Recently, I passed 43,000 followers on Twitter. The impressions on my tweets went over one million in the last 30 days, and Twitter has become the top traffic generator for my website (even bigger than Google).

I attribute a significant portion of my success on Twitter to never following celebrities. I'm not a celebrity myself, so why would they waste their time following me back or engaging on my tweets?

Allow me to explain.

When you first sign up, Twitter suggests that you follow a large group of celebrities and other major media sources. Many people follow that advice, only because they think it's the thing to do. They don't realize that doing so is a huge mistake.

Millions of people read the top tweets from celebrity accounts and major news outlets, then immediately grab their phone and retweet them.

Thus, they are merely repeating the same familiar story as the next guy. Their followers aren't getting any value.

If you are using Twitter for business, I recommend you take a vastly different approach.

The business approach

Every month I coach a handful of professionals from all over the world on how to use Twitter for their business.

Most of them come to me asking for help with a similar problem; they aren't getting engagement from their target audience, and their community of followers is not growing fast enough.

Here is what I tell them to do to get more engagement on Twitter and grow a community of followers that are relevant to their brand.

Instead of following celebrities, follow and engage with:

  • Key players in your particular industry that you'd like to network with
  • Influencers that you can learn from to be better at your job
  • Prospects that your company would like to sell to

Instead of tweeting the same things as everyone else, seek out unique sources of information that your followers can't get in a million other places.

Many will argue that tweeting what about what is trending is a good strategy. I say: Forget trending, and think relevant.

Doing so will make you valuable to your followers. They need you now.

It's all about the follows

Twitter limits the number of people you can follow that are not following you back. Thus, if your network is full of people not following you back, you can't follow and connect with the people you'd like to network with for your business.

With celebrities, most of the time it's a one-sided relationship. You follow them, but they don't follow back. You promote them and their brand, but they do nothing in return to help your business.

Always limit these types of relationships on Twitter (and in life in general, really).

If you follow someone, celebrity account or not, give them a reasonable amount of time to follow you back. If they choose not to, then unfollow them using one of the many available apps.

Here are a couple of unfollowing and strategic following apps I recommend that I've used with great success:

  • Statusbrew
  • Crowdfire

Always champion your company's stakeholders and thought leaders on Twitter. Promote them as experts and industry leaders by retweeting them, sharing their content on your page, and mention them in tweets when appropriate.

I'm not saying you have to unfollow your favorite celebrity. However, considering space is limited in your network, choose wisely.

Published on: Aug 29, 2016
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.