Anyone else had NO success on Twitter?

I've been tweeting with a purpose for five years now.

(That purpose: To grow an audience.)

My content is focused on digital marketing, startups, documenting my story building PeopleFish from $0 to $1M in just four years.

I've just had NO traction whatsoever. No engagement. And I really don't think it's for lack of high-quality tweets.

(If you care to look, I'm here.)

Any strategies for gaining some kind of following? I'm targeting aspiring entrepreneurs (and successful entrepreneurs, for that matter). I mix the content, though, so it's not just entrepreneurship all the time. I talk about the NFL a bit, current events. Some about my faith, some about politics (non-partisan). I'll critique movies I watch.

I've tried long threads, responding to people I admire, tagging brands I appreciate.

I'm out of ideas!

  1. 32

    Hey Nick — Just took a look at your profile.

    Your #1 problem with engagement is that you don't have enough followers. It shows 486 followers, but since you've had your account for 10 years, the vast majority are likely bots or inactive accounts. Basically, very few people know who you are, and you need to fix that.

    Your #2 problem is that your account doesn't make me feel that I'd be missing out on something if I don't follow you. People follow for selfish reasons. They want to learn something from you, or feel inspired. You need to take more risk with what you post. Look at what's interesting in your life and business, and post about those things with as much transparency as possible (but still being concise).

    Problem #3 is that you seem to almost never reply to others. The easiest way to get known is to go where people already are. Most of my tweets get 10,000-20,000 detail expands (to read comments). If you want to to get known, find accounts like mine (that interest you) and go help others in the comments. Share what you wish you had known. Help the original poster with more anecdotes. And so on. Almost every person I follow nowadays I discover them from comments they made under my tweets.

    Problem #4: Kill all the tweets about sports and politics. You care about those topics, but right now, no one else cares about what you care about. Remember: Give, give, give, give, give, give, give, give, give, and then... ask. If you have a political idea you'd like to promote, you're "asking". You can't ask until you've built a huge credibility budget by giving out a lot. You'll know when you're there.

    Problem #5: Kill the retweets. Same as problem #4. Retweeting is promoting something you care about. Nobody cares. When you're well known, they'll start caring more, but for now, just focus on helping others by giving people what you wished you had.

    Before you tweet anything, ask yourself: If you saw the tweet you're about to post in your feed, would you stop scrolling to read it? And if you stopped, would you regret stopping? Only post things that pass that test.

    1. 3

      @NickFreiling I built something to help on #3. It sends you an SMS when someone on a Twitter list tweets so you can jump in and reply quickly. DM me (https://twitter.com/thisritchie) if you want to try it. I literally built it today to help me with this exact problem. You just create a Twitter list of people relevant to your niche and jump in the thread when you have something to add.

      1. 3

        This is a good idea. I used Twitter's built in account notifications in the beginning. I found a few accounts I really liked, and I clicked on the bell icon next to the follow button. Every time they tweeted, I got a notification.

        SMS on list updates seems nice too.

        1. 2

          I tried that too, but it was getting annoying to manage:

          1. There's no one place to see and manage everyone you have a bell set for
          2. It's a pain to find people you should set a bell for

          My plan is to create a few targeted Lists specifically for founders (probably SaaS founders at first) that are looking to go from a couple hundred followers -> to a few thousand -> to tens of thousands.

          By the way, I bought your course earlier today, funny to bump into your here!

    2. 2

      WOW What an awesome response, surely will use for myself as well

    3. 2

      This some really good advice. 💰

    4. 1

      Dude, super insightful! Thanks for sharing!

    5. 1

      Wow, high quality feedback! I agree with you Daniel.

      Nick, I'm sure you can find good ideas for a Twitter strategy at https://joshspector.com/category/articles/.

    6. 1

      This is incredibly valuable. Thanks!

      1. 2

        Have you tried anything already from this list ?
        Ping us back to know what worked for you

        1. 1

          I spent a good amount of time this weekend engaging with others. Didn't add any followers, but got some good feedback from some pretty cool people.

          His #2 point above is really key. I need to think about that -- how to give people a sense of FOMO if they don't follow me.

          1. 1

            @AmitU Just an FYI, I've gained ~30 followers in just a few days by taking @dvassallo's advice here seriously. That's more than I gained the past year, combined.

