Truth be told, this post was intended to detail how to set up and run a follower ad campaign on X (previously known as Twitter).
But then, shortly before publication, X decided to discontinue this type of advertising, despite the $100 million in annual global advertising revenue it was reportedly generating, presumably to concentrate on more profitable avenues…
So what’s the impact on you and me?
It means we can no longer run ads on X with the specific ad objective of followers. In other words, followers can now only be attracted on the X platform via organic and promoted posts, where you effectively grow followers as a side effect of other activities.
So let’s dig into that. If you want to grow your followers on Twitter… sorry, X… and are looking to accelerate that via paid campaigns, let’s examine what the available options now are.
Why Do You Want More Followers on X Anyway?
If you’re going to be investing time, energy and money into growing your followers on X, it’s best to be sure on exactly why you want to do that.
Yes, it can feel good to see your follower numbers rise. But ego stroking shouldn’t be the only reward.
So what are the tangible, real world, business benefits of increasing your followers?
Let’s see… here’s a list of the top 7:
- Enhanced brand awareness—more followers mean more people know about you, right?
- Improved audience engagement—if you’ve got more people following you, you’ll naturally enjoy greater levels of interaction with your audience…
- Increased website traffic—more followers give you greater leverage to drive visitors to your website, whether through posts that link directly or through sharing content like videos and images that mention your domain or include a suitable CTA…
- Social proof—high follower counts mean your brand is far more likely to be taken seriously…
- Customer insights—the demographics and other details of who’s following you provides valuable insights about who you’re attracting, which can help fine tune your messaging on and off the platform. The more such data you have, the more accurate those insights are...
- Partnership opportunities—larger followings help attract potential partners and collaborators, as well as provide credibility when you’re approaching them...
- Effective promotion—you have more leverage when marketing your products and services..
What Happened to Twitter?
In case you’re somewhat confused by Twitter’s transformation into something now called simply X, here’s a quick run-down.
In October 2022, Elon Musk officially acquired Twitter for $44 billion, and set about introducing a raft of changes such as paid ‘blue badge’ verification, longer content, and revenue sharing.
But perhaps the most significant change came in July 2023 when the platform let the iconic blue bird flutter away and rebranded itself to X, as part of a journey towards achieving Musk’s plan for an “everything app”.
Even the term “tweet” was replaced with simply “post”.
But on the web (at least, at the time of writing), the platform continues to sit at twitter.com.
It’s unclear what lies ahead for X, but the signs are that it's likely to continue to grow and become increasingly significant in the social media landscape.
And that means growing your followers on the platform is more important than ever.
Running what used to be a Twitter follower ad campaign was of course the obvious choice.
But with that no longer available, what other paid options are there?
Let’s take a look…
Alternatives to Running a Twitter Follower Ad Campaign
The previously-available Twitter follower ad campaign was specifically designed to optimize to attract followers.
So the algorithm would show the Promoted Account Ad (as it was known) to users most likely to convert as followers, based on for example your existing followers, people who had done so already, or specific targeting you’d set on the campaign.
People who saw the ad (see the following examples) could follow you with a single click.
Now these ads are no longer available, you need to approach things a little differently.
Because the remaining ad objectives are optimized for other purposes, it’s best to run ads designed for those objectives, with the followers you gain as a result a nice side benefit.
Strictly speaking, the cost per follower (when looked at in isolation) will probably be higher than you would have otherwise had via a specific Twitter follower ad campaign.
But then you’ll be running an ad for a different objective anyway, and where your main ROI will come from, so it doesn’t really matter.
The only exception is possibly the first one in this list, namely…
An Engagement Campaign
When you set up a campaign with the Engagements objective, X will aim to maximize the number of engagements with your post, including:
- Reposts (i.e. what we used to call retweets)…
- Profile visits…
- Link clicks…
- And so on.
Obviously, a good assumption to make is that additional followers will be part of the results you experience when running this type of campaign, particularly when:
- Your post is reposted, giving your original post additional visibility with new audiences…
- People visit your profile via your handle at the top of the ad.
And the more engagement the post attracts, the more credible, authoritative and trustworthy it appears, potentially accelerating the followers you gain as a result.
