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11 algorithm proof ways to grow on Twitter

I’ve got over 100k Twitter followers. I follow less than 1k people back. I gain 3k new followers and do 40M+ impressions per month. Read on to learn how.

Ed Latimore
Ed Latimore
Writer, retired boxer, self-improvement enthusiast

You want to know  “How to grow on Twitter?” 

Some of the people teaching how to grow your Twitter following are con-artists and liars.

But this article is the real deal. I’ve got over 160k followers and I do 40M impressions a month. Today you will learn the strategies I use to grow my Twitter following.

How to grow your twitter following: I know what I'm talking about.
From my Twitter analytics. 47 M impressions. That's 47 million eyes on my words.

In December 2016, I hit 10k followers. That took about 18 months of serious tweeting.

In December 2017, I had 30k followers. Now I have over 160k followers and I gain an average of 3000 new followers per month.

My Twitter account has steadily grown because of the powerful methods I use. In this article, I will teach you how to grow on Twitter using them.

Twitter terms to understand the metrics

Twitter Impressions

When you send a tweet out, it becomes one of many that populate the timeline of anyone who follows you. When any of your followers retweet you, the tweet then fills the timeline of their followers. In theory, this can continue until it fills the timeline of everyone who ever uses Twitter.

Twitter has no way to know if you read all of the tweets that come up on your timeline. Even if you quote tweet it with the most valuable insight ever made in the last 200 years, Twitter doesn’t know if a human read the original tweet. It only knows that the tweet has to pass by the user’s field of vision for any interaction to be possible.

An impression measures how many times your tweet has passed through a position on someone’s timeline where it would be possible for an outside observer to read it. This means that even if you’re scrolling frantically down the timeline, every tweet you pass by gets an impression.

Twitter Engagements

If impressions are the indirect flirtations of the Twitter universe, then engagements are the bold moves made in response to a blown kiss. Engagements are officially any action taken on or in response to your tweet. I further divide engagement into two categories: hard engagement and soft engagement.

Retweets, retweets with comment, or following the poster are hard engagements. Liking the tweet and visiting the profile immediately after viewing the tweet are soft engagements. You can do fine on Twitter if you only get hard engagement with no soft counterpart. The inverse of this statement is not true.

Number of people who like, retweet, or comment on your tweet

Twitter Followers

The number of people who add to your follower count.

This is pretty obvious and doesn’t need much explaining. If you’re worried that someone has “fake followers,” get them to tell you their impressions. Bots and fake followers don’t leave impressions because they aren’t scrolling the timeline.

Examples of common Twitter strategy to increase engagement that I don’t do

I don’t pay for retweets. I have nothing against this strategy, but it can become expensive, and it doesn’t help you develop your ability to write engagingly. Also, Twitter’s algorithm incorporates many SEO-like features, so you need both retweets AND good writing.

I don’t ask people to follow me. This is a great way to turn off potential followers to your account. When you ask people to follow you, it comes across as begging and makes you seem desperate. It also implies that you don’t offer enough value to motivate someone to follow you organically.

I’m not in any engagement groups. I hear engagement groups work great, but they’re usually populated with people who have a much lower number of followers than me. This means that I don’t get much from it at all. When you’re starting, they may be a good idea, but the problem is that you have to share types of content or promote products that may not align with your personal brand.

I don’t follow back most people who follow me.  My account is not a “follow back” account. “Follow back” is a popular method for building a large following. This is when you follow an account with the hope that they follow back. These accounts follow the people who follow them. If your following is built by being a follower of someone else, you have no value and your numbers are worthless.

I don’t use hashtags. Hashtags are useful for following trending topics in sports, entertainment, and politics. However, they don’t help pick up new followers.

The basic idea is this: hashtags are just for seeing what everyone is talking about and following the discussion on all sides. Not for finding those with common interests who will follow you.

I don’t pay for ads. While I’ve tried this, Twitter is not a social media platform built to capitalize on paid advertisement—at least not in my opinion. I’ve read a few guides where people have used paid advertising to increase their number of followers successfully, but it has not been successful for me. Also, based on the pricing structure of advertisements, you’re much better off buying retweets from an influencer. 

Most of these are acceptable methods for building a following, and I have nothing against them, but I have grown my account organically and without financial assistance. This is what I will show you how to do in the rest of this article.

