Want More Followers on Twitter? Let’s Goooooo!

Twitter logo on a cell phone sitting on top of a box that says "Handle with care".
Photo by Ravi Sharma on Unsplash

Okay FINE, the title is a little misleading, but I promise you my advice is sound and currently up to date.

This started out as a very fussy Twitter rant, but I want to add more to it so I sort of cleaned up the language because pRoFeSsIoNaL, and added a little more detail.

To start, I’m going to tell you that follower count is a vanity metric that DOES NOT show the impact your brand, product, or organization has on actual human lives. That’s the job your content does.

If you have 10k followers and 2 of them engage with your content this means:

1: You have 2 followers.

2: You don’t know your demographic, and thus are not appealing to the right audience.

3: Your content sucks.

4: YOU’RE not engaging with your community.

IF you are working with an organization who is using follower count as a metric of your brand’s worth, that practice is outdated. Show them your impact in a relevant, genuine way.

Did you create a game? How many people in the middle of a panini, are using it as a safe escape? {Thanks, Animal Crossing.} If you are a community organization, how many people rely on your efforts, how many folks have you ushered to safety, housed, or fed? Do you run a small business, how does people shopping with you impact your life?

These are the metrics that mean everything. Your follower count means dick without engagement and authenticity. Understood? Okay. Moving on.

COMMUNITY BUILDING is not simple and it starts with good, ACCESSIBLE, authentic content. Images and video are frequent hits – use alt text functionality, and video captions, stay away from too many emoji, funky ASCII art, and the copy and paste italicized, bold, upside down fonts. It’s essential you remember that you’re creating content for humans, ALL of them, not just the able bodied and neurotypical.

ENGAGE. Especially on Twitter – have conversations. Showcase expertise in your niche. Don’t be a culture vulture {or fuck around and find out}. Sharing content from others is a really small, but impactful way to build relationships and does nothing to dim your shine.

Follow your community – not just the thought leaders. Follow back the folks who follow you, it doesn’t have to be all of them, but if they’re active in your community and saying things you agree with, or find enlightening, why wouldn’t you? Acknowledge a tag, mention, or retweet. Don’t use canned responses as they are disingenuous af. Limit calls to action, they aren’t always necessary. Limit hashtags too.

A note on the latter:

HASHTAGS ALONE ARE NOT AN EFFECTIVE MARKETING STRATEGY. You’re wasting valuable space if you’re just recklessly popping octothorpes in front of every word. Hashtags have a relevant place, and a function, but they are not a strategy.

Use hashtags for content organization, events, campaigns and giveaways, locale specificity, and my favorite, #sarcasm. Hashtags are good for finding content to reshare, but again not necessary because you can find that content just by searching Twitter. You can participate in trends and trending topics without them as well. Two hashtags is too many, but often a brand or blogger will use a couple in conjunction, like #ad, #sponsored, #giveaway and then a personal hashtag. If you are using hashtags, use #CamelCase so screen readers can differentiate between words – again content for ALL.

Hashtags alone will not lead you to the promised land, it will not grow your followers, or extend your reach any further than great content and engaged community building.

BE HERE. I’m not suggesting live your whole life on social, but posting and running, without engaging ain’t it. Whatever you are offering to the world, you should be talking about regularly. You should be finding and sharing content you find helpful, or insightful, and especially if you are white, or a white led brand and organization, amplifying voices not frequently heard because they are overlooked.

LISTEN. Social listening is integral to success and so is listening to the person you likely underpay to manage your social media accounts.

I don’t know any social media manager or marketer who has the privilege of not learning anything new because they know everything, but we have dedicated years to this. Social media management is not just knowing how to maintain a personal Facebook profile, or being super good at Snapchat. There’s levels to this.

We’re not intentionally going to lead you to an abyss, we want to see success. Step back, let us be creative, bring your ideas but listen to us when we push back. Or, simply don’t add a social media manager to your team and waste their god. damn. time.

Personally, that’s why I love it. There is never a day I don’t learn something new about social media, and the practices change quickly. The dedication I put in to keeping current, learning, and changing my own practices, is why I am so impassioned when I see our advice (and especially Black creatives in general) ignored.

You don’t want followers – you want a community. To have it, you have to build it, value it, and support it. Treat your virtual community the same way you might your real life community, and watch it thrive.