How I Gained My First 1,000 Followers on Twitter

How I Gained My First 1,000 Followers on Twitter

Back in December, I passed one thousand followers on Twitter. Since then, I’ve continued gaining new followers at an average of 100+ a month. A lot of people have asked me about my strategy, so I decided to compile all the lessons I’ve learned through experimentation, research, and careful studying.

In other words, I’m telling you all my secrets.

Keep it secret. Keep it safe.
Or you can totally share this with everyone and we’ll become famous together…

While today’s blog post isn’t about storytelling, it is still mighty useful for all ye writers out there, because we all know that building an audience is critical (if we ever want anyone to read our books). >_>

Disclaimer #1: I am not professing to know everything about Twitter. Heck, 1k is just the first milestone, and I still have sooo much to learn! But I want to share with you everything I’ve learned so far. Perhaps when I reach my next milestone, I’ll have even more to share. *winks*

Disclaimer #2: There is no one way to use Twitter, just like there’s no one way to write a book. There is a lot of advice about there for how to use Twitter that I vehemently disagree with. Also, I will say some things here that others will disagree with. The important thing is to find what works for you and your audience. So, take all this with a grain of salt! 🙂

1. Choose an audience (and stick with it).

When I first started using Twitter seriously (back in the summer of 2014), I made a common mistake: I just tweeted about my interests. My two passions are writing and filmmaking, so I wrote abundantly about both topics.

But, I soon encountered a problem.

Whenever I tweeted about filmmaking, I would lose writer followers. Whenever I tweeted about writing, I would lose filmmaker followers. Truth is, it’s very rare for someone to care about both topics, like I do.

I realized was trying to reach two difference audiences. The result? I was reaching neither.

So I had to make a decision: Who is my audience? When I decided to focus on writers, my follower count started consistently climbing for the first time.

Side note: Just because you have one audience doesn’t mean you must stick to one topic. For example, I don’t always tweet about writing, but I do always make sure my tweets are somehow relevant (or at least funny) to fellow writers.

2. Remember: It’s not about you.

Another common mistake people make on social media is assuming that their accounts are… well, about them.

Wrong.

It’s not about you, friends. It’s about your followers.

This was an enormous lightbulb moment for me. Rather than hopping on Twitter to express myself and shout nonsense into the world hoping someone would listen, I chose to ask these questions: “What do my followers want to see? What would help them? What would brighten their day?”

When I made that mental switch, I noticed a significant increase in the amount of engagement with my tweets.

4. Ignore the follow-me-back-ers.

That isn’t a real word, but that’s what I call people on Twitter (or any social media account) that follow you just so you can follow them.

**Red alert!** IGNORE THEM.

Do not feel pressured to follow them back. And do not feel guilty if these people unfollow you again after a few days. These aren’t the kinds of followers you want, anyway. You want people who care about your content, who will be engaged… not just random numbers!

Also, one of the things that makes Twitter so amazing (especially for writers) is the incredible, uplifting community that’s available… if you tap into it. Your experience on Twitter will be shaped by who you follow. If you follow noisy, self-absorbed, obnoxious, or whiny people… well, Twitter simply won’t be as fun. Follow people whose content actually interests you.

5. Don’t be a follow-me-back-er.

If you have to follow people in order to get followers, then please hear me: You are wasting your time. This is not an authentic way to build an audience. If you follow thousands and thousands of people, then that “follow” means nothing.

Instead, if no one is following you, then focus on improving your tweets. Make them funnier, or more useful, or more original. If your tweets are good, the followers will come. They’ll come and they’ll stay because they actually like seeing your content in their newsfeed.

Isn’t that what you want, anyway?

6. Treat your followers like people, not numbers.

If you become overly focused on counting your followers, believe me, you are asking for them to leave.

Instead, focus on providing value and building relationships. If you do, the followers will come. But remember: the quality of your followers matter. It is far better to have a few followers that are very engaged and interested in your content, than to have lots and lots of “fake” followers who never pay attention to your updates.

Also: Never, ever, under any circumstances should you buy followers. It’s a waste of money. Those artificial numbers provide no actual value. What you want is real people who really care about what you have to say. Let your followers come naturally, even if it takes a while at first. The rewards of this approach are far more worth it.

