June 2nd, 2020
I recently went from around 150 followers to more than 1000 in like 5 weeks. I know that 1000 is not much but it's a milestone that I'm quite proud of.
What did I do differently that worked? I started posting original content: drawings about working as a developer. It began around the 16 of April when I tweeted a drawing about the concept of technical debt that when viral (now around 1.8k retweets and 4.3k likes). Since then, I've been drawing every week.
I tried many things I read from the internet but I found out that cheap tricks usually mentioned in articles most of the time don't work.
In this article, I will try to detail what I think worked well for me. This is in no case a definitive guide on how to grow your follower base even though it might provide some useful insight. It is what I think at the moment of the writing and I might have a different opinion later. I will write other articles or edit this one as I keep learning!
I didn't find it to be exceptionally effective. When I was around 150, I tried posting frequently but it didn't raise my follower's number. Maybe I'll retry it now that I'm at 1000+ but I don't think it fits what I do. Original content takes time to make and I'd rather focus on quality than quantity.
Also, I try to avoid burst-tweeting as it might feel really ennoying to people.
I don't know about these two. My personal feeling is that if you retweet too vehemently you might lose your follower base. In our digital lives, we are exposed to very loud and intense information flow. I feel like adding to the ambient noise might not be a very wise decision.
I personally have unfollowed accounts that were too "spammy" and didn't bring enough substantial information. I feel like other people might do the same. Maybe I'm wrong and in some cases, it's good to unleash hell on your followers? I just feel like it isn't right in my case.
Tweets and retweets frequency should both focus on quality.
Didn't try this one. I feel like it might be perceived as "trying too hard" if done too frequently. Maybe when my content is older, I will retweet some of it.
I found out this one works quite well. Timing your tweets so that they are published when lots of people are browsing seems to be effective. As my audience is from multiple timezones it might get difficult to do this. I try to post at 18:00 GMT+1 (Paris).
I keep my account active and try to post at least one drawing every week. No one wants to follow a dead account. Fresh content is why people follow you!
Hashtags didn't add much to my discoverability. I might try them again in the future but I had more luck with being discovered by retweets from influential people than going after the hashtags.
I think this one is what worked the most. Pictures make a tweet really attractive and drawings are really eye-catching. I'm the kind of person to focus a lot on the wording of the tweet and the quality of the image and it helps a lot with the retweets and likes.
Replying to popular tweets from other people brought me a lot of upvotes on some of my answers in the past but it didn't bring me many followers. I think it might come from the fact that people usually check your profile and top tweets before following you and my profile wasn't attractive enough to be followed. Maybe this would go differently now that I have some top posts that are original content. But it definitely didn't work when I was around 150 followers.
Replying to people commenting on your tweets on the other hand is very important.
Having a great profile does work. I've tried multiple descriptions, banners, pinned tweets, etc. Potential followers click your profile with one question in mind: "Why should I follow that guy?"
So ask yourself: what is it that you do that people might want more of? On my profile, I mentioned that I was a developer and that I was drawing. I provided a few links like a like to my website and to the page that contains drawings. I created a special banner for the occasion.
This point is very important in my opinion. It increases the following rate by a great deal.
Didn't and absolutely wouldn't try that. As Ash Maurya puts it in Running Lean: early on, you want to maximize the learning.
How would you know if what you are doing works if you destroy your metrics with fake followers? That's just crazy. You might be tweeting things for years and you wouldn't know if your content is good or if people enjoy it because all you have is fake followers.
Fake followers don't engage with you. They don't comment. You lose feedbacks. They are very important and you don't want to lose that.
Add to this that Twitter does not like bought followers. Why take the risk to get penalized by the algorithm just for a meaningless vanity metric?
With my natural growth, I was able to figure out that I was creating the type of content that people like. That's a very important metric.
Here is a thing some accounts are doing: they follow you so that you feel like you should return the favor and follow them back. If you don't, they unfollow you.
That's a bad practice in my opinion and I wouldn't be surprised if Twitter started to penalize this kind of behavior.
I only follow people I'm interested in.
If you play this game of artificial following, then you get artificial followers. Followers that do not follow you because they are interested in what you do but because you followed them first and they felt flattered that you did. This is not authentic.
I'm not a professional on social media but I managed to grow significantly in a matter of weeks on Twitter. I found out that the Twitter algorithm seems to give a fair chance to new content. I also had a bit of luck with my first drawing becoming viral.
I learned that many pieces of advice that I could read on the internet didn't apply well to me.
If you want to grow on Twitter, my advice would be trial and error and figure for yourself what works and what doesn't. In my opinion, anything that feels a bit "hacky" should be excluded from your practices.
More importantly, pay attention to how what you are doing performs. When what you are doing fits what people want, you'll know instantly!