I’m not sure why Twitter became my go-to social media platform. I hung out there for years, and loved it for the fact that I could get the news faster there than anywhere else.
Then I started Roostervane, and I discovered that Twitter was great for driving traffic to a blog.
I want to share a few ideas on building a following on Twitter–since it’s a platform that’s been good to me. My following basically went from 50-7000+ people in around 6 months. But then the pandemic hit, taking a lot of my motivation with it. To be honest, I stopped pushing for quite a while. But by the end of my first year, I did end up hitting 10,000 followers.
Here’s a few things I’ve learned about gaining followers on Twitter and using it to build your brand.
1. Be brand consistent–whether you’re a business or a person
Stay on brand.
It’s so easy to get trapped in Twitter spirals, to comment on what you had for breakfast, or to rail on the bad service at a restaurant.
Decide what your focus is and stick to it.
My thing is everything to do with building careers from degrees. People will now @ me for different things, like how to write better or how to choose your PhD supervisor.
But I don’t retweet these. I stay on brand.
2. Don’t be afraid to reuse content
I keep a spreadsheet of tweets I’ve done, especially ones that have done really well. I’ll wait for a few months and use them again. To my knowledge, no-one has ever noticed, and nobody has complained.
There’s no law against this. And really, why should something that’s great not be used again, especially if it didn’t get traction the first time?
Repost and Re-Tweet your old stuff–all totally legit.
3. Compose carefully
I’ve composed two tweets with the same message. One goes viral and one goes nowhere. The wording is so important.
I insist on being poetic, thought-provoking, and hopefully concise. Here’s one that did really well:
This one has had thousands of likes and clicks over the few times I’ve shared it.
It does better than a generic tweet about how you can do stuff with a PhD. I love bringing emotion and poetry to Tweets, and I have serious envy about the people who can do this better than me.
4. Find relevant communities
I would not have had nearly the success I’ve had on Twitter if it wasn’t for the Academic Chatter community. This is an account and hashtag that cultivates advice and questions for people in academia. And it retweets relevant accounts.
Whatever your thing is, find a group of people who care about it and join a conversation. It’s easier than trying to start from scratch. Hashtags aren’t useless, but I don’t think they’re as important as being retweeted by popular accounts– I’d find accounts to @ first.
Incidentally, if you @ personal accounts constantly it gets annoying– try to find ones that are brands or businesses (even if run by an individual).
5. Use a scheduling service
There are lots of third-party scheduling apps for Twitter, such as Hootsuite.
These are all fine, but if you’re only building a following on Twitter, you can use Twitter’s free service–TweetDeck . It works great and you can schedule posts weeks in advance if you want.
6. Engage with people
I do schedule posts sometimes, but I also engage with people who react or comment. Scheduling posts and ignoring the outcome will hurt your Twitter strategy in the long run. Do your best to respond to people and have a conversation, especially as your following grows.
7. Ignore and block the trolls
There’s a dark side of Twitter. The trolls come out in full force sometimes.
There are accounts that are just straight troll accounts, always trying to start a fight. They actively try to hurt, bully, or abuse you in some other way.
Sometimes there are also real people who act like trolls. They’re determined to show that they’re smarter than you or criticize what you’re doing. I’ve tried to engage with these people, and it’s always a waste of time. Now I ignore generally, and if someone attacks me personally I block instantly.
I don’t need that crap. Feel free to report anything that is abusive… I do this all the time (both on my own account and others).
8. Drive people somewhere
I like having a website to drive traffic to. It helps to capture the Twitter following. Having your best content off Twitter is also nice because, seriously, you can’t get into real discussions on Twitter or hash out big ideas.
Twitter is basically the text equivalent of sound bites–you’ll bang your head against the wall if you try to add context or nuance. Although, inevitably, someone will criticize you for a lack of nuance.
It can be a lot more helpful to have a place where you can actually do justice to your thoughts, like a blog or other social platform.
9. Be bold, alienate some people
This is hard to say, but you don’t need everyone to be your friend on Twitter.
Tweeting vanilla things often gets you nowhere. Take a stand. Say something, even if it alienates people.
10. Learn some Copywriting principles
This is hard, and I’m still working on it.
But I think Copywriting is a really good practice, especially for those of us who’ve done advanced degrees and learned to say things with 15 words when 3 will do.
Write crisp, compelling, and meaningful content in as few words as possible.
These are some tips for increasing your followers on Twitter. The hardest part? Just keep going! Consistently creating and sharing content is what will get you noticed, and that’s the biggest challenge in the long run. Let me know what happens!