Organic Twitter Growth- Free of Pesticides, GMO & Growth Hormones

Like it or not, the Facebook redefined some core terminology regarding the basics of human relationships.  The Twitter took it one step further- redefining the actual dialogue structure and the sheer number of conversations a person can conduct in a day.

If you lived on this mountain in rural NC, Twitter might be a connection to the outside world!

Step back and process that for a second- the fundamental methods in which we define and interact with people throughout our day have undergone a metamorphosis brought about by a handful of genius Gen Y & X’ers, who- as The Social Network points out- might not be all that capable of quality relationships in the real world.

Real offline relationships still lie at the core of our society and the irreplaceable values of face to face interaction and true in-person conversations will never die.  But, in today’s world, it’s possible to take the conversation online and connect with people who you would not have interacted with 6 years ago- due in main part to geographic restrictions.

As my time online increases and I continue to make meaningful connections using social networks, I have to take a step back and look at the methods in which this online conversation occur and how to build a network that truly reflects who I am- in the “offline world”.

Work/Play Balance

The Internets, at least for me, serve the purpose of helping me build and promote my passion skills- my photography and writing.  If I had to categorize my online time, 85% of it is professional and the remaining time is spent catching up with my offline friends through online communications.  And, of course, grabbing the occasional episode of Greys on Hulu, should my Thursday evening have an unavoidable appointment.

My journey through social media has reflected this as well- my online community surfaced around my professional interests- photography, visual communications, writing and biz dev (I’m going to replace the term entrepreneurship with biz dev- business development b/c for the life of me I can not spell entrepreneurship- ever).  My networks are filled with people who have an interest in any of these areas.

A little playtime while the adults build a greenhouse at Maverick Farms, NC.

I try to keep the work/play balance to that ratio.  For if I begin to have my play time online, then my day would be spent completely in the online world- which can’t be healthy.  Unless you’re Steve Jobs or Bill Gates.

Building a Network

The other day I broke 500 followers on the Twitter.  Woo-hoo!  I felt rather special.  As I proudly tweeted my meager accomplishment a conversation ensued around building a network.  A fellow blogger who I communicate with rather regularly made the comment that he bet my number came about organically.  And well, it did.

If you build it...

But I’d never really thought too much about that.  He mentioned that he has used an auto follower to generate followers in the beginning of his Twitter building and wished he hadn’t done so.  I’d heard of such tools, but never used them.  In my beginning growth days, I would use the search twitter option and find people with similar interests and if they were posting interesting comments, I’d follow.  But after my growth started on its own, I stopped doing this.

So, my method for organic growth is rather simple. When someone follows me, a notification pops up in my email along with their avatar.  If they have a human face or an interesting logo, I click on their link and visit their page.  The next part is key- I see what they are saying!  I look for a balance of RTs, link posting with relevant copy and I see if they are having actual conversations with people.

If a happy balance of all three exists- then I follow back. If I stumble upon someone’s online content that kicks ass or is powerfully relevant- and their Twitter icon is on their page- I follow them as well.

Simple.  Natural.  Organic.

Picking out the weeds- one at a time!


Interacting with your network is HUGE!  That’s the point, right?

But, there are ways to do this and ways to get your ass un-followed.  I really don’t un-follow people unless they are spammy, slimy or just incessantly posting things that I don’t interact with.  I try not to follow such types in the first place- hence the organic growth thing.

I lurked- for over a year- on Twitter before I dove in.  And then, I didn’t know what the hell I was doing or why it mattered.  I opened my Twitter account when it first came on the scene- and it sat dormant for a while.  This winter I fired it up when I launched the Storyteller- just seemed logical.  But I still didn’t use it right, I posted quotes, blog articles and a few RTs, but that was it.  And the actions were not a regular occurrence.

This summer I dove in headfirst.  I found people who were posting interesting questions and I answered.  I retweeted articles I felt could benefit others.  On occasion, I would just send a shout out to the person if I just spent an hour watching their keynote speech online or spent all evening with their podcasts.

I gave feedback on things that really had an impact on me and my biz perspective.  And a few of these shout outs gave interesting replies.  Conversations ensued and now we interact regularly.  In fact, I’ll be crossing paths with my online network in person this winter as I go on my western Walkabout.

That’s the power of the Twitter.  That’s why this shit really matters.  You’re building real relationships with real people using an online platform.

Building relationships, both offline and online, spreads a little joy in your life and hopefully some laughter too.

And as my blog and my network grows, people are reaching out to me in conversation and I just couldn’t be any happier about it! I love getting real feedback from people about my work and then I am able to engage with their work as well.  Which makes it all worthwhile.

So, to recap on this rambly Twitter article.

  • Organic growth on the Twitter can be the most rewarding because you are engaging in real conversations with real people.  Reflecting your offline interactions.
  • Choose your follows with a little bit of care. You don’t have to follow everyone who follows you.  If they look slimy or spammy don’t open the channels of communication.  If some creepy guy driving a chester-molester van slinks over to me in a parking lot and tries to strike up a conversation- I’m gonna politely walk away.  Same thing goes for the online world.
  • Don’t just look at the number of followers the person has- we all started off with one follower. But if they follow a gazillion people and don’t tweet anything, beware. Or if they are following a gazillion people and none are following them back- yet they are Tweeting their ass off- well, I smell a little spam in the air.
  • Don’t use auto-finders and auto responders on Twitter. Unless the sheer number of follows matters to your ego and your balls need that type of inflated support, just let your growth happen naturally.  As Twitter has evolved, so have it’s users.  So let your network find you and spend some time finding a network that reflects you, as a person.  And if you keep building fabulous content, people will find you!
  • Provide a valuable conversation. Just like in the real world, conduct your conversations as though you’re sharing a coffee with someone. Provide answers, ask questions, give information and provide a little moral support now and again.  People respond to real people- so keep it real and keep it interesting. It’s not all about your blog posts or your marketing.  It’s about everyone you interact with and their lives too.
  • Check your Mentions regularly and thank people, give them feedback and strike up the conversation. When I first started really using the Twitter, I sent a quick thanks to GaryVee to thank him for posting all those keynotes- they were quite inspiring.  And damn if he didn’t say a thanks back.  That’s impressive for someone with almost a million Twitter followers.  Same for Chris Guillebeau @ the AONC. He responds as well and I’m just amazed that these guys are able to devote their time in this manner to the people who engage with their content.  It truly speaks to the transparency and authenticity that is transforming business in the online (and hopefully the offline) world.