7. Use hashtags like salt, not sugar.

Hashtags are very important, especially when you’re first starting out and you want people to see your content. But, it’s critical that you use them correctly.

Be intentional. Never add hashtags randomly. Hashtags are used for joining global conversations; so, research the hashtags that are prevalent in your community (e.g. writing, politics, or sports), and make sure you understand what they mean.

For example, in the writing community, some common hashtags include: #amwriting and #amediting (for updates about your writing progress), #writetip and #writingtip (self-explanatory), and #writerproblems (for relatable and funny tweets about life as a writer).

But hashtags become tacky really, really quickly. It’s ideal to never use more than two in a tweet. It’s better to only use one. It’s best to use none at all.

Hashtags are great for getting discovered by potential new followers. But if you overdo it, it makes you look desperate, which will make people want to follow you less, not more.

8. Be positive.

The most successful accounts on Twitter are typically the funniest ones. (Great examples: Very Lonely Luke, Brooding YA Hero, and Exploding Unicorn.) Also, an encouraging or helpful tweet can go a long way. (See also: Dale PartridgeGreatist, and Kid President.)

But do you know what doesn’t attract followers?

Negativity.

This isn’t to say you can’t ever be real or authentic when you’re having a bad day, but make sure you’re not getting on Twitter to complain. Honestly, not to be harsh, but as soon as your voice becomes whiny, people will tune you out.

There are enough negative voices on the Internet. Make it your mission to shine light into your follower’s lives.

Bilbo meme: I feel... thin. Sort of stretched, like... one book adapted into three movies.
Don’t be like Bilbo. (Or the Hobbit movies.) Don’t get spread thin!

9. Post frequently.

Twitter is one of those beasts where you have to post frequently, or you might as well not be posting at all. There’s so much content out there, and sporadic tweets just get lost.

I’ve found that, in order to have a healthy, growing Twitter account, you need to be posting at least four or five times a day. More is better, so long as you’re not draining yourself or posting mediocre content because you’re running out of ideas. Don’t spread yourself thin!

Also, if you have something important to say, you may have to repeat yourself a few times. Accommodate users with different schedules and time zones. (Be creative about it, though; don’t become a parrot!)

10. Take breaks.

It can be exhausting coming up with original tweets all day, every day. So take breaks. If you feel drained, just stop. Don’t force it. Allow yourself to recharge and get re-inspired, just like you would with any other creative pursuit.

In my case, I give myself one day a week where I don’t have to tweet at all. It’s my primary safeguard against burnout.

11. Post at the right times.

Experiment to figure out when your audience is online. For me, my audience is all over the world in all sorts of different time zones, so I’ve found that no matter when I post, someone will see it. That being said, certain times perform better than others. Whenever I post something, I try to post at one of these favored times so I can reach as many people as possible.

Here are the best times for my tweets (all in EST), but find what works for your specific audience:

  • 6:00 a.m.
  • 9:00 a.m.
  • 11:45 a.m.
  • 2:00 p.m.
  • 5:00 p.m.
  • 7:00 p.m.
  • 10:00 p.m.
  • 2:00 a.m.

12. Be a real person.

There’s a common maxim that says, “People follow people.” In other words, people will be far more interested in you if you feel like a person, rather than an account or a business.

What does this mean, practically?

  • It means your profile picture should show you, not a logo or cartoon. Now, I hear all the shy people of the Internet moaning and howling like werewolves. Let me just set this straight: You are beautiful, my friend, and we want to see your real face! 🙂 Trust me with this one!
  • It means you should craft the wording of your tweets so they feel authentic and personable.
  • It means you should show vulnerability. Share your struggles as well as your joys. Nothing shouts fake more than a person who pretends to always have their life together, because none of us do. Just use tact, because once something is public, there’s no going back.

13. Retweet rarely.

Retweeting is an awesome way to show support for fellow tweeters, but don’t overdo it. People follow you for you. What is your unique voice? Do you have one? If all you can do is restate other people’s ideas, why should they follow you?

Also, remember point #2: Keep your audience in mind. Before you click “retweet,” ask yourself: Do you want to retweet this just because you like it? Is it something your followers would like, too? If you can’t confidently answer yes to the second question, then resist re-posting it. Too much retweeting can become tacky, just like excessive hashtags.

