Following my post on A Twitch Journey To Partner, I was asked to write some thoughts on Twitter. Some visiting this page will be familiar with my work on @VTuberTweeter, a Twitter bot. Some may have seen me post over on @NookSite too. I’ve also had experience managing the Twitter for a Twitch Partner/Youtube, as well as my personal account. As well as these, I’ve run experiments elsewhere and spoken with fellow content creators, social media managers and PR representatives on the topic.
As always, I can only draw from my own experience and the advice I’ve been given but some of these thoughts may be of interest to content creators looking to gain a following.
Followers for Fun and Profit?
Before tackling anything in detail, I thought I’d look at some reasons why people want followers on Twitter. Most of these are probably obvious, but there may be some things that readers may not have considered.
Vanity – This one is sadly common. Some people equate their worth to the numbers on their social media account and which big accounts follow them. It’s the least useful reason, but we’ll list it here to get it out of the way. Is this where I brag that the top follower of @VTuberTweeter has over one million followers and is verified? It doesn’t matter though – we’ve never interacted with them.
Influencing the Public – Some people believe that your opinion is only worth as much as your follower count. Beyond that, more followers means spreading your word further. Whether it’s your opinions on pineapple pizza (yuck) or announcing your upcoming livestream, this helps to get the message out. It’s often been said before too that people are more likely to follow an account if they know other people have followed it too; it creates the perception that you’re worth following. Many people will not be checking over you in detail before making the decision to follow or not, so that impression can be important.
Influencing Colleagues – Being taken more seriously due to a higher follower count applies here too, but there’s also giving a perception of power to people in the same area as you. As an example, a person with a high follower count posts asking about collaborations as a streamer will tend to get many more responses than a smaller follower account. This is even without counting for the wider reach and can happen even with a lower follower count on Twitch/Youtube. Another common one is a content creator posting tweets addressed to the public so hundreds reply, but they only respond to followers with big numbers.
PR Relations – Applying to content creators and press, this could mean free and early access to games (see my post about how to get this), invites to press events, or random swag. It varies based on the PR person, but some will take Twitter followers into account when evaluating whether to extend offers to you. An interesting case here is that I know a YouTuber who was amazing at Twitter and his account skyrocketed. Unfortunately, he was a pretty terrible content creator (sorry, but it’s true!) and his Youtube numbers were terribly low because of that. He was extended offers to do game reviews for his YouTube channel that most people around his level of YouTube following would not be and invited to events.
Exponential Growth – The more followers you have, the more people will RT you or mention you. In theory. This can lead to higher growth – getting the first 500 followers is difficult, but going from 5,000 to 5,500 is much easier. At the higher levels, you might even get recommended to someone by Twitter – they often recommend bigger accounts that post about your interests, along with people you’ve interacted with.
Maintaining a Presence – This is an important one. Even if people don’t interact with your tweets, seeing your name and content as they scroll through their timeline reminds them of you. That you are still out there and maybe they should click on your next stream or video or visit your website or whatever it may be.
Do Followers Click Links?
You might notice that I didn’t include people clicking on your content as a reason above. That is a reason to want people to follow you, but I thought I’d mention this in it’s own small section.
Followers don’t click links as much as you might think.
Going live on stream? Posted a really interesting article? Published the latest video on Youtube? Sometimes there are more likes on the tweet compared to people actually clicking it. Throughout various accounts that I’ve managed and reports from other content creators I’ve spoken to, a clickthrough rate of 1% compared to people that have seen it isn’t bad. Most people just scroll on by. Below each tweet you can click to reveal Tweet Analytics. This might give you some insight into which tweets of yours are doing well and why. I’ll post a moderately successful tweet example below. This tweet contained a link that was relevant to the audience – it’s from @VTuberTweeter and linking the A Twitch Journey To Partner article.
Moving to another account, I took a look at several of the most successful ‘Going Live’ tweets from a Twitch Partner in terms of impressions and likes. I compared them to the above tweet and other relevant non-live tweets with links in several areas. You’ll notice that people clicking through is low overall considering the amount of impressions and interactions with the tweets, but particularly low in the going live tweets. As a disclaimer, I did remove one more successful going live tweets in terms of link clicks (around the 25 link clicks level), but that was due to a promised giveaway of an expensive item.
|Going Live 1
|Going Live 2
|Going Live 3
Quite a few content creators and website owners I’ve spoken to places a lot of importance on growing their Twitter to get people into their streams. And while I imagine there are exceptions with particularly loyal fanbases, each person I’ve asked for information from has said that their clickthrough rate just isn’t that good. This was particularly the case with streamers. Of course there are unusual cases; for example, tweets about our weekly news post often does a lot better in terms of link clicks than tweets about anything else on our website, despite other types of posts significantly out performing them in terms of overall views. This is even the case when the other tweets get similar or more engagement.
