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The Best Way To Grow On Social Media (From Zero Followers & Experience)

I always had the dream of becoming a YouTuber.

But I failed for years before I saw a shred of success.

That’s what I want to talk about in this letter:

  • Why I failed (and what you can learn)
  • How to start even if you lack confidence and aren’t a 10/10 supermodel
  • How to use other people’s authority to build your own (this will lead to the fastest growth)
  • Why treating social media like a video game is the key to being a success (this will lead to sustainable growth)

In high school, I would get home from class, go to the gym, and spend my nights watching fitness creators doing what they loved for a living.

Those creators were the friends who didn’t even know who I was.

They didn’t realize the impact they had on my future.

They had no idea that I, a guy in a completely different location, was implementing their advice, copying their mannerisms and lingo, and becoming a person who was no longer programmed by the environment I grew up in.

The negative aspects of social media are obvious.

But few people talk about how life-changing it is to find people you deeply resonate with who are doing what you want to do in life.

And if you have no idea what you want to do in life, you can find creators doing things that you didn’t think were possible (because all you thought you wanted to do was go to college for a degree that promised a high-paying job).

It’s no wonder why 30% of children and 54% of adults in the US said they wanted to become a YouTuber as a career.

This isn’t some delusional aspiration. This is where evolution has led us. People want to do what they love, and when you peel back the layers and discover what social media actually is – a way for anyone to attract an audience to the work they love to do – you realize that it is a path almost anyone can take to shape the future.

Work is going digital. Education is going digital. Commerce is going digital. Society is going digital. As automation and AI disrupt everything we thought was safe and secure, the second lives we live on social media indicate a transition of something larger.

Communication, education, value, meaning, and what it means to be human have evolved.

If you are reading this, I’m assuming it’s because you see that potential. Remember, not everyone is subscribed to this list. Be careful assuming that everyone has this mindset.

No, all jobs won’t disappear anytime soon. And I’m guessing you have aspirations to do what you love outside of a job. So, building an audience on social media is arguably the most secure path you can take.

Before we start, we sold out of the Writer’s Bootcamp in 4 days. If you missed it, join the waitlist for the next one here. (There are no exceptions if you missed this one).

1) Start With Writing

I failed at my dream of becoming a YouTuber.


Because I had no idea what I was doing.

I never actually learned the skills that comprise the skill of social media. Yes, social media is a skill that houses persuasion, marketing, sales, and psychology.

That’s what most people fail to do… put themselves in the shoes of their readers every single time you create something.

I posted talking head videos on mindset, food challenges, and fitness vlogs.

This was nearly 7 years ago.

I thought it was as simple as just posting content. Wrong.

Time went on, I tried and failed at most business models (like dropshipping, agency work, brand building, SEO, digital art, and photography).

I saw enough success with freelance web design to quit my job, and that’s when I found Twitter.

Long story short:

  • I saw others building an audience and landing web design clients without manual outreach or ads.
  • I noticed that they weren’t only talking about web design. They were talking about their lifestyle, interests, and web design (or whatever skill you want to monetize).
  • I noticed that what made them unique was not their business’s value proposition but their personality. Their unique blend of interests and opinions.
  • I noticed that Twitter was writing-based. They weren’t spending time on visuals or video editing. They didn’t have to show their bodies. They were building a business with their ideas, not looks.
  • I studied what they were doing and realized I could write the same content. I had very similar knowledge, what was holding me back from doing what they do? (Hint: it was my own limiting beliefs).

So, I took the leap.

Every time I saw a post that I could have written, I took it and wrote it from my own point of view.

Every time I saw a post I disagreed with, I took it and wrote my own opinion on the subject.

Every time I saw a post that was well structured (with bullet points, hooks, line breaks, and flow) I would experiment with that structure by plugging one of my own ideas into it.

In other words, I noticed what worked and did the same thing.

I took a few courses here and there and experimented with the strategies.

In my first year, I gained 10,000 followers (which is doable for most people).

Then, compounding growth kicked in, and I’ve grown to 435,000 followers over almost 5 years.

Nothing happens, then everything happens.