            I also updated my bio to tell more of a story, and I think this actually made the biggest difference. Because I was getting profile views before -- just no follows.

  2. 8

    Daniel already said all the good stuff so I'll just add a few quick points:

    1. Impression

    You're following 21 people only. This quickly tells me you don't really care about other people. So I don't want to follow you.

    In the early days, you should think of Twitter as a middle school classroom. Go around and make friends and have fun with a small group (3-4 kids). Then slowly make more friends with the whole class, then the school.

    Through interactions, you show your personality and get people to trust you. Then one day, many of them see you Nick "the helpful guy in our class" and that's when you have "an audience".

    1. Daniel and YongFook already talked about removing some topics from your profile.

    See Twitter as a library. You're the librarian and your job is to curate the best knowledge to share with people visiting your library. Twitter is not your social media where you focus on what you care about.

    Having this mindset shift will take you far. People want to learn, they don't really care about your life.

    1. I have to say I really respect your relentlessness in tweeting for so many years despite having this hovering your mind. This is already a great trait to have an influential voice online. You just need to fix the basics and I'm sure you'll be flying soon :)

    Hopefully this helps.

    1. 1

      Hey, I took your advice seriously. Gained ~30 followers in just a few days!

      I think updating my bio helped, too. Now it tells a quick story, whereas before it was just a label.

      1. 1

        Very glad :)! You taking the chance to ask + take action is a great example!

  3. 7

    First thing I saw was something covid-related. Scrolled down and saw some politics stuff.

    Avoid those two topics like the plague. They are feed poison.

    If you want to tweet about business / entrepreneurship, stick to the script - don't talk about other topics.

  4. 6

    When starting an audience from scratch in a social network, I always follow this principle:

    • Zero to little followers: YOU interact with content from OTHERS
    • With a decent audience: OTHERS interact with YOUR content

    When you're starting out, your time is much better spent interacting and enhancing other people's content. Only when you get a small following that likes the thoughts you leave for the community, you can start producing your own content.


    "First give, then ask"

    Hope it helps! ;)

  5. 5

    I know you didn't post this to get products pushed on you but in your case, I really think it could help. We built Cohoist Autopilot (don't worry, there's a free version) so it can passively tweet the best articles from up to 10 of your favorite websites. That way, when you get on, you can focus your energy on building relationships and engaging with users in a helpful and organic way, like @dvassallo mentioned in his #3 and @matosdfm recommended for people with few followers. Your feed will continue to crank out helpful content while you interact with others.

    In July I had a 0.7% engagement rate on my personal twitter with 1 link click and 3 likes. This was on an account I've been active on since, ironically, June 2011 - just like yours. I deployed Cohoist on it at the begining of August and over the last month, my engagement rate has gone up to 3.6% with 343 link clicks and 236 likes.
    Engagement Rate

    I'm really sorry for the self-promotion here but this is one of those rare instances where I really think it meets the exact problem you're trying to solve. Feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions (or hesitations).

  6. 5

    Hey there, Nick.

    I know the feeling of not getting any results on twitter, and I face this as well. I've been active on twitter for a very less time than you, but I've realized that initially it doesn't matter if there's meat in your tweets or not, I mean it doesn't matter the most. What really matters is the relationship that you build with people who are there on twitter.

    Once you establish a connection with people, then, only these people (who now know you) will get you your initial traction.

    And, Don't get me wrong, I am no expert buddy, I am sulking in the process as well.

    Also, if you find any new ideas about this, please share it with me as well :)

    1. 3

      I actually could agree with @ayushgarg

      Though I am relatively new on Twitter, I feel I could personally connect with the people on twitter no matter what the followers stat is. I find that to be very valuable as an entrepreneur.

      1. 1

        Absolutely, @goutham8

        They are really valuable.

  7. 4

    how many hours have you spent on Twitter? What is your theoretical hourly rate?

    How much business have you brought in that you can directly or indirectly connect to your time on Twitter? (even if that time was last year while building a following, and then the business came 12 months later)

    If the sums adds up then carry on. If they don't then stop - you are wasting your time that can be more valuably used elsewhere in your business for doing what businesses are suppose to do - bring clients in and make profit.

    Everyone will tell you Twitter and building an audience on there is important. NO, building your business is important. If Twitter helps (and doesn't cost like £5k in your time to bring in one client!) then great. But I think your post has already answered the question.

