Apparently, Lady Gaga just hit a social media milestone: 10 million followers (or, little monsters, as she likes to refer to them). My follower count seems woefully inadequate in comparison.

Then again, I’m not a worldwide pop sensation who regularly tops the charts. But I do get questions on how I’ve gained a following for my Twitter account fairly often. I’m nowhere near Gaga status, at just under 600 followers, but I have a very relevant audience that consists mostly of other PR folks and marketers looking to share ideas about the industry.

Here are some of my tried and true tips for gaining quality followers:

Be yourself. The line between professional and personal is blurred thanks to social media. Don’t be scared of it—embrace it. I’ve found that my followers appreciate the fact that I’m actually a real person, and not a robot who constantly spouts boilerplate language. Although most of my tweets relate to marketing or public relations, I do tweet about my other interests: snowboarding, ridiculous celebrity news and the New York Giants (apologies to my Patriots fan colleagues). Tweet what comes naturally.

Engage. No one wants to follow a one-way Twitter account that shares some news and then goes silent. Unless you’re @NYTimes, of course.  Engage your followers by responding to their tweets, answering questions and retweeting interesting posts. Don’t forget to pay attention to tweets relevant to a follower’s personal life—people will remember that you share a love for the same sports team or hobby.

Join chats. Consider joining in on Twitter chats in your area of expertise, where you can chat in real time on subjects of interest. These sessions are typically moderated by an individual who poses five questions over the course of an hour. The result is a guided discussion that yields great insights and new connections. I leave every chat I’ve participated in with at least 10 new followers, as well as several new people to follow. Getting involved is easy; just learn the basics, get the right tool and you’re off to the races.

Do you have any other suggestions for gaining a following on Twitter?

By: Melissa Nazar
Twitter: @melnazar