2) Choose To Control Your Growth

The second reason I failed at YouTube is because I like to talk about what I want, not what the algorithm wants me to talk about.

When I discovered the power of writing and Twitter, I realized that this could be my path to finally growing on YouTube.

  • YouTube doesn’t have DMs or a repost button that people actually click (it’s hard to manually control traffic).
  • Twitter has DMs, forum-style replies, frictionless and encouraged reposts, and the ability to quote post.
  • YouTube takes a lot of skill and effort to nail all of the moving parts of video production.
  • Twitter is as simple as writing a post in 2-3 minutes and hitting send.

I talk about the only way to grow on social media here. That goes over all of the mechanisms you can game for growth.

With writing, I’m able to test ideas fast and get my network to share them. With writing, I was able to control my growth.

I realized that if I could build an audience with Twitter, I could send that audience to YouTube when I was ready to take it seriously.

Now that YouTube is one of my largest platforms, people think I started there… when in reality, I could have grown only if I had started on Twitter first.

Not only that, writing 50 tweets in the time I’d be able to create one video is powerful.

1 of those 50 tweets is bound to be a good idea.

1 video isn’t worth making if you don’t have a good idea to film about… it won’t perform well.

So, by writing on Twitter, you build a database of good ideas that you can turn into high-performing YouTube videos. Just create the video on the topic of the tweet.

While Twitter may slowly become my smallest audience, it is still the highest quality audience, it’s where I started, and my other audiences wouldn’t be built without it. There isn’t another social platform that allows you to test ideas and interact with a more human feel… I mean, just look at the comments on Instagram. There isn’t even a profile picture. It feels bland and lifeless. You go on Instagram to numb your mind, not expand it. Twitter feels like a conversation.

3) Become a DJ With Ideas

Writers are DJs with ideas.

DJs take songs and sounds from multiple sources to create something new.

Writers take ideas from multiple sources and string them together into something of their own.

Your social media account is your Spotify profile, and your job is to put out music worth listening to.

The beautiful thing about EDM or digital music is that there are no limits. There are an infinite set of mixes that can be played. The same is true with writing.

Artists remix each other’s songs and completely change the song.

This is important.

An artist, DJ, or producer has their own “sound.”

We all love certain artists because of that sound.

In EDM, Excision is very similar to RZRKT, but they have slight differences that make them unique.

Now, if Excision made a country song, I find it hard to believe that much of his fan base would listen to that. They want to hear Excision.

As a writer, your “sound” is your worldview.

Your sound is how your ideas are articulated through the lens of your goals, problems, and experiences.

This is why you are the niche.

All of the ideas you collect and synthesize should be written from your worldview.

Two people can take the idea of personal responsibility and frame it in two different ways.

Someone with an emotional management problem will write about personal responsibility to solve that problem.

Someone with a business goal will write about personal responsibility to reach that goal.

That’s how you turn ideas into your own.

Don’t copy, remix.

4) Leverage Authority

How do you grow as a beginner when you don’t have experience or authority?

Curate, then create.

Use other people’s ideas and authority to kickstart your growth.

The only way to grow sustainably is to attract people to your audience from where they already are.

Where are they?

Other people’s audiences.

Do you know why people make YouTube videos on other popular YouTubers? So that video gets recommended to that audience, and they watch.

Do you know why most YouTube titles sound the same? Because they are trying to show up in the “recommended videos” section of the popular videos with that title.

Do you know why people tell you to comment so much on other people’s posts? Because they have an audience that goes into the replies, see your (hopefully good and not boring) reply, and follow you.

You need to get your posts in front of other people’s audiences rather than relying on the algorithm to spread them.

There are a few ways to do this:

  • Write about their ideas and tag them. People like it when you quote them and will want to share your post with their audience.
  • Create a thread with multiple ideas from other people and tag them all. Some will repost you, and most will engage.
  • Create a post on one authoritative person and use their best ideas to create a high-performing post.

Here’s an example:

The thing here is that Naval or Rogan probably won’t see or repost that thread.

So, it’s wise to choose people to write about who are active on the platform.

If you do write about mega-famous people, you need to get your network to share the post with their audience so it does well.

