Growing a Twitter Audience (Up 43% in 8-weeks)

For those who do not already know (read: everyone), I am starting to intentionally work on my online presence. For over 10 years, I have not really engaged with others through social media, and I have not established any kind of online presence outside of passive low-follower accounts across all platforms. Sure, I’ve reached the “500+ connections” LinkedIn milestone, but I don’t post. I don’t write, and I don’t share any valuable content with any of my connections. I’ve got a lot to say, I just never have.

This year, I’ve decided to change that. What better time to start creating a real digital presence than during a global pandemic, eh? I decided to start with Twitter because my favorite type of content to produce is writing, and it’s a low barrier to entry.

On May 30th, I had 124 followers and barely 100 tweets in 5 years. Eight weeks later, I’m happy to report that I have 178 followers (even got one while I was writing this)! That may not sound like a lot to you, but I see it as a 43% increase and I’ve been having a great time adding value to them and hopefully making them laugh a few times along the way.

Here is a breakdown of my current approach that seems to be working:

Post 2-5 times per day consistently

I haven’t let Twitter get in the way of real life or let it impact my day job, but as much as possible, I have made it a point to post consistently.

Twitter Post @Zapier
This one got 390 impressions and a like from an employer I got my eye on.

What works for me: (1) I never let a good idea escape me. If I think of something funny, wise or helpful, I immediately open Twitter and write a draft. When I am dry of creativity some days, I’ll reach back to those drafts and pick one or two to post. (2) Most of the time, I let my posts sit in my drafts folder for a day before posting them. This serves two purposes; first it gives me one more chance to proofread before sending, and second it helps me filter out anything that might be divisive, “complainy” or just not helpful.

Interact with everyone

In my opinion, everybody deserves to be acknowledged and their opinions should be valued, even on social media. So I put that into practice. At the level I am at, I have time to respond to everyone, and I should. Not only does this widen my perspective, it drives impressions, engagement and eventually follower count. Tim Ferris is good at many things, but he barely responds to anyone on Twitter and that’s a shame. Elon Musk responds to more people in a day than I think Tim Ferris ever has, and I’m sure Elon has better things to do like save the human race and save the planet one Model-X and PowerWall at a time.

Twitter Post
I know all of these people IRL, but I still make an attempt to respond to everybody no matter what.

What works for me: (1) I’m not one for excess push notifications, but during this time of intentional audience building, I have push notifications turned on for every event on Twitter…Likes, RTs, Replies, DMs, everything. This allows me to respond quickly and start to establish relationships with my most interactive followers. (2) Even if it’s just a “like”, it matters that people know I heard them, and that their voice has value.

Add value (to people with big followings too)

I follow some amazing people on Twitter that I learn from almost every day, and if I’ve got something to add to the conversation, I’m going to say it. The days when I get the most engagement and impression metrics are when I post something that’s a value-add on someone else’s tweet. It doesn’t hurt when those people have thousands of followers that will also see my reply or retweet.

Tweet Reply @naval
This reply got 3,900 impressions and 4% engagement. It adds value to the poster and other repliers.

What works for me: (1) NEVER BE SPAMMY. I hate it when I see someone obviously trying to leech on and suck some attention from a well-followed person on Twitter. Give with no expectation of return. Either say something that adds value to the conversation or don’t say anything. Hit the like button and move on. (2) If you legitimately love what someone is saying, interact with that person often. You never know if your persistent valuable tweets will make an impression on them. Those positive impressions may reap big dividends in the long run.

Got a good belly laugh from this post, so retweeted it and got a response from the OP. Love this kind of interaction!

Do it sustainably

Like any new behavior and habit, it will only be effective if it can be sustained. I know if I have 10 good Tweet ideas in a day, I’m only going to post 5 or so, because I know there will be days that I can’t think of anything, and there’s nothing I try to avoid more than non-value add content (noticing a theme here?).

Twitter Post
This just happened a few days ago! Are you kidding me? BJ Armstrong tweeted me? Where else do you have this kind of access for free? I mean, come on!

Who knows how long I’ll keep this up, but I did want to document what the first few weeks were like trying to intentionally build a Twitter audience. If I ever get a big platform, I’ll have this to look back on in fondness, and if I never bust 1,000 followers, I will still have learned a lot and hopefully made a few friends along the way.

For funny quips, leadership advice, good conversation and the occasional wisdom bomb, follow me on Twitter @Josh_M_Newman.

See you there!

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