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Grow Your Business Social Media

How 30,000 Twitter Followers Built My Business

How 30,000 Twitter Followers Built My Business

They may not be famous, but in the digital world, they wield the power of celebrity. They're the Twitter elite — those who have tens or hundreds of thousands followers — and they are courted by tweeters who hope they'll favor them with a retweet or two. Getting on their good side can mean an instant boost for your business.

More importantly, however, these masters of the Twitter-verse have some lessons to offer. How exactly does one acquire 100,000 Twitter followers? Sounds like a full- time job, right? We asked five very successful tweeters to share with us their secrets to taming the Twitter beast. We'll run their stories all week in our five-part series: The Twitter Elite.

Michelle Mangen
The Virtual Assistant
Twitter Handle: @mmangen
Twitter Followers: 30,000 +

Michelle Mangen started her business, The Virtual Assistant – a company to which you can outsource your admin, accounting and social media needs -- in December 2008. She joined Twitter 11 days later. The two have grown together ever since.

"Without Twitter (and the relationships I’ve built there) I’m not sure I would actually be in business today," said Mangen, who currently has more than 30,000 Twitter followers. "It’s possible that I would be [in business], but with fewer clients than I have now."

She estimates that 90 percent of her business comes from Twitter. The social media tool has allowed her to reach beyond her immediate geographic area and attract clients she's never met.

"Without Twitter, I’d probably have resorted to face-to-face networking events that I just despise," she said. "And with face-to-face, my clients would probably be limited to my geographical area instead of all over the United States and Canada."

[Why You're a Fool If You're Not Using Twitter ]

'Confused' at first

Mangen said she was initially confused by Twitter at.

"Horribly confused because I didn’t know where the other part of the conversation was. I didn't know anyone else on Twitter, so I didn't even know who to ask for help. In a way, because of that confusion, I became a student looking for as much information as possible."

In the beginning, Mangen followed a lot of brand-based accounts or accounts associated with things that interested her, she said.

"I signed up for SocialOomph’s keyword digest and was looking for people in my geographic area. I rapidly followed the initial 2,000, and once I realized there were ratios, I began unfollowing those who weren’t following me back. At approximately 3,000 or so I quit finding people to follow and to this day I rarely follow a new account unless someone else makes the introduction."

Mangen acknowledges that some of her followers are spam or bots.

"The decision to auto-follow was based on the time/bandwidth I don’t really have to manually vet all new followers," she explained.

Most of her followers, however, are the result of engaging people in real conversations and doing lots of retweeting.

Managing the tweets

With so many followers, Mangen has developed a few pet peeves.

"In my opinion, the worst thing people can do is send a tacky, auto-DM (direct message) asking me to download their free book, 'like' them on Facebook or other senseless things," she said.

To manage her own accounts, she uses TweetAdder to auto-follow people who follow her.

"When I get in a mood and want to clean house, I really like JustUnfollow and ManageFlitter. To keep track of the people I care most about, I try to be pretty good with my lists," she said.

Mangen said the key to managing your Twitter presence is dedicating at least 15 minutes per day to the task.

Her other social media advice for small business owners : Answer questions, help out others, share a variety of content and retweet other people's content.

Sharing and retweeting doesn't indicate that you're endorsing the tweet, she said.

"Remember that you will get out what you put in," she said.


Jeanette Mulvey
Jeanette Mulvey

Jeanette has been writing about business for more than 20 years. She has written about every kind of entrepreneur from hardware store owners to fashion designers. Previously she was a manager of internal communications for Home Depot. Her journalism career began in local newspapers. She has a degree in American Studies from Rutgers University. Follow her on Twitter @jeanettebnd.