Growth April 29, 2020

Twittter is hard in 2020

Anton Fenske @fenske

One month ago I started a new Twitter account where I've been actively trying to grow my following/engagement. And here are the results...

I'm really trying to understand whether I completely screwed it up or whether a picture like this is expected to have after 1 month for a newly created account.

What's your Twitter experience, folks?

  1. 30

    I've been in the fortunate position to grow my Twitter following substantially over the last 6 months, and here are a few learnings.

    • Before I had a public accomplishment (selling a SaaS business of substantial value), growing my following was a pain. Doing something spectacular will put a spotlight on you, and that attracts people. Doesn't have to be selling a business, I've seen other things work: creating a great community resource, recording an amazing free course, launching a podcast with interesting content, writing an ebook that is super helpful, etc.
    • Credibility is one of the core attributes that people are looking for, and it can be gained slowly by creating great content and distributing it for free, with no strings attached.
    • Asking for people's opinions works very well when it comes to engagement. We all want to write incredibly thoughtful tweets that get liked and retweeted because they're so insightful, but what really works is asking people to share THEIR thoughts
    • Posting at the right time for your audience is important. I live in Germany, and my audience is mostly in the US. If I tweet in my morning, I won't reach many people in the States. That's why I use a scheduling product to send my tweets out at a later point.
    • Following and amplifying other Twitter users will get you followers much quicker than just relying on content. Follow people who you admire, comment on their tweets, retweet them, sub-tweet them, just ENGAGE. A certain percentage will follow you back and expose your tweets to a much bigger audience.

    Hope this helps!

    1. 5

      I follow you, Arvid. ✌️Btw, also loved your IH interview.

      It makes a lot of sense what you said about a public accomplishment amplifying the growth effect. Just need to get there. 😅

      As for "Following and amplifying other Twitter users". Looking at my Twitter stats for the last month, I can see that my most popular tweets are replies to already developed accounts, so it makes total sense. However, man, it's so easy to lose track of time doing it...

      1. 1

        Ha, I know it! Sometimes I just fall into a number of recursively nested rabbit holes on Twitter, waking up while mid-writing a woke reply to some obscure and obviously trolling tweet.

        Time-box your Twitter time. No more than 10minutes each session :D

    2. 4

      ^ great advice.

      The one thing Arvid doesn't mention is you have to be able to answer why should someone follow you.

      Once you've got this why consistently create content to support it.

      That's why I've had good traction. My why is crystal clear: Follow the account if you want to get better at marketing.

      It's hard to grow an account making random observations.

      1. 1

        What a party. 🤩 Hi Harry! I follow Marketing examples on Twitter too!

        Was always wondering where you got the inspiration for your great content from. Would you share a couple of words? 🙏

    3. 2

      Great tips. Thanks for sharing them. I'm trying to build up my twitter account too but my main problem is being consistent. Some days I tweet and reply a lot but other days I completely forget about that and that shows in the analytics. 😅
      As with most of the things, consistency is key

      1. 2

        If you can produce some content in advance, you could try to use a Twitter planner tool.

        1. 1

          That has been the #1 solution for developing any form of consistency for me. No matter how well you keep a manual schedule, automation is just the next level.

          I personally recommend Hypefury for this kind of stuff. They're Indie Hackers as well :)

  2. 5

    Stock Alarm ran into the same issue so we've decided to offer a different type of service on twitter. After much indecision, we decided to convert our twitter account into a bot that would reuse some of our data.

    Our twitter account currently does the following:

    • Tweets out breaking stock market news 4x a day
    • Tweets out upcoming earnings info for the next day
    • Tweets out top gaining/losing stocks of the day so far

    Here is our twitter bot in-case you're curious.

    All suggestions are welcome!

    1. 3

      You just gained a new follower 😎

      1. 2

        You're a nice dude mate!

        David

      2. 1

        Awesome!

        Please let us know if you've got any suggestions 🚀

    2. 2

      Nice! Did you use code, or else something like Integromat to create your product?

      1. 1

        I built out a couple of cloud functions on google cloud and just used a twitter node.js API wrapper from GitHub.

        Integromat or Zapier are great options as well!

    3. 1

      it would be great to understand how you built you built this in more detail. Nice work

  3. 5

    The biggest challenge in the beginning is that results are not linear. Things might be flat or slow for a long time, but then a lot can happen quickly (unless you get discouraged and stop half way).

