Welcome to Twitter Growth for Developers!
I'm Dan, a developer and designer, who's been on Twitter since 2006 (hence the two-letter username, @dr 😄)
Twitter is easily my most favourite social media platform. Partly because of its simplicity and concise nature, but mostly because it has the power to level up anyone's career and therefore life.
This guide is an exploration of how I grew my own account to over 40,000 followers, 36,000 of those in the last two years. I've written down all the things I've been doing, tactics that I've found have worked, and some thoughtful ideas of how you can grow on Twitter.
The outcome of reading this guide should be that you take what you read, apply it to your own Twitter account, and grow your audience. It may not be quick, viral growth, but, as you'll find later in the guide, slower and steady growth is usually better long-term.
Here are some targets that you'll be able to hit after applying the learnings from this guide to your Twitter account:
- A steady flow of followers for sustainable growth (eg: get hundreds of followers every week)
- Make relationships with other developers, helping you
- More engaged users, meaning fewer tweets with no responses or engagement
- Turn followers into customers and unlock many other opportunities
- Upgrade your life (seriously!)
About my own growth
This guide is a reflection of how I grew my own account and explains my own journey. I want to give some background on my situation over the past two years to make it more relatable and show that I didn't have any major lucky breaks or extraordinary plan or circumstances.
My growth is a product of just showing up and working hard.
I had gained just under 4,000 followers in my first 14 years of using Twitter, from September 2006 until June 2020. I had no real focus to my account and tweeted sporadically.
In May 2020, I released Cove, my first new product in a few years and I officially joined the "build in public" community. I started sharing frequently about what I was working on, learnings, failures and joining discussions about tech and development.
If you browse my tweets from May and June 2020, you'll see a lot of similar content as what I post nowadays, the only difference being the reach (mostly under 2,000 impressions) and engagement (mostly 5 likes or fewer).
I had found my content groove, posting things I enjoyed writing about. Back then I was enjoying the small amount of growth I was seeing, but it was still very slow. But as I was happy and comfortable tweeting often about topics I cared about (it was easy to keep posting), I didn't really care. I was happy just being on Twitter.
I launched a product-as-a-service called Gloat and my first Ghost theme in June. My Gloat release tweet was one of the first "viral" (over 100 likes) tweets that I'd had related to my side projects. It was amazing to have support for my ideas and to provoke discussions with other Twitter users.
By the end of July I'd spent enough time on Twitter that I found their analytics severely lacking. So I built ilo. I sat down on a Wednesday evening and live-tweeted the first few hours of building. A the end of July, when I officially launched, I had 4.7k followers, gaining about 700 followers during June and July.
This is when things started changing. The exposure I got from tweeting more about my work—seemingly compounding as I released more products—meant I started growing at more than 400 followers a month. If you look at my monthly growth since July 2020, it's clear that the summer of 2020 was a pivotal moment. My average follower growth over the past year is around 1,700 and very steady.
For me, this is confirmation that what I had practised tweeting about in May, June and into July was working. It was slow to begin with but it only took a few months before I was seeing months of 400+ new followers.
All this time, I was tweeting about my products, joining in with other indie dev conversations and making connections with a lot of other developers, designers and marketers. It was so fun to find a group of like-minded people. Look at my tweets from October and November 2020 and you'll see more engagement. By the end of the year, I'd almost doubled my followers from May: 4,082 to 7,856.
It was working. And 10,000 followers was my next goal.
I think 10,000 followers is a major milestone for a lot of Twitter users. And now I've passed it, I can tell you that it's a great milestone to hit.
For me, once I reached 10,000 followers, growth sped up and has stayed very steady ever since.
And the beauty of it is that I haven't change my methods, tactics or content. I'm just the same developer/designer from mid 2020 sharing his ideas, lessons, thoughts and progress.
Anyone can do this.
Before we get going with more actionable parts of this guide, let's first talk about Twitter. What can a larger Twitter audience do for you? Why be on Twitter at all? And what do people want to see from you on Twitter?
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