14. Use images.

According to research, tweets with images get 313% more engagement. Whenever you can, post a photo! I upload images straight from my phone, although I usually do some light editing on them first. Here’s a secret: I add a teensy bit of blue to all of my images, to make them feel subconsciously consistent with my brand. 😉

15. Find your unique brand.

Be different. Discover that part of your personality that stands out, and express it through your bio and tweets. Now, don’t tell me, “I’m boring, I’m not unique, bla, bla.” That’s ridiculous. Every single human on this planet has something distinctive and interesting about them. You just have to figure out what that is for you.

Also, it’s impossible to capture your entire, complex personality online, so don’t try. Just focus on one aspect (or several aspects) that you can be consistent with.

For example, my online presence reflects the squealing, excitable, optimistic side of my personality that loves books and enjoys encouraging people. Of course, I’m not always like that. (Not in the least!) But it is me. And it’s the side of me I’ve chosen to focus on for my brand.

Some of my favorite examples of Twitter accounts that are very effectively and uniquely branded include: Faye, Cait, and Kristen A. Kieffer.

16. If you can’t be on Twitter… schedule.

Let’s face it: we have lives. We can’t be on Twitter all the time. (Nor should we!) But if you want to reach your full audience, you’ll need to have tweets going out throughout the day.

The solution? Scheduling.

I used Hootsuite for times when I know I can’t be on Twitter, but my followers likely will. I know I can always check notifications later. I allow myself to respond to people in my own timing. If I didn’t, Twitter would devour my life like a hungry cyclops.

Rule Twitter. Don’t let Twitter rule you.

17. Use lists.

It can get overwhelming trying to keep track of everyone you’re following, even if you are selective with who you follow back. Experiment with making lists (perhaps private ones) to keep track of your best friends on Twitter, or to organize all the information on your newsfeed.

18. Be relatable.

The greatest way to gain retweets (which is honestly the best method for obtaining new followers) is to put words in your followers’ mouths. Say something that they’d want to say. Put into words what they’ve already been feeling.

19. Invite discussion.

Don’t let your account be a one-way conversation! Ask questions. Post polls. Get your followers talking. And don’t forget to respond! There’s nothing more frustrating than responding to a question but not having the original account respond back to you. Start the conversation, and finish it. Do better than just “liking” their comment… unless you literally have nothing to say, which happens to the best of us. 😛

20. Be attractive at a glance.

There are hundreds of millions of accounts on Twitter. If you want to stand out, you’ll want to catch people’s eyes right away.

How do you do that?

  • Clear bio: The very first words of your bio should speak directly to your audience. E.g., if your audience is writers, then you should have “writer” or “writing” at the beginning of your bio. Also, the rest of your bio should express exactly what you are about, nothing more. Don’t say “I love pilates” if you never tweet about pilates!
  • Balanced tweets: Alternate the types of tweets you publish, so that new visitors to your profile can tell right away – without scrolling – what kind of content they can expect from you.

For discussion…

Are you on Twitter? What are some tips and techniques that have helped you? Share in the comments below!

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24 Responses

  1. saraletourneau
    | Reply

    That’s a good point about hashtags. Sometimes when I share links to other people’s blog posts, I tend to use hashtags to give it a better audience. But that might not be the best way to do it.

    In some ways, I’m still figuring out how to use Twitter (2+ years later, of course… ). It’s my favorite social media site, but spontaneity has never been one of my strengths. Sometimes when I go on there, I don’t know what to say. :S So there are days when I love Twitter, and other days when it gnaws at my confidence.

    • Brianna da Silva
      | Reply

      Hashtags are great – in moderation! 😉 Maybe you just need to figure out the single most powerful hashtag to use when you share a link. More hashtags mean more people will see it, but there’s a chance that more people will actually *click* the link if there are *less* hashtags… see what I mean?

      I’m definitely still figuring it out, too! Twitter is a strange and complex beast. But it’s a lot of fun. ^_^

      As for spontaneity, that’s me too. I’m about as opposite from “spontaneous” as it gets. But I get ideas for tweets at random times while I’m going throughout my day… while I’m showering, taking a walk, eating lunch, or whatever. 😛 I just write them down on my phone when I think of them, and then post them (or schedule them) when it’s convenient. That helps me a lot!

