Is Twitter Just a Time Game? 6 Experts Reveal How They Got To 10K Followers

Social Media Week

Social Media Week is a leading news platform and worldwide conference that curates and shares the best ideas and insights into social media and technology's impact on business, society, and culture.

20 days until 20,000+ global leaders come together for SMW November 14-18. Learn more here.

Unless you’re a celebrity or industry visionary, it seems as though a Twitter following can take an age to build. In the early days it was easy to build a community. Users were more approachable, primarily linked by a mutual dislike of Facebook and spam bots were a rarity.

Fast forward to 2016, with news of Twitter’s user decline almost a daily occurrence and it can be difficult to gain 100 followers, let alone 10,000.

Something I ponder regularly; what if Twitter is simply a time game? Where with the right dedication, time spend and one-on-one interaction, anyone could build a meaningful army of followers.

Studies show that the more you tweet, the more followers you tend to have. But does this really play true when there are so many aggregated feeds churning out content and users who tweet but rarely engage?

In this post, I’ll be sharing six secrets from leaders on Twitter with thousands of followers, who have used the channel to boost their personal profile, grow a brand or make lifelong connections. All within the past couple of years.

What are the true motivations and circumstances in which you can reach a large following on Twitter? Is it by spending more time on the channel, or just by using the time you do have more wisely? By applying them to your own accounts and Twitter strategy, you’ll hopefully find ways to reach 10K followers (and beyond), whether you’re an individual, brand or business user.

1. Create a system

Hannah Martin is co-founder of the Talented Ladies Club, a magazine-style website with daily business and career advice and inspiration for women. After growing its following from 0 to 11,000 followers in one year (now at 25,000) Hannah has some top tips on how creating a Twitter system can lead to success.

“I wasted so much time on Twitter in the beginning, but you don’t have to! Eventually, I created a system that gave me a set routine each day for using the platform. This has been just as successful at growing our account then when I was spending five hours on it every day” she explains.

“Rather than lots of time, you just need to get more targeted with the time you have. Through my system, I maintain and grow my account in just 30 minutes per day. To do this, I think you need five things: you need to be interesting and relevant to your ideal followers (the ones who will help you meet your business goals), you need to be proactive and you need to be nice – by this I mean thanking people and being known as friendly and helpful. You also need a system! Once you get big enough, you attract more followers and engagement organically too.”

Key takeaway:
Use Twitter monitoring tools. It is often a matrix of tools, both free and paid, which can help you to stay on top of the smaller interactions which eventually lead to a boost in followers. Use Buffer to schedule interesting, curated content that targets your audience in the way Hannah suggests, Tweetdeck for real-time interaction and trends monitoring.

2. Make the most of realtime opportunities

Tom Bourlet, Senior Digital Marketing Executive at Stag Do Organizers The Stag Company in Brighton has 22,000 followers on Twitter. After speaking to him, I learned some key advice on the power of the realtime opportunity.

“The amount of time you put into Twitter definitely plays a role in follower number, but for me it wasn’t the amount of time I was on Twitter, but how I utilized my time for the best results. Whenever I attend a conference I become highly active, using the assigned hashtag and communicating with others at the event, which normally results in a high interaction rate and increased following” Tom shares.

“Another significant factor which I have gained success from is either being an early instigator with news or content, or making my own content. I find when I’ve jumped onto a conversion before it is trending, I will often find my tweet embedded on websites, which then steadily increases my follower count. I have also made a large amount of content, from blog articles to videos and even memes and these tend to get picked up, with you as the key instigator.”

Key takeaway:
Before attending an event or workshop, scout the key speakers, personnel and event hashtag. This will allow you to quickly join the conversation and begin to curate content without wasting time searching for the basic details.

Read: 9 Marketing Techniques I Used To Get 39,000 Instagram Followers (With $0 Marketing Budget)

3. Connect often and well

Violeta Nedkova provides Coaching for Creative Rebels at She explains how important it is to connect with your following and create true engagement, based on mutual interest.

“To get to 10K followers you do have to invest some time tweeting. My personal strategy is to tweet and engage every day, but that’s because I LOVE twitter. I wouldn’t be investing my time and energy if I didn’t enjoy it so much. Follower count doesn’t matter. What really matters is whether those followers are engaged, which you can tell by the number of retweets and favorites your tweets get. More than anything, being approachable and engaging with people grows your network. It’s like any other platform or community, the more you talk to people, the more you become known online. I can honestly say I have an engaged twitter following and I love my followers to bits. Thanks to my strategy, I add more people all the time” Violeta explains.

