4 Twitter Growth Tactics That Work for Food Brands

Building a presence on social media can be a gruelling task. Social media is something that everyday consumers use without a second thought. But when it comes to representing your food brand or business on social, it can seem a lot more complicated and daunting.

What should I post about? What tone of voice should I use? Who should I follow? How will our brand be perceived when we have only a handful of followers? How often should I post? What tools should I use?

The list of questions, doubts and fears is endless.

If you’re anything like me, you may be inclined to overthink these questions. But after running a few social accounts at various stages of maturity (the accounts, not me!), I’ve come up with a handful of approaches that work – and work particularly well on Twitter.

These Twitter strategies are backed up with data and our experience of running Eco & Beyond as well as recently getting started with Sapling’s own Twitter account.

This is the first in a three part series about social media tactics for Twitter.

In this post we’ll look at growth tactics. But in future posts we’ll cover engagement tactics and content that works well on Twitter. To make sure you don’t miss future posts, sign up for our weekly email newsletter and we’ll send them straight to you!

Social followers

Twitter Growth Tactics That Work

You might have recently started your Twitter account. Or you might have been running it for years. Either way, it’s likely you want to grow your following.

It’s important to know why you want to grow your following. Having a large number of followers just for the sake of it isn’t a good reason – but that’s not the focus of this article.

This article is focussed on how to grow your following. That might be from zero to 100 followers, from 1000 to 5000 or from 10k to 100k. Regardless of your situation, there are a few growth tactics to try. Test them out, measure their effectiveness and see which ones work for your business.

Run Contests and Giveaways

From our experience running Eco & Beyond social media and working with different clients and partners, contests and giveaways are one of the best ways to build a following.

People love free stuff. It’s always staggering that someone would enter a competition to win a £20 prize which they could easily go and buy. But the numbers don’t lie. People love competitions and giveaways. There’s even a whole community of “compers” who enter contest after contest.

Food brands are particularly well positioned to run giveaways. After all, they have an almost endless supply of samples and products to offer as prizes.

For an example of a very successful contest, check out our Optiat case study. We partnered with this sustainable cosmetic brand for a contest on Eco & Beyond. Both the Optiat and Eco & Beyond accounts grew by over 2000 followers during the two week promotion.

If you ran a new contest each month, your following would soon be thriving. For extra impact, consider partnering with other food brands in your niche. This will allow you to give away bigger and better prizes and enjoy cross promotion.

Contests work well for consumer-facing brands. They’re not as well suited for companies operating business to business. They’re not out of the question though. If your audience is other businesses you could give away tickets to an industry event. You could give away a popular book or perhaps discount a training course. As with all aspects of digital marketing, it’s about finding something your audience will resonate with and putting it in front of them.

Optiat competition

Follow and Engage With Other Users

Following other users is the best way to start using Twitter. It’ll give you something to scroll through in your feed. But, being strategic about following other accounts can be a great way to grow too.

Following people gets your brand in front of others.

Each time you follow someone, they’ll get a notification. They’ll also see your handle and avatar show up in their notifications feed. If they like the sound of your name or like the look of your photo they may click through to view your profile. If they like what they see there, they might follow you back.

Recently we ran a series of experiments on Eco & Beyond Twitter account. We wanted to measure how many people would follow us back using three different levels of engagement. Our goal was to determine if more engagement would lead to a higher follow-back rate.

Here’s the tests we ran:

  1. We followed 50 people and counted how many followed back.
  2. We followed another 57 people, liked one of their posts and counted how many followed back.
  3. We followed 20 more people, liked one of their posts, Retweeted another and counted how many followed back.

The results were very interesting!

Now it must be stressed that this is not a statistically significant sample of data. We can’t really draw solid conclusions from these tests. To be more confident about the results we’d have to follow thousands of people. But, it was interesting to see that there wasn’t much difference in follow back rate across the tests. The thing that did vary greatly was the amount of time taken to find each account to follow.

When using this approach do make sure to follow relevant accounts on Twitter.

If you follow an eclectic mix of accounts your feed will be full of random crap. It’ll have nothing to do with your brand or your interests. Instead, go looking for accounts that share similar topics and values to your brand. Track the results and see if this tactic works for you too.

Post Valuable Content on a Consistent Basis

Posting any old content to Twitter on an ad hoc basis isn’t going to make for a very interesting feed. Your potential followers need to know what you’re all about and what’s in it for them. And they need to know it FAST.

When someone visits your website they decide whether to stay within about 7 seconds. I’ve not seen any recent reports about attention span on social media, but I fear it’s even shorter than when browsing the web.

To fight against the attention span of social butterflies you need to be consistent with your content. This means being consistent with your posting schedule. But it also means being consistent with the type and style of content you post.

If you’re a brand that uses surplus produce to make snacks then you could tweet about food waste stats, tips and news.

If you’re an ethical chocolate company, talk about where your ingredients come from and how you’re supporting local growers and suppliers.

Posting Schedule

As well as posting on relevant topics, you could create a schedule for different styles of post.

You could post news on Monday. Post about your brand on Tuesday and something about your industry on Wednesday. Share stories from your community on Thursday and post something light-hearted on Friday. Get creative but come up with a plan so you don’t have to think too much from day to day about what to post and when.

Posting schedule

There’s something else important to stress here.

Did you notice how many times I suggested talking about your brand or business?


Social media – and any other form of content marketing – should not all be about you.

Your content should speak to the interests, desires, challenges and pain points of your target customer. If you just talk about yourself all the time your followers will tune out. Or, at worst, they will unfollow and leave with a negative impression of your brand.

Social media should be a two-way conversation. Then you’ll see the best results when talking with your audience rather than talking at them.

Posting consistent content isn’t a fast way to grow your following. But it’s one of the best long-term strategies for building a targeted audience who are hungry to hear from you.

Pay to Reach People Through Ads and Twitter Promote Mode

Twitter ads are not something we’ve used a great deal at Sapling or Eco & Beyond. Based on early trials we found Facebook Ads to perform better. They work particularly well when combined with retargeting with the Facebook pixel.

But a new feature from Twitter sounds like a low-hassle and relatively affordable way to boost your reach and grow your following.

Twitter Promote Mode automatically promotes your Tweets and profile for a flat fee of $99 a month. It was launched in November 2017 and is a simple set-it-and-forget-it approach to paid social media advertising.

Twitter say,

“There’s no ad campaign management necessary. People using Promote Mode just Tweet as they normally do — publishing updates about their business, brand, or content that will interest their target audience.”

This is something we’re considering trialling at Sapling. If we do, we’ll report back on the experience here in a future post.

Despite the fact we’ve owned the @saplingdigital account since the summer of 2015, we’ve only recently started actively using the platform. Twitter Promote Mode could give us a boost to get our following up to a respectable level sooner rather than later. From reading around the subject, it certainly seems to be a more suitable tool for newer or small accounts.

This is not an exhaustive list of Twitter tactics but they’re some of our best performing ones.

Building your social media following shouldn’t be rushed or done in an underhand way. Shady tactics like buying followers is a big no! Follower numbers don’t mean much without follower engagement and this is the subject of our next post in this series.

Use social media as a tool to start and join conversations and you’ll start to see your audience grow, engage and communicate with you.

If you need a hand developing your own social media strategy, content framework or posting schedule, get in touch. Tell us a bit about your brand and we’ll help you make the story you dream of telling on social a reality.