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Chris Achard
Chris Achard

Posted on • Updated on • Originally published at

How I Tripled My Twitter Following in One Weekend by Teaching React

This was originally published here:

No, it doesn't involve spam or gray-hat techniques or paid ads.

Short Answer: Dan Abramov retweeted one of my tweets

Long Answer: I worked really hard creating threads that taught people something, and then Dan Abramov retweeted one of those threads. Also, I live tweeted React Boston the whole weekend, though it's hard to say what effect that had.

It absolutely involved a lot of luck and timing, but as Rob Walling is a fan of saying: "The harder I work, the luckier I get"

Here's what happened:

The first few "crash course" threads

On Friday night I had just under 700 followers. That number was only 400 a couple of weeks before - but I had been producing twitter threads that tried to teach a single concept, like git:

Git crash course

And those were doing pretty well. People seemed to like the format, and I got a lot of messages and comments about how it helped them finally understand the topic.

Also, I really liked making those threads - it was fun to try to condense such a huge topic down into only a few tweets, so it was all a win-win. 馃帄

(You can find a complete list of the crash course threads here)

The big one

Then I decided to tackle React head on. The challenge I put to myself was to teach an intro to React in just 10 tweets. It took several attempts and a couple of days to get right, but I finally had something I was proud of!

It really was an intro to React in just 10 tweets (with supporting images and code), and I put it out on a Friday, just before my flight to React Boston (which was a great conference btw!)

React Crash Course

It slowly started to spread, and seemed like it resonated well!

Then it went crazy

Sometime on Saturday, while tweeting about the React conference I was attending, my twitter notifications started going crazy.

It took me a bit to figure out what happened, but then realized that Dan Abramov (the creator of Redux, and part of the React team at Facebook) had retweeted the React thread! 馃帀

(Thanks Dan!)

It was the first time anything like that had happened to me, so it was kind of fun watching the Twitter app just give up with notifications, and just get stuck at "20+"

By the end of the weekend (which I had started with < 700 followers), I had 2,077 (and still growing!)



What can we learn...

The goal of the "crash course" twitter threads has always been to teach people new things right on twitter.

This is a style that has been popularized by Wes Bos, Adam Wathan and Steve Schoger, and the whole idea is to teach people where they are.

I knew that if I made really good content, then people would start to take notice (which they did) - but the primary goal of anything like this HAS to be to teach people stuff.

You can do it too

So: make sure that your primary goal is not to gain followers (that will happen organically) - but to teach as much as you can.

It took a long time (years!) to find a format that I liked producing that other people clearly like consuming, but I'm happy that I kept at it.

It's hard work to create content that teaches people complex topics - so keep practicing! Get feedback, and keep iterating until you find a format that you like as well.

The reach of Twitter

So far, that one post has had over 400,000 impressions, and over 15,000 engagements on twitter:

400000 engagements

It still totally blows my mind how big Twitter is, and how many niches abound. 馃く

So what do you want to teach?

What's next

Well, I already had about 10 more crash courses planned... but now I'm really going to double down. 馃挴

The threads that do the best are the ones that take the most time to produce (so I'm ready for that!), but it's definitely worth it - it's clearly a format that people like to learn from, and that helps (based on all the comments I've received).

If you want to keep up with the courses, then you should obviously follow me on twitter 馃槃

But also: I encourage you to teach what you know as well!

It's difficult but rewarding - and it's the only way I really know to consistently grow your following (if you're into that sort of thing).

Good luck - and tag me if you do! I'll check it out 馃槉

Like this post?

You can find more by following me on twitter 馃槃: @chrisachard
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Thanks for reading!

Top comments (13)

s_aitchison profile image
Suzanne Aitchison

The whole idea is to teach people where they are

I love this! It's not something I'd considered before, but makes a whole lot of sense.

How have you found the time taken to draft the threads versus if you'd done a normal blog post on the topic? Certainly seems like an interesting challenge 馃檪

chrisachard profile image
Chris Achard

I found that it takes longer to do the Twitter threads actually, because I have to be more creative to get everything to fit in 280 characters + an image

BUT! I have also found myself being more creative because of it. I think it's a case of "constraints make you more creative" - and I'm really liking the results.

s_aitchison profile image
Suzanne Aitchison

Yeah I thought it would take longer! I guess it's a really good exercise to boil down the topic to its most digestible core points - which is a fun challenge and a great way to teach 馃榿 Look forward to seeing more in future!

sonicoder profile image
G谩bor So贸s • Edited

It reminds me of my tweet from the early days of Angular

My post was retweeted by the official site and I was like what happened???

By the way, good post, keep up the good work 馃憤

chrisachard profile image
Chris Achard

Haha - that was exactly my feeling; all of the sudden my twitter notifications were unusable and I had to really dig to figure out what happened 馃槃

subhashsurana profile image
Subhash Surana

Hey Chris, glad to see you here..I am currently learning your React Native course in egghead and just came to know about your twitter crash course.. will ofcourse checkout that one though...have a great week ahead.

chrisachard profile image
Chris Achard

Hi Subhash - Nice to meet you! Hope React Native is going well for you :)

kylefilegriffin profile image
Kyle Griffin

In all honesty, does having a larger twitter following help with much? If we're talking about the value of influence, then it's very hard to really quantify how much more you can charge for your product from your twitter brand alone.

chrisachard profile image
Chris Achard

Yeah - I was going to include an entire section on that, but left it out because I thought it may deserve its own post.

I avoided "building an audience" for a long time, because I wasn't sure that I wanted to do that - but as I do less and less consulting, and more and more education and instruction - it's become clear to me that the way to have the most impact is to have get people to actually know who you are 馃檪

Plus - I knew I wanted to help as many people as possible, and not many places on the internet have the built in network effects that twitter has; which makes it valuable in itself.

mjsarfatti profile image
Manuele J Sarfatti

So: make sure that your primary goal is not to gain followers (that will happen organically)


mehmood168 profile image

Your React thread was really helpful.
Keep up the good work.

lakincoder profile image
Lakin Mohapatra • Edited

Hi @chrisachard , I am quite fortunate enough to know about your twitter course. It's really awesome.
Thank you so much for contributing to the community.

chrisachard profile image
Chris Achard

Thanks, and you're welcome!