  8. 3

    Here is My Twitter Account: https://twitter.com/SamyakR_

    These are tips that I use and have been advised:

    # Engage with people whose content is the same as yours. (In your case, digital marketing, and startups):

    1) Turn on notifications

    Their tweets and interactions will show up in your notifications section now.

    2) Reply to their tweets early

    This is not going to be easy but this will really accelerate your growth.

    Please don't do this all the time. Your life outside Twitter is super important. I remember there were a couple of days I would spend on Twitter entirely. Don't do that — get some sunshine.

    3) There is no way they won't notice you

    # DM people:

    Provide value first and then place your ask (if you have one). You don't have to have an "ask". You can just simply provide value and and build friendships — that's fun too.

    # Build in public:

    Building in public is all about showing your audience what happens behind the scenes when growing yourself, your twitter account, your startup, your company

    Some effective ways I have seen people do it:

    • Sharing analytics (followers growth, engagement rate etc.)
    • Sharing MRR updates. I love these ones personally
    • Media updates (sharing your story via images or video stories)
    • Building in public can also happen in Twitter spaces. That's where people can find the more "raw" and "authentic" you.
  9. 2


    I was in a similar situation as you up until July of this year. I was shedding followers and my tweets weren't going anywhere.

    Since then, I've gained follows from CEOs, CMOs, Fund Managers

    • And my tweets have led to new clients for my businesses

    Here's how I did it:

    1. Follow a bunch of people in your niche: startups, saas, ux, customer experience
    • A quick way to hack this is find one person who's smart and follow everyone they follow
    1. Write replies to any tweets someone influential writes. It's pretty easy to say something topical, relevant and occasionally drop in your product as a solution

    2. Stick to a topic. I'm guilt of what @dvassallo has suggested below.

    But frankly, I no longer give a sh!t and am playing the long game

    For me, twitter is an outlet and a way for me to formulate my thoughts, and the fact that I can tweet about anything from Football to Forking Ethereum, to me creates a unique personality that is uncommon in today's landscape

    1. Collect data and distribute it via Twitter
    1. Use Twitter Advanced Search to inject yourself into the conversation:

    Filter for

    • Replies > 2
    • keywords in your niche

    Hopefully your reply catches attention and you get impressions+followers


    1. 1

      Yes, I hate just sticking to one topic. Because I have many interests, and Twitter (for me) isn't only about work.

      I think a compromise might be sticking to one subject on my main feed, but still engaging about sports, politics, etc. in responses to other people's tweets. That way, it doesn't put these more controversial subjects front and center when someone visits my profile.

  10. 2

    I was not sure about replying since I am doing as bad as you or worse. Here is a summary of the things I am aware I am doing wrong:

    • I had this happy being policy of following back anyone that followed me and I have plenty of followers that I don't even know if are reals or bots, still I find hard to unfollow because I think it is rude. (I know this is a game/business so I shouldn't care)

    • I post in two or three languages (mainly Spanish and English but now I'm living in Portugal I post in poor-I-think Portuguese every now and then). This is confusing to people, I know, and I use English only when I am working, but I have not a clear boundary for my Twitter account.

    • I don't have a clear metric or purpose. I consider myself really good with javascript and web applications architecture (yes, I think more thought should be spend on front-end architecture) but I don't want to be seen as "that js guy". Just today I post a beautiful baby snail picture my daughter and I found on our way back from nursery.

    Here are some things I have not seen in the replies but I think are important as well:

    1. Don't hesitate to ask people to follow you. Actively invite people to follow you, that is, make more visible your handle, it doesn't mean to spam, but to make it easier for them to find you. I often don't follow people because I am not aware they have Twitter, and I like people displaying their handle for conferences or YouTube content, I often pause the video and open a Twitter tab to follow them. There is some people that actively spend time promoting and others like me, and probably you, that spend time creating content but think people will come, they won't the internet is so saturated these days.

    2. People don't like to think unless they feel "it is worth it", be concise. No offense intended, and I mean this for myself as well. I opened your account and scroll down a bit, honestly I don't know what your talking about, you might be well-intentioned, but I cannot read your tweets in auto-pilot mode, I need to dig deeper to get the context, and it is not an area I care that much to spend additional time, I would happily follow you if it were easier to digest and get some actionable information from your tweets.

