The hardest thing to do on Twitter is to grow your followers when you first start out with it. It’s the most common complaint that I hear from new people and it is an inherent weakness with Twitter. I’m not a Social media guru but I have been on the platform for 12 years, and I have been blessed to have gathered 10,000+ followers so I do know the subject. This article contains the understandings that have worked for me in growing and maintaining a following on Twitter. Your mileage may vary.
The Secret Sauce
There’s a reason they call it social media. If you are basically an anti-social personality type, aren’t interested in other people, don’t care to talk to others and everything pisses you off, you probably won’t do very well on Twitter. Shitty social skills is an expensive hobby.
Interact with people, but not the cute little girls with big boobs who send you Direct Messages. They are either hustlers or hackers. But when one of your friends does something cool, or posts on a subject you care about, tell them what you think and ask good questions in the comments. If they comment on your content, join into the discussion. Twitter has been a lifesaver for me during the pandemic. The interactive and conversational dimension of Twitter has become super important to me.
Be there. It is a rare day that I don’t at least check Twitter briefly. Usually I post daily. It is better to post a little something every day than get on, post a flood of messages in the space of a few minutes and disappear for two weeks. I try to be judicious about my postings and the timing of my posts. I don’t want to blow up the timelines of my followers with a flood of tweets over a short period of time. That’s actually kind of annoying. Same goes for “threads” that have 30-40 sections. If you need more than seven sections for a single thread you should be writing a blog. Twitter’s superpower is 244 characters.
Report on things that are heavy if you feel called to do so, but stay positive and supportive in your interactions with your peeps. Avoid a lot of public complaints about personal matters because even your friends will tune you out after a while. You might be surprised at how little people care about the intricacies of your bladder surgery. Generally, avoid online griping. I do a bit of political sniping, but don’t let bitching become the dominant mood of your feed. Overall, keeping a positive mood in your feed draws more followers. (There are some exceptions to this. I have a few tweeps who are absolute masters at being snarky bitches and I love to read them because they do it so well.)
Provide Content. Original work is great. Mine usually takes the shape of photographs and links to my writing. When you don’t have original content, curate the work of others by retweeting their tweets. Like a lot of tweets. Make positive comments on their posts. If someone retweets your original content, acknowledge them and thank them. Avoid promoting only your own work. If you want someone to notice you, promote their work (just don’t get creepy about it).This is the basic currency of the Twitterverse. It just builds good will and helps people to remember you. Remember, we are all dopamine junkies.
Follow back people who follow you unless there is something about their profile that bothers you. Don’t be afraid to reach out to people and follow them first. For me about half of those I follow first follow me back. It’s a little dopamine rush when someone follows you, and again, they feel good about you because you have taken them seriously. The folks most likely to follow you back are the ones who have a balanced ratio between following and followers. If someone has 200,000 followers and follows 6 people, that person probably will not follow you back.
Don’t engage with creeps. Mute them, block them but don’t get into public arguments in your Twitter feed. Period. Full Stop. We have all slipped into pissing matches at some time, but avoid them like the plague. It demolishes the vibration of your feed and no one really wants to read it. Think about how it looks to your other followers. You can’t let negative people control your behavior (vibration/soul/attitude/energy).
Identify areas of interest and themes for your feed. Don’t try to cover everything. You’re not NBC News. You don’t have to be slavish about it. You may have several themes that you return to, but some thematic consistency helps people tune into you. The vast majority of my followers have some interest in photography, for example, because I have always curated beautiful photography. I do a “1-Card” tarot reading for the collective every morning so I have a lot of followers who are interested in Tarot. If I suddenly start tweeting about race car engines and French cuisine, I will probably lose a bunch of followers and bore the ones who stay with me.
Respect boundaries. Guys, when a pretty woman follows you, it never means that she wants to marry you and have your babies. This is the fastest way I know to get tagged as a loser. If a woman wants to talk with you at a personal level, she will let you know. She has found you interesting enough to follow you for some reason, but it is never because she is inviting you into her pants. If she comes on to you sexually right off the bat, she is a hustler. Don’t respond.
Give some attention to your profile. The picture doesn’t have to be you. It could be a panda, but it should be a nice photograph. Your bio statement should tell people what your feed is about. Even though it may be hard, having a good profile that encourages people to follow you is worth the effort. The empty profile says, “I don’t care about this enough to write a couple of words.”
Use Lists. When you have 10,000 followers, your home feed turns into a firehose that no one can keep up with. No one even tries to keep up with it. When you get a new follower, read their profile and their top 10 tweets. Then decide if you want to continue reading their feed. If you do, put them on a list which reflects what they are into. If they are into photography, put them in the photo list. That way, the firehose becomes a trickle and you can keep up with those who share your interests on the subjects you want to read at that moment.
Be patient. “The Waiting is the hardest part.” I have averaged a net gain of about a thousand new followers per year. Celebrities do better, but for us normal folks, about a 1000 new followers a year is a reasonable expectation. If you are under that, you are probably not interacting enough. Don’t obsess about your numbers or Twitter itself. “A watched pot never boils.” Slow and steady really does win this race.
I worked for a long time in advertising where the name of the game was reaching out to and engaging with a large group of people who are largely unknown, so many of my ideas and approaches to things were forged in that fire. It is especially important to give thought to these things if you are like me, a shy introvert. Folks like us have to be more intentional about engaging with Twitter because we carry a built-in resistance to that kind of interaction. Often we would rather curl up in a cushy chair with a book and let the world slide on by. Perhaps, developing a regular routine for posting, like my 1-card tarot draw every morning, could be helpful.
Don’t think of this as a set of rules, but rather an attempt to describe a style of being on Twitter that has worked fairly well for me. Everyone has to find their own secret sauce. The essence of what I’m trying to say is to be friendly, positive, active and engaged. Laugh when you can. Commiserate when you need to. It’s supposed to be fun.