I have a great free guide that teaches you how to write using Twitter, the social media platform designed for writers. Download The Breakdown here.

Have a clear theme and target audience

You have to add value. There are only four ways to do this:

  • Educate
  • Entertain
  • Inspire
  • Solve problems

There are millions of active users online and billions of people in the world. Most of these accounts are just stupid opinions that do not give value. If you want to stand out and grow on the platform, you must provide value. 

It doesn’t matter whether you’re talking about cooking, social media marketing, or making people laugh. Your account has to give people a reason to come back. 

Twitter accounts that focus on a theme, issue, or cater to some specific audience will automatically value. Your Twitter account’s theme doesn’t matter. There are huge accounts for every group and interest.

The theme of my Twitter account is self-improvement and self-sufficiency. I express this primarily via tweets about stoicism, self-discipline, and reading people.

My tweets aren’t idle complaints, observations, or reflections on my feelings. My 280 characters stay on the theme and I constantly give value. Even when I leave this theme, I try to make people laugh with my unique sense of humor.

If you focus on giving value above all other things, you have a good shot at experiencing massive growth.

Top tweets are how to grow your twitter following
Two popular tweets of mine on self-improvement and self-sufficiency

Delete old tweets

This is a tactical idea for passive self-promotion.

Your account needs to appear consistent. Delete off-topic tweets. If a tweet goes a day or two without getting very many replies or retweets, you can safely delete or come back to it for later use. 

A consistent twitter is a resource worth following.

When people see that you don’t have thousands of tweets archived, your account looks ordered. 

Aim to have fewer tweets archived than your follower count. The lower you can make this ratio, the better.

Think of Twitter as a showcase for your thoughts: Only the best stuff should be on display.

Example of a bad tweet to follower ratio
My tweet count is a little high, but it's still lower than my follower count

Be authentic and transparent

If you build a Twitter account supporting conversation politics, you better be a huge conservative.

This is also true if you build an account about social justice, white supremacy, sales, or art.

You don’t have to be public—some of the most authentic accounts I follow are anonymous. But you have to live the life you build your Twitter theme around.

You can’t have an account about healthy eating if you’re a fat ass. You’d have more success with a fat acceptance account.

Whatever your theme is, you have to live it. 

Even if you’re anonymous, your tweets will show authenticity. Authenticity is attractive and powerful because, by definition, it is impossible to fake.

Retweet with comment or “quote tweet” more

Retweet with comment. A.k.a. “quote tweeting.”

Many new Twitter accounts make this mistake.

They read a tweet or an article that they like. I know they like it because they retweet it—the end.

This level of effort is unacceptable.

Anyone can retweet what they see. To inspire engagement, you need to add value to the things you retweet. I like to quote an important line or give a glowing recommendation when I retweet.

Some tweets stand alone and simply require a retweet. However, this won’t cause people to see the value that YOU can add. If they don’t see your value, then they aren’t likely to follow you.

When I’m helping people grow their Twitter accounts, I make sure that their content is a good fit for me to retweet. If you decide to pay people to retweet your content, this is one of many things that you need to consider. The following article walks you that other important steps to consider if you buy retweets to help you grow.

The other reason you need to quote tweet more often is because when people come to your Twitter profile, they’re not just going to your profile photo or your Twitter bio:

They’re also going to see your most recent tweets and activity in your Twitter feed. If that recent activity is only retweets of other people’s words and ideas, then there isn’t much incentive for them to follow you.

Rather than just retweet the article, I quote the best line before sharing it. This is a practice I follow for tweets and any articles that I share. 

It works wonders for the article’s exposure. I’m always trying to help.

Commenting On Tweets To Get Followers
A light example of this philosophy. I quote tweet this rather than just retweet it

Have a great Twitter bio

I almost wrote “Good,” but that’s not good enough. 

A “good bio” is the Twitter equivalent of a “nice guy.” No one hates the nice guy, but no one loves him either. He barely makes an impression. He is completely forgettable.

You want people to LOVE your bio. Or you want people to HATE your bio. The thing you don’t want them to do is to forget it.

You don’t want your bio to be the equivalent of a “nice guy.”

A “great bio” mentions extraordinary things about yourself. A great bio shows what makes you stand out. A simple test of a great bio is this:

Will people remember what I’m about if they come across my tweet scrolling through their timeline? They won’t remember word-for-word, but they should be able to summon an idea of your bio presentation.

