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I recently published this tweet that got 319K likes and 15,000 new followers:
What’s the secret?
I’m not sure, but here's some advice on how to go viral on Twitter:
Find your niche
Keep showing up
Tweet like you talk to a friend
Start with the emotion
Shitpost for the win
I’ve also included some advice on how to get started if you have no followers.
Let’s dive in.
1. Find your niche
Your niche is at the intersection of:
What people want
What you're good at
What interests you
My niche is:
Explaining complex topics in a concise way. For example, people loved my curious beginner’s guide to crypto thread:
Writing shitposts. The ones that have a hint of truth are the best kind.
Check out this thread on how other creators have found their niche on Twitter.
2. Keep showing up
You have to publish frequently to grow on Twitter.
Frequently means that you should be tweeting every day. 95% of these tweets will get no traction but you’re betting on a few to go viral.
You probably think I spend a lot of time crafting the tweets that go viral. Actually, it’s quite the opposite:
Keep showing up and follow my advice below to try to craft a hit.
3. Tweet like you talk to a friend
If you’re talking to a friend, you won’t use fancy words or jargon. Instead, you’ll be authentic, vulnerable, and maybe even witty.
That’s exactly how you should tweet too.
Treat your reader as a friend instead of as someone you’re trying to educate. Engage in a casual conversation with people in your tweet replies to engage them.
There’s one exception of course. Tweeting as you talk to a friend is no excuse for tweeting insensitive content. Avoid that at all costs.
4. Start with the emotion
I took this writing class from Shaan Puri last year and my most important takeaway was to start with the emotion:
After you write your tweet, read it to see if it creates emotion. If it doesn’t, you probably need to re-word it. Here are a few examples from my tweets:
FINALLY: Someone said it!
HMM: How does a big company crush a startup? I am curious…
WTF: That pisses me off and I agree.
WOW: I want this content!
Don’t be too clickbaity, but do start with the emotion to hook the reader.
5. Shitpost for the win
The reality is that many tweets are filled with the same old crap:
Thoughtboi vision threads 🧵👇
Fortune cookie advice (e.g., “Eat like a lion, not a cow!”)
Wikipedia explainers (e.g., “Here’s how Elon Musk succeeded…”)
People still click on this stuff but I think (hope!) that they’re really tired of it.
That’s why people also love shitposts that make fun of these tweets.
Now, let’s dissect why my shitpost went super-viral:
What emotions do you feel when you read this? Could it be something like:
“Oh God, he’s talking about Forbes 30 under 30.”
“Wow, what a joke - cold showers and gratitude journal to make VP?”
“Dad owns tech company…LOL”
I think this tweet went viral because it made people feel CRINGE and then LOL. It also made fun of the usual stuff that you see on Twitter.
That’s why shitposts that have a hint of truth to them work out great on Twitter. Here are my best shitpost threads from last year:
Make sure you follow some other shitposters on Twitter - Alex Cohen, Trung Phan, and the highly underrated Tweet Davidson.
Ok but I have no followers, how do I get started?
The same advice above applies even if you have no followers, with two adjustments:
Reply to large accounts with something thoughtful or funny.
Tweet about the latest news and trends.
If you have no followers, your goal should be to go where the audience is. For example, people enjoyed telling me that I’m an idiot for writing a 20 tweet thread about OnlyFans back in the day when it’s clear that they grew because p0rn:
Trying to grow on Twitter can be a lonely road early but if you keep at it, it could pay off in a big way down the road.
If you found this post helpful, consider tweeting it 😉
Great advice here! My key takeaway is to interact more with large accounts if you're just getting started, "If you have no followers, your goal should be to go where the audience is."
It's kind of interesting how that process may eventually siphon attention away from the large accounts over time, but that's just social media I guess.
Hi Peter, Do you now how many of those new followers become newsletter subscribers? I'd love to hear how Twitter success translates to newsletter subscribers.