Twitter is like football: You either love it loudly and passionately despite its flaws, or you don’t understand it and don’t want to hear about it ever again.
However you feel about Twitter, it’s a very useful tool for building an audience for your podcast. And increasing your follower count doesn’t have to be a slog. Recent Between Two Mics guest Jay Clouse is proof of that.
Jay hosts the podcast Creative Elements, in which he interviews creative professionals about their careers and lives. He joined Twitter in 2009 and slowly learned to love the platform, mainly as a way of connecting with interesting people. He amassed a modest 1000 followers or so. But he really wanted more.
In 2021, Jay launched the #Tweet100 challenge. He pushed himself to tweet at least once a day for 100 days, in the hopes that this would increase his follower count. Since then, over 1,500 people have signed up for the challenge, adding more than 109K followers total.
Jay now has nearly 13,000 followers and plenty of Twitter wisdom. He shares the number one thing to do to increase your follower count, the surprising thing you should stop doing and the key elements you need for a personal challenge that yields tangible results.
5 simple dos and don’ts for gaining Twitter followers
If you’re someone who doesn’t “get” Twitter, the idea that a relatively normal person could convince thousands of people to follow their online ramblings is mind-boggling. But it doesn’t require superpowers or knowing someone famous: Just learning a few basic techniques and sticking to them can make a big impact.
1. Tweet a lot
The tactic that will have the most impact on your follower count is tweeting a lot — at least once a day, but ideally more. The more you tweet, the more followers you’ll get.
This has to do with Twitter’s algorithms. Your followers look at constantly growing feeds as people tweet new content every second. Unless your tweet captures the attention of Twitter’s mysterious algorithm, it’s quickly buried under the next person’s.
The more you tweet, the higher the chance you’ll reach people while they’re scrolling. This increases engagement, which improves your status with the algorithm andmakes it easier for new people to find your feed.
This more-is-better approach to Twitter has always been effective. It’s even more important now that users can see tweets that have been liked by people they follow (not just retweets).
2. Write threads
Some Twitter users love threads: more space for your manifesto on the perfect trash can, or the best method to prepare scrambled eggs! However, some people — including Jay — find them extremely taxing.
The extra effort is worth it, however. “Threads are what pick up followers first and foremost on Twitter right now, no question… because they get the most impressions,” he says.
It comes back to quantity. A single thread is made up of a series of tweets, all of which multiply your engagement opportunities. If someone likes, comments on or retweets just one of the tweets in a thread, the whole thing spreads. People discover the other tweets, engage with those, and then those spread.
In order to maximize this mini viral effect, Jay recommends treating every tweet in a thread as equally important. “Each tweet within a thread should be self-contained and valuable,” he says.
3. Engage with your followers
Here’s another polarizing Twitter behavior: Some users love getting involved in the comments people post on their tweets — and some stay as far away as possible.
If you have a temperament suited to interacting with strangers on the internet, responding to people on Twitter can be really beneficial for your follower count. (Shout out to SquadCast’s community manager Arielle, who loves talking to the people who connect with us on social media.)
Users that promote conversation and more engagement get a bump from the algorithm. After all, Twitter’s aim is to keep people using the platform for as long as possible. Users who take the time to respond to their followers do that very effectively — provided you have the stamina.
4. Be opinionated
Unless you’ve been living in a blissful state of social media-related denial, you already know that Twitter loves an argument.
Arguments, like discussions, draw people into spending more time on the platform. One minute they’re liking a tweet about someone’s cat, two hours later they’re mounting a passionate defense of their favorite Disney song.
The algorithm rewards polarizing opinions. This may one day see the organization hauled in to testify to Congress. But in the meantime, you can use this to your advantage.
To be clear, this is not carte blanche to say hateful, hurtful things on the internet for the sake of growing your follower count. Don’t be that troll.
The point is to have a strong opinion about everything you possibly can. Preferably benign things, like the best way to cook scrambled eggs. (Butter, not milk, on the stovetop: See you in the comments.) Choosing a side means someone else is on the other side — which opens up the floor for debate.
5. Don’t waste your hashtags
Hashtags used to be essential for getting your tweets seen, but at this stage in Twitter’s history, they can be more of a hindrance than a help.
Jay says he’s noticed that tweets posted as part of the #Tweet100 challenge with two hashtags or more tend to perform worse than those with just one hashtag. Use your hashtags sparingly.
How to make yourself tweet more
We’ve identified tweeting more as the number one way to increase your follower count. So… how do you do that?
This is exactly why Jay created the #Tweet100 challenge. He wanted to grow his Twitter follower count, partly because it would help him promote his podcast and find more guests. But even though he was already writing various other projects every week, he just couldn’t motivate himself to sit down and write regular tweets.
Jay designed a system to push himself to meet his goal of tweeting more often. He wanted it to involve daily tweeting. It needed to be public, so he would feel accountable. And, crucially, it needed to have a metric he could measure. “When I promise to do something and have a metric for seeing, Am I doing it, I end up doing it,” he says.
Daily tweets for 100 days fit all these requirements. People knew about the challenge, and it was easy to see whether he was meeting his goal or not.
You don’t have to follow exactly the same system, but make sure your approach involves a challenge that is clearly connected to your goal, a way to ensure accountability and an easy method of measuring your progress.
If you can’t love Twitter, you can at least learn how to play the game.
Natasha Lavender is a writer, editor and podcast nerd. She has a BA in English and American Literature from the University of Birmingham in the UK, which proved especially useful when she moved to Chicago, IL, in 2016. This content was produced collaboratively with PodReacher.