You can say that I fell victim to overthinking. As an Aspie, I don’t enjoy social interaction. When I do meet people, it’s out of obligation 99% of the time. Given the way I am, the idea of interacting with random strangers on social media caused considerable anxiety. The more I thought about it, the more I dreaded it.
Some time in mid April, Mr Wow decided to take matters in his own hands by posting stuff on the account. If it was his ploy to galvanise me into action, it was successful. Predictably, the control freak in me told him to “move over and let me handle it” a couple of weeks later.
Thus, my 𝕏 journey began on 4th May 2023. Exactly five months have passed and I’m happy to share that I currently have 1,111 followers. Considering that I’ve no prior social media experience and not a single follower is a personal contact, I think I did pretty well, don’t you think?
I must say that this has been one of the most eye-opening experiences of my life. I meant it quite literally considering just how little I slept in months, ha! You’ll have to read to find out more.
Note: Not everything I have to say is positive. It’s social media after all.
- My Biggest Challenge on 𝕏: Time Zone Difference
- The Good: Supportive Community
- The Bad: Lack of Reciprocity
- The Ugly: Friends to Strangers
- Five Golden Rules to Build a Successful 𝕏 Account
1. My Biggest Challenge on 𝕏: Time Zone Difference
My biggest challenge by far has to be time zone difference. Building an 𝕏 account can be rather challenging when you live in Asia. Singapore is 12 hours ahead of New York and 15 hours ahead of California. That means when most of my audience (the US crowd) wake up for a new day, it’s already evening or night time for me.
I know I don’t actually have to follow a specific time to be on 𝕏, but in order to establish presence quickly, I wanted to catch everyone during their morning prime time. So one thing led to another, I ended up sleeping later and later and later.
Here’s a glimpse of my insane schedule from early May to end August:
Yes… I know… it was pretty messed up to be sleeping at daylight and waking up at 2:30pm. I clearly underestimated the amount of work required to build an 𝕏 account!
On average, I spent 7.5 hours a day on the platform, translated to at least 80 comments and 250 likes. No AI; just me and my fingers typing away. Just so you know, by no means am I a slow worker. In fact, I’m the exact opposite, especially when the task has to do with words.
I know some people claim to spend just 30 minutes to an hour a day on 𝕏. Honestly, looking at their high engagement, I find it hard to believe even with the help of AI.
Anyway… including writing, I was doing at least 10 hours of blogging-related work every day for 4 consecutive months. There were days when I only slept 4 hours because I wanted to finish up an article. I also stopped certain activities (e.g. my daily yoga) as I simply didn’t have the time.
You must be thinking — what kind of lousy early retirement was that! I wasn’t aiming to monetise my 𝕏 account (not on the drawing board), so why was I working like my life depended on it?
On average, I spent 7.5 hours a day on the platform, translated to at least 80 comments and 250 likes.
Small wonder that Mr Wow finally told me off (actually it was more like a counselling session). I needed it of course. And being a “sensible” person, I reflected and changed for the better.
I’ve since drastically reduced the amount of time I spend on the platform. My original plan was to take three days off per week, but it didn’t quite work out as I struggled to reply to everyone the following day. So now, I clock just one hour on each of these days.
Naturally, my impressions took a hit, but I can live with that. I’m still proud of what I’ve achieved on 𝕏 and will continue to make consistent effort to grow my account — in a sustainable way. I didn’t come this far to only come this far.
If you’re interested to learn more about my “bout of insanity”, read Reality Check: My Early Retirement is a Sham!
2. The Good: Supportive Community
Let’s move on to the best thing about 𝕏 — the supportive community. I used to think that 𝕏 was a breeding ground for braggarts, fakers and haters. It was therefore a pleasant surprise to find mostly normal people on the platform, ha!
In general, members of the personal finance and investing community are a nice group of people (not sure about other communities though). Most are incredibly encouraging and enthusiastic to share their knowledge and perspectives. They also display tremendous drive and show a keen interest in learning new things. Frankly, the positive energy is quite infectious.
I used to think that 𝕏 was a breeding ground for braggarts, fakers and haters.
Over the past few months, I’ve “met” numerous like-minded individuals, including a few financial bloggers whom I respect a lot. We not only show support for each other’s work, but also exchange blogging tips and experiences. There’s no competition, only camaraderie and mutual admiration.
Although 𝕏 is not exclusively for content creators, I must say that it’s a terrific platform for me to network with fellow bloggers, podcasters and YouTubers. It also provides a way for me to showcase my content, connect with my audience and grow my online presence. All in all, I’ve definitely benefited from this experience in more ways than one.