Violeta also advocates the power of keeping content fresh and relevant to your audience. “You can’t just tweet ONE type of thing. Only tweeting blogposts of yours or other people’s, or quotes or thoughts or retweeting others… it doesn’t work like that. You have to have a mixture, a healthy balance of it all, and that’s the sign of authentic thought leaders, whom I call “creative rebels”. They usually have a lot of followers. They’re not afraid to share their opinions, which are usually unique, not repeating what everyone else is saying. Automated and endless feeds of articles and hashtags won’t be found on these accounts.”

Key takeaway:
Spend time connecting rather than tweeting aimlessly – a tweet sent directly to a follower regarding a piece they’ve shared is much more valuable than just retweeting the content.

4. Mix automation with influencer engagement

Patrick Walsh is owner of Book Marketing and PR agency Publishing Push, which has over 26,000 followers on Twitter. He attributes much of their success to a blend of automation, management and connecting with larger influencers.

“At Publishing Push we have never spent a vast amount of time on Twitter in order to grow our following. That said, we did invest in the channel but rather than using our time, we used tools to automate and manage the growth. This was done using monitoring tools, scheduling tools and other items. As our following grew, we then found ourselves spending more time retweeting and replying in order to improve our content marketing strategy” Patrick explains.

Key takeaway:
Don’t be afraid to engage with influencers and accounts with more followers. By showing an interest and active participation you may find yourself having content and comments retweeted and shared that lead to growth.

5. Be responsive

Propelling a large following on social media is especially essential for bloggers, who often rely on social media sponsorship as part of their income. Jo Middleton, writer, marketer and author of the award-winning blog Slummy Single Mummy which has a Twitter following of over 60,000 followers, explains how important responsiveness is to her strategy.

“I don’t think you need to spend a vast amount of time on Twitter to get lots of followers at all – in fact, I’m sure I spend a lot less time than a lot of people! I use Twitter as a business tool rather than it being a hobby, so I don’t spend masses of time chatting or browsing. You just need to be organized and consistent. It’s important to be responsive, so I always try and reply to people who ask me questions for instance, and share relevant things if people ask me to. Again, it’s about organization, so I have several lists set up of accounts that I really want to support or who have really interesting content, and then when I have five minutes to spare I can go to a list and share just the useful stuff, rather than spending ages trawling through my home feed, trying to filter out the rubbish.”

Key takeaway:
Time doesn’t always lead to more followers, so use it wisely! Setting up Twitter lists may be old hat, but it’s truly the way to engage and create a manageable level of interaction.

6. Go niche

Anna Kennedy OBE is founder of Anna Kennedy Online, a leading charity for Autism. She has over 53,000 followers on Twitter.

“I spend a lot of time on Twitter and tweet as much as I can, but the key is monitoring, sharing and engaging. I am a leader within the autism community, so I have a responsibility to share articles, news and comment, as well as engage and start conversations. Due to the charity and the fact that the majority of my followers are supporters and families and individuals that we have worked with, I have been able to focus and develop a targeted topic that is of interest and help. This has allowed me to develop a strong following and support system because they are interested I what I have to say and what I am up to” Anna explains.

“I constantly monitor news and articles related to autism, best practice, education and health to share. I encourage people to offer their opinions and I am constantly asking questions or offering advice. Also, I am always so busy with events and charity related work, and share everything that is going on so everyone knows what we are up to. Some bigger organisations are sometimes reluctant to share or are precious of information. I say that there’s enough autism to go around, and sharing and raising awareness and helping people can only be a good thing.”

Key takeaway:
If your work or interests are niche – build a following around this by becoming the thought-leader for anything relating to the subject. Also share personal updates and business ones and use the human aspect to connect to followers on a personal level. Even as a business, insights into the daily lives and tribulations of staff members can be content gold across a channel as intimate as Twitter.

Sign up here for our weekly digest of top articles, industry news, and conference announcements

Learn more about the next edition of Social Media Week, and how you and your organization can join us for an incredible week!

More on Twitter: Twitter Plans To Change How Tweets, Replies, And Mentions Are Formatted

Image Credit: Rafaël Rozendaal

Beth Gladstone

Community Manager, Twilert


Beth Gladstone is a Social Media Week contributor, and Community Manager at the Twitter monitoring tool, Twilert. She writes about using clever Twitter methods to propel your business or brand forward and likes podcasts and walks with her Poochon. To find out when people talk about your brand on Twitter visit

Want to write for Social Media Week?

We're looking for individuals around the globe to contribute articles on marketing, media, technology, and more.