So, go forth, sow the seeds of conversation and Tweet.  Follow me on the Twitter, if you aren’t already, and let’s keep this party rollin’!

Getting the fields ready for the winter.

These images were taken during my time at UNC.  I was auditing an environmental justice class and as part of our service learning component, the class traveled to a small locally owned farm in the mountains of NC to help them complete projects and prepare for the winter.  Please visit Maverick Farms if you’re near Boone!  It’s both beautiful and delicious!


  1. says

    Crystal, brilliant – and was that person Srini himself by the way? It sounds like his opinion. Well, anyway, this is beautiful and simple and it is almost exactly how I use twitter, except I don’t quite follow everyone back after checking those items you mentioned. I follow only those that really interest me. So the tweets may be the right proportion and high quality but it also has to speak to me and interest me. Not every topic interests me. Not every type or conversation or writing, while good, interests me. I also follow people when they play the “guilt” card with me. Every now and then I get these mentions..”Well I would DM you but you don’t follow me…” Argh, I usually follow out of politeness but one silly tweet and that person is out ;) … or sometimes, people ask me so nicely, I can’t help but follow (I like those)!
    So in a nutshell, I use twitter to my heart’s content, I answer every single mention and kind word and RT on my posts, I LOVE conversations and in fact, do that way too much probably and should focus more on strategy but alas, Twitter is my fuel on days filled with work and exercise ..Ok now my ramble is over. Smile :)!

    • says

      Thanks Farnoosh! And yes, was our wonderful Srini I was referring to in this article. We had just crossed paths on Twitter at that point, I believe. I actually had to re-read this piece the other day to see if my theory still applies. I’ve tweaked my approach somewhat as well and am trying to be more deliberate in the information and conversations I consume and participate in, but the core still applies. Funny how rapidly this all changes! Take care, lovely lady!

  2. says

    I LOVE this, seriously (you just became my first retweeted article!). I’ve had a twitter account since fall of 2008, before it even went viral! but rarely touched it until quite recently. But even then, I’ve been clumsily navigating the waters, knowing that I wasn’t delving into the real genius of the platform- but I didn’t even really know what that was! Definitely looked like “a little madness,” haha. But your post is so informative and approachable that I immediately got sucked in. And I would never have imagined that I’d be captivated by a long post about twitter, of all things!

    Definitely motivation for upping my tweeting approaches now (Tweetdeck- yes or no?). I’d also love to know how you find people who ask “interesting questions”! Is there any particular search strategy?

    • says

      Yea! Your first RT! Very cool and thanks so much Tessa! So glad the article gave you a compass to navigate the Twitter waters!

      Both TweetDeck and Hootesuite are awesome. I don’t really know exactly why I migrated away from TweetDeck- beside the stats thing. The new Twitter UI is pretty good to. As for interesting questions- I guess interesting is relative. I use to find topics I’m interested in- documentary work, travel, etc. and look for someone posting a question about the industry that I can answer. I also follow people with fabulous blogs that I consume often and they usually post a question to their audience about a problem or thought. Sometimes I just search my main feed for people that have a question about something technical that I am knowledgeable on, photo, video, WordPress, biz dev, etc. Scanning and lurking and seeking- and then whatever works for you! Good luck!!

  3. says

    I think this is brilliant advice. I have to admit I thought Twitter was nonsense when I first started blogging. I didn’t understand how to use it and I just felt like it was all noise. So, my immediate thought was I’ll get thousands of followers and see what happens. I remember some girl telling me about a mass follow too at some networking event. She asked me how many followers I had. Oddly enough or not I’ve never connected with her on twitter and I don’t think I’ve ever seen her again.

    I have about 2000 followers, but i interact with about 120 to the best of my knowledge. If somebody hasn’t started a conversation with me and they follow me, it’s unlikely I’ll follow them back because I don’t even know that they have followed me. But once the conversation starts I put them in my inner circle list and I pay attention to everything they do. I think we may have to ask you to include this post in an ebook at some point because I think it’s that important. If everybody…

    • says

      I love your approach to following after someone engages you in a conversation. Another excellent way to grow the followers organically and to become engaged with their conversations. By default you draw people with a common understanding or point of reference- making conversation a logical side effect.

      I felt the same about Twitter, and as I mentioned in the article, I didn’t really get it until this summer. And I also feel that a large part of the personal motivation to find relevant conversations online is that I am currently in a geographic location where community culture, gathering places, coffee-shops and other natural areas of organic conversation are difficult-if not impossible- to find! So I wrestle often with the balance of online and offline conversations.

      (The end of your comment got chopped- sorry! I had a comment limiter on their from long ago when I had several folks who were leaving longer comments than my blog posts- and that’s saying alot-I’m wordy! I just removed it, just realized its rather rude of me to have it.) Would love for you to include this in an e-book or pass it along in any way. Another motivation in writing this is trying to explain to my friends and folks entering the writing world the actual, tangible value of this tool. Because from the outside it looks like a little madness!!

      Thanks for reading- can’t wait for the next BlogCast- I’m addicted!