    All that being said, I recently bought a book about copywriting, the advice is very similar to the one given here. You need to catch people attention with the title/tweet and it is only then that you can ask for more careful reading. I bought it not particularly because of Twitter, I am trying to transition into a technical writer career and at the end, marketing works (I think there should be a better way to do marketing but I've not found it yet).

  11. 2

    I gotta say, I found this really validating.

    I mean, I get it. Twitter's a game. You have to play it this way to win, yadda yadda yadda.

    But if I can vent for a moment, I've tried incredibly hard to write good content, and it feels like nobody cares. The reward is not commensurate to the effort.

    I say that knowing that other Internet websites (reddit) are a total waste of time and Twitter's not a 100% total waste of time, so Twitter wins by default. It's the best place to be by a technical victory.

    Yet I find the whole experience pretty dispiriting. That won't stop me from posting, but it does feel good to know I'm not alone in this.

    1. 2

      Well, if it is worth something, I started following you both on Twitter and Medium :)

      I just edit to add some info that maybe contributes more to the discussion. I like your content but I've never heard about you before.

    2. 1

      Yes, dispiriting is the right word! The thing is, I like posting. So I'll continue doing it for that reason. And I don't necessarily want to stop posting about other things I like (i.e. NFL) just because it doesn't fit my "brand." But even being honest and raw hasn't really paid off.


      It's funny you should mention Reddit, because I posted something from my Twitter to r/entrepreneur today and it hit #1 on that sub (+1M subs)! I'm pretty sure this led to several new Twitter followers just today. I use my real name on Reddit as of a few months ago. Not many people do that, but it's a good idea if you're posting a lot and want to build an audience.

      Anyways, don't give up!

  12. 2

    What is your end goal from twitter? Do you want to find digital marketing clients?

    1. 2

      Yes, I'd like to find more clients. But I also want to simply share a lot of what I've learned with other founders. I like meeting interesting, ambitious people, and I see a lot of them on Twitter.

      1. 1

        I would love to talk to you about this? Can we connect on twitter? https://twitter.com/VeerajMehta3

  13. 2

    I grew from 150 to 6,500 Twitter followers in the last year. I'm the first to admit that I have no idea what I'm doing, but here are some things that have worked for me:

    1. Only tweet when you have positive value to add. Lots of people recommend tweeting x per day but in the early stages it's all about gaining credibility and providing value.
    2. Reply to tweets from large accounts in the specific area you tweet about.
    3. Utilize the 'Activity' column in TweetDeck. It's a great way to find who the people you are following are engaging with and find new people to follow.
    4. Engage with your followers. They're spending time following and commenting, give something back to them.
    5. Open up. Provide personal experiences, give your take on a popular topic, and have a personality.

    Good luck! Twitter can open up an amazing community and opportunities.

  14. 2

    Nick, I just followed you so that's +1 on your follower count :-)

    To get a business impact from social media you need a way for people to reach you, have a video call, book a meeting, etc. That's one of the issues I'm trying to solve myself.

    I put my ContactLink in my profile as my URL, rather than the blog link you currently have. That puts all the business contact options on the table (meeting, video call, voice call, text, email) in a way that's simple and SPAM-proof.

    Take a look at my ContactLink and I can get you one to try free if you're interested: https://contactlink.to/jesse.hercules

    1. 2

      Why not just leverage the messaging point inside the Twitter app?

      1. 2

        Sure, book a meetng with me inside the Twitter App.

  15. 2

    Why don't you hire a professional to manage your account?

    1. 1

      I rather like managing my own account!

      But do you know of any good services like this?

  16. 2

    Growth on Twitter is mostly based on how engage with others.

  17. 2

    I was just talking about this with a small mastermind group I'm apart of. It's not entirely clear what will result in the best twitter growth. Seems to me, when you're trying to build a base of followers there are only three ways to grow:

    1. Drive traffic to Twitter from other sources: blog posts, product pages, other communities. I've had some luck adding the embedded "Follow Me" Twitter button on products I've built
    2. Be a reply-guy
    3. Play the Twitter discovery lottery and hope you end up suggested on people's feeds

    It's probably best to focus on 1 and 2 since you have direct control over those. Once you build a base (meaning a small group of people who would interact with Tweets you create), then I think the flywheel can kick in.

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