Get creative, keep it within the theme, and be exceptional. Be honest and authentic. It also helps if your Twitter handle is related to your theme. If you can’t come up with anything unique to your Twitter theme, just go with your real name.

If you’re worried about being doxxed, I don’t have much to say that can persuade you other than these 2 things:

  1. Most people are too busy and lack the resources to dox you.
  2. If you treat people with respect on the internet, you never have to worry about someone being motivated to doxx you anyway. 

Your Twitter bio and Twitter handle are great if you think they would make great taglines for a resume or a dating profile. Keeping with this same metric, put some thought into selecting your profile picture and header image.

The header image isn’t nearly as important as the profile picture. If you’re anonymous, these rules don’t matter much, but if you’re going to use your real likeness, there are 2 simple rules:

  1. Make sure eyes are looking at the screen
  2. If you can’t do rule number 2, then make it an activity shot

Look at various social profiles on multiple platforms. You’ll notice that profile pictures that meet these two rules are a lot more attractive and alluring.

Become a better writer

Twitter is a social media platform that rewards writing skills. The only way to improve a skill is to practice.

There’s a reason why so many big accounts have blogs.

It’s not because blogging gives you great content to share. That helps, but the real benefit is that it forces you to exercise your writing muscle.

Memes, infographics, and pictures do well on Twitter for engagement, but you have to couple these with solid writing if you want your visual content to succeed. 

As long as you get better, your ability to put a message in 280 characters will improve.

If you tweet high-quality messages, more people will follow you. If you need to improve your writing skills, this article teaches you what I’ve learned about writing better on the internet. 

Choose your battles wisely

Trolls can be an excellent source of followers.

You won’t pick off many of their followers. However, your followers will see you battle on an issue they resonate with.

This is the benefit of trolls. Trolls make your followers more engaged. Engaged followers recruit more followers.

The bad part of trolls is that they force polarization.

A polarized account isn’t a bad thing, but it will niche you down.

My theme of self-improvement and self-sufficiency is excellent, but if I get into political spats, I will divide, and that division may not be worth it especially if the topic isn’t essential to my goals.

Here is my formula for dealing with Twitter trolls:

If the troll has less than 5000 followers, I don’t even bother to respond. If they have less than 10,000, I respond to the troll but won’t retweet. If they have more followers than this, I fully engage.

Well-chosen fights can net you a decent number of followers. Poorly chosen battles will lose you quite a few.

Also, beware of getting reported.

Your account is useless if it gets suspended. I’ve seen more than a few people lose significant revenue because they got banned from Twitter.

This is how to use social media instead of letting social media use you.

I have a great free guide that teaches you how to write using Twitter, the social media platform designed for writers. Download The Breakdown here.

Be patient. Do the work.

When I started building my Twitter following, I tried to pay someone to handle it for me.

I got a little over 1000 followers, but I also ended up following 1200 people.

Many of these people were “follow back” accounts. That’s because he put my account on an automatic follower program that randomly followed people, hoping that some would follow back.

After 2 weeks of my phone buzzing with notifications, I unfollowed all of those nonsense accounts, fired the guy, and started doing the work.

Realize this: unless you are a celebrity, building a following takes time. It takes effort.

It’s like growing a garden. Each tweet is a seed with the potential to bear the delicious fruit known as a “follower.” You can’t rush the process.

This is not the same thing as using something like Hypefury to schedule tweets. That falls under the real of writing practice. While I don’t schedule tweets, I understand

Increase Twitter Follower Growth
My growth over time to today

Have something to say

You must have something worth saying. If it helps, imagine yourself as a thought leader about the topic you’ve chosen to focus your theme around.

It doesn’t have to focus on how to be a better person. It could be about traveling, racism, or cooking. No matter what, you need to add something worthwhile to the discussion.

Offer a unique perspective—whether through substance or style—on the theme you select.

You can grow a decent-sized account as a hater, but you need to be a unique brand of hater. Otherwise, you’re just a rip-off.

No one likes a copycat because copycats lack authenticity and they haven’t done the work.

Ed Latimore
About the author

Ed Latimore

I’m a writer, competitive chess player, Army veteran, physicist, and former professional heavyweight boxer. My work focuses on self-development, realizing your potential, and sobriety—speaking from personal experience, having overcome both poverty and addiction.

Follow me on Twitter.