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How I Gained 65,000 Twitter Followers In One Year

emmabostian profile image Emma Bostian ✨ Updated on ・6 min read

This post is in no way meant to brag; it’s meant to provide insight into quick social media growth.

In the last eight months, I’ve gained about 42,000 followers, and people always ask me how I did it. So I’m here to break down the things I did which ultimately gained me a following (specifically on Twitter).

Let’s start with some analytics and break down followers gained and top tweets.

September 2018

This was the first month I gained a lot of followers. I attribute this to my top tweet of the month getting liked or retweeted by someone with a following.

September analytics

October 2018

Another great month for gaining followers, I found that my tweet about impostor syndrome struck a chord with others in the industry.
October analytics

November 2018

November, my top tweet centered around job interview rejections. Again, a topic that's extremely relevant to all developers, but which doesn't seem to be talked about much.
November statistics

December 2018

This was my biggest month in terms of gaining a following. With 9.4k followers gained, my top tweet this month was a SQL parody/Christmas picture I posted. And while the nearly 20k likes on this tweet got me a lot of traffic, it also got me some unwanted attention.
December statistics

January 2019

January also saw some great growth in terms of following. My top tweet this month focused on embarrassing things we've done in our day jobs. Some of the answers were extremely entertaining.
January statistics

February 2019

In February I gained around 2,000 followers. The Regex Cheat Sheet I made got a ton of traction, thus leading to some new followers.
February statistics

March 2019

March saw almost 4,000 new followers. My most popular tweet was in regards to the strength it takes speakers to present in a foreign language. It resonated with quite a few people.
March

April 2019

April was a big month for gaining followers. I gained over 7,000. This was largely in part to a stupid tweet I posted about wearing headphones without listening to music, simply to ignore other humans. I will never understand the Internet.
April

May 2019

It’s currently May 10th, and I’ve already gained about 2,200 new followers. I posted this amazingly hilarious photo of a possum. I still giggle every time I see it.
May

June 2019

June was a huge follower-gaining month with nearly 7,000 new followers, and I attribute this primarily to my most liked tweet which received over 6,000 likes.

June

July 2019

It turns out that tweeting about how great CSS is is a popular way to get a few likes. Who knew 2,900 others also enjoy Cascading Style Sheets?

July

August 2019

August saw almost 4,000 new followers and a top tweet discussing monetizing your side projects.
August

September 2019

And ending the year-long journey we return to September, where my top tweet had over 8,000 likes. I gained a notable follower, Smashing Magazine, who I must say I fangirled over a bit. And I gave my first live-coding conference talk in Amsterdam, leading me to an additional 3,500 followers.

In one year, I had gained 65,559 followers.

September

Tips For Gaining Followers

So now that we've explored the follower breakdown, let's take a look at some of the things I did to gain a following.

I want to note that follower count, by no means, should have an effect on your self-worth. And while I had quick growth, it often takes years for people to gain a following. So please take these tips with a grain of salt.

Post Consistently

The biggest piece of advice I got from my co-worker Kahlil Lechelt was to post consistently, even if no one is listening. In general, people don't get popular overnight; it takes time. The more you post, the bigger your backlog of content becomes. And people enjoy following others with large amounts of content.

Interact With The Community

I try my hardest to respond to every message I receive and to interact with people. This has proved invaluable. People want to know that you're listening to them. When I have a positive interaction with someone in the community, I tend to value their tweets just a little bit more.

Post Relatable Content

I try to tweet things that are relevant to all, and I don't always sugarcoat everything. I'm not sure why more developers aren't vocal about failing a job interview, or struggling with impostor syndrome. These issues affect nearly all developers and talking openly about how it affects me has greatly impacted my following.

Be Myself

You should never try to be someone you're not (in person or online). If you get popular from posting things that don't reflect who you are, you gained popularity for the wrong reasons.

Create Content That Interests Me

I firmly believe that you should create the content that interests you. Whether that's through blogging or making video tutorials, find the platform and the topics which interest you. If you don't enjoy writing or speaking about the topics you create, no one will enjoy reading it. And just because a topic has been blogged about previously doesn't mean you shouldn't create content in that subject area. People learn in all different ways; perhaps your content will reach a developer who was previously struggling in that area.

Never Set Goals To Gain X Amount Of Followers

I've seen several tweets that set goals to reach a certain number of followers, yet I urge people to not focus on the numbers and instead focus on the quality of the followers you receive. If you're always chasing numbers, you'll never be happy (whether that's with weight loss or follower count). Focus on the meaningful interactions you have through social media platforms.