I teach this strategy in 2 Hour Writer, but I’ll write about it in a future letter sometime.

5) Master Hooks & Topics

Growing on social media is not as simple as writing about whatever you want.

95% of your growth will stem from two things:

  • Choosing the right topic to write about.
  • Perfecting the hook to get people to read more.

It doesn’t matter how valuable your YouTube video, newsletter, or thread is. If people don’t click to read more, it won’t get read. If people don’t care about what you are talking about, they won’t click. If people don’t see how it benefits their lives, they won’t click.

Social media growth isn’t linear.

Sometimes, you see zero growth for a week (especially as a beginner without an audience to create sustained growth).

Sometimes, you see little growth for a few weeks.

But then, once you hit the holy trifecta (topic, hook, traffic), you double your followers in a day. Nothing happens, then everything happens. But most people don’t have the patience or skill to stick out the highs and lows of building your own thing.

Social media growth is random. You aren’t paying for ads that place your writing in front of the specific demographic of your choice.

So, you need to choose a topic that is broadly applicable. You need to assume that 95% of the people reading your content are beginners.

Even if you have a specific target audience, this still works.

Rather than writing about “how to lead a team of 50 people as a founder,” write about “the skill that will take you from $100K to $5M” and use leading a team of 50 people as a way to frame the lesson you are teaching.

It’s the same idea, just repositioned to reach and educate more people.

You will still attract your target audience, but you will also attract a larger audience that can spread your work to more of your target audience. Getting too specific may hinder more than help. I’d rather have a 100K audience, with 10K of those being my target audience, than only a 10K audience of my target. More leverage, reach, and opportunity.

When you choose the right topic, the hook becomes simple to write. If the hook is difficult to write, you may want to choose a different topic before you spend a lot of time writing.

How do you write a good hook?

  • Look over your writing for the most impactful parts of your writing and take note
  • Imply a transformation with pain points and benefits to open a curiosity loop and information gap
  • Use concepts, big ideas, and processes (like The Eisenhower Matrix or The One Person Business) to create the effect of a unique mechanism
  • Try to create a timeframe to achieve the result, like 2 hours, 30 days, or 6 months
  • Important: study other hooks and program your mind to think in that structure

Now, use these as a checklist to refine your hook:

  • Relevance — how relevant is it to their everyday life? Resolved pains or potential benefits. What’s in it for the reader?
  • Awareness — is it simple or complex enough for the level of awareness you are targeting? Will they understand what you are about to show them?
  • Effort — how fast will they receive the result (education, entertainment, or inspiration) and is it easy to get?

Run through this again the next time you write a thread hook, tweet, YouTube title, thumbnail text, or email subject line.

6) The Global Video Game

Social media is both a multiplayer game with single-player missions.

As a single player, you must constantly add to your skill set. You should have at least a general understanding of every single skill that goes into building a business. Marketing, sales, web design, graphic design, video editing, writing, marketing, product, etc. Binge-watching 75+ hours of YouTube is a requirement.

Everything else is multiplayer.

You need other’s audiences to grow.

You need people to hold you accountable.

You need a tribe that people can associate you within digital society (social media).

You need to recreate your team’s voice chat to identify where enemies are, share strategies, and help your team win.

You need a mastermind:

Multiple minds working toward a shared goal.

In practical terms, you need to:

  • DM people you want to “team up with”
  • Comment on people’s posts you want to be associated with
  • Form group chats with people to share strategies
  • Share each other’s best posts to get more traffic to them

This should be viewed as one of the few ways to control your growth without relying on the algorithm.

This creates a tribe.

When you log on to social media and see an account you like, you can also think of 4-5 more people that they are associated with that you like.

People follow that tribe because they want to join it. They want to work toward the goal as well.

This isn’t as shallow as some “engagement group” that you join. This is your internet friend group that is a requirement to build the business you want to build.

That’s it for this letter.

Thank you for reading, I hope it helped.

Until next week,

– Dan

Who Is Dan Koe?

I am a writer & brand advisor for 7-8 figure creators, influencers, and social media brands. I am obsessed with dissecting human potential, lifestyle design, and one-person businesses.

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