Claude Bouchard Books

Crime Thrillers and other Stuff...

Ramble On

How I Really Got a 1/4 Million Followers

Posted by bigceebee on March 26, 2012 at 8:20 AM

I wasn’t planning on writing this post. It more came to be as a matter of chance. It all started a few days ago when author, editor and blogger, C.S. Lakin (@cslakin and @livewritethrive on Twitter), contacted me via my website to ask, “How did you get so many followers?” As I’d done in the past with a few others who asked, I emailed C.S. and explained my process. She replied back, suggesting this should be a blog post and even offered to put my email into blog format, leaving me with only whatever fine tuning I desired. I said, “Cool,” she said, “Here you go,” and voilà, here it is, I’m laying out how I really got a quarter million followers on Twitter.

When I joined Twitter in August 2009, I went with the simple logic that the more followers I had, the more people would learn about the thrillers I wrote. With that in mind, I got busy with an easy process requiring little account management time which I’ll now share with you. The basic plan was to follow people, some of whom would follow back. Those who didn’t, I would unfollow. All I did was repeat this process over and over again. It obviously works because I now have almost 250,000 followers.

So What?

Why would anyone want so many unknown followers? Does it make a difference? I’ve found that it does. Sure, I don’t know most of them, and they don’t know me. But many of them are readers, and with having that many followers, odds are some of them like to read thrillers. Numbers play a big part in exposure on Twitter. If 1% of my followers actually read thrillers and like to hear about new books in that genre, I then have a potential 2,500 new fans that I wouldn’t have reached had they not been following me.

Getting Past the Twitter Barricade

If you’re like many, you're currently stuck at that pesky 2,001 spot. Twitter lets a tweeter follow up to 2,001 accounts without any problems. Past that, the 10% rule applies, which means the number of accounts you follow can't exceed your follower total by more than 10%. This leaves you faced with two choices—wait until enough people follow you (don't hold your breath unless you suddenly become a superstar) or unfollow those who weren't smart enough to follow back, thus making room to follow others who might.

The easiest way to do this is with and I suggest you splurge the $4.99/year (price may have changed) for the premium service. This site will find all tweeters you follow who aren't following you back and will list them with the oldest non-follower first.

Once you've cleaned out non-followers, you'll have room to follow other prospects, which you can do from the same site with the “Copy Followers” function. There, you enter the Twitter name (without the @) of an account you’d like to follow off of and, bingo, the system generates a list of that account’s more active followers.


Who to Choose?


I follow off of a variety of active accounts, some writing related, others not, just to get a mix of followers. Not everyone writes but many do read and my goal is to reach them. Whether you are a writer, artist, dancer, etc, a lot people out there are going to be interested in what you tweet about. You probably know some more active accounts already, but if you want to find more such accounts, go to ; and check out “Twitter Elite—Top Users,” which will give you the current top accounts on Twitter.

A Simple Ten-Minute-a-Day Plan

To illustrate, this is what I do:

  • Daily, I follow 500 accounts from various other accounts. Twitter allows 1,000 follows a day (though their counters are not always accurate), so I leave room to follow back people who follow me first.
  • Once that's done, I check my non-followers and unfollow enough to bring my total non-followers down to around 1,000 (i.e. the 500 I just followed plus the 500 I followed the previous day).
  • I repeat this process every day, which takes me roughly 10-15 minutes, max.

I've never fully trusted auto-tweeter apps and would hate to have one go nuts on me, suddenly sending out hundreds of tweets and turn me into a suspended account spammer, so I don't use them. However, I do use the free version of Social-Oomph, strictly for welcome DMs to new followers (which generally works fine) and to auto-follow those who follow me (which seems to work sporadically). Note added April 17, 2012: It has been brought to my attention that the Social-Ooomph functions previously mentioned are no longer free for new subscribers. I also have all seven of my novels up on Freado, which sends one auto-scheduled BookBuzzr tweet per book daily.

