When I started using Twitter I thought that I would need to build an audience, or at least have 1000-2000 followers for it to be useful.
I was wrong. Super wrong. I started getting real benefits from Twitter with 50 - 100 followers.
Also, to be clear these are real followers. I made genuine efforts to engage with these people, and be familiar with them. This is important.
Like tons of Indie Hackers my goal is to have a profitable business, and a lot of my focus went into "how can I directly start making money from the thing I'm making", but I didn't realize that mindset was blinding me to helpful tools like Twitter. It was obvious to me that if I had an audience it would be easier to build a profitable business, but what wasn't so obvious is the real benefits I could get from just having 50 - 100 followers. So here's what's been valuable to me without having an audience.
I can't stress this enough. There's a community of makers and people on Twitter that are super nice and giving. One example of this is I announced wwrp (the product I'm working on), and just like that I got 4 retweets, 22 likes, and some initial users who wanted to try my product. All because of a Tweet that took like 5 minutes to write. I could have never done this if I wasn't building, and sharing on Twitter. When I compare this to building products on my own it's way way way better.
The quality of the answers you'll get will depend on who is following you, but for me since it's mostly other makers I get to ask questions that are super relevant and helpful for me. It's really nice to ask a question, and get answers to it, because normally I'd have to do (a lot to a little) research on my own to figure out.
A massive part of of building a product is staying accountable. At least for me. When I was building on my own it was easy to put things off and be kind of lazy. When people started to follow me, and I began talking about my product it really lit a fire under my ass. I had to back up the things I said, and show the progress I was making. This helps me stay honest, build things and ship them faster.
I'm not sure what it is, but being around a bunch of people doing the same thing as me just gives me tons of energy and is motivating. Everyday when I would get on Twitter my feed would just be people getting after it! They're building their products, sharing milestones, and their progress. There was something about seeing other people make progress that really motivated me to do the same!
People literally DM me with suggestions on things I can do better, and give me links to awesome resources. I've even gotten free trials to paid products in DMs. Literally 0 effort and all profit on my part.
If you just ask for help people help you. It's crazy. Honestly. If you say your stuck on something, or don't know how to do something people jump in, and are ready to give you hand.
I hate the term network, but I've actually made real connections and friends through Twitter. Great part about this is now I have stronger relationships with the people on Twitter who support the things I do! And obviously I love to support them as well! Once someone gives to me I always want to return the favor!
Tweeting is an awesome low effort way to help me gauge interest in things I might build. Just by expressing an idea I'm thinking about I can see the initial response to it. If no one cares it might be a number of things wrong with it, or people just genuinely don't care about it, but if it gets a lot of attention it's a decent indication that people want that thing!
There's definitely a lot more benefits than this that you can get out of Twitter. It really is what you make of it. I know that this isn't a direct path to profitability, but creating a product is hard, and I'll take any help I can get. Twitters genuinely been life changing for me. I can't say enough good things about it.