    I think right now you need to try to focus on bringing a spike of attention to yourself. Try to think of something that you can do that can potentially get you to the frontpage of Hacker News (or Reddit or anywhere where there’s a bunch of people refreshing the page waiting for something interesting), and work backwards from there. It can be on any topic, as long as it’s something that involves you. Do a few of those until something goes to the frontpage. When that happens, respond to every question and pay attention to what piques people’s interest. This kind of attention will guide you quickly to something that you can continue talking about and attract a following. Then adjust & adapt from there.

    1. 1

      Wow, thanks for these tangible action points, Daniel! 🙏 Gonna share how it went.

  4. 3

    It's hard only if you are trying to do it yourself and you don't have time/energy to do so.
    I didn't have time and energy so I simply outsourced it to a twitter growth service.

    IMHO think we should focus on what we are good at and leave all the rest to people who are better than us. Of course it takes a bit time and trust to find what you are looking for but once you make it, you will never look back.

  5. 2

    I did a massive thread on getting new followers naturally just the other day:

    Some top tips

    • tweet every day around one topic
    • have real pic (trust)
    • have a professional/relevant twitter handle
    • reply to people, don't just like or retweet
    1. 1

      Somebody has been watching Gary Vee. LOL.
      All excellent advice. Good on ya.

      1. 1

        ha, never watched a Gary Vee vid in my life

    2. 1

      Thanks for sharing your tips, Pete!

      Reg. the real pic. I like my profile image so much... It'd be hard to change it. 😅

  6. 2

    Just a quick question - what's the goal here for you? To build a personal following? Or to use as a potential sales channel for your product/service?

    1. 1

      I can tell you I haven't found out that yet. 😅This first month was to understand the mechanics of Twitter.

      1. 2

        For sure. I finally started a personal Twitter account ~2 years back. Didn't realize beforehand how important of a channel it can be for those working on startups. I try not to neglect it, but it is certainly a difficult social network to master if you're not diligent. I'll give you a follow. Best of luck!

        1. 1

          Thanks, Justin! ✌️

  7. 2

    I did a Post on Indiehackers on the same thing on How I got 357% Growth on Twitter

    Its been 1.5 months on Twitter & I was able to sell my digital product quite nicely. $500 in 1.5 months on Twitter.

  8. 2

    Hey @fenske,

    I like twitter really much. I'm not that successful as I want ... but I use it more on the side.
    Basically I use it to keep up to date with the latest news (world news, news from friends, news from devs). twitter is great for networking and getting in touch with people.

    about your account, for one month, the numbers are good. but it's not that easy to say. how strong is the interaction? do these impressions bring you traffic?

    these numbers are always difficult to interpret. there are accounts with 100k users but the interaction is bad. at those accounts you can quickly see whether the followers have been bought.

    the tweet impressions, are they from one tweet or several?

    1. 1

      It's quite well spread actually, however, most impressions come from my replies to already developed accounts.

  9. 2

    i think twitter is good, but you gotta work hard to be attractive to your (future)user base

  10. 2

    Sorry for not being able to contribute with much here, other than I'd say those numbers aren't bad.

    But I don't know anything about Twitter marketing, and it's something I'd like to get in to. Can you perhaps share your strategies and what you've learned?

    1. 4

      There's probably too much on the topic to be able to list it here but let me share this comment that @dvassallo posted on Reddit the other day:

      "There are two types of tweets: A giving tweet and an asking tweet. A giving tweet is when the reader stops scrolling, and doesn’t regret it. An asking tweet is when you ask the reader something that benefits you (click this link, answer my question, look at this thing, etc).

      One of the most common mistakes is asking too much, or asking too early. I had about 6K followers until I made my first ask tweet. Too much asking, and people will tune you out or unfollow you.

      The other mistake is talking about things you don’t have credibility on. Without credibility, people won’t listen. Even if they see your tweet accidentally, they’ll ignore it. This is even more common, and what leads to many accounts “tweeting in the void” for years."

      1. 1

        Thank you - that's very helpful to me!

    2. 1

      This comment was deleted 9 months ago.

  11. 1

    I'm just starting to take my twitter account seriously but a few things that have worked so far:

    • posting interesting threads. I have an email newsletter where I share podcast episodes with some notes / lessons. A few days after the email, I post as a thread and tag in the podcast host and guest. Always gets a few followers.
    • replying to people - especially ones with large followings. Topics that also fit with what I personally am sharing.
    • giving shout outs to people when I've followed them or joined a newsletter. And giving reasons why.
    • recently changed my bio to reflect more about what I share so that I attract the right followers. And then at least try to mainly keep to those topics.