Daily Dealings on Twitter

Over time, many have commented in wonder about my ability to keep up with a following of such a size. With this many followers, I rarely, if ever, look at the general timeline. My Twitter home is my Mentions page, so anything with @ceebee308 in it, I generally see (though even just my Mentions page CAN get busy at times).

One thing I’ve given up on is looking at received DMs because of the volume of hacker-spawned crap which fills the page. Anyone who wishes to contact me via DM about something important had best send me a timely tweet to let me know about it. Otherwise, rest assured that I’ll never see it.

Does This Really Help?

Has all this helped? I'd say yes, as Twitter is definitely my main promotion platform. Through Twitter, I've sold books, but more importantly, I’ve developed relationships with others, which has resulted in various cross-promo activities. But here’s the big one—with over 245,000 followers, my reach is nothing to sneer at, and when I did my recent Vigilante giveaway promotion, it allowed me to give out 25,623 copies. As a result, Vigilante spent most of the three days on the Top 20 Free Kindle page, reaching a high of #9 in the U.S. and #11 in the U.K. Post promotion, Vigilante is ranking in the 200s (U.S.) and 100s, (U.K.) on the Amazon paid Kindle sales at the time of posting this. I’ll be writing about my KDP promotion results in the next day or two.

A Final Word of Advice

One last point I can make about Twitter is the importance of not just promoting your books, music, website, blog or whatever you’re trying to pimp but also promoting others AND actually chatting with people. Many are amazed when they send me a tweet and I reply but why shouldn’t I? I like it when folks respond to my tweets and my followers deserve nothing less. Chatting with people, making jokes, helping others is all part of Twitter success and I can confirm it's a definite rep-builder.

Remember, it’s not just about numbers and lots of them. This is a social media tool, and if you are an artist striving to build true fans, you want to be present and interact with them. Show them the appreciation they deserve for retweeting your posts or sending you a message. You’ll find a universe of new fans and friends out there if you do.

You can learn more about C.S. Lakin, the catalyst to this blog post, by visiting her website at and her blog at I also invite you to follow her Twitter accounts, @cslakin and @livewritethrive as something tells me she’ll figure out a way to follow you back. :)

Haven’t read Vigilante yet? It’s right here: U.S. ; U.K.



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Reply T.M. Souders
8:57 AM on March 26, 2012 
You're a rock star Claude! Awesome post. And I know C.S. Lakin, she's a sweetheart.
Reply Lynn Dove
9:30 AM on March 26, 2012 
Great advice! I'm definitely going to try this! Thanks for sharing!
Reply Richard Hale
10:17 AM on March 26, 2012 
Good stuff to know, Claude. I use an automated twitter thingy but it doesn't always do the best. I also use ManageFlitter to help clean up stuff. It catches all the stuff I miss. Thanks for the great info!
Reply James R. Callan
11:30 AM on March 26, 2012 
Thanks for a very helpful blog. It answers querstions on several levels. Not that I think I can be as successful as you have been, but it should help.
Reply Teddy Burriss
12:36 PM on March 26, 2012 
I like this idea Claude. I have not pressed hard to build a Twitter Following, but based on your ideas, I'm going to give it a try. Thanks
Reply Jay Squires
1:01 PM on March 26, 2012 
Kudos, Claude. I have been growing, but the hard way. Thanks for showing a different road.
Reply Mark
7:42 PM on March 26, 2012 
Personally I use Tweepi as my Twitter management option. I sprung the juice for the full premium service. I think many people need to realize that whilst we, and a few sad others (millions) use Twitter as a daily extension of our marketing there are many, normal, people who don't. I generally allow a three day grace period before un-following someone. If someone doesn't tweet for three days then chances are they will miss my tweets anyway. I tend to promote each aspect or service for two days.