On the Twitter website, you have access to more data that might be interesting. Click ‘More’ on the sidebar and then ‘Analytics’. You need to enable this. It will then take you to the Analytics page.
I’ve taken a look at two accounts
|Average Impressions Per Tweet
|Profile Visits Per Tweet
|Mentions Per Tweet
|New Followers Per Tweet
As you can see, account A is doing better in most areas than account B but not significantly so outside of profile visits. Account B is doing much better in new followers overall, but it evens out when looking at the number of tweets per followers.
Exponential growth was mentioned earlier. Account A has about 30% more followers than Account B, which is shown by the impressions per tweet. But Account B has made up for it through activity. B is gaining on the follower count quickly here, but is obviously more active on Twitter. This underlines a simple truth – be active to grow.
Of course, it’s not just about how much you tweet, but what you tweet. Tweet impressions and your discoverability can also increase by using relevant hashtags too, whether it’s due to people searching the hashtag or bots retweeting them.
I ran a poll before about types of tweets that people like to see and it’s pretty consistent with what I’ve heard from social media managers. It was specific to the VTuber community in this case, but that the memes and funny pictures won out above all else is not.
When we’re looking at VTuber tweets, model reveals and art was next up. And to be blunt – this is where we start to get into ‘life isn’t fair’ territory.
Having looked at a large number of VTuber art and model reveal tweets, the ones that got the most engagement were the animated Live2D ones and the ones that looked the most professional in anime style. Doing some background research on commission prices where the artist was listed, the ones with the most engagement were typically also the most expensive ones. While I cannot see followers gained per post, anecdotally I noticed that a lot of these people gained followers quickly after great-looking model reveals. I compared these against less traditional anime-style models, VRoid models and VTubers using a static image (PNGtubers). I don’t have full access to all the data here, but there does seem to be a notable trend, even when accounting for factors like experienced content creators being more likely to have an expensive model.
Unfortunately, there isn’t much that can be done about this. Some people will be able to invest more money into their content than others and it will never be a level playing field. This brings me to our next section.
Throwing Money Around
Whether it’s your $2000 VTuber model or your ability to commission an amazing stream layout, money can improve the appeal of your content. The content creator’s ability is more important than any of these, but this is still a huge factor. Appearances draw people in, while quality content gets them to stay. Even beyond that though, when you look at bigger creators in particular they often have a number of advantages that most don’t. They can hire an editor to create content based on their streams for them as an example. Many top creators won’t answer their own social media, instead they hire someone to do it for them. Someone who doesn’t have to work a separate job, whether due to being independently wealthy, financially supported by someone else or having worked their way to the top and being able to create content full time will have more time to focus on it too. Money is an advantage.
One that people often don’t think of is advertising. Have you seen all these shady ads talking about buying Twitter followers? Twitter does this too, in a more legitimate way. Though admittedly the results aren’t always amazing.
You can advertise your tweets on Twitter via Twitter Ads. Various criteria can be put on these, such as paying when you gain new followers, for link clicks or for tweet impressions. You can theoretically narrow down the audience for these tweets to be specifically to people interested in the type of content that you’re releasing.
I’ve run ad campaigns before. I was personally working with quite a small budget and didn’t find it to work well, but I’ve been told that larger budget campaigns are more successful. One example of a campaign that I ran was one geared to pay Twitter when I gained new followers, who should’ve been from the UK, US, or Canada and interested in visual novels. I cut off the campaign early as none of the followers seemed relevant – they were all profiles with non-English writing on and nothing to indicate their interest in visual novels. I’m told this is because I set the payout per follower as quite low.
Some accounts do run promotional tweets and it has been successful in gaining followers. Others have used money in other ways, such as running giveaways of expensive items or outright paying bigger accounts to promote them. I’ve seen giveaways work to limited effect, where follower gain was often high but engagement often didn’t increase in line.
Dirty Ways To Gain Followers
I don’t recommend any of these methods, but it’s useful to know that they’re out there.
I mentioned shady ads about buying followers before. As an experiment, I made a new account and tried one of these that claimed to advertise and send real followers related to the interests set. I was skeptical and rightly so. Almost every single new follower was a non-English account with nothing related to my set interests on there. Not that paying the minimum on Twitter Ads did any better. I tried another similar service and experienced the same.
Just want the numbers and feel tempted to do this? I’ll still warn against it for a couple of reasons. Firstly, many of the accounts either unfollowed or were deleted after a few weeks. They’re not even good to pad the numbers if that’s your interest. Secondly, there are tools to detect the percentage of suspected fake followers, so you may get caught. Even without the tools, it can be pretty obvious looking at your follower list.
Follow for Follow
Similar to the above in a way, some people make agreements or use websites to arrange ‘follow for follow’. You both follow each other, often despite a lack of any real interest in the other person and it increases your numbers. This is typically done with a large amount of people. You can get an idea just looking at the hashtag.