Negative Effects Of Social Media Growth

While I am totally in awe of the growth I've achieved on Twitter, it's not without its drawbacks. If your goal is to grow your follower base, please be aware that it's not all rainbows and butterflies. Below are some of the issues I struggle with each day.

Time Consumption

I spend a vast amount of time interacting with the community (upwards of 4 hours a day). It can often feel like a full-time job. And this takes a toll on my mental health. It also means that I spend less time doing other things such as exercising, writing blogs, and reading.

Negativity

Gaining a following increases the amount of negativity and rude comments you'll receive. This is something I struggle with. I am a people pleaser that hates conflict. I'm still learning to deal with the negativity.

Pressure To Create

I love creating content, but recently I've been feeling pressure to push as much content out as I can. Yet as a result, the quality can suffer, as well as my mental health. Learning to prioritize is something I struggle with each and every day.

Conclusion

Gaining a following is an amazing feeling. To know that there are 42,000 people out there reading my content is simultaneously terrifying and thrilling. If your goal is to gain a following, I hope these tips helped. But remember whether you have 20 followers or 10,000, you should never sacrifice your mental health or values.

Posted on by:

emmabostian profile

Emma Bostian ✨

@emmabostian

Software Engineer, bibliophile, & cat mom

Discussion

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You seemed to have gained followers by making a couple of tweets that got retweeted a fair bit.

I attribute this to my top tweet of the month getting liked or retweeted by someone with a following.

That's it, that's all, that's the step one, that most people never reach. You were lucky to get those first couple of retweets, because there are a lot of people out there posting the same kind of thing who get ignored. I've read hundreds of tweets about poor job interview experiences, asking questions about imposter syndrome or similar, from people who are popular and from people who aren't - to my mind, these are not things that are "[don't] seem to be talked about much." I think it depends on who you are following whether you see these things or not.

I think there is probably a snowball effect where people are more likely to see your stuff because other people see your stuff and and and... what I mean is, if you started from scratch and came out with exactly the same tweets in the same order, chances are that the result would be very different.

cough and I like the way you use "250" as the example of a low number of followers...

 

Yes. I agree that I got lucky. I never denied that. There's no need to be rude about it. I'm not sitting over here bragging about this. I get asked this question a lot. And unfortunately the majority of my growth was luck.

 

There's no need to be rude about it.

I'm not trying to be; please don't take it that way.

Try or not, it does come across that way, at least to the author and myself.

I would have personally apologized if I offended someone by mistake, as opposed to asking not to "take it that way".

How would you feel if you took the time to write out your experience, and then some random person, just replied "you got lucky, and if you tried again you'd probably fail"?

Someone wrote this great post: dev.to/moopet/why-i-like-devto-58jc, I'd recommend you give it a read, specifically the part on people sharing experiences and being nice.

Kudos on the brilliant post by the way.

 

Pressure To Create

I love creating content, but recently I've been feeling pressure to push as much content out as I can. Yet as a result, the quality can suffer, as well as my mental health. Learning to prioritize is something I struggle with each and every day.

👆 this resonates with me. What are you doing to prioratise?

I find that I go through cycles of almost burnout, then I find something motavating again and off I go. It doesnt really sound sustainable now I'm looking at what I've typed 😬

 

I'll post a blog soon on prioritization & productivity :)

 

This is great advice! In the same situation and frankly very stressful. Hoping to just chill and get discipline back 🙈

 

Wow, never knew this was how you got your following. I personally thought "LOL, she is cool" and that was all it took for me to follow.

 
 

Nice Tips Emma. And like you told me some time ago: before you gain attention from big companies, you need to contribute and have a good amount of social media appearances. Thanks for this article. doing my best :)

 

Extremely useful post, Emma. I have been trying to build my network over both Twitter and LinkedIn. And believe that the pointers mentioned by you are applicable to both or rather all social media platforms.

I have a question around that - how do you ensure you post content consistently? Do you build a content pipeline or do you post whatever you like/ have read on a particular day?

 

So by post consistently, I suppose I mean often. I never force myself to post on a schedule; it's just not realistic. But I'm active on Twitter every day and would guess I post blogs maybe one a week on average? But I'm not on a strict timeline.