In addition, people who may have followed as a result of a follower ad campaign would have just clicked the Follow button on the ad, but that doesn’t mean they’re the type of people who engage with posts on the platform.
In contrast, with an engagement campaign, you’re attracting people likely to be more habitually tuned into engaging with posts, and are therefore more likely to engage with your future posts too, boosting your future follower growth too.
Note that with this type of campaign, you’re charged per post engagement.Running a paid Engagements ad on X not only helps grow your followers, but attracts followers more likely to engage with your future posts too.Click To Tweet
A Conversions Campaign
Conversion campaigns tend to be popular with advertisers because the ROI is so easy to track. For x dollars ad spend, you get y conversions, whether leads, sales or whatever other actions you’re wanting to drive on your website.
So how can this work to drive followers of your X account?
While you’re unlikely to want to drive traffic to your website with the sole purpose of getting another Twitter follower (which you wouldn’t be able to directly track through the ad anyway), it can be a nice side benefit by asking those who convert to follow you via your thank you page.
The landing page for a conversions campaign run on X should be individualized for that particular campaign, so that it can be:
- Designed for optimal conversions for people arriving from X…
- Tested and further optimized for that specific audience.
This means you already know that people arriving on the page are X users. So your thank you page (for example, after someone has signed up to your list) can be designed with the sole objective of asking them to follow you on X.
You could even incentivize this in some way by asking them to DM you after following you, with some specific text that means for example they can take advantage of an additional freebie or some other special offer.
Alternatively (or in addition) If they’re signing up to your list, send them a message after a couple of days asking them to follow you on X, and giving them a strong reason to do so.
Again, experiment with different follow + DM-type approaches that also serve to increase a prospect’s sense of relationship with your brand.
Be creative and test out different approaches.
A Video Views Campaign
Designed to drive up views of a video in your post, there are different ways this can help grow your followers.
First though, it’s unlikely to be cost effective to run a video ad with the sole purpose of growing your followers. So run it with another main purpose in mind.
For example, the video above is designed to grow sales of an ecommerce business.
While you’ll naturally attract new followers as a result of running the ad anyway, you can also experiment with layering in a call to action somewhere in the video that encourages viewers to follow you.
For example, “For more great videos like this, follow us at @...”.
Or simply, “Follow us at @...”.
While it may initially detract from the main objective (e.g. increased ecommerce sales), the additional followers may result in a larger longer term advantage.
Equally though, it may not detract at all (while still giving you more followers than you’d get otherwise!)… so just experiment.
Note there are four different bid types on this type of campaign, with one of them charged on a CPM basis rather than per applicable view—more details here under Bidding strategy.Try running a Video Views campaign on X where, as a side benefit, you layer in a CTA to subtly boost your follower count.Click To Tweet
A Reach Campaign
Charged on a CPM basis (unlike most other X ad campaigns) a campaign running under the reach objective is designed to simply show your post to as many people as possible, based on your budget and targeting options.
It’s designed largely to build awareness of your brand, but a natural side effect of an engaging ad is that people will also follow you.
So, while it’s unlikely it would run as a cost-effective follower campaign when looked at in isolation, if you’re looking to build brand awareness anyway, it would be worth analyzing the results to judge the additional follower count gained as a result.
Remember that followers won’t only be attracted directly through the ad, but also when the post is reposted (and further reposts of it after that).Run a Reach Campaign on X for brand awareness. Engaging ads can also subtly amplify your followers too, especially through reposts.Click To Tweet
As we’ve seen, even though X (formerly Twitter) follower ad campaigns are no longer available, you can still accelerate follower growth on the platform via other campaign types, where follower acquisition will occur as a natural side effect.
And there are opportunities to encourage that process by being creative in how the ads are run, such as using an appropriate CTA in a video views campaign, or incentivizing people to follow you on your thank you page for a conversions campaign.
While such campaigns are unlikely to be as cost effective as an optimized follower ad campaign might have been in the past when viewed purely on a cost-per-follower basis, the followers you acquire should be viewed as an added benefit to some other metric you’re measuring to judge a particular ad’s effectiveness.
In other words, you’re growing your followers for longer term advantage, in addition to achieving shorter term objectives such as lead or customer acquisition.