3. The Bad: Lack of Reciprocity
Not all is rosy though. I learnt quickly that support takes on a different meaning where following is concerned.
On 𝕏, your follower-to-following ratio counts as a measure of your overall trustworthiness and authority. Candidly speaking, I think this is the most frustrating thing ever because everyone wants to have followers, but few want to follow back. This makes it extremely hard for new accounts to grow. You literally have to hustle like mad to earn followers.
I get that it takes time and effort to build a social media account and I’m not someone who shuns hard work. What bothers me is the lack of reciprocity, which many seem to be fine with.
I learnt quickly that support takes on a different meaning where following is concerned.
The law of reciprocity states that if you do something nice for me, I’ll feel obligated to reciprocate and do something nice for you in return. There’s mutual benefit in helping each other and that’s how relationships thrive.
On 𝕏 however, giving is not always a two-way street. Many times, even after following and consistently engaging with another account for more than a month, the person just refuses to follow back.
There are also those who follow others, only to unfollow a few days after getting a follow-back. I can’t possibly be the only one who’s dismayed by such behaviour.
Fair enough — this is a numbers game and different people have different strategies to build their accounts. At the end of the day, we really don’t know each other from Adam, so there’s no obligation to respond in kind.
Nonetheless, I can’t help but roll my eyes when people pay lip service, e.g. say they “love” your content (more than once) but refuse to give the most practical support. Obviously, they don’t “love” you enough to follow you back, right?
It’s regrettable that some people say things they don’t mean just to get more followers.
For instance, I once saw a post along these lines in my feed. “Don’t hesitate to follow the smaller accounts. Many have great content and need our support. I love following them!” Being a small account of less than 100 followers then, I excitedly went to check out this delightful creature. Guess what? He had more than 1,000 followers but was following less than 90. Many of his followers were like me — small. I’m sure he gained even more followers with that post.
Another big account posted, “You comment on my stuff, I like yours, I follow you. Simple as that.” I guess 80% of his followers did not comment on his stuff or had atrocious content.
Then there are those who said outright that “followers are not everything” but went on to post messages like “Only 6 more followers to 500. Who’s going to help me?” My first thought — how about helping some of your followers by following them back first?
Without wanting to sound too critical, I find such posturing rather insincere. Although I enjoy interacting with kindred spirits, my numbers do matter and I make absolutely no pretence of not caring about it. It’s possible to care about numbers and still be genuine.
So why can’t people be more honest with themselves and others? I believe it’s because the follower-to-following ratio is always hanging over their heads. It’s all about getting as many followers as possible and following as few as possible. Does that even make sense?
It’s possible to care about numbers and still be genuine.
In the real world, there are usually negative consequences when a relationship is not reciprocal. Most people will feel shortchanged and unappreciated if they always give while the other person only takes. There’s no incentive for them to carry on. 𝕏 is no different. I simply don’t see how a relationship will last if it remains a one-way street.
So please put yourself in others’ shoes the next time you post messages like “I reached 1,500 followers in 3 months because I have the discipline to show up every day.” Maybe they too show up every day and have been giving you their continual support. Maybe they are still hoping that you will notice them and give them a follow-back.
Maybe it’s time you show real appreciation to those who helped build your account. Just saying.
Most people will feel shortchanged and unappreciated if they always give while the other person only takes. There’s no incentive for them to carry on.
4. The Ugly: Friends to Strangers
If there’s anything worse than the lack of reciprocity, it’s blocking someone for no good reason.
According to an August post from Elon Musk, blocking on 𝕏 will eventually be removed as a feature except for direct messages. From a user perspective, that seems like a horrible idea as the block feature can be useful in keeping scammers and bullies at bay. If someone keeps trolling or harassing me, I’ll block him or her for sure.
So far, I’ve not used the feature because no one has given me a reason to do so. But who knows what will happen down the road as my account gets bigger? Having a “safety button” will give me a sense of protection when using the platform.
It’s one thing to block scammers and bullies; its quite another to block someone because you don’t like his or her content. The two people who blocked me obviously disagree. Yup! Yours truly was blocked twice even though I’m extremely well-behaved on 𝕏. I dare say you will never see an offensive comment from me.
The first block came as a total surprise as I thought I was on pretty good terms with the guy. Then one day, I found out that he had blocked me when I tried visiting his account. That was in late May and till now, I still don’t know what I did to warrant a block.
The second guy blocked me on the day I gave a proper self-introduction. The only reason I can think of is that I was flooding his feed with all my replies and he got irritated.