 

Cool! Guess this makes posting/ commenting on Twitter an organic activity. That ways it does not feel like work and is just a part of your day. Sounds good. Will try that :)

 

"Interact With The Community"

Definitely true. I admit I'm guilty of spreading what could be perceived as negativity from time to time (maybe even to you by accident), but it's because I forget that people read things in a different way than they listen to them. Tone can't be parsed from written words (or I'm not a skilled enough writer to add tone), and sometimes when someone might seem negative or disagreeable, it's a different opinion that would be amicably expressed in person but sounds blunt in the comment section.

We all get detached from what we write online to "strangers". It's just the nature of it, and if you go to were 99% of comments are, you usually find no response. Think about a YT channel that has several million followers and how many comments are there. That means that a good portion of people leaving comments get caught in an echo chamber where no one responds no matter than tone or wording.

Best of luck, and glad to see your rise and how well documented you're keeping it!

 

This is so true! Often the things I post are taken in ways I didn't intend - and that's very difficult!

 

Great breakdown. Thanks for sharing Emma 🙌🏻.

On the negativity part; I think the best way to deal with this is seeing it as an indicator that you're on the right path.

If other people are willing to spend THEIR time on writing something - be it positive or negative - and responding towards you, this is a win.

The marketing sector always said it out loud: negative attention still is attention.

I v/blogged about it in a post on Shipharder.com: shipharder.com/five-indications-fo...

Although the indicator itself might be negative, the why of this happening and what it implies is positive.

Hope it helps ✌🏻

 

I would love to increase my twitter followers, currently only 18.

I am trying to be a more active poster (not that easy), any advice on tweet tags? Currently I have been trying to add a lot of (related) tags to possibly increase audience reach.

 

There's quite a lot of debate about the best way to use hashtags on Twitter - using lots of them may mean your tweets reach a bigger audience, but there are also quite a lot of 'purists' who don't like the use of lots of tags on every tweet, so it's a bit of a toss up. I personally only use hashtags when I'm participating in a Twitter chat or commenting on a topical event. (Twitter chats, by the way, are a very good way of increasing your following).

 

Posting consistently is the biggest challenge for me. Not even that I don't have much to talk about, it's just being consistent that's really hard. I'm always surprised by how people stay productive and tweet non stop. Thanks for this post!

 

Hey,
Twitter is really a powerful tool if you used it correctly. Twitter can help you to generate sales and leads. It also makes your branding strong and builds connections with your prospects. In this case, I`d like to suggest you check this platform socialboss.org/buy-twitter-followers/

 

Modern twitter interfaces are such that the number of followers is not equal to the number of people who read you. There are ways to filter contents in lists, searches, etc. Think Tweetdeck. It is important to be aware of this (and I guess you are, but I'm just saying :)

Also, you talk about the negative aspects of social media growth but not about the positive ones. So, you have 30,000 people who clicked "follow", but what does that mean, practically speaking, for you. Does that bring you anything practically positive ?

Last on that one, even with 280 characters, Twitter is still extremely limited as a publishing platform. Unless one posts technical haikus, the N/S is extremely high, so the real questions are how to regularly (?) create contents that matters (an to whom) in 280 characters. What are the objectives (income ? fame ?) How do you measure whether you have reached your objectives ? Beyond the numbers, how do you measure the effects you have on the crowd ? And was all that worth it ?

 

But remember whether you have 250 followers or 10,000, you should never sacrifice your mental health or values.

Gold.

 

Thanks for the tips! I've always had a passion for education and sharing knowledge and recently decided to join some communities and just start sharing. I'll definitely take these tips into account. :D

 
 

Keep the great content coming :)

 

I like the side effect of it, by your tweets I knew Coding Coach, and now I'm a mentor at Coding Coach, helping more people.

It's nice when we can see the whole picture :D

 
 
 

I never knew that there were devs out there purposefully trying to gain a following...interesting.

 

Whats the reason you wanted to build a following?

 

I was about to ask you this! Thanks for the amazing post!

 

Emma, any updates on this? I’d love to hear more about May and June maybe? 😃

 

Thanks Emma..! Your blog is interesting and generally useful for social media marketing. It will help us to get more social connection and engagement.

 

Nice article! What tool are you using to get these tweet highlights?

 

I'm new here and youre already an inspiration toe.. thanks for all you do maam

 

so hexopoxiahexo is negotitable or followers

 

It's very nice explanation here thanks.

 

Hey Emma, don't pressure yourself :) your followers will still value you a lot, if you post less content. This post was very insightful :)

Keep up the good work 💪