    Totally a WIP but followers are creeping up. And I'm enjoying it.

    A useful article that was recommended to me https://medium.com/an-idea-for-you/26-ways-to-improve-your-tweets-and-grow-your-following-3e64cb7fe729

    1. 1

      Hi Paul, thanks for sharing your list. Would you mind sharing an example of such a shout out?

      1. 2

        Sure...

        So this one is a bit meta as it relates to the article I shared with you: https://twitter.com/pauldm/status/1248989960109207552

        A short one as retweet: https://twitter.com/pauldm/status/1251410200432644099

        And another: https://twitter.com/pauldm/status/1254692422279409665

        Something I’ve only started doing but it gets noticed and picks up some subscribers. And they’re genuine tweets - I like the content, I think it’s useful and want to acknowledge it.

        I’m hoping these kind of things compound over time as your followers grow.

        1. 1

          Thanks for sharing, Paul. An insightful tip. And also a way to pay back a bit to the followee. 👍

  12. 1

    Hey Fenske,

    Two ways to go about this.

    1. Right now you're shouting in a void. Your voice isn't amplified because no one is hearing you.

    Follow big accounts in your niche and add value to their timeline. Comment on their tweets. Quote RT them.

    You will be noticed. You will be followed by others. If the accounts you're doing this with are not too huge they'll also RT you now and then.

    1. Just like Daniel mentioned. How can you get the spotlight on you? On Twitter you could do it like this: Do you know someone on Twitter with a large audience? Does he know you as well as you think you know that him? :) What is something he can vouch for? Ask him if he wants to mention you to his audience. Being mentioned by (big players) others is the single best way to grow your account.
    1. 1

      Valuable tips! Thanks, Yannick!

  13. 1

    My Twitter follower growth has been very slow from the start but with gradual acceleration over time. Some basic stats:

    • Tweet Frequency: 3x / week on average but inconsistent.
    • Following/Followers: 170/803
    • Growth last month: +53

    I think the reason it's been growing fast and faster is because most of my tweets are about free tutorials I've made. Some of remainder are for paid content, but a lot of my customers also follow me on Twitter and like those tweets, too.

    If I were just tweeting about my day or even my opinions, people probably wouldn't follow. But since my feed is more like a resource for a certain segment of web devs, people want to see the tweets on their timeline.

  14. 1

    I've been tweeting consistently for years. I've seen almost no traction. Just a very small set of dedicated followers.

    I've tried every trick in the book. Ultimately, I think it hurts (or, at least, doesn't help) that my interests/ventures are diverse and I'm just not going to pick one "niche" and become the ____-guy.

    1. 1

      I can recommend watching what https://twitter.com/dvassallo does. The stuff he shares seems to work and he's also quite responsive. Best of luck, Nick!

  15. 1

    Perspective is everything.

    my april twitter stats

    One thing you have to avoid at all costs is to let your follower count define your success. None of those numbers that Twitter shows is actually a measure of success in and of itself.

    Vanity metrics will destroy your self worth and undermine your growth.

    What do you really want? As an indie entrepreneur, I'm guessing is you want to create a successful company/product that improves others' (and your) lives.

    If you have a great idea/product but only 10 followers, does that mean your idea isn't going to reach a lot of people? No.

    It only takes one of those followers to be a small-time Gary Vee to retweet one of your tweets and get you a million eyeballs. That's the magic of social media.

    Build real relationships. Care about the individuals, not the numbers. Let the numbers tell you if you're headed in the right direction--but don't let them define your success.

    I'll share a similar story about website visitors--similar to follower count, but nobody can see it but you.

    For years I chased after more blog readers. Years.

    I got to 1,000/mo and was like "cool! now how do I get to 10,000?"

    I got to 10,000/mo and was like "awesome! how do I get to 20,000?"

    I hit 20,000/mo and, as you would guess... I wanted to hit 50,000... I still wasn't much richer (in finances or in personal success than I was at the beginning).

    Long story short... I was stuck at 20,000/mo for 3 years and couldn't grow. It really ate away at my self-worth. Battled with depression a lot.

    After learning a ton about SEO, I finally performed a full SEO audit... 30 days later I was getting 40,000/month.

    90 days later... 80,000 visitors/mo. 6 months after the audit I was getting over 100,000 visitors every single month.

    And it felt great! For a while. And then it was just the norm. I had many other successes at this point--2 successful companies, a great reputation in the industry, people wanting to interview me regularly... but none of these were enhanced just because I had more followers (or blog visitors).