Both guys were my followers. They could have just unfollowed or muted me, but they chose blocking over “kinder” alternatives.
Of course, that’s their prerogative, but I think blocking someone simply because you don’t like seeing his or her posts on your feed is uncalled-for rudeness. It’s also a mean thing to do, considering how it hurts one’s “reputation score”. That’s right. Apparently, 𝕏’s algorithm gives your account a “reputation score” and getting blocked causes your content to be down-ranked.
It’s one thing to block scammers and bullies; its quite another to block someone because you don’t like his or her content.
Since joining 𝕏, I’ve seen a number of “why did so-and-so block me” posts. Blocking can cause hurt, anger and confusion, and those who have been blocked may talk or bitch about it publicly.
Although I don’t see myself ever doing that, I can empathise with them. When you block people, you’re basically sending out the message that you’re done with them. You’ve the final say while they just have to suck it up. It’s the ultimate diss and it’s completely understandable if people do not react well to it.
All I can say is, being blocked is not the end of the world. There’s no love loss, so don’t fret over it. Focus on your goals and the positive aspects of your experience.
5. Five Golden Rules to Build a Successful 𝕏 Account
How I’ve been navigating 𝕏 is simple. I followed Frank Sinatra and did it my way. Here are my five golden rules for building a successful 𝕏 account:
Rule 1: Keep It Civil and Respectful
I’m someone with strong opinions, but I don’t think it’s necessary to voice every single one of them on 𝕏. When I do give my opinions, I make sure that I show civility and respect in my interaction. This involves approaching every issue with an open mind and reminding myself that opinions are not facts. Everyone has a unique way of interpreting the world.
I have not and do not ever want to get into a quarrel with anyone. Heated debates on social media never end well, so I rather agree to disagree. If I ever come across an impolite or unreasonable person, I’ll disengage.
Rule 2: Stay Humble and Learn from Others
Humility and respect are intertwined. When we’re humble, we’ll automatically be more respectful and less critical of others. We’ll also be better learners.
Over the past few months, I’ve seen posts that slam day trading, gold investing, college education, 9-5 and even early retirement. Although all of us are entitled to our views, I don’t think it’s necessary to put others down just to make a point. Words are not bullets, but they can still hurt.
It’s also not cool to post something like “I would rather invest in tulips than gold”, then go on to say in another post that “It’s called personal finance for a reason, so do what works for you!”
Everyone has different approaches to wealth building and there’s so much I can learn from others. To keep learning and improving, I’ll remain humble and remind myself that I do not know everything.
Rule 3: Be Sincere in My Engagement
Sincerity is about being real with people. Even though engagement on 𝕏 involves mainly written communication, I believe people can still sense it if I’m not being genuine, e.g. buttering them up just to get a follow-back.
My policy is simple. I’ll always put effort into my comments (no AI-generated response). If I don’t have anything meaningful to say, I won’t comment on a post for the sake of it. Most importantly, my words will always be consistent with my values and beliefs.
Rule 4: Show Morale and Practical Support
Building an 𝕏 account isn’t exactly a walk in the park. But just because I went through the hard way doesn’t mean that others can’t have it easier. I want to be generous with my support, both in the moral and practical sense. Going forward, I will continue to do the following:
Keep liking — Likes don’t cost anything. This is the easiest way to show support.
Keep cheering — I love it when people share good news, from achieving their financial goals to getting a new job. I always cheer on them because I believe we can all benefit from words of encouragement.
Keep following back — I would be lying if I say I don’t give a flying fig about the algorithm. However, I refuse to let it define my entire journey. To get, I must give. I believe in reciprocity and will continue to follow back legit and active accounts in the same space as me. Yes, that includes the small ones because I know it’s tough! Right now, I follow back slightly over 60% of my followers. It’s not a “healthy” ratio by 𝕏 standard, but I’m perfectly fine with it.
Rule 5: Maintain My Sense of Fun
Last but not least, I never want to lose my sense of fun. Humour is great as long as it’s used appropriately. I like to keep things light with gifs and witty one-liners.
I would be lying if I say I don’t give a flying fig about the algorithm. However, I refused to let it define my entire journey.
To succeed in anything I do, I believe I must first stay true to myself — in real life and on social media. That means I will not compromise my personal principles for the sake of being accepted. That means I will try to play by the rules without letting them constrain me too much. I would like to think that’s how I’ve been conducting myself on 𝕏 over the past few months.
I hope you enjoyed reading about my 𝕏perience.