One day accounts for someone's eight hours of darkness when they are generally asleep so it doesn't really give them much time to respond to your following them. IMHO.
Reply Dean Lappi
1:56 PM on March 27, 2012 
A great post Claude! I agree with everything you wrote. Great stuff! Have a wonderful day. Kind regards,
Reply Jessica Cecena
7:33 PM on March 27, 2012 
Hi Claude, thanks for sharing your insight. I often wondered how power Tweeters such as yourself keep track of the masses, so there is method to the madness after all. The number of followers you have is mind boggling. I really appreciate your tweeting style, not only do you promote yourself but other fellow writers as well, and yes you really do chat with your followers. You set a great example and make Twitter newbies like myself feel welcome. I always look forward to viewing your tweets on awesome reads (I can't keep up!). Okay, enough said...I'm a fan.
Reply D Speice
1:14 PM on April 21, 2012 
Great info, thanks!! My ? is, what % of your followers actually get to see your tweets. As you said, you rarely look at your general timeline. Many Tweeples do the same thing with their very busy timelines. Unless they have the forethought to go directly to your profile to see all your tweets, they're likely to miss seeing your tweets. Is the answer for this to keep tweeting reminders of your profile, or tweeting with many mentions?
Reply bigceebee
1:24 PM on April 21, 2012 
Hi, Donny,

To be honest with you, I don't have a clue. :)

D Speice says...
Great info, thanks!! My ? is, what % of your followers actually get to see your tweets. As you said, you rarely look at your general timeline. Many Tweeples do the same thing with their very busy timelines. Unless they have the forethought to go directly to your profile to see all your tweets, they're likely to miss seeing your tweets. Is the answer for this to keep tweeting reminders of your profile, or tweeting with many mentions?
Reply Sonia Demetriou
2:16 PM on April 24, 2012 
Really informative blog. Thank you. I'm not a twtterer but am considering starting to get a bette exposure and followers on blog etc. Many Thanks.
Reply @BaritoneFemale
4:15 PM on June 16, 2012 
I JUST NOW broke thru that dumbass 2001 twitter follower limit. With this advice...I'm on my way to bigger and brighter things! Thanks a shit load! :D *10 thumbs up*
Reply rebmacrath
4:18 PM on June 16, 2012 
Magnificent, Claude. And thanks so much for sharing.
Reply Liesel Hill
1:29 PM on June 29, 2012 
Great Post! Thanks for the advice!
Reply Derek Haines
3:09 PM on June 30, 2012 
Looks like you and I started on Twitter about the same time Claude and like you, I have built my Twitter following by using similar tools and processes to you. The only difference is that I have accumulated about 150k following (yes I should have done better!) but spread over a number of accounts. I started playing with additional accounts in 2010 after suffering a Twitter suspension and deciding that I might not want all my eggs in one basket so to speak.

Basically what I did was set up a new account each time I released a new book and used it to promote the book for about six months. What surprised me was that these new accounts gained followers quite easily and continue to do so. One of the first I set up was @Mili_Moon for one of my earlier books and now it has near 30k followers without doing much at all.

The other benefit I discovered was that I could target these accounts to different demographics. One of my last new accounts was for a silly little vampire novella I wrote, but this account now has over 11k followers. Again without too much effort.

But whether someone decides to concentrate on one Twitter account or a number, your advice is very sound. Have a plan and a routine and don't live on the edge of the Twitter limits.
Reply Toby White
9:46 AM on July 1, 2012 
Excellent, and very informative post, Claude!
Reply Anon
2:29 PM on July 1, 2012 
Tl;dr you engaged in follow-churn (against the TOS) and slipped by without getting banned. Gee, that's amazing, thanks for sharing your special insights.
Reply Cindy Brown
12:27 PM on July 4, 2012 
This is a great post. I am needing to boost my following and found through reading this that I am on the right track to build a platform for readership on my blog, paving the way for eventual book sales. I am saving this in my favorites and will refer back when I reach the 2,000 mark! Thanks again!
Reply Sidney Peck
2:59 PM on July 18, 2012 
Damn. I wrote a long comment and it was erased. Thank you for posting this, Claude. I am glad to see what's involved with acquiring follower numbers like you have. For me, that would prove to be burdensome, for I actually vet every follower I choose. This can be very time consuming. I'm going to figure out an adaptation of your system, combined with mine and see how that plays out. Bright blessings for being such a loyal follower of both my accounts. Much love, Sidney