Free Twitter Tools - Improve Your Tweeting
I get about 20 messages a day on Twitter about how I can "grow my Twitter following on autopilot." The thing is, just about every person telling me this barely has any followers. The truth is there's nothing you can really do to grow your following on autopilot, it just takes some time and effort. There are some free tools that can help however, as listed below.
Tweet Later is the most useful Twitter program I use by far. The interface is horrible, but you only have to configure your Twitter options once and then you're done. After you've loaded your Twitter account into Tweet Later, go to "Accounts", "List Accounts", then "Edit". You should have at least the following two options set-up.
Auto-follow: This will follow anyone who follows you automatically. This is essentially just common Twitter etiquette for marketers... if someone follows you, you follow them back. Most marketers on Twitter use this function, which is how you will get your followers; when you choose to follow someone and they have this option selected, they will automatically follow you back, and you now have a new follower. If you gain followers this way, it's just nice to return the favour. Additionally, the more people you follow, the more likely someone is to follow you.
Auto-Welcome: I would also recommend checking this and using it. It serves as a great way to start up a conversation with new potential leads. Send a simple message... thank people for following you, and maybe ask them a question to get the conversation started. Do no pitch your business in your auto welcome message. I get this all the time everyday, and I just delete those messages automatically. Be prepared to be bombarded with such messages.
You will also see Auto-Unfollow here. I personally don't use this (more on unfollowing under "Friend or Follow" below).
Tweet Later also allows you to... Tweet Later. Go to "Tweets", then "New Tweet". You can write in as many Tweets as you like and how them published to your account whenever you like. This way you don't have to return to Twitter throughout the day to post something new. Simply set up a few new Tweets in the morning and then forget about it.
I personally don't use any other Tweet Later functions, but browse around and see what suits you.
Twitter feed will Tweet your blog's RSS feed, i.e. every time you make a new blog post, you will automatically Tweet this to your followers. This is great because it gets traffic to your blog, and you don't have to worry about remembering to Tweet it yourself.
Tweet Deck allows you to do everything you can do on Twitter, but without having to actually go online to your Twitter account. It has a different interface than Twitter, which some people may like. It also has an option to shorten your url's (which Twitter does, but only after posting the Tweet), which can help you make longer Tweets. Beware though, Tweet Deck makes really loud annoying sounds periodically, so you might want to lower your volume.
Twitter recently changed the the interface in the "following" section. Previously you could immediately tell who you were following, but wasn't following you back, but you now have to click the icon on the right of the screen to figure this out. Yes this seems effortless, but when you're trying to unfollow 100 people at a time, it takes much longer with the new interface. Huitter allows you to unfollow everyone who isn't unfollowing you with the click of a button (if you wish to keep following certain people you can specify this). If you wish to unfollow these people, it's now a lot easier. For anyone who doesn't know, once you hit the 2000 "following" mark, you must have followers within 10% of your following, i.e. if you're following 2000 people, you must have 1800 or more followers. Hence, it becomes necessary to unfollow people who aren't following you, or else you won't be able to follow more people.
I'm not speaking specifically about any tool or website here. Google "twitter backgrounds" and you'll get several sites with free twitter backgrounds, some with some really really cool images. They're a lot more interesting than the boring ones provided on Twitter, and they can serve to start up conversations too (I get asked about my Twitter background once in a while).
So there is your "automated" Twitter system. Add as many new followers per day and it won't take too long to get to several thousand followers (I recommend following less than 400 new people a day, or else your account might get suspended). Just remember to unfollow people, be friendly, and don't spam people with your business opportunity.