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So, you’ve been on Twitter for a while, or you’ve just joined (insert GIF of Twitter CEO Dick Costolo doing a happy dance). And you’re looking at your follower count, and you’re a little depressed that it’s stuck at 12, and one of those followers includes the fake account a friend set up for their dog.

What can you do to become a true mega-social-media influencer?

We now have the data-driven answers to that question, courtesy of the folks at Silk, a data visualization company based in San Francisco. Silk analyzed the accounts of the top 1,000 people on Twitter by follower count. And they came up with five key takeaways that you can use right now to rev up your social media status and attract more followers.

Ready? Here we go:

1. Be a pop star: See, your first problem is that you’re spending all this time tweeting, and retweeting, and hash-tagging. Forget it. Waste of time. Instead, go learn to sing, play an instrument, write a song.

Of the top 9 accounts on Twitter, seven of them are musical celebrity types. Number one is Katy Perry with 67 million followers. She’s followed by the Biebs at number 2. Now Barack Obama is a distant third to those two musical giants. I suppose you could become president to get more Twitter followers. But it’s hard to imagine a suckier job than being president. Who needs the headaches?

Go with rock star.

2. Live in Los Angeles or New York or London:  OK, maybe they’re not your favorite places, and they’re expensive and crowded and so on. But it you’re going to get serious about this Twitter thing, they you’re going to have to show a little commitment.

Of the top 1,000 Twitter accounts, 581 give a location. L.A. is number one with 81 top Twitter people, followed by NYC at 42.

But look, whatever you do, get the hell out of San Francisco! Only 12 of those 581 accounts are in S.F., despite it being Twitter’s home town. That’s less than there are in Istanbul (14).

3. Speak English, Portuguese, or Spanish: If you’re reading this, I guess you’ve got the first one covered. Of the top 1,000, there are 320 English-speaking accounts based in the U.S. and U.K. Brazil, Mexico, and Spain are also in the top six, along with India.

4. Ignore the masses: When someone follows you, your first instinct is to probably follow them back. Don’t! The biggest Twitter users accounts generally don’t follow many folks. Katy Perry? 67 million followers, but she only follows 164 users. Taylor Swift? Follows 185. The prez follows 644,000, which makes him pretty generous, but on a relative basis that’s still a pretty small chunk of his followers.

5. Don’t tweet! Again, your gut probably tells you that you’ve gotta be banging away at Twitter all day and night to get more followers. But the top Tweeters are more disciplined. They know to tweet less than 100 times per month, and probably less than 50. In many cases, it’s once a day or less.

Katy Perry is relatively active for this group, at 87 tweets per month. Taylor (we’re on a first name basis at this point) tweets 42 times per month.

As Silk notes: “Sometimes less is more. You don’t really have to tweet too much to get people to follow you. Actually, account holders who post more updates are more likely to have less followers.”

So that’s it. Five simple steps to join the Twitter elite. When you get there, remember to follow me at: @obrien.


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