Aside from the fact that you won’t usually get any real engagement from these people, a lot of them will unfollow you after they think you won’t check. To the public and others, it can look better if you have a higher follower to followed ratio, so they don’t want you adding to the followed count, only their follower count.
Quite a lot of small streamers do this. Here’s a poll from the VTuber community specifically showing 26 people who follow for follow compared to 56 who don’t, but feedback from Streamer Discords has been the same.
Some people are pretty nice and follow back anyone who follows them. This isn’t always a bad thing, but it’s easy to take advantage of.
A lot of people will follow people specifically hoping that they get a follow back. They may unfollow you later for their ratio or unfollow if you don’t follow back. There’s often a lack of real interest in you other than as a number. Some people will take this to the extreme by following the maximum amount of people per day.
It’s not uncommon that people will set up follow bots for this purpose. An account can follow up to 400 accounts per day and some will use a bot to follow 400 accounts that use certain words or hashtags relevant to their interests. They might get a number of follow backs then later unfollow all accounts when hitting the limit of accounts they can follow and restart the process. Some people create accounts to sell in this way. Some are just doing it for their own account.
Following the previous point, you can buy Twitter accounts with a high number of followers. While it doesn’t give you a relevant audience, it can help with that public perception of being a good account to follow. Much like the shady methods of buying followers, this isn’t something that Twitter allows of course.
Reportedly these accounts may end up getting banned due to the methods that the followers were gained.
Legitimate Ways To Gain Followers
I’ve gone through a lot of what not to do, but the question of what to do is much more difficult. The exact type of your social media content will vary based on what you produce, but memes, artwork, and funny clips can rate quite high. What might be more useful is some general tips.
This one crosses into the ‘Throwing Money Around’ category, but a professional-looking Twitter header can make your account look a lot better. Alongside this is your bio, which can include a relevant description of you and what you do.
Have a thriving Twitch or YouTube channel? Set up a bot or manually have it so that your Twitter is occasionally mentioned, with some encouragement to follow you. It won’t work wonders, but it’s useful to have your Twitch followers seeing your tweets, your Twitter followers chatting to you in Discord, and your Discord followers seeing you going live on Twitch.
Quality Over Quantity
Tweeting often enough is important, but your tweets should primarily be engaging and interesting. People have reported being turned off by only seeing ‘Going Live’ tweets or random comments about your life. Informative tweets or entertaining media tends to do better.
Tweet when your audience is awake and on Twitter. At least for the most part. This can require some experimentation, but you can gain more engagement this way. In another country and will be sleeping at that time? It’s possible to schedule tweets to post at a certain time. It used to be only via social media tools, but now Twitter has the function inbuilt for free. Another hint here is to Retweet after some hours for another chance for the tweet to be seen by a different group of people. Some people suggest to tweet multiple times instead.
Relevant hashtags is a great way for people to find your tweets as mentioned before.
We’re All In This Together
Share other people’s relevant content to your audience and they’re more likely to share yours. Personally speaking, while we may be in competition in some ways, I’m friendly with a lot of people creating similar content.
Chat To Others
Take part in discussions with other people on topics that you’re interested in or know about. Just starting out? Use Twitter Advanced Search and find some relevant tweets and people to interact with. If you are a small content creator, this may be the most important tip here.
Follow Other Users
Yes, I know we covered this in ‘Dirty Ways’, but it can be done legitimately too. Follow people that you’re genuinely interested in seeing their content or interacting with. They might follow you back and get to know you. I will say outright here that the bigger the account, the less likely this is to happen. Between the massive amount of notifications making you get lost in a sea of them, tons of people vying for their attention, and many huge accounts being managed by someone else, it’s extremely rare.
This post has talked quite a lot about gaining followers and engagement on social media. Depending on your personality, it might go against the often stated ‘Always Be Yourself’. There are trends with what typically does and doesn’t work and unfortunately what works isn’t always what will fit someone. There is certainly a balance to success and going outside of your preferences and only you can determine what is best. Just like how I mentioned the success of a Twitch Partner by choosing games based on viewer preference rather than their own, sometimes it can come at a cost. I don’t follow all of the advice here or I might only use some of it on certain accounts and not others due to the nature of them.
Of course everything said here won’t apply to everyone. These are thoughts based on my own experience, the experience of fellow creators of various types and people in the industry. Some people have tried perfectly following strategy to no success though or taken off based on complete chance.
For the VTuber readers, this is where @VTuberTweeter comes in useful. Using the hashtags will sometimes get your tweet retweeted and in front of a relevant audience. Using this carefully can really help your growth and networking within the VTuber community. If you want an even better chance at being retweeted, you can of course support us on Patreon for near guaranteed retweets with less limits.
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