Tips on growing a social media audience

How I went about getting 250k followers on Twitter

Early this year I was deplatformed from Twitter having grown an audience of over 1/4 million followers. I made a few notes on how I went about this. Obviously, you need to have something to say worth hearing first, but there are lots of small things I have learned over the years that helped me to keep going and keep growing. Here are a few tips that might help you.

I added value by doing "pull quotes" of content shared. So I would never just post “Great article! Must read! [URL]”. Instead I would pull out the most pithy insight, and quote that with the URL. This gives the reader the essence of the content and a reason to click through (and hence reshare). It also shows respect by doing the work yourself.

I acknowledged (liked/favourited) as many comments as possible to offer as much encouragement and engagement as I could. Often I would hit the limit on Twitter of about 1500 a day. The moment you are perceived as a “big name” on social media, that comes with both a burden of responsibility as well as a gift of notoriety. If you are going to have infamy, use it so others feel included.

I responded to every question in comments. If someone has an uncertainty, and their question is reasonable and respectful, then it deserves some answer. The exception is when people ask me what camera I use for my photography; it’s just too tedious to answer the same question hundreds of times. When you engage at a personal level it creates a relationship and people become your advocate. Likewise I answered all DMs.

I assiduously and carefully cultivated who I followed so I had the best chance of locating things worth resharing. People focus on follower counts, but what is every bit as important is who you follow and the quality of those follows. For me, those who made appropriate comments about my photos were demonstrating good taste and were not bots — always worth a follow back!

I always maintained a positive tone without moaning or attacking individuals (who notionally are on same side). A little bit of ego is healthy as it gets you through the wobbles, but there are plenty of people in the freedom movement who perhaps have a little too much ego invested in their work, and social media feeds ego. Small minds focus on personalities; denigrating others smacks of insecurity and makes you look like you have a small… err… heart. Definitely heart.

I paused before hitting send and was not afraid to pull back on sending out anything that didn't create value for the reader. I would often ask myself if this post really created any benefit for the recipient, if only as a bit of light relief and fun by being self-deprecating. If it was all about me and my feelings, and served no value to them, then I deleted before sending. Just because you had the tweeting impulse doesn’t mean you have to follow through.

I generously pointed out other info sources and promoted those who languished in obscurity. As your audience grows over 100k you really notice how you can shine a spotlight of publicity. (Many of my tweets would easily get more reach than hits for online articles in national newspapers.) This was useful to pluck from the lost corners of the Web those who did good work but lacked visibility. That made my feed more attractive to follow.

Lastly… I blocked and muted as much as needed to maintain my sanity and keep "bad energy" away so I was able to emit light rather than absorb it. You are not responsible for the feelings of others, and are not obliged to engage or associate with those who wish to drag you down. There are lots of people with personality and mental health problems. You don’t need to join with them and become part of their problem.