    Sure, that was a factor. But it wasn't the defining factor. It was the relationships I had built, and the value I had given to those relationships that led to the real successes.

    Hope that's an encouragement.

    1. 1

      Why are you double spacing your sentences??! It literally makes your comment fill up more than an entire screen on a 1080p display and it hurts readability, too...

      1. 1

        @alchemist double-spacing sentences here on IH? I'm not spacing it any differently than anyone else that I've seen. Maybe your screen had a render issue?

        1. 1

          There's no render issue with my screen. The issue is all the one sentence "paragraphs". Here's some raw HTML from the page+ post:

          <p>I'll share a similar story about website visitors--similar to follower count, but nobody can see it but you.</p>
          <p>For years I chased after more blog readers. <strong>Years.</strong></p>
          <p>I got to 1,000/mo and was like "cool! now how do I get to 10,000?"</p>
          <p>I got to 10,000/mo and was like "awesome! how do I get to 20,000?"</p>
          <p>I hit 20,000/mo and, as you would guess... I wanted to hit 50,000... I still wasn't much richer (in finances or in personal success than I was at the beginning).</p>
          <p>Long story short... I was stuck at 20,000/mo for 3 years and couldn't grow. It really ate away at my self-worth. Battled with depression a lot.</p>
          <p>After learning a ton about SEO, I finally performed a full SEO audit... 30 days later I was getting 40,000/month.</p>
          

          Adding an extra line between most sentences (or even pairs of sentences) makes for a tough reading experience if your post is long. For a good contrast, see the top-voted post of the thread. It's nearly as much content but far more compact and readable.

          Sorry if this is too much of a nitpic... was just super frustrating when I encountered it yesterday. Take the feedback as you will.

    2. 1

      I believe it's a good reminder for everyone to remain sane.

      You surely have a point and I agree that relationships matter a lot.

      As for me, I've been struggling a lot with attracting users to my SaaS, and honestly, I've just been trying out different paths to understand what's possible to do online.

      Will keep reminding myself of your advice. Thanks for sharing it, Dustin! 🙏

  16. 1

    I literally tweeted the exact same thing (my stats) 3 days ago. You can check my numbers here: https://twitter.com/BLeonavicius/status/1254706584049135617

    And I also started at the beginning of April, so almost one month and we have very similar stats except for the number of tweets. I was a bit more modest and only tweeted 40 times.

    However, I see my own numbers and yours as a success. For the first month, it looks quite good, but the real question if that is sustainable. You usually get a big boost when you start something - telling your friends or colleagues about your twitter, maybe sharing it on other social media, etc.

    1. 1

      Yeah, it looks similar but it feels like you have a better match with who's engaging with your profile given the difference in the number of followers. 😃

      I feel I still don't know who's my follower and that's probably the top question to find an answer for...

      1. 1

        I think it's a bit misleading, the stats, as I kind of had one tweet, go "viral" by my standards (50 likes or something) and this distorts the whole "engagement" metric.

        Yeah, defining your "audience" and then following those type of people, so that you can engage with them should the top priority or at least that is what I am doing and it looks like it is working to some degree :)

        1. 1

          Indeed. Best of luck with your account, Benas! 🙌

          1. 1

            Thank you! You too 🙂

  17. 1

    I don't really use Twitter, so not an expert, but I expect you need to pay to boost (promote) your tweets to see reasonable results.

    1. 2

      Nah it's not nearly as pay to play as the rest of the big players.

  18. 1

    My twitter experience is terrible and I'd like to do something about it but it just isn't my priority. I find that there needs to be something on twitter that they'd benefit from. If you're referencing twitter in an email, you'd need to have a good enough reason for it. And then for growth to occur, your tweets would need reshare value - or at least cause people to engage (comment) on it and hopefully someone else notices that comment or gets drawn in. I make sure whatever I'm posting elsewhere also ends up on twitter, but I don't actively engage there (unless someone tags me directly).

  19. 1

    Has been a challenge for us at https://twitter.com/HelloClouders

    While our newsletter has about 150 people, our twitter isn't properly operated.

    One thing we can do is to request subscribers follow on Twitter but dont want to ask explicitly.

  20. 1

    Yeah, I think it's just inherently difficult.

    My website was on the main page of hacker news and got very popular.

    But 1 month after I have only 54 subscribers and only 2 are really interacting with me.

    People write all the time that it takes them months to get to 1000, so I think there is no reason to overthinking. Just keep posting stuff and it will slowly grow.

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