  2. Candace K
    | Reply

    I cannot agree enough about the retweets. When I peruse someone’s Twitter and they have a whole horde of retweets to the point that I can’t find their original work? I don’t follow them. Thanks so much for posting all of this information, Brianna!

    • Brianna da Silva
      | Reply

      Same here!! Abundant retweets is typically a no-follow for me. Or at least it’s a quick mute. 😛 Thanks for commenting! ^_^ This blog post was definitely a lot of work, hehe!

  3. A L Dowdall
    | Reply

    Great advice! Now I don’t feel so guilty about forgetting to add hashtags. I’m probably retweeting too much, though. 😅 (The link to this post is definitely getting a retweet, though, and I make no apologies.)

    A little caveat to using photos for avatars. I’ve noticed most artists don’t do that. I guess we’d much rather show off our work than our faces. In a way it’s even more personal.

    • Brianna da Silva
      | Reply

      Definitely do not feel guilty for forgetting hashtags, haha. They are helpful but not necessary. And Retweets are great – in moderation! 😉

      And oh, I’m glad you brought that up! I didn’t think about that! I can definitely see the rules being different for artists. That makes perfect sense. This is why I said to take everything in this blog post with a grain of salt. 😉

  4. Serena
    | Reply

    Thank you for sharing this great advice! I’ve been thinking about using a social media scheduler, and with your suggestion to post 4-5 times per day, I think that might be the route I need to take (I don’t have a smartphone, and I’m definitely not at my computer that often!).

    • Brianna da Silva
      | Reply

      Glad this was helpful, Serena! Schedulers can be SO helpful! Time-savers for sure. 🙂

  5. Katherine Rebekah
    | Reply

    This was really good, Brianna! You’re definitely a twitter master (at lest to a newbie like me XD). I do struggle with posting on a regular basis because I often feel fresh out of ideas and I also struggle with posting at the right times. I do use Buffer a lot, but it’s not good for everything, like it will mess up images and polls. But I do need to get started posting regularly.

    I also liked what you said about thinking about your followers rather than yourself. I’ve been trying to post more questions and things to get people to interact. One of my favorite things is interacting with people in long conversations. 🙂

    Great post! I really think you hit this one on the head. I’m going to try and implement a few of these.

    • Brianna da Silva
      | Reply

      Thanks, Katherine! *hides beneath blanket* It took me, like, two years to learn a lot of this, haha. So hopefully this serves as a shortcut for you. 😉

      Posting regularly is definitely essential for effective social media. It can be the hardest part, too, starting off. But once you have a routine going, it gets way easier!

      I learned the “thinking about your followers” paradigm from Dale Partridge, who is ACTUALLY a social media master. (He has a following of over one million with his different accounts. O.o And he’s completely self-employed. I want to be like Dale Partridge when I grow up, haha!) And I love long conversations on Twitter, too. ^_^ It’s such a fun way to socialize, especially for a home-loving introvert like me. 😉

      I’m so glad this was helpful for you!! That makes me so happy. That means this blog post is serving its purpose. 😀

  6. I appreciate the balance between things that strike me (at least) as fairly obvious and the ones that probably wouldn’t have occurred to me. For example, the thing about retweets really got me thinking; I’m much more likely to be annoyed by retweets if they are of the same thing (a bunch of giveaway retweets, for example, or a person sharing a bunch of things in the hashtag-of-the-day) than if they follow a conversation or give me someone else to follow (this can be, in fact, one of my ways of keeping up with news).

    • Brianna da Silva
      | Reply

      Ugh, giveaway retweets are the worst! And I agree on that latter point; there are retweets that I totally enjoy. I’m far more likely to follow a new person because of a retweet than for any other reason. It’s just a matter of retweeting in a way that your followers care about! 😉

