The count of followers is often considered one of the most narcissistic of vanity metrics. I could relate. On Twitter , Facebook, Google+, and LinkedIn, I had my fair share of ego linked to that golden number, pointing out my follower growth to a friend one day and archiving emails as quickly as I could when there was no growth.

Still, in spite of pride, there is meaning in the number of followers. Although chasing seems like a smug number, supporters have a proportional effect on how far and large your message spreads and how much you convert.

I think the best piece of advice I’ve read about followers is from our co-founder, Leo:

Quality is pivotal. It is difficult to neglect quantity.

With our social media reports and audits, the follower count is one of the indicators we keep a close eye on. There’s a ton of great advice on how to expand your social media followers (a ton of which I’m going to relay below), and we’ve always been interested in the analysis behind the advice at Buffer. How do you, exactly, raise your followers? What actionable strategies will you take to increase your numbers of followers today?

I’ve been looking for details, and I think I’ve found a few good answers.

I wanted to start with some best practices for the growth of followers before we get into the research-backed methods for increasing your supporters. When you look for social media advice or read up on how someone got the followers they did, you’re likely to come across these ideas.

In terms of adding fans, there’s a lot of very useful advice here about what works and what doesn’t. These tactics are very good for your followers’ consistent growth, and much of the advice you’ll read will be variations on many of these bullet points. How I Went From Zero to 380,000 Followers and Twitter Tips From a Marketer with 200 K Followers.

You may have found that to get more followers, there is no single, easy hack. There is no switch to flip to get the followers flowing, I ‘m afraid. As long as you can stay patient, committed, and persistent, I have seen firsthand that the above strategies work to build your follower count.

But while there is no silver bullet to get more supporters, at least there is a lot of study that will lead you down the right road and make sure your efforts are not in vain. Looking for a surefire way to gain more supporters? This data provides a good blueprint.

The secret to having 2x more followers: Informers vs. Meformers:
Are you a whistleblower or an informer?

Researchers at the University of Rutgers have found that just 20 per cent of us are social media informants, while the other 80 per cent are meformers. Exactly what is a Meformer?

Meformers-Users who often post updates on social media related to themselves
Informers-Users who post notifications that often exchange data
After analyzing data from a sampling of Twitter accounts, the Rutgers team ended up developing the word ‘meformer’. Their research , based on consumption trends along with information from tweets and followers, found a strong division between those who share information and those who share information about themselves.

And how does it apply to followers?

Informers had the followers of meformers more than two times.

It would appear that sharing social media information is better for your number of followers than sharing about yourself.

How can you tell which cluster-informer or meformer-you fall into? An significant breakdown of the classification of tweets was included in the research report. A selection of tweets was classified by researchers and a category assigned to each. There were nine main categories that were used for classification, overall. Do you, in the following examples, remember any of your tweets?

According to the report, 53 percent of informer tweets fall into the category of knowledge sharing, while Me Now was 48 percent of the meformer tweets.

Aim to maximize social media exchange of your information so that you are more closely associated with the informer cluster rather than the meformer cluster.

Be an authority for gurus, authors, and experts: 100 + more followers
Roy Povarchik has a fascinating concept about the growth of followers. It’s called Greatness Twitter, and it goes something like this:

This is a real fast way to get a lot of people to join you: be Barack Obama. Or about Katy Perry. Or Gasciogne’s Joel.

What do these kinds of people have in common? Fame, yeah. Yet they are makers, doers and leaders as well. What sets them apart is the process of making. Povarchik has gone so far as to build a helpful pyramid to show on Twitter the heirarchy of grandeur. With a few tweaks, you can also extend this pyramid to most other social networks ( e.g., reporting on Twitter is greater than on other networks).

Somewhere in this pyramid, do you see yourself?

Of course, with some stats to back it up, this fascinating concept of greatness is made all the more strong. In a Twitter bio, Hubspot data scientist Dan Zarella researched the influence of control. Did you hear variations on the “don’t call yourself a guru” theme? This was considered by Zarella to be incorrect. Self-professed gurus have 100 more followers on average than a regular user of Twitter.

And it’s not just “guru.” Several different kinds of authoritative titles will help increase the count of your followers.

Build awesome stuff and be a pioneer in your industry. Don’t forget to mention it in the bio, then. To grow your followers, terms such as author, expert, creator, and official can be powerful assets.

Stop blasts, and retain the supporters you have
You may also answer the issue of getting more supporters from the other side: learning how to hold them is part of having lots of supporters.

An interesting analysis on the how and why of unfollowing was done by a group of Korean researchers. They looked at 1.2 million accounts on Twitter and analyzed messages and interactions for 51 days. Via study and interviews, they found that the following variables come into play:

Within a short time, leaving so many updates
Posting on uninteresting subjects
Sharing one’s life’s boring information
The research study’s interview section exposed the idea of “Bursts”-too many changes all at once. As a consequence of bursts, more than half of unfollows arrive.

Here, too, there are other variables at play, and many of them are places that may be true for advertisers or brands. Do you have any of these types of tweets that hit home?

Minimize the number of those who follow you in order to get a lot of followers. Avoid bursts by using a scheduler like Buffer to give your updates. And to stop other kinds of notifications, keep in mind-politics, boring subjects, lack of personality, etc.

Send individuals what they want: 52% of followers want exclusive deals
It’ll help to know what your fans are after if you are a brand searching for more followers on social media. Back in March, Nielsen research carried out a survey for Twitter UK, revealing the top ten explanations why individuals follow brands.

55% adopt the brand because they like it.
52% seek special offers or promotions.
51% track the brand’s news to keep up to date.
One of the main trends was discounts, among the top 10 factors. Special deals or promotions, freebies, and exclusive content were included as reasons to follow. Interestingly, the seventh-most common reason for following a brand is the fact that a brand posts entertaining and useful content. This may seem to say that there is more to be followed than successful marketing of content.

Give away stuff. Users of Twitter love deals and freebies, and to get some products, they are likely to follow a company. You can see your followers grow if you can add value in this manner, along with your content strategy and branding.

The more you write, the more followers you are going to get,
For many of you, this one might come under the title of “common sense,” so it’s nice to see that there is evidence to back up the argument. In order to find the connection between tweet frequency and twitter followers, social media analytics company Beevolve analyzed 36 million Twitter accounts and 28 billion tweets.