
- Followliker checks whether you want to follow someone on-the-fly. This is very bad. If you schedule a certain amount of follows an account should do per hour, if the accounts you’re following don’t qualify according to your filters, your accounts won’t follow anyone.
- Followliker needs babysitting. Sometimes you’ll need to reboot your VPS because things stopped working. If you don’t watch it like a hawk, your entire operation comes to a halt.
I actually don’t use Followliker, but I have a friend who does. These are the biggest glaring issues that caused me to want to work directly with the Twitter API. Here are some advantages to doing it the way I’m going to show you.
- You can easily juggle millions of accounts.
- We will pull extra data on each account we’re following ahead of time, so our accounts won’t have delays in following people.
- Accounts we want to follow will be assigned to our following accounts automatically. You won’t have to chop up lists of 190,000 and manually feed it in order for your accounts to follow.
- The list of people you want to follow stays current. Our PHP scripts will grab every follower from the list of Twitter accounts you want to follow, and then loop back to the start and pull their data once again once you’ve finished the list — keeping it current.
I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to keep the list current. One of the filters we put on these accounts will be “only follow people who have tweeted in the last 3 weeks”, for instance. By continually cycling through your list, if someone hadn’t tweeted in the last month, but suddenly tweets tomorrow, you pick that up and can add them as someone to follow.
In the next article, I start sharing code. It’s important to get yourself up to speed on the things you will need in order to make this project work. Here is a checklist.
- You need access to a PHP server, and a phpmyadmin interface to mySQL. Typically, you can use any hosting for this, or you can even download and install Wamp Server and install PHP right on your own computer. This is what I do (and I have a Windows VPS with Wamp Server installed on it), so that I can develop on my laptop and then, after I know it works, I move it to my VPS. If you have a great internet connection that is on 24/7, you can get away with doing this from your home computer (if you’re on a budget).
- You need access to at least one phone verified Twitter account. Your many twitter accounts that we’ll be building do not necessarily need to be phone verified, but it will be easier if you do. If you have phone verified accounts, you can use the Twitter API in order to follow people and make tweets. If not, you can do what I do — I use imacros and PHP with some of my Twitter accounts. I will show you methods to build the accounts both with, and without being verified. However, to do the scraping of accounts — you need at least one phone verified account to be able to use the Twitter API.
- You can create your own Twitter accounts, or buy them from others. I’ve created my own, so I’m unaware of the best place to buy them, however a few Google searches should reveal some sources of phone verified twitter accounts.
- You will need to get some proxies. Search Google for proxies that work with Twitter. Mine are from Instant Proxies. I run 4 Twitter accounts per proxy — however, each account on a proxy involves a different niche. Remember I said that Twitter allows multiple accounts, but not overlapping topics? I know people using 3 or 4 accounts per proxy that do overlap — however, I think that adds an element of risk.
The next article in this series finally delves into PHP source code, as we start scraping and sorting through the millions of targeted Twitter accounts to cherry pick the ones we want to be our future followers.