  7. Cait @ Paper Fury
    | Reply

    THIS IS AMAZING. I LOVE ALL YOUR THOUGHTS HERE. Except for the one about “show your face” HHHAHHAAH. *hides forever* Ahem. But no, I still actually do agree with that. I find it easier to connect to a blogger when I know they’re a real person. But I also have full respect for those who want anonymity *nods* The internet shouldn’t be about making you uncomfortable. But if a person DOES want face-less-ness (aka me) I think we have to work twice as hard to come across as a real human? WHICH IS GOOD. I like that challenge!
    Being relatable and caring about your audience are HUUUUUGE THINGS. I’m so glad you emphasised that if you want to grow your audience you have to care about them!! It’s all fine and dandy to occasionally tweet about your sucky day, or whatever, but when it’s continual? It’s draining. If I’m having a bad day, I just don’t tweet.🙈🙊 It doesn’t make us less honest. It just makes us interested in putting forth positivity instead of negativity and goodness knows the internet ALWAYS NEEDS POSITIVITY.
    (Also humour. If you tweet humour = people love.)
    (And cake. I think tweets about cake are 93839% more likely to be loved. SCIENCE.)
    I’m definitely bookmarking this post to share on my weekender post! 🎉 🎉

    • Brianna da Silva
      | Reply

      HAHAHA, you know what, Cait? When I wrote that part (about showing your face), I was thinking specifically of you, and I was like, “Cait is totally going to comment her disagreement, haha!” But see, you are a great example of someone who does this WELL. Even though we don’t see your face, you DO go to great lengths to make yourself feel real. And I’d say you succeed. ;D But yeah, it is more work!!

      I know what you mean about not tweeting on bad days. >_> And it doesn’t make us less honest!! It just means that we care enough about our followers to intentionally give them our best, not our worst! ^_^

      And YES HUMOR. It’s decidedly the best thing on Twitter. I think there are actual studies for this.

      Haha, cake, how did I not know you would bring up cake?? ;D

      Aw well thank you!! I’m honored to be included! *bows low*

  8. S B Williams
    | Reply

    I heard somewhere that when your posts are retweeted it’s super effective and polite to thank the person. Good twitter etiquette? or does it matter in the long run? Just curious.
    Awesome post btw. This could probably be used on Facebook pages too. Minus the very specific twitter-ish advice. People on Facebook who use like 4 random hashtags in their random posts drive me crazy lol

    • Brianna da Silva
      | Reply

      As for retweets, I think it depends. I used to thank people when I was first starting out on Twitter, when retweets for me were not very common. But eventually it gets too overwhelming to thank everyone. Right now, I only thank people if they “share” my tweet and add their own comment on top. 🙂

      But if you do thank them, make sure only THEY can see your thank-you tweet! Because it’s definitely tacky to see tweets like “Thank you @RandomPerson for the retweet” in your newsfeed. Or possibly worse: “Thank you @RandomPerson for following me.” No one needs to see that except the person it’s intended for. 😉 (Maybe this is obvious to you, but I’ve seen a lot of people do this.)

      I’m glad this was helpful! You’re right, some of this can be applied to other social media sites, as well. Oh man, hashtags on Facebook are so silly. Too many are definitely annoying, haha.

  9. S. M. Metzler
    | Reply

    This is, I think, the most helpful post I’ve ever read on how to use Twitter. Thank you!! I do not have a Twitter yet, but now I know a lot more about what I’m heading for later this year, though it is still slightly intimidating. (And you’re right, I need to get rid of my cartoon profile picture! Hehe.) It’s good to hear scheduling and using Hootsuite has helped you from constantly being on Twitter. Thanks so much for such a helpful post!! I will refer back to this often.

    • Brianna da Silva
      | Reply

      I’m so glad this was helpful!! That makes me happy that this post is serving its purpose. ^_^ Good luck with starting your Twitter later!! The writing community on there is amazing. Every time I meet a new writer, I inevitably end up telling them, “You NEED to get on Twitter.” Haha!

  10. […] How I Gained My First 1,000 Followers on Twitter (Brianna da Silva) – Good Twitter advice be here.  I love Brianna’s tweets for her humor and encouraging advice – she’s definitely a good account to follow, and to get advice from on how to use Twitter. […]

  11. Jeneca Z
    | Reply

    Ahh! thank you so much for all these fabulous tips, and stating them so clearly. When I get the time and courage to finally get a twitter, I will most definitely use these times. Thank you!

    • Brianna da Silva
      | Reply

      I’m so glad these were helpful, Jeneca!! Best of luck for starting up with Twitter! ^_^ It’s super fun. I’m sure you’ll enjoy it. 😀

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